Pakistan’sobsession with extracting an apology from the U.S. for airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani troops last year seems dubious considering its own questionable commitment in the fight against terrorism.
Instead of jeopardizing U.S. efforts in South Asia, the Pakistani government should instead show courage by owning up to its destructive policies and apologize for its mishaps.
Here are at least 10 reasons why Pakistan owes the U.S. its deepest apology:
1. Osama bin Laden: On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was killed near the Pakistan Military Academy, the equivalent of West Point. Pakistan was receiving about $18 billion from the U.S. to dismantle al-Qaida, while bin Laden was living comfortably with his wives and children in Abbottabad. Instead of apologizing for its complicity or incompetence, Pakistan vigorously protested violation of its sovereignty by theU.S. military operation that killed bin Laden. In fact, Pakistan’s National Assembly offered religious prayers for bin Laden, and civilian protests across the country condemned the killing.
2. Doctor on trial: Last week, Dr. Shakil Afridi, a surgeon who helped the CIA locate bin Laden’s whereabouts under the cover of a vaccination campaign, was convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison and fined about $3,500. So, let’s get this straight. Pakistan publicly pledges to eliminate terrorism, yet punishes its citizens for helping to do so?
3. Embassy attack: On Sept. 13, 2011, well-equipped insurgents linked to the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban, attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, the then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said the network is a “veritable arm” ofInter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani spy agency. Instead of working to dismantle the terror network, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani complained that his country was being “singled out,” and that it was “neither fair nor productive.” Hence, the network continues to undermine coalition efforts in Afghanistan.
4. Hostile land: While Pakistan claims to be an ally of the U.S., it has been indifferent to the kidnappings and violence carried out against Americans inside its territory. In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in Karachi. In 2009 John Solecki, a U.S. national and U.N. official, was abducted in Baluchistan, while New York Times reporter David Rohde was held in Pakistan’s tribal region for several months after being kidnapped in Afghanistan. And 70-year-old American aid worker Warren Weinstein is still missing after being kidnapped by al-Qaida in Lahore. Pakistan has not undertaken any demonstrable action to address this trend.
5. Mumbai attacks: At least 166 people, including five Americans, were killed in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India’s largest city. The four-day killing spree was carried out by the Pakistan-based militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. On April 3, the U.S. announced a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, head of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Not only have Pakistani authorities rejected the charges against Saeed, but they continue to grant him absolute liberty to appear on television and propagate hate speech at public rallies.
6. Leaked identities: American officials strongly suspect that Inter-Services Intelligence was behind the 2010 leaking of information identifying CIA station chiefs in Pakistan.
7. Misuse of American weapons: In a February congressional hearing, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch testified that Pakistan regularly misuses U.S. military assistance. U.S. weapons have allegedly been used to kill democratic political leaders and activists in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.
8. Jihad factory: Pakistan’s lack of action against the training camps of extremist groups makes it a perfect destination for aspiring jihadists.
9. Undercover agent: In 2011, the FBI revealed that Inter-Services Intelligence had illegally funded a lobbyist, Ghulam Nabi Fai, to influence U.S. policies in support of the Pakistani government’s stance on the disputed territory of Kashmir. Though Fai has been sentenced to prison by a U.S. court, Pakistan never apologized for covertly funding Fai’s activities.
10. Nuclear proliferation: Pakistan has never officially apologized for its nuclear proliferation. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the infamous Pakistani scientist, illegally supplied designs and centrifuge technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Though he publicly apologized, many believe Khan could not have acted without the tacit approval of segments of the Pakistani military.
Malik Siraj Akbar is an exiled Pakistani journalist based in Washington, D.C., and a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy.