Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Don't Push Pakistan Too Far

By Eric Margolis

"......Many Pakistanis oppose the US occupation of Afghanistan, support their old anti-communist ally, Taliban, and think better of Osama bin Laden than George Bush. Many senior and junior officers in Pakistan’s military and powerful intelligence service, ISI, feel similarly and are bitter at Musharraf for abandoning Taliban and resistance groups fighting to oust Indian rule in divided Kashmir.

Musharraf is thus caught between Washington’s growing demands and his own people, who increasingly accuse him of being an American tool. Washington simply does not understand it has pushed the isolated, unpopular Musharraf too far already. If he is blown up or overthrown, Pakistan and its 40–60 nuclear weapons, could turn into an even bigger and more dangerous hotbed of anti-western activity. The next army corps commander who takes over may not be as amenable to Washington’s demands as Pervez Musharraf.

Meanwhile, Washington is increasingly blaming its Afghanistan fiasco on whipping boy Pakistan, just as the Vietnam defeat was blamed on infiltration from Cambodia and Laos. Recently, a remarkably ill-informed Canadian defense minister foolishly proposed sending Canadian troops into Pakistan’s tribal agencies to “fight terrorists.”

Picking a fight with old, loyal ally Pakistan is both morally wrong and fraught with untold dangers. The US has forgotten how it forced another compliant military ruler, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, into policies his people hated. He was assassinated, to national joy.

Negotiating a deal with Taliban and other Afghan resistance forces is the only way out of the current morass, not undermining Pakistan or expanding a war that is already lost."

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