News & Views
ON November 26, 2011, the entire nation mourned over brave sons’ sad demise in NATO’s attack on two Pakistani border posts at Salalah. Indeed, that was a naked aggression, plain and simple, deliberate and planned. The border posts couldn’t be unknown to the US-led NATO forces, which were set up for their inaction to hobble fugitive Pakistani militants belonging to TTP. They were provided safe haven and were ensconced in hundreds under their very noses in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces from where they freely planned and launched deadly attacks on our security posts and return to their bases unchecked. By going through the statements of America’s civil and military leaders, it was not difficult to conclude that the attack on border posts was not an act in isolation but related to other events.
After Raymond Davis episode in January 2011, US Marines’ attack on Abbotabad compound on 2nd May 2011 and Memogate scandal October 2011 America had been threatening Pakistan of a unilateral action if any evidence of any other Al Qaeda high profile leaders was available. But there was neither Al Qaeda operative nor smoking gun to justify attack on the Salalah border posts. Pakistan had lodged a strong protest with the US and closed down supply routes used for NATO forces in Afghanistan, and also asked the US to vacate the Shamsi base within a fortnight. Pakistan had done well to boycott the Bonn conference, as the previous conference in Istanbul was an exercise in futility. US Secretary State Hillary Clinton during her last visit had asked Pakistan to help bring the Taliban to the negotiating table in a veiled reference to Bonn Conference. In fact, it was clash of interest between Pakistan and America, which was the major reason for the trust deficit.
Going by the propaganda blitz and statements of American think tanks, members of Obama administration and US commanders, it was not difficult to reach the conclusion that they wanted to disgrace Pakistan military and the ISI in public eye. Pakistan had helped the US and allies in war on terror but all rewards were bestowed on India in the form of reconstruction constructs and strategic partnership. Of course, it is in the interest of Pakistan that Afghanistan is stable, independent, and strong. But Pakistan’s desire to see a government, which is not hostile to Pakistan, is natural and genuine. Then Director General Military Operations, Major General Ashfaq Nadeem (now Lt. General) in a briefing to the editors, columnists, analysts and anchorpersons had termed the strikes on Pakistani posts by NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as unprovoked act of blatant aggression.
He had added that attacks were not unintended in which all coordination procedures were violated. “The positions of the posts were already conveyed to the ISAF through map references and it was impossible that they did not know these to be our posts”, he said while giving details of attacks on two border posts. Regarding Afghan media reports about shelling on Afghans from Pakistani side, he said that Afghan media reports were totally incorrect and there was no truth in them. Indeed, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership had toughened up its act, which was emblematic of a hierarchy of independent and sovereign country, and the measures were well within the sovereign right of an independent state, which indeed should have been taken and followed up in execution long time ago. It was mala fide intention of the US and NATO troops that had attacked the border posts.
It was a matter of great satisfaction that all strata of society, from working classes to lawyers to general public, had expressed their determination to stand by the armed forces to meet the threats and challenges facing Pakistan. There were demonstrations and rallies in almost all cities to express their solidarity with them. However, there were some politicians, anchorpersons and analysts who instead of lauding the efforts of civil and military leadership to get out of American servility, tried to denigrate the military and intelligence agencies, and painted them in poor light. One of the analysts on a renowned TV channel remarked that Pakistan cannot resist the pressure of the super power, and ultimately will have to do America’s bidding. Another analyst tried to create fear in the minds of the people and warned that Pakistan would meet the wrath of the US. He said that in the event Pakistan resists and insists on vacating the Shamsi air base, and did not allow resumption of supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan, the US would consider it as an act of war. A few others said that the elected government was doing what military tells them, to prove that civil and military leaderships were not on the same page, and military is calling the shots. Former president Pervez Musharraf had buckled under American pressure after 9/11 but it is no divine canon that we have to provide the supply routes for the American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. In fact, we have been stupidly generous in extending this facility, all for free. Even the northern route that Afghanistan’s US-led NATO occupiers had explored and established as an alternative for their supplies was not for free. They paid every liable levy.
They had used our routes for more than ten years without paying even a dime in tax, and the aid they had given was not enough to refurbish the roads they had damaged. What indeed had we got for all our sacrifices except that they have shown us only malice and rancor? They wanted to make Pakistan a whipping boy to cover up their own cowardice, spinelessness and acute deficit of fighting spirit that had led to their debacle in Afghanistan. So far Pakistan has sacrificed 55,000 innocent citizens. More than 6,000 brave officers and soldiers have laid down their lives in this spurious US-led war on terror in Afghanistan. We have had enough of it. And we must have no more of it. Pakistan has to gird up its loins to face vile acts of Indian RAW, Afghanistan’s NDS and CIA that are out to destabilise Pakistan.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.