War on Terror set to engulf Pakistan
by John Pratt
The flurry of American strikes in the tribal areas has caused grave concern in Pakistan. Its military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, reiterated Friday that Pakistan would safeguard its territorial integrity. After meeting with corps commanders at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, General Kayani also said that the army and Pakistan’s new democratic government were united in their views.
The New York Times reported this week that in July, according to senior American officials, President Bush secretly authorized American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government. That disclosure prompted an immediate rebuke from General Kayani.
The focus of his anger was a Sept. 3 raid by American forces on a Pakistani village near the Afghan border. Pakistani officials said that attack had achieved little except killing civilians and stoking anti-Americanism in the tribal areas. ……
The dead included women and children, according to residents who spoke to Pakistani reporters.
Not satisfied with the that disaster the US faces in Afghanistan, President Bush is trying to bring Pakistan into this unwinnable war. Using indiscriminate airpower to bomb villages will always kill innocent women and children. Pakistani officials are correctly pointing out that such attacks will achieve nothing except to fuel anti-Americanism in the tribal areas. This is almost identical to the situation in the last years of Vietnam when the US, struggling to win that war, decided to bomb and use its special forces to invade Cambodia. This led eventually to the killing fields of Cambodia.
The massive US bombing campaign on Cambodia in the last months of the Vietnam War resulted in the collapse of the Sihanouk regime and the rise of Pol Pot’s Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). The CPK used the devastation caused by the US bombing and the killing of civilians as recruitment propaganda and as an excuse for its brutal policies. It seems nothing has been learnt and thirty five years later the US is using similar strategies in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The War on Terror is a battle of ideologies. To win, the West has to fight for the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It cannot win by bombing villages and killing women and children. It is immoral to use modern day weapons of war against impoverished and almost defenseless villages. The West does not have the power to occupy and control either Pakistan or Afghanistan. The only way to come to peaceful terms with their ideology is to use peaceful means and diplomacy. Military solutions will not change minds.