By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
Would the condolences of NATO Chief, US secretaries of State and Defence and so many others, minimize the pains and sorrows of the grieved families, who lost their loved ones in NATO air attack on night 25/26 November. Similarly, a few words of sympathy with the Government of Pakistan by US and NATO officials would not restore the lost status of Pakistani sovereignty, integrity and national pride. Today every Pakistani question its democratically elected Government, as to what has gone wrong with national pride, where is national independence and above all, is the Pakistani blood so cheap to be shed by anyone and anywhere even within its own geographical borders. Then what is concept of a nation state and national sovereignty.
Confirming the attack, ISPR press release says that, “On the night of 25/26 November NATO helicopters and fighter aircraft carried out unprovoked firing on two Pakistani Army border posts in Mahmand Agency.” The attack killed 26 and injured 13 soldiers. As per the Government of Pakistan, this attack is “a grave infringement of sovereignty, a serious transgression of the oft-conveyed red lines”. Government also decided to, review its relationship with US and NATO. These include cooperation at diplomatic, political, military and intelligence level. How far would this be practicable, the coming days will decide. However, this is a reality that, this US and NATO act is height of terrorism against Pakistan. It appears as if there is no international law operative in this part of the world. In fact, for the United States and its NATO allies there, neither exist any morale bindings nor it observes the UN Chart to respect the sovereignty of other independent states. While preaching others to respect human rights, US and its allies have crossed the limits of brutalities in their illegally occupied territories and those resist them against their excesses. Today, the biggest violators of the human rights are the one who made the Charter of human rights in 1948 and got it approved from the international community.
These Pakistani troops have been killed just because they were not allowing the terrorists from Afghan soil to intrude into Pakistani territory for various terrorists’ acts like killing the innocent people of FATA and promoting terrorism in the rest of Pakistan. Did not U.S and NATO realize that, they were also making sure that no militant should cross over to Afghanistan from Pakistani soil, an accusation US have been making more frequently. Thus, in a way, these troops were serving the US desire as well. Perhaps, this is the reward, US has given to Pakistan for helping this super power in Afghanistan since last one decade. No wonder, this has been the traditional US way of dealing with all those, who have positively contributed for this dying super power. One thing is very clear in Afghanistan, that for any act by either NATO or any other coalition partner, U.S is responsible, having over all command of the troops, deployed in Afghanistan. Therefore, the sole responsibility lies with United States for causing these massive casualties through wilful violent acts.
The question arise, what provoke US for such an aggressive and violent act of killing over two dozens soldiers besides injuring fourteen. In any case, this cannot be a stray firing nor an accidental bombing on two Pakistani military posts. Indeed, this is “outrageous” attack launched without any reason, as Pakistani Prime Minister described it. This is “unprovoked and discriminatory” act, cannot be accidental as some statements indicates from NATO and US officials. This is a deliberately planned and well-executed aggression by this super power against Pakistan. By doing so US has declared war against Pakistan, badly targeted its armed forces and violated its sovereign position. This is not the first time that U.S and NATO forces have violated the Pakistani borders and killed Pakistani troops, but, part of serial violations. Nevertheless, this is the worst attack by extra regional forces, occupying Afghanistan, since 2001. This US act has invited wide spread condemnation and ferocity from all segments of Pakistani society. Pakistani Army Chief General Kayani has strongly condemned the attack and declared it as a "blatant and unacceptable act". He has demanded that a “strong and urgent action to be taken against those responsible for this aggression".
