South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

American intransigence
A Javed

The American ‘do-more’ mantra for Pakistan seems to have filtered down, with the US Commander in Eastern Afghanistan, a colonel, joining all others in spouting it. It is noteworthy that he said this at a special press briefing, where he had no other explanation to offer for the defeat of his forces except to call for a stop to the intervention which had not allowed the USA to stabilize the region, and to call for Pakistani forces to seal the border.

That the Pak-Afghan border is difficult to seal was conceded by the DG ISPR, who was quite frank that the Pakistan Army could not do it. However, he thus conceded the thrust of the American argument that the militants attacking American and NATO forces in Afghanistan sought safe havens in Pakistan. The logic of this argument would be for a reduction in Drone attacks, not an increase, but forces facing defeat are not usually very logical, and the US is not proving an exception.
The USA has far from conceded defeat in Afghanistan, and passed up an opportunity in the recent review of operations which was presented to the President and which he endorsed. However, the mounting casualties are an indicator that the USA cannot ignore. In its increasingly wild attempts to stave it off, the USA is trying to put the blame on Pakistan. The Pakistan Army should not accept this, but it seems that it is overdoing the part of an ally by doing so. Yet behind both US and Pakistani statements is the undeniable reality that the Pak-Afghan border is very difficult, virtually impossible, to police in the sense of stopping crossings by determined persons. That is the reason that the resistance to foreign occupation has been rendered easier than for other countries, and the reason why the USA and the NATO forces are unable to stop it. Placing the blame for their own failures on Pakistan is patently unfair, but is perhaps natural among military professionals acculturated to success by their careers depending on it.
The implications for Pakistan should be obvious, and it should be kept in mind that the USA sees India as a counterweight to China in the region, and sees China as a rival on the world stage. Because of this, Pakistan must be very wary of the USA, and must not be deluded by perceived domestic compulsions into toeing the American line, but must prepare for the impending American departure from the region. Pakistan has an abiding an intrinsic interest in Afghanistan, not just because it is a neighbour, but because it has ethnic, religious and cultural ties to it, while the USA is not interested in it except as a conduit for Central Asian hydrocarbon wealth or its own minerals, and is thus not interested in its people. Pakistan, on the other hand, is mainly interested in the people. This must be kept uppermost in mind when making policy.