Wolf Pangloss said:
I think you got it right on the first guess. It’s spin.
On the main page of The News, a Pakistani newspaper in English, there were two stories that caught my eye. One was regarding the Pakistani military government’s statement regarding American attacks within Pakistan; the other was regarding two American senators who were cautioning The Administration to not do anything that would undermine Musharraf’s position and legitimacy, considering what a key ally he is. The second story I did not hear from any American news source, so I think it is doubly important that it is seen and talked about in Pakistan: going along with the rhetorical value of the Pakistani military government’s statement, the senators’ statement gives the impression that The United States’ armed services will likely not conduct operations in Pakistan.
But they will.
When they do, and if the people find out, the Pakistani military government will likely say something along the lines of: “Uffo! We told them not to! Naughty Americans.” And that’s that. A verbal slap on the hand. Because this is all for public consumption.
Along with what Pangloss was saying, while I was ranting to my father, he dismissed the Pakistani military government’s statement right away. He said that if the statement was released to the public, it was solely for the public’s consumption and not for The Administration or Armed Services of The United States to take seriously. It’s all rhetoric and propaganda. And considering the somewhat precarious state of Musharraf’s position right now, what with being challenged by the Pakistani Supreme Court and lawyers and Islamists and terrorists (and al-Qa’idah at that), such a statement might be necessary now to shore up support for him. As it is, the statement sounds quite assertive, which if directed to the powerful Americans is certainly impressive.
What matters, however, is what the military government intends to do. If they will cooperate, then all is well and will be well (or, at least, better) regardless of what the military government says. And if the military government has any idea of the situation it is in, it will realize that its abilities — with regard to terrorism and terrorists — are quite limited compared to those of The United States. Pakistan is lucky we’re just across the border.
Pakistanis tend to get very protective of Pakistan’s sovereignty, especially when it comes to The United States. Pakistanis are constantly paranoid that the ruling government or controlling military will give or sell away Pakistani land or autonomy or sovereignty to the greedy Americans. Such a situation would be unacceptable by them. Pakistanis are keenly aware that Arabs have been investing heavily in Pakistan; but were Americans to do so, it would be seen as an attempted invasion. But Americans killing Pakistanis (even terrorists) would be considered abominable.
Pakistani people are funny. Some time ago — maybe last year — the Pakistani military killed the chief of the Balochi Bugti tribe (whose last name was, for obvious reasons, Bugti). Bugti was a terrorist. (Unlike most terrorists in Pakistan, Bugti was a nationalist terrorist, terrorizing for Balochi nationalism.) He was one of the most senior leaders among the Balochi people and tribes. He was to Balochi nationalism what bin Ladin is to Islamism. The military made the mistake of gloating over the operation (in which many military personnel died, but at least that dog of a man was killed). The country was outraged. Overnight, Bugti became a hero, turned into an icon, into an example of how the American-controlled military government was simply evil and vile. I was beside myself. Bugti was a terrorist! I rejoiced when I heard he died! From where did Pakistan’s people all of a sudden discover the “legitimacy” of Balochi nationalist terrorism? Everyone condemned the military and the government. It totally baffled me.
And the same with the Red Mosque operation: the military government was actually restrained (and so lost more military personnel than needed – are you seeing a pattern here? do you see why the Pakistani military is so inept?). But nooooooooooo. Everyone is now condemning the military for its slaughter of innocent pious Muslim worshipers, clerics, and students. (If they were so innocent, why did they have a huge weapons cache under the mosque?) The Supreme Court is displeased; the lawyers are displeased; human rights activitists are displeased; Islamists are displeased (as they are wont to be anyway); and so the common, average Pakistani is also displeased and, amidst all this rhetoric and propaganda, turning against the military government. But then they are not told the truth, nor are they aware of the certain things that simply must be done, regardless of the costs. And paramount among these certain things is the termination of terrorist and militant activity in Pakistan.
Anyway…as long as the Pakistani military government has the awareness and spine to do what it needs to do with regard to terrorists and terrorism, we should be more at ease. If the military government becomes a hindrance rather than an asset, then The Administration will have to come up with ways to successfully pressure the Pakistani military government to yield and cooperate. Because I, for one, will not allow Pakistanis or Pakistan to endanger our national security. (And what pains me the most about Pakistani resistance to our operations is that we and they have the same enemies.)