Monday, October 27, 2008

American involvement in Pakistan

A proxy occupation force?
Shireen Mazari, The News, October 22, 2008


"Coming back to the Pakistani state and its concessions to the U.S., while a complete picture is probably not possible, one does not require an in-camera briefing to make some general assessments as to what has been conceded by Pakistan post-9/11 to the U.S. But a reminder would be timely right now when we are seeing a resumption of the silence on continued U.S. attacks in FATA against our citizens and our sovereignty.

Certainly, in the early days of our entering the U.S.-led "war on terror," we offered certain strategic bases of which Jacobabad has since been returned apparently over two years ago (or so one is informed, but there is always the trust factor that is not totally there for us ordinary citizens). In any case, since our initial giving on this count, we have clearly given some base-like facilities to the U.S. around Warsak, although, ostensibly, here there are only "trainers" for the FC and other Pakistani units involved in anti-terror operations. But as we all know, even the presence of a few U.S. trainers requires a whole base-like infrastructure in terms of food (they do not trust the local variety), entertainment, logistics, communications (heaven forbid that they have to rely on ours), security, and so on. So, even if informally, we have a base presence in the Warsak area now. As for the Shamsi base in Balochistan where there are Predators, one can safely assume that the U.S. would find it tempting to target Iran from this prime location (westward of Khuzdar). It is time we took back this base which is undermining our own regional security parameters.

Beyond bases, Pakistan also agreed to information/intelligence sharing and so all the equipment at airports, ports, and so on, through which information is gathered is shared with the Americans. But it seems there is little reciprocity from the U.S. side on this count. What is unclear, and I wonder if we will ever know truly, the compromises made by Pakistan on renditions and the handing over of Pakistani citizens to the U.S.. What we do know is that some agreement on this count was also put in place, with some individuals actually making money as a result – to Pakistan's eternal shame. It would also appear that this agreement continues since Zardari, despite grandiose statements, did not even mention Dr Afia Siddiqui's name while in the U.S. recently.

It also appears that we allowed, and continue to do so, 24-hour overflights for U.S. and NATO tactical operations over/through Pakistani airspace. Such instructions have been given to our air traffic controllers. In addition, over briefings given in the past, we were told that all Predator/missile attacks the U.S. undertook were initially done with permission from Pakistan. But now it appears they have stopped seeking that permission. In fact, the Libbi strike was also carried out without Pakistani permission so we do not know when the U.S. altered policy and chose not to inform, let alone seek Pakistani permission for attacks on Pakistani territory.

What we do know is that there was no agreement on ground attacks by U.S. forces. Tut since the present government has been in power a question mark hangs over this aspect of so-called cooperation with the U.S. Especially since, after Zardari declared in New York, that Pakistani forces had not fired on U.S. intruders, there has been not even a murmur of protest at the increasing U.S. violations against Pakistani sovereignty and Pakistani citizens. In fact, so emboldened have the U.S. and NATO become that, for the first time, in a reversal of the earlier stance, the NATO command has declared support for U.S. intrusions into Pakistan! So, an intelligent conclusion would be that our new government has added to the concessions made by Musharraf."

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