What is one to make of this item from the Chicago Tribune of Jan 27 2004?
It has been known since at least May 2002 that US Special Forces have been operating inside Pakistani territory alongside Pakistani troops, trying to find OBL and his followers in the mountains and forests of Waziristan and the NWFP.
This has already put Musharraf at risk of assassination by extremists in Pakistan, in particular Talibanised elements from within his own government. The last assassination attempt on his life has raised questions about how the secret information about his routes could have reached the assassins.
One feels entitled to make the elementary inference that the need for such an incursion, and on such a scale, gives the lie to confident statements emanating from the Pentagon about their success in dealing with the Taliban and with the scattered followers of OBL. According to the Chicago Tribune, it is being justified as a measure to stabilize Musharraf's position, despite Musharraf’s own insistence at Davos that such help is not required. My fear is that it, far from strengthening his position, it will have the exact opposite effect.
Militarily, with the tendency for "friendly fire" that has become traditional in any engagement involving US troops, one can easily imagine a scenario where one such incident triggers off a skirmish between Pakistani troops and US forces, rapidly degenerating into more frequent and widespread attacks on US troops through open breach of orders by battalion or platoon level Pakistani commanders, or more cunningly, by similar ‘friendly fire mistakes’ by the Pakistanis.
Politically and diplomatically, if it ends up strengthening the Taliban elements in the Pakistani government, it will not only have a disastrous effect on domestic politics in Pakistan (beginning with the removal of Musharraf), but also on the peace initiatives between Pakistan and India that have been gaining ground in recent months. The Indian side may claim that they cannot negotiate with terrorists, and the Pakistani side may revive their recently diminishing interventions in Kashmir.
Of course, the pursuit of US objectives irrespective of their effect on other countries, including on so-called “friends and allies”, has been the declared strategy of the present US administration. One would have thought that their experience in Iraq would have taught the US government a thing or two about caution, but they persist in behaving with scant regard for local sensibilities. This is nothing but an invitation to more terrorism and instability.
The only people who have the capacity to take non-violent action against this danger are the US citizens themselves, but most of them seem to be either too ignorant or too pre-occupied with local issues to worry about the larger consequences of voting Bush to power again. The rest of the world can only worry, because all over the world, including on the subcontinent, there are too many powerful people who have a stake in sucking up to the current globocop. Consequently, any attempt, such as through non-violent popular action, to do something about Bush is likely to be branded as terrorism.
Welcome to the new democratic order!