Pakistan is Fast Slipping Out of Hands of USA

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by Asif Haroon Raja

 

The US having failed to achieve any of the stated political and military objectives in Afghanistan is now desperate to pullout safely but cannot do so due to number of reasons. The US trained and enlarged ANA as well as police are unable to confront Taliban threat at their own. The US installed regime has not shown any sign of improvement and being highly unpopular, it is not likely to survive for long after the departure of ISAF. The country will possibly get engulfed in another bout of internecine war as it happened when the US abandoned Afghanistan in 1989.

Despite using excessive force and resorting to torture and intrigues for a decade, the US couldn’t disable Taliban power. Rather, they have become more powerful and resilient and are enjoying a military edge over the collection of most powerful armies of the world and are unprepared to negotiate with USA on its terms. With the killing of OBL, America is left with no excuse to prolong its stay, particularly when it claims that al-Qaida’s back has been broken. In fact it had barged into Afghanistan with the main objective of punishing al-Qaeda for its alleged role in 9/11. Ten years intense oppression and massacre of tens of thousands of Afghans and al-Qaeda operatives and death of most wanted top leader are enough to avenge deaths of about 3000 Americans, mostly Asian origin.

Former CIA Director and now Secretary Defence Leon Panetta who has always taken a harsh stance against Pakistan has stated that the new al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri is living in Pakistan’s tribal areas and has asked Pakistan to target him. He made this wild claim without furnishing any proof and didn’t consider it desirable to use words like ‘possibly’ or ‘could be’. This is the beginning of a new drama after OBL which in my reckoning is a prelude towards another sting operation to ‘Get Zawahiri’. Very soon the US spin doctors would start accusing the Army and ISI for sheltering him.

Likewise, American telescope will also see Mullah Omar residing in the safe house of ISI. To put direct pressure on Army, promised $800 million has been withheld. This unfriendly step has been taken at a time when the Army has performed another feat in Mohmand Agency and is currently engaged in a tough battle in Kurram Agency which will have a bearing on militants in adjacent North Waziristan. This is the price the two institutions are paying to defend Pakistan’s sovereignty and national interests. The US is exposing its hidden motives through such tomfoolery to intimidate Pakistan. It doesn’t want Pak Army to win battles and defeat terrorism but to lose.

Taking a cue from US military’s claim that al-Qaeda has been emasculated beyond redemption, and not more than 50-60 Qaeda operatives are active in Afghanistan; if this be true, how come Panetta is so disturbed over Qaeda’s miniscule strength and prophesizing that its strategic defeat was within US military’s grasping reach if 10-20 leaders of this outfit located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa are disposed off. It indicates confusion and nervousness of US military leaders.

The US must not forget that Pakistan played a key role in weakening al-Qaeda in Af-Pak region since over 100 al-Qaeda operatives including several dozens top guns and hundreds of affiliates were nabbed by ISI and handed over to USA. Ever since the main bunch of al-Qaeda was flushed out of Ahmadzai Wazir’s South Waziristan (SW) in 2004, and later from Mehsud belt in SW in 2005 and the back of its chief patron TTP broken in 2009, this outfit has been in disarray and on the move. Remnants are scattered and hiding in North Waziristan, Orakzai, Tirah, Mohmand and Kurram Agencies. Death of OBL further jolted the runaways. Pak Army’s highly successful operations in Orakzai, Mohmand and now in Kurram Agency have virtually choked the space for Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

The US main battle in Afghanistan is with Taliban and not the disarrayed al-Qaeda whose combat strength is negligible. The misused word ‘strategic’ would have sounded more plausible if the sole super power with strongest armed forces and technological means was in clash with China or Russia and not with rag-tag al-Qaeda and Taliban. Even if last fighter of al-Qaeda based in Af-Pak region is eliminated, this outfit will not die since its main strength resides in Arab Peninsula. It has also made deep inroads in western countries and USA. Anwar al-Awlaki is American citizen based in Yemen while Zawahiri is Egyptian. A good commander should be logically at a place where main battle is raging and not at the site of auxiliary effort where al-Qaeda has little interest left. The Arab world which is in turmoil is an ideal place for al-Qaeda to operate and increase its influence among the agitating youth seeking big change.

Obama’s popularity which had slightly improved after OBL’s death is again sliding down since he has been unable to put right melting economy, solve problem of unemployment and control high expenditure on defence. Excessively high defence budget is responsible for widening fiscal deficit. Expenditure incurred on US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, for training of ANA and police, for development works, for security contractors and for covert operations is a huge drain on US exchequer. This amount spent in the name of insane war which has given nothing except pain and ignominy to USA is a big waste which can be profitably utilized for welfare of home public. It is ironic to see the sole super power mired in heavy debt and getting more and more dependent upon its archrival China for its sustenance. These compulsions have compelled Obama to pullout or at least thin out bulk of troops from two theatres of war.

