The American threat

The growing American threat posed to Pakistan's territorial integrity and sovereignty by more than 20 US missile attacks on the tribal areas killing and wounding hundreds of tribesmen besides destroying their houses, from across the Pak-Afghan border seems to have receded into the limbo of forgetfulness in the tumult and turmoil following the suicide bombings of high profile targets by the Islamic militants. What is really more pathetic and alarming, according to the latest interview of the President of Pakistan is that he has claimed that all these attacks were carried out with the permission of the Pakistan government. The question therefore arises whether the security, integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan can be entrusted to the incumbent government? Not only President George W Bush in his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari in New York skirted around the question of Pakistan's sovereignty but what is more, in the press briefing given to the journalists by the information minister soon after Zardari-Bush meeting there was no indication whatsoever of the Pakistani president seeking any assurance from the US president against the missile attacks in the tribal belt. Round about the same time Defence Secretary Robert Gates put Pakistan on notice that the US would continue to take direct military action inside Pakistan. Elaborating upon US military strategy towards Pakistan in two separate statements and during a hearing at a Senate panel on September 29, 2008 Gates made it clear that the US considered insurgency in FATA the greatest danger confronting the West. He was willing to send American troops to root out extremism if it felt the need to do so. At the Senate panel hearing Gates agreed with Senator Jim Webbs who had told him that the United Nations Charter under which the US operated in Afghanistan gave it the right of self-defence where a foreign government was unable or unwilling to take care of international terrorist's activities insides its territory. The US defence chief told the National Defence University in Washington that "the United States had to act against terrorists hiding in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To be blunt to fail or to be seen to fail would be a disastrous blow to our credibility both among our friends and allies and among potential adversaries." He also noted that USA depended on the logistic support from Pakistan and that it was looking for alternative channels. From these very crucial statements of the defence secretary at the Senate and the Defence University it becomes all too clear that the ongoing War On Terror is America's war and by no means that of Pakistan. Moreover, the defence secretary's statement that "the US was already looking for alternative channels for its supplies" clearly suggests that America is preparing to meet the eventuality of a war with Pakistan. While the NATO commander in Afghanistan is willing to negotiate with Taliban, the US is dead opposed to any negotiations with them. If it were the Pakistan's war then it (Pakistan) should be free to negotiate with its adversary. Moreover, it seems to be a part of the US military strategy to keep the Pakistan army and the Taliban locked up in armed conflicts so that US may use it as a pretext for marching its troops into Pakistan. There has been an attempt to make too much out of President George Bush telling President Asif Ali Zardari that he respects the sovereignty of Pakistan. Now that the defence secretary is invoking the US Charter to justify military action against Pakistan the US "respecting" of the Pakistan's sovereignty is going to be of no avail. US attacked Iraq even though it fully recognised the sovereignty of that country. In Marriott the scene of the devastating suicide bombing the foot prints of clandestine American presence with its aggressive design against Pakistan can be clearly seen. According to aired on the electronic media, the group that carried out the suicide bombing on the Marriott Hotel had the information that about 200 plus FBI and Marine personals from the US were putting up in the hotel. Besides this a story that was published in a local English newspaper had already quoted some sources as saying that the officials of the FBI, CIA and the Marines were staying at the hotel and could have been the target of the September 22 attack. Another crucial fact also came to light in a section of the press that on September 21 - the day the top US military commander Admiral Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani - a white truck of the US embassy to Islamabad brought many steel boxes to the hotel. These were transferred by the US Marines completely by-passing the usual security check. This shows that it is the Americans and their supporters who are the real targets of the militants. No less an authority on US foreign policy than Henry Kissinger has insisted that the ongoing War On Terror is in fact a war that the West is fighting against radical Islam. When asked what he meant by radical Islam he replied that "Islam which is not secular." The 9/11 Commission Report has made no secret of the fact that even if the Osama and the Al-Qaeda are crushed the West would still be faced with the threat from the radical ideology of Islam. It is therefore more then self-evident that the ongoing War On Terror is in fact America's war on Islam and not against terrorism as such. However much the present government may try to down play or ignore the threat of American aggression the people of Pakistan will remain highly concerned about it. The poll by the Gallop organisation taken in June found that half of the Pakistani population thinks that the US military presence in Afghanistan posed a threat to Pakistan. Similarly more than 33 percent of the people thought that the US relationship with Pakistan in the latter's campaign against terror mainly benefited the US. Only 7 percent of the Pakistani thought that it benefited Pakistan more. Against such a growing military threat to Pakistan it is so painfully unfortunate that the prime minister has taken the position that Pakistan cannot afford to take on the US militarily and that his government could defend the Pakistan's territorial integrity and political sovereignty through proper diplomatic means. However, so far no diplomatic efforts of any significance has been mounted. No delegation has been sent abroad to harness the sympathy and support of the foreign powers nor Pakistan's missions abroad have been instructed to do the needful. It may be argued that as the country is passing through a dire economic strait it cannot afford to take on America militarily. It may however be pointed out that it is only by mobilising the people on a war footing that the Pakistani people can be persuaded - even inspired - to tighten their belt, cut down their ease and comfort and embrace hardship for a much greater cause. It would also facilitate crackdown on the anti-social elements indulging in smuggling, hoarding and black marketing. By inspiring austerity of the highest order for the highest cause among the people in respect of scarce, goods and services we can cut down on our imports and through restraint in domestic consumption increase the availabilities for the support. Workers in industry and agriculture can be made to work hard and extra time to produce more and refurbish the domestic supplies and enhance the availabilities for export. Hamas completely besieged and isolated and so mercilessly cut-off from all essential supplies is not only surviving but is also giving such a tough time to its infinitely more powerful enemies because of their unshakeable faith in ALLAH. An Israeli Colonel in his article in the Foreign Affairs (June-July 2002) conceded that Palestinians had become invincible because whereas the "Israelis put their faith in tanks Palestinian's put their faith in ALLAH." Ehud Olmart who has just resigned as the Prime Minister of Israel has confess in an interview that Israel cannot have peace without withdrawing almost completely from the Arab land it occupied in 1967. So far as the overwhelming military superiority of the US is concerned it has been tested out in Afghanistan and Iraq where it has badly failed to deliver. French President Sarkozy has conceded that there is no question of our winning in Afghanistan all that can be done is somehow to avoid being defeated. Worst of all, if Pakistan does not mount a befitting military response to the ongoing US military aggression it will demoralise the nation as well as the armed forces posing an existential threat to Pakistan. It may also greatly encourage the potential aggressors. What will be even more detrimental even our great friends like China and Iran, incase we capitulate before American aggression, would cease to have confidence in Pakistan's ability or willingness to stand by them in times of need. In view of India increasingly denying us our due share in water resources in accordance with the Indus Basin Water Treaty and thereby it is threatening the very economic survival of Pakistan. Pakistan's invocation of the remedial provisions in the Treaty have been of no avail leaving it with no alternative but to take resort to military measures. Under these dire circumstances our lack of willingness and preparedness to mount befitting military response as and when necessary will throw into serious jeopardy our very survival. The writer is a former ambassador

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