The Foreign Office briefing on the NATO summit left one wondering as to what it was all about. "As for the reported suggestion by the US to carry out drone attacks beyond our tribal areas," the spokesman said, "Pakistan's position is very clear. We will never allow this to happen..."
But aren't the tribal areas as much a part of Pakistan's national territory and under its sovereignty as the areas "beyond"? And doesn't an attack on the tribal areas, by air or overland, amount to invasion of Pakistani territory?
If the routine drone strikes across North and South Waziristan are acceptable, what's all this hullabaloo about the areas "beyond"?
Such ingress could be ignored only at the cost of national honour and integrity. Drone penetration of FATA is at the will of US/NATO air power. Not a single instance has been reported of these unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) being interdicted. They come and return to base after destroying their pre-planned targets – mostly men, women and children. As for loss of limb and property caused by the drones, it remains beyond calculation.
For once, the official spokesman dared to declare that "we will never allow this to happen" – but he remembered to qualify the warning by the specification of the area of the drone strikes, the tribal territory.
As for Pakistan's settled areas like Quetta, the so-called hub of Mulla Umar's "Quetta Shura", no violation of the air space will be tolerated: in a densely populated city like Quetta, a drone strike would kill a large number of innocent civilians. In other words, what is impermissible in the "settled areas" would be permissible in the tribal badlands. In practical terms, this virtually amounts to ceding sovereignty with respect to the tribal territory.
So what are six infantry divisions, accounting for some 180,000 regulars and paramilitaries, doing across a territory which is not exactly a part of the country, as the rest of Pakistan is?
A bizarre and potentially high-risk formulation: conceding, if not exactly recognising, Afghanistan's claim to our tribal territory as its part. Therefore, would an Afghan attack on any part of the tribal territory be tantamount to an attack on Pakistan as well or not?
What, then, was the Pakistani army doing in Bajaur in 1961 to dislodge the offensively deployed Afghan army from there? Wasn't the Pakistani army defending Bajaur, as an integral part of Pakistan's territory, against a creeping Afghan intrusion?
An attack on our tribal territory, whether by air or overland, is an attack on Pakistan's mainland.
A sensational disclosure by the Foreign Office related to the "deepening" cooperation between the CIA and the ISI. Imagine two opposite poles, as distant and at cross-purposes as the CIA and the ISI, collaborating each other, yet each trying to beat the other in an intricate chess game.
The two agencies are reported to have carried out more than a 100 joint operations in the past 18 months, including mutually planned raids leading to the capture of Mulla Baradar, the Taliban's former military chief. The snake and the mongoose coveting the same space, one waiting to expel the other at the slightest pretext or error of judgment. That might well be like revisiting the 1982-1989 period, with the CIA quitting to leave the ISI high and dry soon after the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.
Who will stand by Pakistan once the NATO forces quit after completing their mission of de-Talibanisation of Afghanistan, or half-way through?
NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen reassured the Afghan government that the Western allies would stand by Kabul. Not a word promising NATO support to Pakistan. This is not only a manifestation of rank ingratitude to Pakistan for all sacrifices it has made and the losses it has suffered through the Afghan war, but also of a flawed strategy. Nevertheless, it is Pakistan which holds the key to enduring peace and freedom in Afghanistan.
The building up of a 180,000-strong trained Afghan army to ensure peace and security is illusory when the history of the Afghan army is taken into account. It has been a coup-prone army which is likely to stay that way in future.
Recruited and trained by hated foreign forces, it would, in all likelihood, live up to its traditional Afghan hatred for the foreigner and the foreign-supported government with it.
Between now and 2014, when the Afghan National Army is expected to be in a position to take care of the country's internal and external security, a lot could happen to enrage the personnel of the fledgling army against the massive foreign presence and eliminate it at all costs.
The Afghan is a unique combination of hospitality and vengeance. It is not easy to foretell which trait would surface sooner, NATO's supporting role beyond 2014 might just as well the red rag to the bull of a trained Afghan national army.
Besides, Pakistan crucial role in the war on terror, the US shows little interest in Pakistan's own security concerns and threat perception.
Its refrain remains "Do more," regardless of the commitment of armed forces in the seemingly endless war against a stateless and phantom enemy like Al-Qaeda.
Admiral Mike Mullen remains overly apprehensive about the Al-Qaeda and "related networks capability to strike the American homeland."
It's heartening to note a "major policy shift" on the part of Islamabad saying no to drone attacks in North Waziristan. The same should go for the settled areas as much as integral part of our territory and sovereignty as the tribal areas.
The writer is a former head of the ISPR, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org