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October 16, 2010

Pakistan’s rightful stand

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Agencies
October 16, 2010

A border out post manned by Frontier Corps (FC) troops at Mandato Kandaou in the Ali Mangola area of Upper Kurram Agency, located 200 meters inside Pakistan was attacked by a Nato helicopter on 30 September 2010.
The incident resulted into death of three FC soldiers. It was the third intrusion by Nato helicopters into Pakistan’s air space in a week’s time. The incident met with a strong reaction from the military and political leadership of the country and consequentially movement of trucks carrying supplies for Nato troops into Afghanistan was stopped. The blockade of Nato supplies remained in place for ten day. US and Nato officials responded positively.
A high leveled inquiry has been held to investigate the incident and to devise ways and means to prevent such occurrences in future. US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson had formally extended an apology to Islamabad. Nato Secretary General Andre Rasmussen had visited Pakistan to discuss the restoration of the supply route. US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen apologized for the US helicopter shelling at Pakistani post.
These developments are encouraging from Pakistan’s point of view; in any case Pakistan doesn’t want confrontation with the US lead collation forces. But at the same time Pakistan Armed Forces and its political leadership have conveyed it in unambiguous terms that no compromise will be made on the sovereignty of Pakistan.
American operations in Afghanistan and her ambition to dominate Asia is stained by number of pitfalls. After nine years of occupation of Afghanistan they have not been able to befriend the local population. It is not solely due to introvert Afghan culture rather Nato forces have not made a sincere effort to implement COIN strategy which focuses on development and ‘winning hearts and minds’ of the people. Ruthless and in discriminate killing of innocent Afghans and than hushing it up as collateral damage, further alienated the

local populous. They have not been able to address demographic realities of the country. How could they expect bringing peace to Afghanistan while neglecting majority segment of Pushtoons.
They have not been able to expand governmental control; according to an estimate even now approximately 75% of Afghan territory is being controlled by Taliban. For face saving and for the satisfaction of their domestic audience it is often said that they would defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements only if they could go after their sanctuaries in Pakistan. That is also misleading. Pakistan Armed Forces have cleared Swat and South Waziristan areas of these rogue elements where as Nato forces in spite of their technological superiority are stuck in Marga and are reluctant to launch major offensive in Khandar area. It speaks of the fact that ‘Shock and Awa’ is not a solution to this problem.
An attempt to expand war into Pakistani territory is what could be construed by US helicopter attack on an FC post. If it was so, the response has been balanced and firm.
How could American undertake such a venture without the consent of Pakistani government and necessary coordination with the armed forces of the country? In any case Pakistan’s Armed Forces are capable of combating the menace of terrorism within her geographical boundaries. Success of Pakistan Armed Forces is contingent upon the support of the people of Pakistan.
In fact they owe their victory in Swat and South Waziristan to the people those who vacated their homes so that the forces could operate freely in those areas. Under no circumstance forces can afford disappointing nation by showing weakness in their defense.
Attack by Nato helicopter on FC post was a clear violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan that could not be overlooked. It must be realized that Pakistan is not a walkover country; rather it is a nation of 180 million diehard patriots and has got a highly trained Armed Forces in it forefront and nuclear weapons in its back yard.
American failure in Afghanistan would be humiliating and will seriously undermine her international standing. Economically it will be most appropriate for them to close Afghan chapter in a respectable manner as early as possible. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke addressing Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council in Providence, Rhode Island has described American economic situation as ‘unsustainable’. During last two years her budget deficit averages 9.5% of national income against 2% from 2005 to 2007. Militarily their strategy has not worked in Afghanistan.
Under the circumstances the best option is to have a negotiated settlement with Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has already confirmed during a recent Larry King Show that “we have been talking to the Taliban as countryman to countryman” but there is no official contact. A 68 member Peace Council has already been formed on October 7 to pursue peace process in the country. These efforts can bear positive results. The process can be expedited if the interests of Pakistan are well looked after and Pakistan is treated with respect as “ally in war on terror.”

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