Mr. Panetta has threatened that “the US is running out of patience”. Pakistan has rejected the statement of Mr. Panetta and has denied that there are any safe havens in Pakistan.
As the US retreats from Afghanistan, it is important to know that Pakistan’s role and influence will grow, not because od Dollars and Cents, but because of the simple fact that the Afghans have relations of blood, language and religion with Pakistan. These bonds of family overcome any temporary relationship based on transactions. The Pakistani Army shares bonds of history with those who live in the Khyber and beyond. No other army can do what the Pakistan Army can do there–because of the simple fact that the Pakistani soldiers hail from the same villages and towns.
Foriegn armies don’t hail from the the peaks and the valleys of the Hindu Kush.
Whether NATO supplies are restored or not, is not the point. The point is that America is leaving the Pamirs. $8 billion per year for the Afghan-National-Army-by-day and Talibs-by night will not ensure the survival of Mr. Karzai and his cabal.
Next year ISAF, NATO and US forces will begin a dramatic exodus. The Stars and Stripes will only have drones to hide the defeat and retreat. The drones will he heralded as a victory and big names will be bragged about.
There is widespread public support in Pakistan for the blockade imposed on NATO–to continue. All Pakistani talk show hosts are applauding the Pakistani move and want Islamabad to press the point, get an apology (with compensation) and some sort of a commitment from NATO that this should not happen again. It s bit complicate. The PPPP faces taunts from all sides for being complicit in the drone bombings.
- Three-quarters (70.8 percent) of FATA residents polled oppose U.S. drone strikes
- 47.8 percent of the respondents saying the strikes kill civilians (only 16.2 percent say they accurately kill militants).
- 9 out of 10 people in FATA oppose the U.S. military pursuing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan
It has been about six months that the NATO supplies have been under suspension. Washington has asked Pakistan to expand the window of operations. It is now apparent that Islamabad has refused to change the “window” of operations for NATO to operate in. It is amazing that ISAF is worried about pockets in Pakistan and fails to explain who 90% of Afghanistan is in the hands of the Afghan National Resistance (Haqqanis, Hikmatyars, Taliban etc). Why focus on FATA and ignore Marja and Qandhar. Secure all of Afghanistan and the cross-border issues will melt away by themselves.
The issues are:
- Apology for attack on the Pakistani post
- Charges per truck for NATO and ISAF supplies. Pakistan wants $5000 per truck and the US wants to give $500 per truck
“We strongly believe that such statements are misplaced and unhelpful in bringing about peace and stability in the region”, said the spokesman at the Foreign Office of Pakistan.
He added ““We feel that the Secretary of Defence is oversimplifying some of the very complex issues we are all dealing with in our efforts against extremism and terrorism. These issues need to be seen in the context of overall peace and stability in Afghanistan and the broader region.”
The spokesman also poignantly pointed out that “It is for the US itself to explain why it is not declaring the Haqqani network an international terrorist group”.
The story by Karin Brulliard of the Washington Post describes it prodigiously “The helicopter strike, which Pakistan says killed three of its soldiers, is widely seen here as proof that the U.S. alliance with Pakistan is based solely on self-serving security interests…It did not help that the airstrike came at the end of a month in which the CIA targeted Pakistan’s militant-riddled tribal areas with a record number of drone strikes…A U.S. official, on the other hand, said the public relations damage would probably not extend to the Pakistani army.
‘It undermines all we’ve done in flood relief, it undermines all we’ve done with the civilian government, which is the centerpiece of our foreign policy,” said the official, who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. “I don’t know if this kind of thing undermines the civilian government, but it does hold out the military as the real defender of the nation.’ ”
The Washington Post report further says “Pakistan denounced the airstrike as a violation of its sovereignty, expressing its protest through an ongoing blockade of a vital border crossing for NATO trucks, though officials have said the closure is also meant to prevent attacks on convoys.
Even so, the strike has led to calls for ending the alliance with the United States and support for its war in Afghanistan, which many Pakistanis view as the catalyst for Pakistani instability. In a newspaper interview, a brother of one of the Pakistani soldiers who died said the attack “amounted to a declaration of war.”
“Pakistan is the only coalition partner that is being targeted by the U.S. itself,” Sher Baz Khan, a 32-year-old student, said in an interview Tuesday in the northwestern city of Charsadda.”
The Washington Post report furthers says that “Some Pakistani government officials and politicians also view the NATO air incursions as part of a U.S. campaign to bully them”
- “How far can Pakistan be pushed?
- We have to survive as a country and as a government,” a senior Pakistani official said.
- “People across the board are saying that one rash action has wiped out all the good feelings toward the U.S. during and post-flood.”
- Rifaat Hussain, a defense and security studies professor in Islamabad, said the NATO airstrikes would make that mission harder.
