Pakistan 'Emerges' As Al Qaeda Safe Haven?
The headline from CBS News, "Pakistan Emerges As Al Qaeda Safe Haven," reads as if this is a new revelation. The points covered in the CBS/AP collaborative report are accurate, though customarily slipped into the coverage is the caveat of calling the greater conflict the "so-called war on terror."
The headline is chosen from the words spoken by Richard Hass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. During an interview for the story he said that "the Taliban and al Qaeda have essentially exploited Pakistan, this is now their new safe haven." Surely by "new" Mr. Hass means post-Afghanistan, where the haven has taken shape since the hours after bin Laden's egress from Tora Bora.
Al-Qaeda's Pakistan safe haven's soft infrastructure, and to a lesser extent it's hard infrastructure, has been in development since long before America's active forward-leaning engagement in the "so-called war on terror." After many years of investment in the soft infrastructure, the hard infrastructure development (training camps, et al) of the past several years since bin Laden's retreat from Afghanistan have sprung up on familiar and established territory and among peoples who have been the benefactor of bin Laden's lavish 'charitable' contributions in the absence of Pakistani government institutions.
Al-Qaeda's engagement in the inarguable war of terror long preceded a reluctant America's active reflexive defense. And for that matter, much of their Pakistani infrastructure is due to the support of the Pakistani military intelligence, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), and individuals such as former ISI chief Hamid Gul.
Furthermore, Hamid Gul, Aslam Beg and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are on the short list of potential leaders in a post-Musharraf Pakistan, which the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance has been trying to engineer through assassination for several years. And each of them can be expected to forward a falsely pragmatic image to further the notion that someone other than al-Qaeda is in charge of a post-Musharraf Pakistan. (In Michael Scheuer's book, Through Our Enemies' Eyes (pg. 176), the former top CIA al-Qaeda analyst noted that it was reported in the Pakistani media that bin Laden gave Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 1 billon rupees ahead of the 1990 elections, effectively purchasing influence and alliance.)
Observers should know better than to be fooled and prepare for a nuclear-armed post-Musharraf Pakistan in which al-Qaeda's control will not bear the hallmarks of Usama bin Laden hoisting the 'Keys to the Kingdom' for public display.
Pakistan became an al-Qaeda safe haven neither overnight nor recently. It surely has not only in recent months 'emerged' as such.