- Partnering with America has a price. Pakistan's paid
dearly. Post-9/11, it's been harmed economically, politically, and strategically.
Has its military now had enough and want out? More on that below.
- At issue is the latest November 26 incident involving
NATO forces killing 24 Pakistani soldiers and injuring 13 others in two
remote posts along Afghanistan's border.
- Army spokesman General Athar Abbas called the attack
"unprovoked and indiscriminate. There was no reason for it. Map references
of all our border posts have been passed to NATO a number of time."
- General Ishfaq Nadeem called them unprovoked blatant
aggression, adding that attacking border checkposts deliberately violates
- Internal calls for investigating these type incidents
usually follow. Not this time, except, of course, by NATO to whitewash
- Abbas said NATO strikes killed 72 Pakistani troops since
2009. Another 250 were injured. Calling them accidental doesn't wash. Pakistan's
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) denied NATO's claim about responding
to live fire on Pakistan's side of the border.
- NATO's attack lasted two hours. Senior officers in Peshawar
regional headquarters and GHQ Rawalpindi were informed when it started.
They immediately asked NATO to stop, saying army troops were targeted.
The request was denied.
- Following the attack, rage gripped Pakistan. Thousands
protested outside Washington's Karachi consulate. People shouted "Down
with America." Effigies of Obama were burned. So were US flags.
- Protests continue. The Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly
adopted a unanimous resolution condemning the attack.
- In Peshawar, so did tribal elders, government workers,
lawyers, students, journalists, and others. Pakistan's been on the boil
for years over drone civilian killings. Hundreds have died. In 2010 alone,
the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated 957. Many more were injured.
Thousands overall may have perished and countless others hurt and maimed.
- Through July 2011, another 443 died. NATO claims only
militants are targeted. Reports show about 50 civilian deaths for each
combatant. Western media scoundrels say nothing. Cheerleading, not condemning,
imperial wars is their stock and trade.
- Russia's anger over America's planned offensive missile
defense systems near its borders suggests retaliatory measures. President
Dmitry Medvedev calls them "advanced offensive weapon systems"
targeting Russia, not Iran or other Middle East states.
- Moreover, Russia is deeply concerned about Western intervention
in Syria. Its valued Tartus naval base is affected. Protecting it may be
- Besides strengthening its own military capability, it
may cut NATO ties and block Russian supply routes to Afghanistan. Following
Washington/Moscow's reset, NATO began transshipping through Russia in 2009.
Since then, it's become an important route, now more than ever with strained
- According to Moscow's Institute of Contemporary International
Studies deputy director Ivan Safranchuk, Russia plans no immediate response.
However, if its concerns aren't addressed, blocking supply routes may happen,
- Pakistan's Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DDC) acted
immediately, closing NATO's transit routes to Afghanistan and telling Washington
to vacate use of its Balochistan Shamsi base in 15 days. It's used for
- DDC also will "revisit and undertake a complete
review (of all) programs, activities and cooperative arrangements"
with Washington, NATO, and its International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) in Afghanistan. Military, "diplomatic, political and intelligence"
areas will be addressed. In addition, other cooperative US/NATO/ISAF arrangements
will be reassessed.
- Pakistan's Costly US Alliance
- NATO's Afghan war gravely impacted Pakistan. Then President
Pervez Musharraf was pressured to join cooperate, or else. During a post-9/11
"60 Minutes" interview, he said Washington threatened to bomb
Pakistan without it.
- Bush administration Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage delivered the message through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) head, saying cooperate or be "bombed back to the stone age."
Ambiguity was avoided for bluntness.
- At the time, follow-through was doubtful. Pakistan is
nuclear armed, dangerous, and able to strike back hard.
- Nonetheless, Musharaff agreed. Secretary of State Colin
Powell took full advantage. He demanded use of Pakistan's airspace, closure
of its borders with Afghanistan, and use of its territory to launch attacks.
In return, Pakistan got billions in mostly military aid.
- However, it miscalculated. Early on it estimated spending
around $2.7 billion supporting America's Afghan war. Begun on October 7,
2001, ending it by yearend was assumed. Normalcy would follow. Taliban
strength would be eliminated. At most, low-intensity conflict would continue
with little cross-border effect.
