Response to menacing US postures
Political and military leadership of Pakistan categorically rejected the allegations that the Haqqani network was a ‘veritable arm’ of ISI and that Pakistan was responsible for the attack near the US embassy in Kabul. A special Corps Commanders meeting with Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in chair discussed Pak-US rift, and rejected all blames US slapped on Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has convened an all-party conference to build consensus on Pakistan’s stance over the US threats. The Prime Minister also called up President Asif Ali Zardari and took him into confidence, and also discussed with different political parties the situation arising out of US accusations about Pakistan supporting Haqqani network. It is indeed encouraging to see that political and military leaderships are on the same page, and they look determined to meet any eventuality be it a surgical strike similar to 2nd May episode, or any ground assault by US and NATO forces. Though there have been ups and downs in Pak-America relations during the last six ddecades, but military to military relations invariably remained in tact.
Had Pakistan leadership warned the US of its resolve to retaliate in the event of recurrence of 2nd May-like Special Forces Operation at Abbottabad, members of Obama administration and American Generals would not have adopted menacing postures. For almost one week, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen have been leveling accusations of Pakistan’s support to the Haqqani network. Admiral Mike Mullen, on Thursday testified before the US Senate that the Haqqani network is a “veritable arm” of the ISI. Seeing no response coming from Pakistan’s political leadership, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had to take the initiative to respond. He said: “This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain.” Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani realizing the seriousness of the situation has decided to convene ‘All Parties Conference’, and talked to leaders of all major and significant political parties over the standoff with the US. The entire nation is in a mood for quid pro quo, except some palmed off analysts and media men.
The fact remains that America is losing ground in Afghanistan. And whenever there is militants attack on its sensitive areas, American civil and military leadership start pointing fingers of accusation towards Pakistan. In August 2011, the helicopter carrying US Special Forces was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 38 troops, which was coming to the rescue of a team on a mission, what they said, to capture a senior Taliban leader. America media then speculated that Pakistan provided rocket propelled ammo to the militants. However, super power’s leadership had gone berserk after the 13th September militants’ attack in high security zone near US embassy and NATO headquarters, which knocked the bottom of their pretence of their grip over Afghanistan. In November 2010 also, President Barack Obama had claimed that the US and its allies were breaking the Taliban’s momentum, but it appeared the reality on the ground was different. After the Lisbon Conference on Afghanistan, the leadership of the Afghan Taliban had declared: “In the past nine years, the invaders could not establish any system of governance in Kabul and they will never be able to do so in future.” About ten years since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, the country’s south and east are still veritably under the sway of Taliban and other insurgent groups, notwithstanding the tall claims of success by the military command of American and NATO forces.
American leadership in fact had long ago realized that America and its allies were losing the war in Afghanistan, and this was the main reason behind President Obama’s exit strategy. But the way members of Obama administration and American Generals have started tirade against Pakistan, it reminds 1970s, when America was losing war in Vietnam. Apart from stiff resistance in Vietnam, American leadership was forced by American public and the world to withdraw from Vietnam. But before withdrawing, they had started propaganda against Cambodia and Laos for providing sanctuaries to Viet Cong guerrillas. They bombed Cambodia flat and also destroyed infrastructure of Laos. Historian Mack Moyer in his book titled ‘Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War 1954-65’ opined that to win the war it was necessary to go all out. He wrote: “An all-out war would have meant a massive bombing campaign, mining Hanoi’s port and sending troops in the Laos and Cambodia to cut off the North’s all-important sanctuaries and re-supply routs, the Ho Chi Minh Trail”. However, Lyndon Johnson’s advisors were reluctant and fearful in part of dragging China and Russia into a larger war.
Pakistan’s political and military leadership should put their act together and gird up their loins to frustrate the designs of Pakistan’s enemies. They should seriously review Pakistan’s foreign policy, and also think of ways to make Pakistan self-reliant, as by ridding of dependency syndrome Pakistan can act as an independent and a sovereign country. With the US and Pakistan engaged in a war of words, China reportedly asked Washington to respect Islamabad’s sovereignty and territorial integrity while fighting its war on terror. Asked about US military Chief Admiral Mike Mullen’s accusations that ISI was supporting the Haqqani network to wage a proxy war in Afghanistan, a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry defended Pakistan, saying it has been “in the forefront of international efforts against terrorism”, adding that Pakistan has made important sacrifices in global fight against terrorism. We hope relevant country will respect other countries sovereignty and territorial integrity”, he said. Having that said, Pakistan should also try to improve relations with Russia. In view of the drastically changed political landscape, Russia would also understand Pakistan’s position, and earlier compulsions of being in the American camp.