A Concert of Troubling Developments in Pakistan
Welcome Adventures of Chester readers, especially to my brothers and sisters in uniform. Semper Fi, all.
The Word Unheard out of Islamabad, Pakistan today is multi-faceted and troubling, but not wholly unexpected. Pakistan has never been a true ally, but rather an ally out of necessity and an ally that neither side was ever truly comfortable with.
Today, the redrawing of the line of demarcation appears to begin in earnest.
First, (Hat Tip: lgf) the Pakistani Armed Forces have issued new rules of engagement that allow their units to open fire on American troops if they enter Pakistan through their northern border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Daily Times quotes an article appearing in The American Conservative magazine’s February 28, 2005, issue. Note for the moment that this did not come directly from Pakistan or Musharraf.
Second, (Hat Tip: The Fourth Rail) Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan warned that the potential planned sale of US Patriot PAC-2 Anti-Missile missile systems to India would start an unintended arms race and would be ‘counterproductive’ to ongoing initiatives between India and Pakistan. We apparently should not confuse the current missile development and nuclear arms development with a real arms race. Pakistan is strongly opposed to an Indian missile defense system, especially one acquired from the US.
Third, Pakistan’s President Musharraf said that all al-Qaida bases have been eliminated, which can be interpreted in context with the two delineating factors above to signal the end of the necessity for cooperation with American military operations and the harbinger of a distancing of relations.
"Their back has been broken. About 700 foreigners have been caught, and they are on the run," he said. "Their sanctuaries, their command and control bases, their logistic bases, their communication bases [are] all destroyed."
He spoke Thursday to reporters in Islamabad. He went on to say that the rugged valleys near the Afghan border that al Qaida militants were using for training and other subversive activities are now under the control of the Pakistani military.
Having noted that, these three developments (or statements, rather) did not all come from the same source: Pakistan. The first of the three notable developments today came from outside Pakistan. Also, Musharraf's claim of having broken the back of al Qaida is most likely overstated. None of the three developments should be blindly accepted as fact, but they should be considered and, in due course, vetted (especially the suggested change in Pakistani Rules of Engagement).
Indeed, triangulating the three items appearing today is a tricky and speculative business. However, the tone is on one hand troubling while on the other hand not exactly unexpected and almost natural. The Word Unheard would go so far as to suggest that, long term, they are to be welcomed. India has always seemed a more natural American ally. Their traditional adversaries are nearly parallel to America's: Islamic terrorists to the west and China to the north and east. The end of the Soviet Union has removed the only plausible hurdle to alliance, the current (past?) necessity of Pakistan notwithstanding.
Always a victim of political circumstantial realities diplomatically, it just may be time to finally begin establishing in earnest the natural allied relationship that should have always been between India and America.