Threat of pre-emption

As if the daunting growth of terrorism in our tribal areas, and its expansion to major urban centres of Pakistan were not enough, the US has been accusing us of "not doing enough" and extending its war against terror into our territory. Accustomed to get their wishes fully respected by Musharraf since he joined the US after 9\\11, they are insisting that the democratically elected government that assumed power after the February 18 elections should even go further as the nationalist resistance in Afghanistan has grown stronger. Ever since the defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War, in 1989 in which Pakistan's tribal areas played a decisive role, the US had been engaged in consolidating its global hegemony, step by step. The elder Bush stationed US forces in major Islamic countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and got Israel's security and military clout ensured, following the Gulf War (1990-1991). Towards the end of his term, two neo-con scholars, Wolfowitz and Libby came up with the project of a "New American Century" on the basis of US superiority in military strength and technology in 1992. However, the two terms of Bill Clinton delayed the implementation of that concept till 2001, when George W Bush entered the White House. The 21st Century started with the unilateralist foreign policy of the younger Bush who came up with the concept of Ballistic Missile Defence, to further reinforce US domination, with India strongly backing it. Bush's target was China while India wanted to acquire overwhelming supremacy over Pakistan. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were the most major foreign aggression on the US mainland, resulting in nearly 3000 deaths. The UN General Assembly unanimously condemned this aggression and called upon all countries to support the US in its war against terror. The source of the attack was traced to Osama bin Ladin. While launching massive attacks on Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had provided sanctuary to Osama and other Muslim militants, Bush came up with a strategic concept in September 2002, conferring on the US the right to conduct pre-emptive strikes against countries or groups of individual suspected of planning attacks on the US or its forces and interests abroad. Despite the earlier UN resolution calling for solidarity in resisting terrorism, the right of the US to resort to pre-emption was not absolute, but required the approval of the UN Security Council. Though Bush and members of his Cabinet began to assemble evidence that Iraq under Saddam was preparing to commit aggression against the US and its allies, the Security Council insisted that UN and IAEA inspectors must satisfy themselves that evidence on the ground confirmed US and Western intelligence reports. The SC, by a majority, rejected the call by the US to authorise pre-emptive attacks on Iraq, and Pakistan joined the majority group. When US Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently sought to defend US military operations inside the tribal area of Pakistan as having UN sanction, he was misrepresenting the real position. The Doctrine of Pre-emption has been a failure both in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US will be leaving Iraq, starting next year, and some of its forces will stay subject to the agreement of the elected government in Baghdad. In the case of the Afghanistan theatre, where also local resistance to US-NATO occupation has been growing, the US is relying on the agreement and support of the Karzai government in Kabul, which enjoys limited popular backing. Coming to Pakistan any role the US wishes to play must be coordinated with the sovereign government of the country that is headed by a popularly elected Parliament. Pakistan has large, well-equipped armed forces that are capable of defending the country and its frontiers. Any attempt by rash and hawkish military commanders to use pre-emptive tactics will arouse the ire of 160 million people of Pakistan. There might be risk of a clash between the forces of the two countries, if the US forces insist on conducting operations deep inside Pakistan. One hopes that the new government leadership in Washington will base its relations with Pakistan on well-known principles of international law, specially respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and mutuality of benefits. The US leadership must also be mindful of the alliance relationship between Pakistan and China, concluded in 2005 that has military clauses if either country is attacked. President Zardari met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in New York who declared China would continue its support to Pakistan, The president will be visiting China shortly when this relationship would be further consolidated, to deter any threats against Pakistan. The writer is a former ambassador

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