During an interview with the ABC channel on August 2, this year, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates clearly hinted at carrying out an operation in Pakistan along with Afghanistan in order to root out the Haqqani network. His comments came as he voiced concern over leaks by whistleblower website WikiLeaks that Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI was maintaining links with Taliban and Al Qaeda.
As Washington was close to launching a major operation in eastern Afghanistan, close to border with Pakistan, WikiLeaks reports were deliberately made public to create doubts about Pakistan’s sincerity in the war against terror with the ultimate objective of creating justification for action inside our territory. Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, Pakistan “promotes” and “exports terrorism.” Besides, Afghan President Hamid Karzai also suggested NATO operation inside Pakistan.
It becomes clear now that the string of anti-Pakistan statements by American officials, the British prime minister and Afghan president were aimed at maligning Pakistan as part of the strategy to prepare ground so as to attack Pakistan.
In this connection, the motive behind the fresh wave of the propaganda campaign against Pakistan, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism has been exposed by the Robert Gates.
However, in recent weeks, CIA-operated drone strikes have increased on Pakistan’s tribal areas, resulting in more civilian casualties than the targeted militants, while any direct attack by the US on Pakistan’s territories will result in disastrous results in our country, region and America itself.
First of all, any direct attack by the US on Pakistan is likely to sabotage successes achieved by the ongoing military operations in Swat, Buner, Dir, and other tribal areas�especially in South Waziristan where these military actions have commenced in the recent past. At this critical juncture, when Pakistan has been facing a perennial wave of suicide attacks, any prospective operation by America is likely to cause panic among the dwellers. In this regard, inclusion of Balochistan in the US drone attacks or any military action of Washington will further deteriorate the situation due to internal backlash in whole of Pakistan, resulting in public protests�moderates will join the radicals. Such a blunder will further organise and increase the number of Pakistani Taliban as majority of the Pakhtoons are likely to join them. Nevertheless, in that scenario, suicide attacks are likely to increase in our country. While resentment against the United States could already be judged from the fact that in the recent past, two US drones were shot down by the tribesmen.
More significantly, prospective American military action in Pakistan will lead to sustained Taliban attacks on the NATO supply lines inside our country, while until now, these attacks have continued unabated intermittently.
Besides, by playing a double game with Islamabad, under the pretext of Talibanisation and lawlessness, America may also demand to send NATO troops in Pakistan, alleging that nuclear weapons are not safe there. In that situation, even our armed forces will be compelled to stop military operations, while the democratic regime will be forced to leave the US war against terrorism.
In the recent past, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi has pointed out that trust “deficit exists” in Pak-US ties, while Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani stated on February 3, 2010 that Pakistan and the US had “different long term goal” in Afghanistan. In the recent past, during the NATO meeting at Brussels Kayani also indicated internal backlash, raising Islamabad’s concerns over drone strikes.
Nevertheless, US direct military operation in FATA and Balochistan or any area of Pakistan will certainly result in more unity among the elected government, security forces and the general masses, consequently massive hostility towards Americans. In that situation, the US policy of liberalism and democracy could badly fail, giving a greater incentive to the fundamentalist and extremist elements in our Pakistan.
If America isolates Pakistan through sanctions, such an act will also cause drastic impact on the US war against terrorism, not only in our country but also in Afghanistan where US-led NATO forces are already facing defeatism, damaging their regional and global interests. This action is likely to undermine international efforts of stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is notable that France, Germany, Canada and Australia are reluctant to maintain their troops in Afghanistan for a long time because of casualties and insecurity, while Holland has announced to withdraw its forces this year. Frustrated in Afghanistan�in case of targeting Pakistan’s regions even through drone strikes as noted in South Waziristan, most of the American allies could leave the US war on terror. This scenario will result in a greater rift between the US and other NATO members.
America must realise that in case of any full-fledged military action on our soil, both Iran and Pakistan might stand together to frustrate the US strategic designs. Moreover, their alliance with Syria would make the matter worse for Washington. In that scenario, a vast region from Pakistan to Somalia will further be radicalized, bringing about more terrorism against the Americans. However, in these adverse circumstances, American worldwide interests are likely to be jeopardised in these countries including whole of the Middle East where the US has already failed in coping with the Islamic militants directly or indirectly.
These negative developments will further reduce the US bargaining leverage on hostile small countries. In this context, determination of Iran and North Korea to continue their nuclear programme, Syrian stand for Palestinian cause and refusal of the Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez to yield to the US pressure in relation to oil supply might be cited as an example.
After fighting a different war for more than nine years, American cost of war which has already reached approximately 7 trillion dollars will further increase�decline of dollar and acute recession inside the country are likely to give a greater blow to the US economy vis-�-vis other developed countries. Intensity of these problems will lead the United States towards downfall. In this context, disintegration of the British Empire and the former Soviet Union offers a drastic lesson to Washington. So America is likely to face the same fate.
Nonetheless, any US direct attack on Pakistan will produce disastrous results, not only for Pakistan, but also for the United States.
Sajjad Shaukat writers on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org