- Over 10 years later, war rages. Taliban forces control
most of Afghanistan. Pakistan's involvement cost nearly $68 billion. Through
2010, Washington supplied about $18 billion in military and economic aid.
Much of it's been conditional on fulfilling US interests. Moreover, it's
distributed through NGOs, not directly.
- A $50 billion net loss shows much sacrifice with little
gain, including internal destabilization perhaps enough to topple Pakistan's
government. The economic damage alone shows the results of a bad bargain,
especially to a vital "war on terror" partner.
- Moreover, bunker mentality grips the country. Barricades
and security checks are everywhere. All sorts of problems accompany them.
Public anger grows over allying with America.
- Insecurity is palpable. It affects everything and touches
everyone, including in schools, factories, hospitals, offices, hotels,
mosques, and all public spaces. Thousands of civilian lives have been lost.
Many thousands more were wounded. Property losses have been huge.
- Pakistan's government has also been impacted. Besides
billions of dollars diverted from vital internal needs, about 4,000 soldiers
died. Many others were injured.
- In addition, thousands of troops have been deployed along
western border areas with Afghanistan. Doing so left its eastern border
vulnerable to Indian aggression, its traditional enemy.
- Pre-9/11, conditions were entirely different. Today,
hotels are virtual bunkers. So are other facilities. Beefed up security
is intense. Security forces with guns are everywhere. So are checkpoints
and metal detectors. Paying for it is costly, and for what?
- Insecurity, not security and stability, was achieved.
Public anger is palpable. Military commanders know they've been used and
abused. Pakistan's been military-run since artificially created in 1947.
Elections when held are rigged.
- Generals run things for Washington as a vassal state.
Pakistan is called a military with a country, not the opposite. Its force
level, including reservists, tops one million. CIA and FBI agents infest
the country. So do Pentagon troops operating out of Pakistan's bases.
- Perhaps its officials and commanders now consider changing
a relationship gone sour. The latest incident may be used advantageously.
The longer it's tied to America's wars, the more its own interests are
- Washington's Afghan adventure was lost years ago. Taliban
forces won't quit. Historically, Afghanistan's been disastrous for foreign
invaders. Britain and Russia know it well.
- Nonetheless, war continues. America arrived to stay.
It wants Afghanistan as a land-based aircraft carrier against Russia and
China. Pakistan is better served by allying with both countries. Rebuilding
relations with neighbors takes time. India is also on its mind.
- On November 2, Pakistan joined Russia, China and Iran
in Istanbul opposing continued US presence in Afghanistan post-2014. American
deployments everywhere are destabilizing and harmful to regional countries.
After paying a big price for years, Pakistan may start disengaging from
a destructive arrangement.
- A Final Comment
- Stratfor's George Friedman believes Pakistan "has
no qualms about the Taliban running Afghanistan," and won't challenge
them if US forces leave. It also wants Washington's involvement ended.
Reasons discussed above explained why.
- Doing so will also strengthen relations with Taliban
forces. Given America's destabilizing influence, it's also advantageous
internally to appear less pro-American.
- Following US attacks killing Pakistani soldiers in October
2010, Torkham's border crossing was closed for 10 days. This time, things
look more serious, Friedman believes. Uncertainty over continuing this
supply route got Washington to negotiate with Russia to transship through
- Keeping it is another matter, given growing Washington/Moscow
tensions. Currently, both routes account for about equal amounts of supply
movements. However, about 60% of fuel comes through Russia, and by yearend,
it may reach 75%, as well as similar percentages of other non-lethal supplies.
- America's warmaking ability depends on Pakistan and Russian
cooperation. Losing it would be strategically disastrous. Friedman says
Washington "hopes the Pakistanis will reconsider and that the Russians
are simply blowing off steam. Hope is not a strategy," especially
after 10 years of war going nowhere.
- Pakistan and Russia, of course, want it ended. They also
want US forces out and sent home. Given Washington's strategic aims, accomplishing
it is doubtful at best.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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