When The New York Times speaks you are hearing the voice of the American government. Thus when the NYT says as it did on Monday that US commanders in Afghanistan want to expand Special Forces operations into Pakistan; we can be sure the report is accurate. We can also be sure that the report is as much designed to twist diplomatic arms as it is to inspire fear in the enemy; and it is a reflection of the frustration felt by the Americans for our perceived failure to ‘do more’ by way of counter-terror operations in the borderlands. With America working towards a reduction in troop levels and an eventual pullout it will also be looking downstream for somebody to blame if, as expected, the war in Afghanistan is not won by the US and its allies. It is not difficult to see who might be in the frame once blame starts getting apportioned, and no matter how engaged we may be, how great our casualties – and they are greater by far than any other nation fighting this war – the ‘do more’ mantra is moving towards being ‘never did enough’.
Within this complex scenario we have people like our own ambassador to the United States, Hussain Haqqani, stating unequivocally that our own forces are capable of handling the threat from militants within our borders and that having foreign troops operating on our soil is unacceptable. Comments such as this nowadays need passing through the Wikileaks filter to test their veracity and, as we have already seen in remarks made by Prime Minister Gilani, public statements may not accord with private realities. His comments on the US operation of drones within our airspace, flying from bases within the country, add a layer of scepticism to whatever our leading diplomat on US soil has to say. American forces already operate in Pakistan. They have done so for many years and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They operate with the complicity of the government, which is duplicitous in its representation of an uncomfortable truth to the general public. So would America act unilaterally and conduct operations inside our borders without the complicity of the government? Yes, and they already have. They have killed members of our own armed forces while doing so. Carrying out a ‘hot pursuit’ raid or an operation to lift a potential intelligence source are steps further beyond a line that was crossed long ago with minimal challenge from our authorities. Expect no change in this position in the future.