- So, too, he said, will moves such as President Obama’s scheduled visit next month to India, Pakistan’s archrival, which is viewed in Pakistan as a snub, he said.
- “Despite this effort to redefine the relationship,” Hussain said, “the relationship has been that you have one positive, then that’s overwhelmed by three negatives.”
- Max Fisher has done a brilliant job of collecting the articles that are pertinent to the issue. We present a smattering of the opinions.
In the past few days, militants in Pakistan have destroyed several large fuel convoys headed for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. These attacks come less than a week after the Pakistani government blocked one of the most important U.S. supply routes into Afghanistan, bringing the U.S.-Pakistan relationship to a perilous new low. Meanwhile, U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, which have become more frequent than ever, killed five suspected militants of German nationality. The rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan has many reevaluating basic U.S. assumptions, including our relationship with that country. Here’s what people are saying.
Afghan War Not Making Pakistan Safer Time’s Robert Baer pushes against the Obama administration position that part of the casus belli in Afghanistan is making sure that Pakistan does not collapse. “We’re reduced to common sense in figuring out where Pakistan’s breaking point is. The war in Afghanistan has done nothing for that country’s stability, and in fact it’s gotten progressively shakier over the past 10 years. Pakistanis scoff at the argument often heard in Washington that the U.S. needs to remain at war in Afghanistan partly in order to stabilize Pakistan — instead, they see the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the load that it has placed on Islamabad as being the major cause of the instability in their country. In other words, they have a very different idea of what another 10 years of war in Afghanistan or a full-fledged bombing campaign against the tribal areas will do for Pakistan’s security.”
U.S. Military Moving Off Fossil Fuel Dependence The New York Times’ Elisabeth Rosenthal writes, “With insurgents increasingly attacking the American fuel supply convoys that lumber across the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan, the military is pushing aggressively to develop, test and deploy renewable energy to decrease its need to transport fossil fuels. … Even as Congress has struggled unsuccessfully to pass an energy bill and many states have put renewable energy on hold because of the recession, the military this year has pushed rapidly forward. After a decade of waging wars in remote corners of the globe where fuel is not readily available, senior commanders have come to see overdependence on fossil fuel as a big liability, and renewable technologies — which have become more reliable and less expensive over the past few years — as providing a potential answer. These new types of renewable energy now account for only a small percentage of the power used by the armed forces, but military leaders plan to rapidly expand their use over the next decade.”
Our Counterterrorism Strategy Making Things Worse Salon’s Glenn Greenwald fumes at the escalating U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. “What a surprise: bombing Muslims more and more causes more and more Muslims to want to bomb the countries responsible. That, of course, has long been the perverse ‘logic’ driving the War on Terror. The very idea that we’re going to reduce Terrorism by more intensively bombing more Muslim countries is one of the most patently absurd, self-contradicting premises that exists.”
Why Pakistanis Increasingly Hate America Foreign Policy’s Mosharraf Zaidi explains, “The [Pakistani] public knows full well that the monster of [internal] extremism is an intergenerational challenge, one that will require careful and assiduous attention. Anti-American hatred, on the other hand, is fueled by a simpler narrative. There is no ideological commitment or religious fervor that fuels the Pakistani public’s anti-Americanism. Nor is there a particularly civilizational flavor to it. Pakistani anti-Americanism comes from a sustained narrative in which Pakistan is the undignified and humiliated recipient of U.S. financial support — provided at the expense of Pakistani blood. This may not be reflective of the intentions of Obama’s war, but it is reflective of the outcome of this war on main street in Pakistan. And perception is reality.” Zaidi also cites fears that the U.S. will try to remove Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the “crown jewels” of the nation.
- Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman, Senate Defence & Defence Production Committee, he explained that there is confusion in the US Afghan policy over proscribing the Haqqani network.
- “The Obama administration has failed to figure out Afghanistan, or for that matter, Pakistan.
- They are not sure whether they want to take on the Taliban or talk to the Taliban (of which the Haqqani group is an integral part), the confusion persists in US policy.
- There is a contradiction in that, they asked Pakistan last year to facilitate talks with the Haqqani group, which Pakistan duly did, in the UAE. But then if you are negotiating with them covertly, it’s difficult to overtly declare them terrorist. This means there is a difference between posturing (hard line) & policy (more pragmatic) from Washington.”
- Senator Mushahid Hussain also believes that the US does not want to increase pressure on Pakistan because they need Pakistan, as it is pivotal to facilitate not just their eventual exit from Afghanistan but also talks leading to that goal.
- “Sooner rather than later, the US will realise they have made mistakes in their Pakistan policy”, he added.
Reading Woodward in Karachi Mosharraf Zaidi, Foreign Policy
Counterterror Follies Glenn Greenwald, Salon
U.S. Military Resists Oil Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times
Afghan War Not Helping Robert Baer, Time