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How Pakistan should Deal with America

30 September, 2011

By Saeed Qureshi


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There is the least need and rationale for antagonizing the United States which in her overflowing frustration due to failure in Afghan war may turn her cannons towards Pakistan. This volatile yet half-way flare --up between two close yet disgruntled allies may be dealt with great caution as to elude the projected harm. An overly enraged and provoked American military leadership in league with supporters in Congress may opt for an all out war in the tribal regions against the Haqqani network.

It should be unthinkable for Pakistan army to counter the American military advances with armed response. Pakistan and American armies should never be allowed to brace against and face each other in a direct confrontation. That situation would spell disaster for Pakistan whose armed forces are primarily ordained to watch the eastern front and defend Pakistan from Indian military adventurism.  Even the ordinary skirmishes between the NATO and the Pakistan army; would sow the seeds of a permanent hostility between the two countries which have been knotted in friendship for so long.

All is not yet lost with the United States that is the leading trade partner of Pakistan for so long. The United States is a super power and Pakistan should not incur the animosity of a country whose grudge and revenge like elephant is proverbial. It could immensely destabilize and isolate Pakistan.

In the backdrop of anti- US loud epitaphs and throwing of challenges and gauntlets by Pakistani hawkish circles, it would be very much desirable for India to see Pakistan jump into the fray against the United States. India would want Pakistan's armed forces to be debilitated to the extent that these cannot put up any defense vis- a-vis India.

It would, therefore,  be a colossal blunder for Pakistan to venture an armed clash with NATO and United States in case they launch solo military offensive in the North Waziristan to dismantle or liquidate the Haqqani network of insurgents.

Notwithstanding the consensus resolution of the All Parties' Conference, it is inescapable to ignore the hard fact that Pakistan should not adopt inflexible and hard-line postures against America. United States could still be prevailed upon to accommodate Pakistan's point of view. America knows well that her supply line through Pakistan can be irreparably hampered if the hostilities and the brinkmanship go beyond a threshold which in this case would be to infiltrate and intrude into Pakistan's airspace and land.

In these projected scenarios, the Haqqani network may not be debilitated entirely but Pakistan would be mauled socially and economically. Moreover, the armed forces would sustain a great jolt that might cripple its functionality for a prolonged period of time. Pakistan armed forces must remain intact for greater and real challenges and dangers that can come only from India.

Pakistan should lay down all the facts before the American leadership and the accusing and vilifying political stalwarts and try to convince them of the fallacy of the uncharitable and unsubstantiated charges being leveled against the ISI.  If there is evidence with the American as they claim, it might be contested or explained in a conciliatory spirit.

Pakistan should be very candid, forthright and vigorous on pleading about its clean hands and non-involvement in attacks on the NATO forces and other civilian installations in Afghanistan. Pakistan should also logically make it clear to the American administration including Pentagon that it could not afford to make a military push into North Waziristan for a variety of very compelling reasons.

First it should be explicitly argued that Pakistan cannot waste its military muscle and fritter away its dwindling economic potential on further enlarging its offensive to North Waziristan. It is neither wise for Pakistan nor for American because Haqqani group can be cajoled by Pakistan to act as a bridge between hardcore Taliban and America for the latter to leave Afghanistan peacefully and with a modicum of grace.

America should appreciate and understand the odds and limitations for Pakistan to fight in North Waziristan. Pakistan should also convince America that use of force was not always the right and prudent course to defeat or destroy the enemy. It should also reason with America that making fresh enemies from time to time and nailing them down with the show of excessive military might was a short sighted approach. But first, Pakistan should incontrovertibly prove its total detachment from the attacks against the occupation forces in Afghanistan.

It is time for Pakistan to exhibit the delicate diplomacy, firmness and full faith in its stand, a sustained sagacity and prudence and unwavering steadfastness so that Pakistan does not look like a felon before the world community.

Friendship with The United States that has enormous leverage with IMF, United Nations and elsewhere would still stand in good stead for Pakistan. It is much desirable to be on the path of reconciliation, peace and normality than jingoism and unrealistic sloganeering that might land Pakistan in deep trouble.

America is quite aware that the peace in Afghanistan and her honorable exit was not possible without good offices and partnership of Pakistan. Hopefully, in a spirit of mutual accommodation, both sides may understand each other's point better and shoot away their mutual bickering and misunderstandings. Pakistan should speak with America from a position of higher moral ground, with absolute honesty and with national honor in view.

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