In a delayed response, the ISAF spokesperson in Kabul, showed sympathy with families of victims and assured that, General John R Allen, the ISAF Commander has promised to investigate the issue and said that, the issue “has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts". Indirectly accepting this violence and brutal act, General Carsten Jacobson, a NATO spokesperson has said that, "A technical situation developed on the ground that caused the force to call for close air support and it is this close air support that highly likely caused the soldiers that perished on the Pakistani side.” The logic by such a senior military officer of NATO appears to be quite baloney in nature. With hi tech military equipment and most sophisticated global positioning system how did U.S and NATO forces fail to recognise the Afghan side of Pak-Afghan border and hit an area that is located 2.5 km inside Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan feels "There is absolutely no justification for this unprovoked and indiscriminate attack. There is no confusion about the locations of these check posts. They are well inside the border, they are clearly marked and NATO has their location on their maps." This excuse indeed is a quite unpersuasive and an unfounded excuse. Furthermore, there was not a scenario where NATO aircraft could have been pursuing insurgents who might have been crossing over to Pakistan as clarified by ISPR that, “There are no more safe havens in Mohmand Agency.”
After this very serious incident, there held a meeting of DCC under the chairmanship of Prime Minister. The immediate decisions are to logistic supply line for NATO convoys and US to vacate the Shamsi Airbase, presumably being used for drone attacks by US. US Ambassador, Cameron Munter was summed in the Foreign Office and a protest was handed over to him against this unprovoked aerial attack. Surprisingly, General John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan, had a meeting with Pakistani Army Chief just few hours earlier in GHQ, Rawalpindi. Many observers feel perhaps, Pakistani Army Chief might have refused some of the US demands.
Despite, many defence analysts opine that, the time has come where U.S is going all out to punish Pak Army for not toeing its line. Indeed, as a country in the forefront during this global drive against terrorism, Pakistan has been almost complying the US directions for quite some time since its beginning in 2001. Over the years, a sense prevailed and the military high command felt that, Pakistan is being pushed unnecessarily to an unending campaign, whose real objectives are contrary to its national interests and indeed, this practice is destabilizing the country domestically and economically. Moreover, it was also realized that, its ally, the U.S, is rapidly getting involved in the domestic affairs of Pakistan, while disrespecting the sovereign position of the state. In the garb of being an ally, U.S has penetrated quite a sizable number of its spying agents and contractors (Xe and Black water), who even had the linkages with militants, carrying out terrorist acts in various parts of Pakistan.
Having known all these particularly after the Raymond Davis episode, Pakistan decided to distance itself from US, while maintaining a formal relationship. It also demanded US to pull out its spying agents, involved in anti-Pakistan activities under diplomatic cover. Pakistan also asked US to bring an end to its CIA driven drone attacks and for respecting its sovereignty. U.S did not like these unanticipated and unusual Pakistani demands and after the OBL episode, started a well-orchestrated defaming campaign against its Armed Forces and its premier spying agency, ISI. Senior U.S military officials, State Department and legislatives were at the forefront in this wilful defaming campaign. Even through media campaign, efforts were made to degrade and humiliate the Armed Forces of Pakistan in the eyes of Pakistani masses. Despite this all, the military high command refused to follow the US line of action.
After failing to its persuasions, U.S has perhaps decided to use its ultimate weapon, the physical attacks, which if not responded as retaliation, would lower the image of Pak Army, inviting public rebuke. This is a very critical situation, facing the military leadership. Should they retaliate and invite an all out US war against Pakistan, the ultimate US desire, or patiently handle the issue politically, but inviting public rage. Here comes the wisdom and visionary decision by political leadership, which have passed many resolutions in the past too. This indeed is the right time that, US should be told in clear terms that, enough is enough, respect Pakistani sovereignty and do not repeat such violent acts, or else, Pakistani nation is quite capable to ensure its security and safety against any military might. Parliament should pass such a resolution and ensure its implementation too. Political leadership should strengthen its armed forces, rather there is a need to have consensus for a future course of action to deal the emerging situation. We should not tolerate NATO and US attacks or interferences any more. Indeed, time is ripe to through away the U.S clutches of few hundred dollars unfelt economic assistance (meant for a few only), and put the country on the track of veracity, self-respect and independence, where Pakistani too can live like a dignified nation.