On May 29, 2010, while quoting the US officials, under the caption, “Options studied for a possible Pakistan strike”, The Washington Post disclosed: “The US military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced to the country’s tribal areas…ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration’s need for retaliatory options.” The Post further elaborated: “The US options for potential retaliatory action rely mainly on air and missile strikes, but could also employ small teams of US Special Operations troops already positioned along the border with Afghanistan.”
The Post also quoted Obama who said “during his campaign for the presidency that he would be willing to order strikes in Pakistan”, and cited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying after the Times Square attempt that “if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences.”
Although in the last few months, US military and intelligence high officials have been blaming Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan, yet this new threat is a clear indication to attack our country as since 9/1, despite American failed strategy in relation to war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world.
While Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly protested against the attacks by the pilotless aircraft by pointing out that these are likely to affect war against terrorism in the country, but the US policy makers do not bother for any internal backlash. Instead, Washington is considering a full-fledged air attack on Pakistan.
More than eight years after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, instead of admitting her blunders due to its flawed strategy of coping with the Islamic militants through military paradigm, playing a double game with Pakistan, despite calling the latter a key American ally in the war on terror, it seems that Washington has decided to attack the tribal regions including some other places without bothering for the dangers of its next blunder.
It seems that the US may demand to send NATO troops in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or otherwise could intensify its air strikes and ground shelling in the tribal areas of the country under one or the other pretext.
However, any US prospective attack on the Pakistan either on limited scale or vast one will result in immediate and far reaching consequences of dire nature for Pakistan, this region, the United States including the whole world.
In this connection, first of all, Islamabad will be compelled to separate itself from the US war on terror. Then Islamabad is likely to stop fuel supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan via the Torkham highway. In this respect, in 2008, the elected government of Pakistan had already temporarily suspended these supplies owing to American air raid at the Angoor Adda coupled with a number of continued strikes.
One of the negative impact of this new strategy is that moderates will join the radicals, providing new ammunition to the Islamic insurgents in Pakistan. In this context, on September 5, 2008, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), Gen Tariq Majid had exactly indicated in relation to American attacks in Waziristan that such cross-border strikes would further alienate the locals, proving counterproductive.
Any American aggression in the tribal regions will further organize and increase the number of the Pakistani Taliban as majority of the Pushtun are likely to join with them with a strong resistance against the US-led NATO forces inside the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Such an attack will also sabotage the Pak military operations.
Although at present Pakistani security forces are engaged in fighting against the Taliban in some tribal areas so as restore the writ of the civil government, yet in case of US full-fledged invasion, there will certainly more unity among the elected government, security forces and the general masses, consequently massive hostility towards Washington. In that scenario, American policy of liberalism led by moderate parties could badly fail, giving a greater incentive to the fundamentalist and extremist elements in the country.
If the US isolates Pakistan by imposing sanctions, such an act will also cause drastic impact on the American war against terrorism, damaging its interests in the region�which is part of its global strategy. Pakistan’s economic crisis could reach climax in that scenario. But converting our country into a failed state through any aggression will equally harm American interests. A greater political and economic instability in the country could make a majority of general masses revengeful against the Americans, which is likely to join Jehadist groups both inside the country and Afghanistan, culminating in massive attacks on the US-led coalition forces.
So besides Pakistan, US will itself face multi-faceted implications internally and externally due to its attack on Pakistan. In this regard, American cost of war has reached approximately 7 trillion dollars�decline of dollar, financial crisis and acute recession inside the country have given a greater blow to the US economy vis-�-vis other developed countries. Intensity of these problems is likely to lead America towards downfall. Disintegration of the British Empire and the former Soviet Union offers a drastic lesson to Washington in this respect. While indicating the causes of the collapse of the former Russia, once the former President Gorbachev had said that war in Afghanistan proved a bleeding wound for the Soviet Union. Now Pakistan, if attacked, is likely to prove the same wound for Americans who are already fighting war on terror on global and regional level.
US must also realize that in case of any prospective military action in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or beyond this province, both Iran and Pakistan might stand together to frustrate the US strategic designs. Further an alliance of both the countries with Syria would make the matter worse for Washington. In that worse scenario, a vast region from Pakistan to Somalia and Nigeria to Iraq and Uzbekistan will further be radicalized, bringing about more terrorism, directed against the Americans.
Nevertheless, in such adverse circumstances, American worldwide interests are likely to be jeopardized in these countries and the whole of Middle East where America has already failed in coping with the Islamic militants through traditional tactics of power factor in one or the other way.
It is mentionable that most of the US-led NATO allies like, France, Germany and Australia are, in fact, reluctant to maintain their troops in Afghanistan for a long time because of a sense of insecurity. Canada has announced to withdraw its troops this year. So because of a prolonged war in Afghanistan, in case of targeting Pakistan, most of the American allies could leave the US war on terror, and that fact could create a greater rift between the US on one side and other members on the other.
Moreover, American such a ‘hot pursuit policy’, followed by a new strategy towards Pakistan could lead to clash of civilizations, popularly known as Word War 111 between the Muslims and the Christians on international level.
Nonetheless, in face of the already deteriorated law and order situation in Pakistan, we will have to protect our interests by a well-defined strategy in case of any American strike which is likely to convert into an allout war between Pakistan and America. In this context, there must be a strong sense of unity among our defence forces, politicians and the general masses which is essential to thwart the nefarious designs of the United States.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. Email: email@example.com