Sunday, November 27, 2011
NATO Attacks - Can Pakistan Sustain Pressures?? By Iftikhar Chaudri
Pakistani Military Establishment is under severe pressure of the Pakistani Nation after the un-provoked attack by NATO gunship helicopters on Pakistani troops that allegedly killed as many as 28 soldiers, including one Major and one Captain each, also left several critically injured. Apparently a willful and well-calculated attack, two km inside Pakistani territory , on a military check post Salala, must have clear approval of the Capitol Hill. It will further deteriorate already tense multilateral relations between the USA, in the recent chronology of events which begins from the forced evacuation of US Spy , Raymond Davis and then Killing of Osama bin Laden , after violating the Air borders of Pakistan. Ridiculously the western Media claimed that it was an act of self-defence. While, the question of military preparedness has also arisen , that why Pakistan Air Force didn't react to the 'US Operation' and shoot down helicopters, which remained in Pak Air space for ninety plus minutes. Similar, security lapse was observed during OBL case in Abbotabad.
The claim, which is highly incredible , personified and referred to ‘the Kabul-based official, a joint US-Afghan force operating in the mountainous Afghan frontier province of Kunar was the first to come under attack in the early hours of Saturday morning, forcing them to return fire. There was no physical authenticity of the ridiculous claim was unearthed nor it was ever reported to Pakistani Government .
The high death toll from an incident between two ‘supposed; Military allies suggests NATO Gunship helicopters and jets strafed Pakistani positions with heavy lethal weapons.
Pakistani Nation , which demonstrated severe reaction against her own Defense Forces and Inter Services Intelligences , after failure to protect the Air Space violation by US Authorities in OBL operation and Naval airbase attack in Karachi, will consider it a fuel to injury , if there is not effective measures may be taken practically. More than forty thousand Pakistanis including troops from security forces , were killed in the alleged ‘ so-called’ War on Terror. Almost all political parties , including newly ‘revitalized’ political force , Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf, led by glamorous Imran Khan, vehemently opposed the US policy and becomes principal vocalist to revise, rather to take U-turn towards US WAR in Afghanistan , which is allegedly hampering with security issues of Pakistan. Pakistani Government can not afford opposition to a highly charged anti-US Public feelings , which may further aggravated with the due course of time.
Visibly furious over the NATO attacks on Salala post, the government on Saturday reacted sharply , called emergency meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), the country’s highest forum for defence policy consultation and coordination. The meeting was convened to discuss the NATO air strikes and make strategies for a response. The retaliatory decisions , included closure of supply routes used NATO forces in Afghanistan and once again asking the United States to vacate Shamsi airbase, within 15 days . Shamsi airbase originally is owned by UAE and previously used for drone operations. The government also said it would carry out a thorough review of its cooperation with the US and NATO.
The DCC also decided that the government will revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting. Reportedly, it is believed, It was originally proposed to unilaterally terminate the NATO supply route, but ultimately the DCC settled for keeping it indefinitely closed even as it had been squelched soon after the incident and the decision by the country’s top civilian and military leadership appeared as a formal closure announcement. The decision which moved from permanent closure to just termination , may apparently show, a liberal way-out for the expected “visits of top US officials” for luring Pakistani Government or may be Military Establishment to sit on a table for more ‘perks’ in the ongoing “war against Terror’ or to re-negotiate the ‘ terms’. Earlier the Pakistani Government witnessed a stormy visits of US top officials , including , Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry and Mullen, when the former took a stern stance against the US wishes in Raymond Davis and OBL Killing cases, though succumbed to US pressures, later. Even Pakistani Government failed to negotiate the terms of release of Dr Aafia Siddidue in lieu of Raymond Davis’ release.
Earlier , the supply route remained closed for 11 days last year after NATO helicopters penetrated into Pakistani airspace and fired at a paramilitary force, killing two soldiers. The issue was resolved after apologies from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO generals. The sudden stoppage of supply through Chaman and Torkham border crossings will paralyse the NATO operation, as 40% non-weapon transportation was being routed through the Pakistan which are the preferred routes for being economical and easy approach.
Moreover, NATO has developed an alternative, though too expensive, northern route through central Asian states as a contingency for a situation where the Pakistani route is closed due to variety of reasons.
Pakistani Military establishment and government , who are visibly disturbed over the revelations of Pakistani –turned US national business tycoon, Mansoor Ejaz, in which, allegedly , Pakistani Envoy to USA, Hussain Haqqani was made Scapegoat, to avoid possible tussle between the powerful state institutions, may get an opportunity to reunite and sit together to face the US hostility on the same pitch with a joint will. It was for the third time this year that the US has been asked to vacate the Shamsi airbase, 300kms southwest of Quetta. But this time it has been given a 15-day ultimatum for leaving the airfield, which is under the United Arab Emirates’ control.
The two previous occasions when similar demands were made from the US were after the CIA operative Raymond Davis episode and then in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden denouement. Drone operations from the base were believed to have ceased in April and the facility is now supposedly being used for logistic purposes. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Saturday strongly condemned NATO’s helicopters and fighter aircraft’s unprovoked firing on two Paki-stan Army border posts in Mohmand Agency resulting in loss of 24 security forces officials.
He said that the “NATO/ISAF’s blatant and unacceptable aggression resulted in loss of precious lives of Pakistani soldiers, said an ISPR press release. While lauding the effective response by the soldiers of Pakistan Army in self-defence, he directed that all necessary steps be taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act. The release said that on the night of November 25 and 26 NATO helicopters and fighter aircraft carried out unprovoked firing on two Pakistan Army border posts in Mohmand Agency.
Keeping in view the giving scenario , Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar may cancel her trip to Bonn for a conference on Afghanistan and the country may be represented there at a lower level. A final decision may depend on how Washington moves to prevent the frayed ties from taking yet another slide.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was "highly likely" that aircraft which had been called into the area to provide "close air support" to troops on the ground was responsible for causing casualties among the Pakistani soldiers.
The Pakistani nation rejected the Obama administration’s promise to conduct a full investigation. Earlier, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, issued a joint statement saying they had each spoken to their Pakistani counterparts to express their condolences for the loss of life.
Some political analysts believe that US has tried to check the pulse of Pakistani Military Establishment as to take revenge against ISI and Pak army, which curtailed the CIA operations by imposing strict Visa sanctions and security clearance. In the recent weeks, Pakistani security agencies have strict surveillance of US vehicles , which are plying outside Islamabad without assigning any plausible reasons. Many US vehicles were sent back by Pakistani Authorities to US Embassy in Islamabad. On many occasions, Pakistani Security forces confiscate illegal weapons from US embassy vehicles en-route to KPK and Punjab provinces.
Pakistan has to redesign its foreign policy towards its relations with USA. The meager 'perks' in shape of Kerry- Louger Bill, so far didn't pay any dividend to immense losses to Pakistani Nation, while its National security , rather its existence is threatened. In case, Military Establishment and Pakistani government role-back their decision due to expected immense pressure from US Authorities or to strike a deal for more ‘ perks’ in the name of national Interest ; it will not only further damage the confidence of Pakistani nation over its defense Establishment , rather Nation will plunge into a chaos of deprivation, which will be a national disaster.