Fighting on our own
A Javed


The Americans, used to spending millions of dollars on the bodily comforts and protective gear of their soldiers deployed to fight an enemy, seem to be labouring under the illusion that unaided by the US, the Pakistan Army would not be able to fend for itself.

It would come begging for their help. They had better put such thoughts aside; the Pakistani soldier is a different kettle of fish. While heading for the war, he is imbued with the sole spirit of the sacred defence of his country and for which he is ready to lay down his life; the means of physical relaxation and self-protection are the farthest from his mind. Thus, the corps commanders, who met under the chairmanship of COAS General Kayani on Tuesday to consider the situation arising out of the $800 million cut in the US aid for Pakistan’s military expressed the resolve to fight the war on terror with indigenous resources, as they had successfully done in several part of the tribal areas. That, indeed, is how the stern warning of hard line US Defence Secretary Panetta and not-so-mildly-disposed Secretary Clinton needed to be responded. It is worth recalling Panetta’s exact words of admonition: “And they’ve got to know that we’re not going to give out a blank cheque until they show that this is a two-way relationship…..they’ve got to be able to give us their cooperation.” Clinton’s observation pointed to the same obligation, but in less domineering style. The Pakistan Army top brass made it plain that conditional aid was unacceptable. They also expressed anger at the unabated drone strikes. As preparations for Obama’s bid for re-election begin with greater commitment, such noises are likely to become more strident.
Nevertheless, there should be no question of giving way to the pressure. We must, first of all, tap all our resources in pursuing the war on terror and, at the same time, limit its scope by engaging the tribal elders to bring the militants to the negotiating table. For the Americans, who entered the war bragging and blustering to subdue the resistance by the use of military means, talks are an undeniable sign of defeat, but not for Pakistan. The militants are mostly our own citizens; they can more readily be persuaded to give up arms, once assured that we are not fighting for the US. Secondly, for any shortfall in the required resources, we have the Chinese who have declared, “The stability and development of Pakistan is closely connected with the peace and stability of South Asia” and are ready to give help that we need for this purpose.
But we must keep in mind that to be successful in self-reliance the entire nation – not only the army but also the political leadership and, of course, the people – would have to stand united. Considering the multiple crises Pakistan is facing it was, perhaps, never as necessary as today to demonstrate unity for getting out of the mess we see around us. Display of unity in the face of the US challenge would also disprove MQM chief’s charge that the government and the US were conspiring against the army.