For some time now, speculations were rife that America and NATO may cross over into Pakistan border in the North and launch military forays against our tribals under the pretext of war on terrorism. One had hoped the Americans will not be so careless of international law and norms by violating Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty which is the most blatant hostile act. It makes such an aggressor an enemy. Pakistanis were living under the impression that one cannot be an ‘ally’ and also an enemy. But regrettably this has happened.
This makes it necessary to re-examine our relationship with US in its new role as an attacker of our country. This makes us ask the question can we collaborate in a war with a party which treats our country as an enemy” and describes our country as the new “battle ground”. The question arises which is America’s real face? Enemy or all, are we being deceived by US duplicity?
First let us examine whether there is any truth in their accusations that (a) Taliban on our tribal areas are a great menace to Afghanistan’s security (b) Tribal areas have become great sanctuaries of terrorists and there are ‘training ground’ against Afghanistan; and (c) Pakistan has been unsuccessful in eliminating the Taliban terrorism and now US should take action against the tribal Taliban directly.
In examining these accusations, one may ask what is the strength of the Taliban in our FATA? US has never mentioned what is their number? But its propaganda has spoken of the Taliban as if they are something like Hitler’s forces were. A huge horde now the scantily populated FATA area cannot have such a force. At most Taliban can be no more than a couple of thousand, not even hundred thousand, judging from the exodus of civil population from FATA when the military action was taken by our forces. This indicated that the civil population was dissociating from Taliban. Purposely US has never mentioned the number of Taliban in Pakistan. What kind of a ‘force’ the Taliban are or can be? Only guerrillas with no artillery, tanks, long range missiles, guidance system, and the rest. In the absence of these facilities the maximum foray the Taliban can make inside Afghanistan in a hit-an-run action of a limited nature, say five miles. As any military expert would see, they are not any where equal to ISAF or NATO forces in weapon, training, equipment, logistic support, communication as the ISAF or NATO forces. A local has several advantages over an army of occupation. This is where the Taliban have advantage as did the Viet Namese.
The Taliban reaction is in fact mainly a reaction of the Pakhtuns to foreign occupation of Afghanistan. The roots of Taliban activity on both sides of the border is in the foreign occupation. It is not only Europeans who resent foreign occupation like they did in the shape of French Resistance. Any political scientists or diplomat knows this fact. The real root of resistance in Afghanistan is not in FATA, but in Afghanistan, as the British who had long experience of this fact during their Empire in this region knew. The problem is not as simple as US makes it.
However, the US or NATO before they accuse Pakistan of not doing more should realize that the fire power of their forces and the logistic support they have is not less than ten times greater than that of a Pakistani soldier, because of the money and latest weapons their soldier has, and yet it is a matter of every day report in the press that they have achieved no success in Afghanistan. They are where they were quite some time ago. How can a failed force claim that it will succeed in FATA or WANA or any where in our tribal area far more than our soldiers did. It is a claim that is based on an unjustified arrogance of power contradicted by the miserable record of US/NATO forces of Occupation in Afghanistan despite installing a puppet Karzai Government in Kabul.
Let us turn to a possible involvement of foreign agencies, three of them which need not be named, who have to give a kind of credibility to the claims that Taliban activity has increased in the recent past, infiltrated their men or operatives, in the area who are indulging in all kinds of terrorist activities as if it is Taliban operation. I cannot imagine for a moment that any Muslim would kill namazees in a mosque while praying. This is a sure passport to hell. I suspect that the attacks on Wah defence factories cannot be the work of a Pakistani its beneficiary are those powers who want to destroy a national asset of tremendous importance. There are some such actions, a few of them which point out to the hands of one of the three hostile agencies acting against Pakistan. If CIA could undertake the Gulf of Tonkin covert operation to destroy a US Navy ship to create public opinion during Nixon’s days for direct intervention by US in Vietnam that it is logical to suspect that they could be training and directing such operations from Jabal Siraj as it reported in the press.
As regards American aggression against Pakistan by attacking Pakistan territory under the Constitution the first duty of Pakistan forces is to defend its territory. Former Foreign Secretary, Shamshad Ahmed Khan, has said in a private TV channel that the UN Resolution on terrorism has no where used the world or authorized a war on terrorism. So there is no recommendations from UN to Pakistan to be part of American war on terrorism. If there is any terrorist activity in our area we will deal with it and certainly there is some which we are doing better than US or NATO forces are doing in their sphere of operations in Afghanistan. What is our war with terrorism we are taking care of it. But it is no business of any foreign forces to indulge in excursions in our territory. That is war on us and not Taliban. Ours in an army of world stature and we need not be tutored by any one on their responsibilities. Under the present situation, our Army Chief Kayani has made a statement in accordance with his Constitutional duty. He said “sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all costs and no external forces can be allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan. Foreign troops cannot operate on Pak soil. He was commenting on the recent incidents in which US invading troops killed a large number of civilians, women and children included, inside the houses in their illegal incursion in Pakistan. He made it clear that the rules of engagement with the coalition forces are well defined and within that, the right to conduct operation against the militants inside own territory is solely the responsibility of the respective armed forces. There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the Coalition Forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side. A forth right statement of a Pakistani defender of the country’s territory was universally applauded by Pakistani of every walk of life. How on earth could anybody not expect the Chief of Army of Pakistan not to make any statement which did not deplore the inhuman, atrocious attack on innocent Pakistani citizens. Pakistani soldier has a long tradition of valiantly standing for the defense of his country in the same tradition which an English poet has written” in the valley of death, rode the six hundred,…..There was no question but to do and die”.
It was interesting to see the reaction of the pusillanimous political leadership on defining our policy of standing against violation of our sovereignty. It was said we cannot fight the US, we cannot go to war against US and the like some one rightly commented that we do not need Chamberlains at this juncture, we need Churchills. It is not understood how to say that we will defend our borders; our territory is being equated as going to war with US. Nowhere have we said that we go to war against US, only that we will defend our borders. These two positions very different? or are they twisting Kayani’s words purposely and putting an interpretation of their own on them. Are they shunning their constitutional duty to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty? Kayani’ statement has been acclaimed because he said what public fully supports.
A question has been asked whether we can retaliate US incursions. It needs be pointed out that it is US that is violating our territory and not we who are making incursions into US? The reply is yes we can and should take on US war on Pakistan. US is in beehives in Iraq and Afghanistan. It cannot afford to be in an other beehive, although it seems to be in mood to take on more trouble than it is good for it.
If US pursues its aggressive policy in Pakistan the terrorist menace will increase hundred folds not only in this region but all over. Even the coalition forces would find themselves in a blockade, as their supplies would be attacked when going to Afghanistan from the long Pakistan route.
Some commentators have suggested that Bush is taking this aggressive line in FATA as his election gimmick or of his Republican Party Presidential elections. I do not agree with this myopic view. The question of restructuring the Muslim world is a plan which started from the gulf war. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan are the US targets whether it is a Republican or Democratic President in power. Cutting these three tall poppies of the Muslim world is the eventual target. This is “ new battleground” any way our forces are concerned with their constitutional responsibility. Nothing is more scared for a nation than its territorial integrity. There can be no compromise on Pakistan’s sovereignty. We have not attacked US, nor have any intention of doing so, on the contrary, it is they who have violated our sovereignty, intentionally or blatantly. To no self respecting country sovereignty is negotiable. To uphold it every citizen is expected to pay supreme sacrifice, irrespective of the consequences.
Price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Source: Pakistan Observer, 18/9/2008