By Dr. Raja Muhammad

The new US secretary of Defence Mr. Leon Panetta on his very first visit to Afghanistan as Secretary of Defence issued a statement that, Dr Aiman-al-Zawahiri, who succeeded OBL is hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan. He promised the ISAF commanders including CIA Director designate, General David Patreaus that, Pakistan will be pressurized to kill Zawahiri and many bothers. Besides, the Secretary of Defence said that, “20 top commanders of al-Qaeda, might be living in Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen and North Africa will be killed or arrested after Osama.” Although, the Secretary did make a mention of the sacrifices of the Pakistan during this long-drawn war on terror, yet his revelations regarding presence of new Al-Qaeda chief means a lot.

The statement indeed is part of the pressure tactics US is using since last three years to launch a military operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). United States feels that pressurizing Pakistan indeed aims at compelling “Pakistani military to make a difficult choice between backing the country that finances much of its operations and equipment, or continuing to provide secret support for the Taliban and other militants fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan.” This indeed is a very provocative statement by US authorities. The statement gives a feeling as if, Pakistanis are being fed through US finances, contrary to the reality. However, this is neither the first nor the last claim made about Pakistan by a top US official. The change is that there is enhancement in the frequency of the accusations by US, after the Raymind Davis case and later following the OBL episode. 

On July 9, 2011, the New York Time quoted three senior US officials that, United States is seriously thinking to stop “about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan.”  Since quite some time, the news paper indeed has been used a propaganda tool by Pentagon, CIA and even US State Department. As per news paper, the US feels that such a step has been necessitated because of Pakistani Military has ordered return of US Military trainers and demanded for the vacation Shamsi Air Base, currently in use of US troops. If these are the logics, U.S feel sufficient to stop the military aid to Pakistan, then it is the height of narcissism by a super power, with a partner who selflessly contributed for the US cause throughout in its history and still doing that. After all, national interest and sovereignty of Pakistan should mean something to Pakistanis and US too.  Was not it sufficient for US forces to use the airbase for ten years? Moreover, Pakistani Military does not need British and US Military trainers anymore; therefore, they were requested to join back their respective countries. 

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Besides, US and NATO forces have been and are still using many logistic facilities of Pakistan to support troops in Afghanistan.  According the Ministry of Communication, damages worth billion of USD have been caused by the heavy US and NATO trailers to the roads under National Highway Authority (NHA).  There would be a requirement of $7 billion over next few years for the repair of the roads and US and NATO has not paid its initial damage cost of $1.5 billion earlier demanded by NHA. As per a statement of NHA, "We have written numerous letters to the Prime Minister's Secretariat and the Foreign Office since 2009 ——–but neither the Pakistani government nor the US or NATO have provided any monetary help to repair the damaged highways infrastructure by NATO trucks until today.” By promising $1.5 billion annual assistance under KLL, which Pakistan is waiting to get in lump sum even today, US feels that it has bought all Pakistani facilities?

This indeed is a wrong perception of United States about Pakistan. The super power has to be reminded of over $70 billion economic losses; Pakistan has suffered in last ten years, for its partnership with the US against the war on terror. The cost of social deterioration and insecurity caused to every Pakistani in these long years is beyond any estimate.  Can US pay for that, being responsible for all these breakdowns? US carrot and stick policy can be imagined from a recent statement of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Senate Committee. She said that, “When it comes to our military aid, we are not prepared to continue providing that at the pace we were providing it unless and until we see certain steps taken.”  The Secretary of Defence Leon E. Panetta, while substantiating Ms. Clinton said, “We have to continue to emphasize with the Pakistanis that in the end it’s in their interest to be able to go after these targets as well.”

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This indeed is a height of US ungratefulness to Pakistan. While making such accusations, US should have wisdom to visualize that, does Pakistan train militants to attack its own innocent people and security forces or destroying its own installations. Can US compare the sacrifices of Pakistan and rest of the world including its own during these ten years of war on terror? Pakistan has lost over 35,000 people since the start of this war on terror. Out of these casualties, 5000 combat soldiers have embraced martyrdom during the anti-terror campaign, as against 3000 deaths of ISAF forces of over 48 countries.  Therefore, before stopping the Pakistani assistance US should think ten times. Whatever, little success US had in Afghanistan, it was because of Pakistan.  U.S and NATO cannot stay in that hostile country for few weeks without the active support of Pakistan. Besides, the US military assistance to Pakistan is mostly in the form of reimbursement, rather offering a free lunch, which is not a norm in US. Even today, U.S has to reimburse billion of USD to Pakistan on various accounts.

This pressure tactic indeed is designed to relegate Pakistani contributions during the war on terror. By doing so, US desires that Pakistan should have no role in the future setup of Afghanistan and interests of new US allies, should be accommodated in that country.  Indeed, Pakistan does not desire a role for itself in that war ridden country. However, it would continue its support against the terrorism and would like that, any future setup in Afghanistan should accommodate the interests of Afghan people who have suffered in this over thirty year’s war, rather serving the interests of regional hegemonic power, whom US sees as its successor state. As far as Afghanistan is concerned, Pakistan will continue looking after the interests of its Afghan brethrens and even today looking after over 2.5 million Afghan refugees without any foreign assistance. It strongly feels that all afghan factions and group should be partner and made stake holders in any future setup of that country. Let, there be end of Afghan miseries and war of interests of great powers.

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As far as Pakistan is concerned, it can live without US assistance, rather dependence on US assistance has parlayed Pakistani nation. It would indeed be a blessing in disguise, if U.S stops its assistance to Pakistan, whose effects have never reached over to the people of Pakistan. This US act would enable us to stand on our feet and think for our future, rather being betrayed as witnessed since so many years.  However, US must pay its pending reimbursement bills, and cost of the losses Pakistan has suffered in last ten years before stopping the so-called assistance.