By: Amjad Malik
On the anniversary of tragic events of September 11, the statements of both Pakistan and US armed officers are frightening for Asia. New York Times reported today that ‘President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time to allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government’. The article reported that the American commanders in Afghanistan have complained bitterly that militants use sanctuaries in Pakistan to attack American troops in Afghanistan. He said that “I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan,” However, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “I am convinced we can.” Toward that goal, Admiral Mullen said he had ordered a comprehensive military strategy to address the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The commando raid last week and an increasing number of recent missile strikes are part of a more aggressive overall American campaign in the border region aimed at intensifying attacks on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the waning months of the Bush administration, with less than two months to go before November elections.
However, the US policy has been vehemently opposed by Pakistani Military Chief backed by Political administration reiterating that no external force will be allowed to conduct operations in Pakistan. He said in a hurried statement in response that “There is no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border”. Though such policy which was already in practice indirectly during General Musharraf’s reign under his so called ‘tacit understanding’ in order to catch Bin laden and or obstruct and destroy his tactics but now its an open announcement to infringe the borders of Pakistan. Pakistan is pocketing an insult, when US administration has already violated this month by parachuting its commandos and killing civilians and it is insisting on barging in and destroying the principle of territorial integrity in future too. Of course, it will add fuel to fire and all efforts to calm the locals will be futile, in fact, will aggravate the situation and the war on terror without a clear cause and purpose will be lost without achieving its objective. Sanity is in dire demand at this very moment.
There is no doubt, that 9/11 was the most tragic incident in this decade which brought so much hatred; vengeance along with it, as well as, it brought the ancient civilisations on to a flash point where tolerance and forbearance was lost somewhere down the line. Along with it came the new drive of a war against terrorism where enemy was unseen and it was a myth and ‘religious terrorism’ was invented prejudging the billions of people of one faith linking to intolerance and radicalisation. Pakistan too was asked to submit to the mighty power or was asked to face the consequences and be ready to go to the time of caves. Unlike Turkey who rejected over 35 billion aid package in exchange of allowing the mighty to use its territory to turn Iraq into rubble, Pakistani rulers devoid of legality in its newly installed regime caved in easily without any honourable settlement of their outstanding debts or without guaranteeing and addressing any threat to their national security in the form of retaliatory attacks or territorial integrity. When we look back US was demanding Receipts for the money given to hired force and weaker can only give explanations as Sovereign states seldom plunge their soldiers into a war whose results and risks are not calculated.
Pakistani army has lost around a thousand soldiers as a result of their active participation in the north of their country bordering areas of Afghanistan. According to the reports at present lives of more than 400,000 civilians of the seven agencies of Fata including South, East Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohman and Khyber agencies are directly affected by this ongoing war on terror. The life of 450,000 people of the four districts of the NWFP including Sawat, DI Khan, Hangu and Tank have also become worst due to the operations of the army. Sources said that 80,000 Frontier Corps and 40,000 infantry troops are manning 1100 check posts, which is ordinary duty of the police. The sources claim that the public favour and support to these operations can be achieved only in this way that they are assured that this war is solely being conducted for the security of the country. This goal can only be achieved by the detailed discussion and approval of the Parliament. In North and South Waziristan locals are taking up arms against its own military personnel and new US Policy will ignite the fire in the lower ranking military officers whose philosophy of discipline taught is to die in protecting the integrity of the State. Both sides are picking up dead bodies and there is debris everywhere but no one is willing to discuss and address the root cause of the arms struggle and genuine absence of the political process in war torn areas with aid package.
In civilised countries issues pertaining to country’s sovereignty and integrity are presented in parliament for approval however same countries support weaker regimes in order to avoid a parliamentary and judicial oversight over sensitive matters. Pakistan is handing over hundreds to CIA for money and can not secure one citizen namely Dr Afia Siddiqui back from them on the premises that their system is string and their courts are free. Pakistan is giving its unstinted support to United Sates for the second time. Last time it came to the region in 70’s, Bhuttoo was hanged prior to its arrival. This time post 1999, Sharif was nearly murdered judicially but later was exiled for a period of 7 years whilst he was facing a charge punishable to death. When I compare this with UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair who strolled after completing his half 3rd term in office and was made an envoy to middle east, I was trying to understand as to why in third world countries strong Parliament is not supported by the West. I have seen that only lip service is provided on the name of restoring true democracy, freedom of judiciary and media in military regimes only to tame the incumbent rulers to join the club or face the music. West prefers that military commanders keep their people under a ‘club’ and rule them to obtain desired results and education, sanctity of vote, justice, and freedom in true sense remain away from them. That may be double standards but surely that suits them. Latest twist in Pakistan on 9 September clearly depicts a gloomy picture where President Karzai witnessed his Muslim brethren President Zardari swearing an oath of allegiance to protect the borders and constitution which was followed by US policy to enter Pakistan.
Pakistan as a nation is up with a heavy task, especially its rulers who are either to show whiter than white philosophy and show maturity to take the peg from military to run the state as it deserves or keep embarking on the revenge mission and dirty tricks with unprofessional mimic corrupt advisors as in that case the work will be carried out by those who does the best. We are virtually at war with ourselves within as individuals and a nation, with our people and with a foreign force. A healthy political activity can reduce tension amongst institutions paving way to reduce radicalisation of mind and aggressiveness in the attitude, trying to address common grouses which jeopardise mutual harmony and good will. Winning the heart and minds of affected people can only stop them picking up arms against its own army and effective diplomacy to calm the super power to avoid experiments before their November US elections as they are determined to find dead bodies for their election purposes which can be fatal for Pakistan and dangerous for the NATO.
Politicians must see eye to eye to the challenges the country is facing removing trust deficits without losing its allies in West but saying ‘no’ to the old masters where it deems necessary, bring judiciary to a reasonable standard where justice is seen to be done and people are happy of the verdict they get from the court and run the system of civil administration smoothly addressing all the threats to it from within. Pakistani ruling elite will have to start being honest with themselves and with their people as double standards may suit the west but double crossing may cost lives here and if reliance on aid packages is not switched to ‘trade activity’ and ‘national honour’ is compromised then we must forget about country’s territorial integrity as beggars can not be choosy.
Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England)