Pak-US ties: Don’t kick the hornet's nest!

If the US and Pakistan go to war, this would play right into the hands of the militants.

Shaukat Hamdani September 29, 2011
Pakistan and the United States are currently embroiled in one of their biggest squabbles since the start of the war on terror which has led to intense speculation of American ground troops in Pakistan. Senator Rehman Malik has come out and said that no American troops will be allowed within Pakistan:
“Pakistan will not allow boots on our ground, never. Our government is already cooperating with the US …  but they also must respect our sovereignty.”

But it’s not like the Americans will listen to Pakistan or care for the sovereignty of one of its 'allies', as the Osama bin laden raid clearly showed.

However, I believe an American attack on Pakistani soil would be a huge misstep. I make this claim not because I have absolute confidence in our armed forces to fight against such an attack, nor do I believe that America cares for the sovereignty of others.

I believe that if the US and Pakistan go to war, this would basically play into the hands of the militants of Pakistan, and  America would be, effectively, kicking a hornets’ nest. No matter how big of a problem radicalization is in Pakistan, it has not fully taken over the country.

The problem lies in the fact that while both Pakistan and America are committed to fighting terrorism, their priorities are not necessarily the same. For the United States the priority is getting out of Afghanistan, with a little bit of their honour still intact and protecting their troops until they have managed to achieve this. For Pakistan, on the other hand, the priority is protecting itself from terrorist attacks and ensuring they have some form of relationship with whoever comes into power in Afghanistan once the foreign forces leave.

While this is not an ideal situation for America, it is still not the worst possible scenario; this scenario would be when a nuclear armed nation decides to stand up and defend itself while subconsciously playing into the hands of the terrorist organizations.

Terrorist attacks in Pakistan began because the government of Pakistan decided to align itself with the Americans rather than against them. These outlets are still urging for a greater jihad in which Pakistan should take on the imperial forces of America and defend Islam. If the United States were to attack Pakistan there is a real risk of exactly that happening.

It wouldn't matter that a Pakistani response in such a situation would have nothing to do with religion or jihad; it wouldn’t matter that it would be a move just to protect the nation's sovereignty; it wouldn't matter if this move was a mere act of self-defense.

This war would be hijacked by the radical mullahs, and they would claim that their position has been vindicated - an attack on Pakistan won’t just be an attack on a nation it would be portrayed as an attack on Islam.

This would be the biggest propaganda tool radicals in Pakistan would ever have access to. The United States must now realize that after the devastation of its economy and the war on terror, it is no longer the super-power it once was. At the same time, they need to realise that  Pakistan is not a country which it can just bulldoze over.

It is time for them to quit these threats and consider Pakistan an ally on a much more equal footing.  This is because there is no endgame in Afghanistan without help from Pakistan. Also, there won’t be a stable Afghanistan without a stable Pakistan, and that won’t happen if America decides to kick the hornets’ nest.
Shaukat Hamdani Broadcast journalist with an interest in sports, travel, history and culture. He tweets @Shaukii
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Doctor | 12 years ago | Reply The author must be kidding himself to think that the terrorists ruining Pakistan are only doing so because of Pakistan's half-hearted alliance with the US. This is typical PTI/Imran Khan/Ghariat drivel. Give me a break. These madmen and terrorists will ruin Pakistan whether or not the Americans are in Afghanistan. Just the same way that once terrorism in Kashmir decreased due to better border policing and intelligence and those terrorists came back to Pakistan and started causing havoc, the ones in Afghanistan who are trying to fight the US will just come back into FATA and cause more trouble in Pakistan. The US is doing Pakistan a huge favor and offering a hand of friendship which Pakistan keeps biting. Stop beating your chest. Our Armed Forces are pathetic and will fold up quickly in the face of attack. We have lost EVERY SINGLE WAR (don't believe our fake and false textbooks) to India. The US' infrastructure and military is far stronger than India's and India would be happy to oblige the US in an attack on terrorist elements in Pakistan. The US is smart and will not go after the Pakistani government but rather terrorists and their training camps - primarily in FATA and AK. Get real. We need to stop playing a double game and give up on ALL "strategic assets". We need to focus on building infrastructure, education, and trade. Cut off military funding. Let the Armed Forces do something productive and build roads for once.
Sumaira Rehman | 12 years ago | Reply Unfortunately the American media has not learned from its mistakes on Iraq War, and have become embedded mouthpieces for establishment (particularly military policy) towards Pakistan. The random and convenient NYT scoops and editorial on Pakistan military so obviously reek of jingoism, especially in the last week when both NYT and Daily Beast were equally goading Obama to have a go at ‘enemy’ Pakistan. I am not making excuses for Pak military and media because I do agree with the gist of your analysis, however I am saying the jingoism is being exacerbated on both sides. In both countries the media is being used by their respective establishments to convey messages that they otherwise don’t have the guts to say to each other face to face.
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