The Faisal Shahzad Puzzle: Why Is Pakistan’s Civil-Military Leadership Silent?

Posted by Shireen M. Mazari on May 10th, 2010

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A weak and apologetic reaction from Pakistani officials has put Pakistan in the dock

A weak and apologetic reaction from Pakistani officials has put Pakistan in the dock

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Why did our Ambassador to Washington maintain a strange silence in the immediate aftermath instead of seeking access to Faisal Shahzad? Why did Foreign Minister Qureshi link Shahzad to drone attacks and accept Pakistan’s guilt without evidence? Why Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships are not questioning the US intent?


Monday, 10 May 2010.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Hillary Clinton has once again come into her own true self and issued a direct threat to Pakistan of “severe consequences” if the ‘terror attack’ of Time Square New York City had been successful and found to have definitively originated in Pakistan.

It brings to mind an earlier moment when Hillary, during the course of her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, had responded to a question on whether she would use tactical nuclear weapons against Pakistan in the context of a terror attack linked to Pakistan and she unhesitatingly declared “yes”. She was also right up there with Bush on the question of the Iraq war until she realised how unpopular it was becoming within her own country. So she is very much in the same mould as Condi Rice.

However, her latest threat has established without an iota of doubt the larger US game plan for Pakistan and the issue is not what the US plans to do so much as what are leadership is doing or not doing to protect itself from this increasingly threatening US agenda.

But first some serious questions that our leadership and our normally verbose Ambassador to Washington should have raised in the immediate aftermath of the Faisal Shahzad episode, which is beginning to look more and more like a deliberately created incident to suck Pakistan into not only doing the US bidding vis a vis North Waziristan but also to provide a scenario which would allow more US forces into the country and move the US further into forcibly taking control of our nuclear assets:

Why should one presume the whole incident was created?

1. How come the explosion did not go off?
2. How come such an easy trail of evidence was laid to track Faisal Shahzad?
3. How come, he confessed to everything so easily and immediately?
4. How come the US immediately, as if already prepared, began demanding permission for more troops into Pakistan?
5. How come the CIA immediately announced more drone attacks on Pakistan?

In other words, things moved in an almost synchronized manner in succession that they had to have been pre-planned.

Why are the US government and media paying no heed to Shahzad’s alleged connection to the Yemeni cleric and to the Taliban’s clear denial of any link to Shahzad?

What is disturbing though is the immediate utterances and silence of the different Pakistani players – apart from the brief but necessary statement from the ISPR that there was no tangible evidence to link Shahzad to Waziristan and the militants there:

First: Why did our Ambassador to Washington maintain a strange silence in the immediate aftermath instead of seeking access to Faisal Shahzad, given that despite being a US citizen his Pakistani links were being played up?

Two: How come Foreign Minister Qureshi immediately declared that Shahzad’s action was in response to the drone attacks, even before Shahzad himself allegedly talked of the disturbing effect of drones? Is there a common script here? Did Qureshi not know that by making such a statement he was accepting Shahzad’s guilt? More important, how did he know the cause unless he had met Shahzad, knew him earlier or had been told by him that this was the reason behind his alleged action?

Three: In a similar vein, Interior Minister also made a similar statement as if Shahzad had been found guilty already.

Four: Why should the father of Shahzad have been arrested? Apparently it was given out that his arrest was to facilitate the FBI team but is it the job of the government to aid and abet the US or to protect its own citizens? It would appear the answer is the former for this government, in which case there is little difference in how this democratic government is treating its citizens and how Musharraf treated Pakistanis.

What is truly disturbing though is the civil and military leadership’s silence on questioning US intent. Why are we allowing the US to threaten us while we continue to entertain their civil, military and intelligence teams/delegations? Why are we not insisting on out investigation team being in Washington if the US can send an FBI team to Pakistan? Why have we not called for a Joint Investigation on the Shahzad issue?

In the aftermath of the Clinton threat, at the very least shouldn’t the Pakistan government suspend cooperation with the US, at least temporarily? Should our ambassador not convey our displeasure at this overt threat? Stoppage of NATO supplies and the downing of a drone will send a clearer message than any apologetic mumblings from the leadership. Finally, is our military prepared to compromise our defence and security, target more Pakistani civilians, simply to do the US bidding and commence a premature and hasty North Waziristan operation?

Incidentally, if the government is unwilling to use the capability its air force has of shooting down drones, as was demonstrated to the PM recently, why are we acquiring such expensive systems? If we cannot or will not fight anyone but are own tribals, we need to review our military expenditures.

In conclusion, it will be worth painting once again the holistic picture that should now be crystal clear even to the most myopic Pakistani, in the light of the Clinton threat. Send in more US troops to destabilise Pakistan; push the military into North Waziristan, stretching its lines of communications and capabilities and aggravating the civil-military divide as well as the dormant ethnic and sectarian fault lines within the institution of the military, thereby undermining its long term cohesiveness; another operation would add to terrorism within Pakistan as will the increased drone attacks in FATA; convince the world that Pakistan is in disarray and there should be international control over its nukes through the UNSC – which effectively would mean US control.

Nor is the US agenda premised only on diplomatic-military tactics. There is a strong economic component also. After all, the IMF factor is not merely coincidental; nor are the new economic managers with strong US/IMF/World Bank connections who have been brought in recently. Add to all this the growing US intrusions already within Pakistan at multiple levels and the picture should become evident that Pakistan is being set up for destruction. What is less clear to some, though not to all, is why our own leadership should be complicit in this destruction?

First published by The Nation. Dr. Mazari can be reached at

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