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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2038

Resist or Not to Resist NATO?

By Adnan Gill

Unless, somehow Pakistanis manage to hand President Bush a farewell gift, so enormous and so sought after, that it will put a shining jewel in his otherwise depressingly disastrous legacy; NATO will enter Pakistani territory to pick the jewels themselves. It will take nothing short of Osama Bin Laden in Guantanamo prison or his dead body in a Freezer at Langley Headquarters to shine Bush’s legacy. Pakistanis will have to pony up Osama’s (proverbial) head on platter to Bush, or be prepared for a short but extremely ugly showdown on its border with Afghanistan.

By all accounts, the Taliban used the Pakistani soil as safe-heavens to launch guerilla style attacks on the American led NATO forces in Afghanistan. NATO had been slowly but surely loosing ground to Taliban. Consequently, both Karzai and NATO signed several peace treaties with the Taliban. At the same time, they severally criticized Pakistan for signing peace treaties with the Pakistani Tribals. Meanwhile, with a wink and a nod from the Pakistani President Musharraf, Americans attacked several targets inside Pakistan, killing hundreds, including women and children. Their indifferent and irresponsible attacks developed anti-American sentiments among the locals. Worst, the locals developed a sense of common cause with the foreign operatives of Al-Qaeda, whom they were kicking out earlier. All this set the stage for a showdown with Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Pakistan is left with limited choices, as to how it can react to a NATO invasion. Either Pakistanis can fight back, or they could lodge useless diplomatic protests. Other choices could be, using Tribals as Pakistani military’s proxies, or discontinuing cooperation with the NATO by pulling Pakistani soldiers out of tribal areas and by shutting down air and land corridors used by NATO. Last but most prudent choice could be Pakistanis take away the excuse for an invasion.

NATO wants to stabilize Afghanistan to a point where it can become a safe transit route for the trade and for pipelines pumping oil out of the landlocked Central Asian States (the future Middle East) all the way to the Pakistani seaports. If any Pakistani elements will get in their way of achieving their objectives, NATO will not think twice before trying to crush them with brute force. If that means civilian casualties, so be it. They will simply mark them as collateral damage.

Most of Pakistani analyst laughed off Karzai’s threats to send in his army into Pakistani territory as empty bravado. Karzai doesn’t even take lunch without US’ permission, so when he threatened to start a confrontation, he was merely parroting off a US Defense Department manuscript. NATO will not spearhead military operations inside the Pakistani territory. They plan to use Afghani troops as cannon fodder. Of course, Northern Alliance mercenaries in Afghan Army uniforms will have full support of the NATO Special Forces, who will provide Command & Control, and call in their air assets.

If Pakistan will dare to fight back or if it will try to shutdown NATO’s transit routes, they could end up facing horrendous consequences; ranging from diplomatic isolation to financial and trade embargos, to a dismembered Balochistan! At minimum, Pakistan will be declared a pariah state which will be immediately punished through debilitating UN sanctions; including travel restrictions, trade and financial embargos. Additionally, a military embargo could leave Pakistan dangerously vulnerable to the nations, waiting in shadows, to feast on a weakened Pakistan.

Needless to remind, Pakistan is already heavily dependent on foreign aid and financial loans from international institutions. Pakistan is devoid of any natural resources like oil, and short on any industry of significance. Pakistani Diaspora laboring in the Middle East, UK, and the US are the biggest contributors of the foreign exchange reserves. Their livelihoods depend on the goodwill of their hosts. Upon a request from their Western allies, what if tomorrow the Middle Eastern Sheikhs decide to deport Pakistani working force? Once slapped with the financial sanctions, how will Pakistan survive a global isolation beyond exhausting its foreign reserves?

In a worst scenario, what if NATO nations decide to give independence to Balochistan, like they gave in the case of Eastern Timor? Who is to say, the opportunist Balochi Nawabs will turn their backs on a lifetime opportunity to carve out their very own fiefdoms? These Nawabs are unabashedly soliciting help from even the “devil” to dismember Balochistan from Pakistan? All the Western nations will have to do is to pass a resolution at the UN to declare Balochistan as an independent nation. An independent and subservient Balochistan will open unrestricted corridors for the NATO to run their business in Afghanistan and beyond. As an added bonus, their objective of encirclement of Iran will be met too.

Before giving into the tempting slogans like ‘death to the infidel’ and embarking on yet another jihad, the Pakistanis should ponder over questions like: Can they win a military showdown with the NATO? Will they be able to absorb the horrendous losses of physical, monetary, and life? Will they be able to survive through the international sanctions? If not, then wouldn’t it make sense to avoid a conflict altogether? They could avoid a conflict by taking away the excuse for an invasion. How do they do that? Nobody said it would be easy, but they can once again try to convince the tribals, that by fighting they will bring death and destruction, not only upon themselves, but also on their families too. Instead of making the situation worst, they could hand over a trophy or two to Bush in the shape of those who had been taking unfair advantage of the hospitality of their hosts by spreading death and destruction in Pakistan.

For argument’s sake, let’s say, NATO meets the same fate in Afghanistan that Soviets did in the late 80s. NATO suffers humiliating defeat and thousands of casualties. They decide to pack up and leave Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then what? Besides, bragging rights, what would have Pakistanis gained? Mortally wounded and completely isolated, what kind of future will be awaiting Pakistan? Perhaps, the same future that greeted the Afghans after the Soviets left; a deeply impoverished, failed, and lawless nation?

- Asian Tribune -

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