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Pakistan’s Interior and Defense ministers made pathetic statements, one ‘mulling’ taxing NATO trucks and the other one pleading for recognition of Pakistan’s sacrifices. Why should Pakistanis be sacrificed at the altar of US and NATO?
By SHIREEN M. MAZARI | The Nation, Monday, 11 October 2010.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—That Pakistan had finally taken a strong national position on the NATO transit route was commendable. Unfortunately, almost immediately after what was a limited and conditional apology by NATO and the US specifically limited to the killing of three FC soldiers by NATO intruding gunship helicopters, the Pakistan government chose to reopen the one route it had closed. This hasty succumbing to US demands reflects the lack of confidence of the rulers in the nation’s strength and people’s support.
The limited apology should not have been accepted in the first place since NATO had not apologized for their military intrusions into Pakistan and the killing of Pakistani civilians – they had only regretted the killing of the three FC personnel. So effectively NATO has not altered its hot pursuit policy nor has it guaranteed that it will not kill Pakistani civilians. Equally critical, no demand for an end to drone attacks from Pakistan has been evident.
So what we thought was finally going to be a strong assertion of Pakistan’s interests has ended in a whimper of again conceding ground to the US and NATO. As for Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar’s statement that the government was mulling some sort of tax on NATO convoys transiting through Pakistan, that is a mere cop-out since the “mulling” may go on endlessly and what if NATO does not accept the tax, will we stop the transit routes again? It would have made more sense to first decide about the tax and then open the Torkham route again. As for Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s pathetic plea to NATO to acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices, what good will that do? We do not want recognition of our sacrifices but a stop to these forced sacrifices. Why should Pakistani civilians be sacrificed at the altar of US/NATO interests and military adventurism into Pakistani sovereign territory, in the first place?
There is also another threatening aspect of the whole NATO supplies issue and that is the actual physical threat posed not just to the road infrastructure of the country but also to the safety of the Pakistanis actually driving the trucks and those living in the areas through which these convoys pass – as a result of the easy targets these convoys present. No amount of money NATO may pay can compensate for the fallout of the targeting of these trucks especially when Pakistani lives are lost in the process. A side effect is also the destruction of the environment when the NATO oil tankers are torched and the pollution that ensues.
Whichever way we look at the issue of NATO and the drones, the interests and well-being of the Pakistani people are best served by extricating ourselves from being a transit route for the former and by clearly ending official support for the drones. In the same vein, a strong response is needed by the Pakistan military if NATO ever enters Pakistan again with hostile military intent against its civilians. After all, the Pakistan military is meant to protect Pakistan and its people not abet in the agendas of NATO and the US.
Reach Dr. Mazari at
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