Wednesday, February 22, 2012

U.S. Pakistan relations pass point of no return

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis protest continued assassinations and airstrikes on Pakistan soil that have left thousands of innocent bystanders dead.

Massive rallies were held today in Pakistan in response to over 2,000 soldiers being killed by NATO forces and constant drone strikes that leave innocent woman and children dead. The protests also denounced the U.S. assassination attacks by U.S. military forces on Pakistani soil.
The sparking point for the rallies began when a U.S airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. Since the U.S. has repeatedly ignored requests to end or coordinate them with Pakistani intelligence in order to prevent so-called collateral damage.
While it may be hard to imagine the anger of Pakistani citizens given all of the one-sided reporting and anti-terrorism propaganda reported in the corporate media, anyone who objectively questions the morality situation can clearly understand there anger. As reported some time ago, 1 in 7 U.S. drone strikes worldwide kills a child. In Pakistan those statistics are worse, were in 1 in 3 drone strikes kills a child. See this: Report: 1 in 3 Pakistan Drone Strikes and 1in 7 of all CIA Drone Strikes Kills a Child.
Furthermore, just imagine Russia or Iranian special forces conducting raids every day to assassinate people here inside the U.S. Also imagine, when every a target is assassinated any innocent bystander, be they a man, women or child, who is unfortunate to be in the surrounding area is also killed as part of collateral damage.

Press TV: It does seem that anti-US sentiment is growing increasingly in Pakistan as Washington refuses to stop its drone attacks. Can, however, action on the popular front force the Pakistani government to make a more demanding position against the drone strikes?
Ahmad: There is no doubt Pakistani people are really getting to a point of no return about the US Pakistan relations and the real issue that Pakistani people are facing is indifference by the leadership.
There was a rally of about a thousand people in Islamabad which had a cluster of leaders but hardly one or two of them could be elected from a constituency in a general election which is fair.
So the problem is that all these people who are taking credit or trying to cultivate on this anti-US sentiment do not have much credibility in the people. The ones who have actually, are not in the parliament.
That is the dilemma of Pakistan, and I am talking about the newly emerging opposition which is led by Imran Khan, that is not really the one which has some presence in the parliament but they have to mobilize people and he has done that as well earlier.
The problem in an overall sense in Pakistan is that there are multiple centers apart and everyone is looking after its own particular spheres interests. Pakistan’s overall ownership is not with any leadership or institution.
For example, there comes a point when military is being hurt by the American actions, then definitely there are going to be stronger actions. If politicians are really facing some music, they will become kind of an opposition and similarly the civil society or the media. But there is no general consensus as to how to deal with Pak-US relations in the next say decade or so.
Press TV: We know that the relations between the two sides did become tense after those soldiers were killed in the US drone strikes; however, after that phase, we have seen the drone attacks continue and some observers were telling us that this is coming where the tacit, support or acceptance of the Pakistan authorities.
So basically how bad are relations between Islamabad and Washington after the US air strike in November? When you say that there are different versions of policies in the Pakistani government, are you saying that there is no unified policy in terms of relations with the United States?
Ahmad: There is no doubt about that, there is no unified policy; there is no doubt about that that there is some kind of tacit understanding between the Pakistan’s existing political elite which is led by Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, and other parties are really not taken into confidence or they are still siding with the US.
With the hope that in case there is a situation of a coup or something, Washington’s nod goes with the political elite that are on the fringes.
Only one or two political parties which are really serious are taking it up as an issue.
Now coming to the question of how Pakistan-US relations should be seen given this kind of understanding, after the attack that killed 24 Pakistani military men, Pakistan’s relations have gone to the lowest ebb, and I keep defining lowest ebb since Osama was killed in Abbottabad. I said the same and others said the same and then we had other incidents which really proved that, no, we have yet to explore the rock bottom and probably this is the rock bottom.
Pakistani intelligentsia, Pakistani media and of course Pakistani parliamentarian committees are really working on how should Pakistan set the agenda for the relations ahead. And the same is happening back there in Washington.
There was a resolution that has been tabled in front of Congress about the situation in Balochistan which really has a larger canvas in which, on the one hand, Balochistan is bordering Iran on the other Afghanistan, and the situation that you see in Afghanistan and relations, all the animosity with Iran, really puts Balochistan in a very different context.
So the US also is pondering about Pakistan-US relations in its own way by imposing sanctions, by trying to create and fuel all these organizations which are working for a kind of an agenda which is not theirs.
But at best, I would say that the Pakistani government is to be blamed for ignoring Balochistan despite its strategic significance, despite the Middle East resources and despite being the region making 40 percent of Pakistan’s geographical landmass.
So on the overall conclusion, I would simply say that Pakistan-US relations are not going to improve just because of one decision or the other. NATO supplies are not going to be restored very soon in a real sense of the word.


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