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US-led NATO attack on Pakistan worsens Islamabad-Washington ties

By       Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali     Permalink
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The already frayed US-Pakistan relations have fallen to their worst point after US-led NATO helicopters destroyed two Pakistani military check posts killing 25 soldiers and injuring 13 others. The checkposts - located about 2.5 kilometres inside the Pakistan-Afghanistan border - were set up to stop the cross border violation and infiltration of militants from Afghanistan into Pakistani area.

A major and a captain of the Pakistan Army were among those killed when NATO helicopters fired at the border posts in Baizai area of Mohmand tribal region at 2 am.

The attack is the worst incident of its kind since   President General Parvez Musharraf allied Pakistan with the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In a sharp reaction to the unprovoked deadly attack, Pakistan government has ordered a review of all arrangements with the United States and NATO, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence activities.

An extraordinary meeting of Defense Committee of Cabinet (DCC) held Saturday night at Prime Minister's House decided to immediately close the NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines and asked the US to vacate the Shamsi air base within a fortnight. The Shamsi air base in Balochistan province is reportedly used as a hub for covert CIA drone strikes on Pakistan's border areas with Afghanistan.

It may be recalled that in June also, Pakistan told the US to leave Shamsi base, as Islamabad sought to limit US activities after a clandestine American raid allegedly killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Abbottabad.

Washington has not publicly acknowledged operations at the base, but images said to be of US Predator drones at Shamsi have been published by Google Earth in the past. Pakistan had reportedly given the US military logistical support at several bases after joining the US-led war on terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

NATO supply vehicles

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The NATO supply vehicles were immediately stopped at Torkham border and custom officials stopped clearing them. As a result hundreds of NATO supply vehicles got stuck on Pak-Afghan road from Jamrud to Torkham. The border crossing at Chaman in Balochistan was also closed. Reports said around 150 to 200 NATO trucks were sent back to Karachi and Quetta after their entry into Afghanistan was blocked by the Pakistani authorities.

The supply route remained closed for 11 days last year after Nato choppers intruded into Pakistani airspace and fired at a paramilitary force, killing two soldiers. The issue was resolved after apologies from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nato leaders.

Pakistan is a vital land route for 49 percent of NATO's supplies to its troops in Afghanistan, according to a NATO spokesman.   About 40 per cent of Nato's non-lethal supplies are transported through Pakistan using Chaman and Torkham border crossings -- the preferred routes for being economical. NATO has developed an alternative northern route through central Asian states as a contingency for a situation where the Pakistani route is choked.

US-Pakistan relations

The latest US-led NATO attack on Pakistani checkposts is likely to have a catastrophic effect on the Pakistan-U.S. relations strained by the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in Pakistan on May 2, Pakistan's jailing of CIA contractor Davis Raymond and the U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul have added to the tensions. And also the exploding memogate scandal aimed at further subservience of Pakistan to USA.

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The secret memo was drafted in Washington by Pakistan's Ambassador Hussain Haqqani (now sacked), who dictated the text to the Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz. Both flew to London on May 10, where they met with the British Chief of Defense Staff, Sir David Richards, obtained the "seal of approval' and flew back to Washington where the memo was handed over to National Security Advisor General James Jones, who delivered it to Admiral Mike Mullen. It contained the hybrid plan for regime change in Pakistan.

The memo envisaged that there was a national security team, comprising civil, military personnel and technocrats, ready to take charge and "ensure harmony in the new set-up" through replacements and adjustments. The purpose of the change through these means was to grant big concessions to America and India, which would result into compromises on very important and critical national security interests of Pakistan.

The discernible impact of the memo episode has resulted already in: (a) the weakening of the US-client Zardari regime's position and (b) a further hardening of the Pakistan's military attitude towards the government in Islamabad.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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