13 June 2008
Khaleej Times link
AMERICAN artillery and air strike inside Pakistani territory that killed 11 paramilitary soldiers and Islamabad’s expected response more or less mark the beginning of the dismantling of the war-on-terror’s most central business arrangement.
It had begun weakening for some time now and American predator incursions deep inside Pakistani airspace of late were ample indications for analysts familiar with the relationship that something was about to give way soon.
That the position crumbled with Pakistani army blood being spilled will anger local opinion at a time when the government is indulging in diplomatic experiments with elements in the tribal belt mainly to appease a public very angry over unstinted support extended to the Americans all these years. The pressure facing Islamabad now is well understandable.
For now, it seems difficult that the Pakistan-US equation that Musharraf and Bush held for more than half a decade will be returned to. Islamabad will now rightly fear a déjà vu of its previous hands-in-glove with the Americans, when the State Department and CIA ended cooperation as soon as the Soviets rolled their tanks out of Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan to struggle with refugees, drugs, Kalashnikovs, and continuous uncertainty on its borders. General Musharraf rightly sought assurances before shaking on the post 9/11 deal, reminding the Americans in straight terms that the premature withdrawal was more or less also responsible for the mutation of the Afghan mujahideen into what eventually became the Taleban.
Now, with an American election just around the corner, and the likelihood of a Democratic stint at the House that’ll be surely quick to distance itself from Bush’s war method, there is growing anxiety in Pakistani circles that they’re about to be hung out to dry again. Such concerns are not helped by what some are rightly calling the Bush U-turn, with Washington ignoring Pakistani concerns and blatantly violating the country’s airspace and territorial integrity.
The Pentagon’s response to the latest tragedy, that they coordinated the attacks with the Pakistani military, will not wash easily since they’ll reflect very poorly on the sole superpower’s military credentials. The Pakistani reaction is understandable, which is why America will have to go the extra mile if the situation is to be controlled. If the long years of the terror-war have not convinced America and Afghanistan that they will always need Pakistan, then it is little surprise that their fortunes are on a continuous downside.
Pakistan has paid dearly for participation in the war against terrorism, economically, socially and politically. To add to its military troubles is to force it to opt out of the arrangement it has held despite the difficulties. The ball is in America’s court now. How they handle the situation will reflect the level of their interest in South Asia’s worsening political landscape.
following is a good artile why Pakistan cant do anything about US strike.
US attack raises fresh questions in Pakistan
M Ilyas Khan in Karachi examines the fallout from Tuesday's deadly air attack by the US on Pakistani territory.
Funeral prayers were said for the soldiers in Peshawar on Wednesday
There are two possible explanations for the US-led coalition air strike that killed 11 Pakistani soldiers at a post on the border with Afghanistan late on Tuesday - intelligence failure, or outright confrontation.
In the past, faulty intelligence is thought to have led to a number of similar attacks on Pakistani territory.
The Pakistani army, which is a partner in the US-led "war on terror", has even owned up to some such strikes to avoid embarrassing its US allies.
But a Pakistani army spokesman called Tuesday's strike "deliberate", saying it had "shaken the foundations of co-operation" between Pakistan and the US.
Not surprisingly, a US Pentagon spokesman has called the attack "legitimate" and "in self-defence".
Meanwhile, the media is quoting a coalition spokesman in Afghanistan as saying the attack came when coalition troops were fired upon "during an operation that had been previously co-ordinated with Pakistan".
If so, Pakistan has not acknowledged such co-ordination, leaving room for further speculation that relations between the two militaries may be cooling.
Muted Pakistani response
This does not augur well for the new democratic Pakistani government.
Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, has been at pains to explain that while Pakistan reserves the right to protest over such attacks, it by no means intends to pull out of the fight against militancy'.
Pakistan-US relations hit a low
Meeting feared Pakistani militant
He has also resisted suggestions by the Pakistani media to call for a US apology, and has instead asked for an investigation into the circumstances that led to the attack.
There are obvious reasons for this muted Pakistani response.
Since 9/11, Pakistan has received about $10bn from the US, most of it for conducting operations against militants in its north-western border region with Afghanistan.
The country also has US influence to thank for the rescheduling of its foreign loans and a wider inflow of more than $60bn in direct foreign investment.
The new government can ill-afford to forego these benefits by making a stiff response to US strikes.
But the fact remains that far from curbing militancy, Pakistani policy in recent years has helped militants create a wider sanctuary along the entire length of its border with Afghanistan.
The militants have also penetrated other parts of Pakistani territory and now challenge the writ of the government across North West Frontier Province.
There are two main reasons why this happened.
• First, many believe the Pakistani security establishment has been reluctant to deal a final blow to the Taleban, who it perceives to be central to its quest for "strategic depth" in Afghanistan against India.
By default, this policy has led to the survival and regrouping of al-Qaeda, which is protected by the Taleban.
• Second, the US focus shifted to Iraq too soon, leaving unattended the task of systematically monitoring finer digressions by Pakistani security operatives and pressing for their correction.
Tackling the militants
But the major long-term fault lies in the fact that Pakistan's security policy has evolved under military regimes supported by the US, instead of more accountable democratic governments.
The militants have spread their influence across the border region
The promotion of Islamic militancy as an instrument to fuel low-intensity wars in Afghanistan and Indian-administered Kashmir have been a cornerstone of this policy.
After 30 years of political domination, the Pakistan army's popularity hit rock bottom last year when President Musharraf sacked senior judges, and suicide attacks by militants created a widespread sense of insecurity in the country.
In the February elections, all parties sympathetic to the militants in the north-west were routed, undercutting their moral standing.
Pakistan's new rulers have since announced that they want to replace the idea of a military solution with that of dialogue with the tribes aimed at isolating the militants and taming them through selective use of force.
Analysts believe that given recent public opinion trends, the new government could achieve these targets over the next two to three years.
But since it took power on 31 March, three major variables in the situation seem to have played out to the government's disadvantage.
• First, the current political crisis involving the reinstatement of judges has kept it from focusing on more pressing issues, such as constitutional reforms and economic problems.
• Second, the expected dollar inflows into the country have been on hold since the beginning of this year, compounding the problems of tackling widespread poverty in the country.
• Third, these two problems have prevented the government from snatching the initiative from the country's traditional security establishment that may still be entertaining ambitions in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the Americans are desperate for Pakistan to deal with the militants - something Pakistan appears unwilling or unable to do at the moment.
There are also indications of an unspoken agreement that coalition forces in Afghanistan be allowed to engage in "hot pursuit" of militants who cross back into Pakistani territory.
This has assumed urgency in recent weeks as increased attacks by militants in Afghanistan have led to an increase in US military strikes in the Pakistani tribal areas.
Most observers doubt US forces would set out to kill their Pakistani allies, but it is not clear why they hit a border post they should have known was there.
The weakening of Pakistan's new government is bound to strengthen elements that have influenced the country's previous policies towards militancy and regional security.
Attacks like the one on the Pakistani border post are likely to further strengthen those elements.