Caught up in a quagmire and Pakistan not ready to play the game entirely to US benefit, hawks in USA are continuing with their efforts to sabotage troop drawdown plan. Karzai regime, India and Israel too are affected parties and are sending emergent signals to Washington urging Obama to reconsider his decision. Seeing that Obama is not budging, Pentagon has come out with alternative plans to provide backup support to ANA after 2014. These include dividing Afghanistan on ethnic lines and retaining US presence in northern and central Afghanistan; keeping 50,000 US-UK troops in five military bases of Kandahar, Kabul, Bagram, Herat and Shindad; holding on to only two military bases of Kandahar and Bagram with about 10,000 troops. Stay back force will prolong its own agony as well as of Afghans.

Having got itself completely knotted up in Afghanistan and not knowing how to untie the knots, the US has unwisely started to cross swords with Pakistan. Pakistan is keen to free USA and has been fighting its battle devotedly, but its spirits have dampened ever since the US hit it below the belt. The climb down in relations started with the arrest of Raymond Davis and climaxed after sting operation in Abbottabad. On both occasions the snooty US officials adopted a tough posture as if Pakistan was its satellite, thus adding insult to injury. They desire slapping Pakistan at will and expect the recipient to offer its other cheek without a whimper.

Show of defiance by Army and ISI has sent them into fits of rage. Their behavior has become so degrading that it is ruffling feathers of even those in Pakistan who have been singing their praises. Anti-Americanism has surged to new heights never seen before and pro-American lobby has got reduced to miniscule minority. Every second person is seeking refurbishment of our US centric policy and it seems Pakistan is fast slipping out of the hands of USA.


About the Writer: Asif Haroon is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. Email: [email protected]

CAN’T KEEP EYES ON THE SKIES? TRY THESE LINKS

The Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) November 19, 2002 | SANDRA BROWN KELLY With fall, the air gets crisp, stars seem brighter and curiosity about the heavens heightens. This is the perfect time to explore space because there are more clear nights.

Should the skies not cooperate or you are unable to get outdoors to see overhead, however, visit Roanoker Clark Thomas’ new Web site of astronomy links instead.

“Professional astronomers no longer gaze through their giant scopes to do cutting-edge science,” Thomas wrote. “Direct viewing is reserved for the purist amateur community. There is poetry in directly viewing and experiencing photons arriving from distances unimaginable.” Thomas popped a magnificent list of astronomy links onto a Web site as a courtesy to this column. The address, http: / / members.cox.net / clarkt7 / astronomylinks, takes you to links that can satisfy beginner to veteran sky watchers. Sites include that of the local astronomy group, the Roanoke Valley Amateur Astronomers. It can be found at www.roavas.org. in our site astronomy for kids

The local club’s site is one of the best on the list because it includes newsletters full of resources for stargazers. For example, the November letter mentions that newsletter editor Dave Reese was to demonstrate free visualization software, Partiview, which works with Windows and Linux. You can find this software at www.haydenplanetarium.org.

“Computers and telescopes are a big thing among a subset of amateur astronomers,” Thomas wrote. “Some folks use specialized CCD cameras and carefully guided time-lapse photography to magnify the light gathering powers of their telescope. Images received through their chips, and stored on their laptop, are later manipulated by Photoshop and other programs.” Thomas points out that this process represents a “very modest version of how the Hubble Space Telescope’s images are made. Both PCs and Macs can enhance images.” After you check out the star links, you might want to get involved in the real thing. The group’s public stargaze has been scheduled for Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at Cahas Overlook, milepost 139, Blue Ridge Parkway.

This event is free. You can call 540-853-2236 to register for it. And even if you don’t register on time, you can show up. No one guarantees the weather, however.

By the way, the next meeting of the Roanoke Valley Amateur Astronomers is Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at Fallon Park.

Here are a few of Thomas’ links to get you started: Astronomy for kids:

www.dustbunny.com / afk; Space.com: www.space.com / spacewatch; the scale of things:

www.stellar-database.com / scale.html; Native American astronomy:

www.kstrom.net / isk / stars / starmenu.html.

Another note on the subject: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has mounted an online image gallery that’s available for use at www.nrao.edu. NRAO is a research facility of the National Science Foundation. It has headquarters in Charlottesville. Among the telescopes it operates is the one at nearby Green Bank, W.Va., www.gb.nrao.edu.

Virtual PC for Macs One of the recent discussions on the Macintosh Users Group listserv has centered on the pros and cons of Virtual PC, a PC emulation software from Connectix (www.connectix.com). Sometimes Mac owners need their machines to act like a PC, if they need to connect with a PC group, for example, or want to see how a Web site they are building will look on a PC. go to site astronomy for kids

This software appears to be one of the best choices to make that connection. It does not come cheaply, however. The current cost at the Apple store for Virtual PC 2000 or XP is $240, which is $10 less than from the Connectix site.

You can learn more about it at www.virtual-pc.com / index.asp, but one word of warning from the Mac folks’ discussion: The software can conflict with desktop print monitors, a problem that can be overcome by disabling the print monitors.

Going shopping This week’s tips for finding the perfect gift for the wired names on your holiday list take you to a source for good-looking CPU towers, something most retail stores must think we no longer need.

Check out www.stacksandstacks.com / html / 90109.htm to see a CPU plastic base on rollers for $25 and a crystal acrylic base for $119.

You can reach free-lance writer Sandra Brown Kelly at [email protected]

SANDRA BROWN KELLY

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