March 13, 2008 at 09:46:20
Pakistan resists capitulating to new US demands
by Abdus Sattar Ghazali
In September 2006, while launching his book – In the Line of Fire – President Pervez Musharraf revealed that soon after 9/11, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage warned Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, head of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, the US would “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if it did not accept the following seven demands:
1) Stop Al-Qaeda operations on the Pakistani border, intercept arms shipments through Pakistan and all logistical support for bin Laden.
2) Blanket over-flights and landing rights for US planes.
3) Access to Pakistan's naval bases, airbases and borders.
4) Immediate intelligence and immigration information.
5) Curb all domestic expression of support for terrorism against the United States, its friends and allies.
6) Cut off fuel supply to the Taliban and stop Pakistani volunteers going into Afghanistan to join the Taliban.
7) For Pakistan to break diplomatic relations with the Taliban and assist the US to destroy bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network.
Armitage handed over these demands to General Mahmood who happened to be in Washington at the time of 9/11 terrorist attacks. "This is not negotiable," Armitage, told Mahmood as he handed over a single sheet of paper with seven demands which Bush administration wanted him to accept. It was an ultimatum, you are with us or against us.
President Musharraf acceded to America's "wish-list" that was also formally conveyed to him in Islamabad. Obviously there was no alternative for him. Later explaining reasons for his instant acceptance, he said I took the ruthless decision for the sake of my people. “My decision was based on the wellbeing of my people and the best interests of my country.” In the Line of Fire by President Musharraf.
Tellingly, the US-sponsored Afghan Jehad against the Soviet troops in 1980s proved a boon to General Ziaul Haq, who was able to ruthlessly rule for 11 years, the US “war on terror” was a god send opportunity for General Musharraf to tighten grip on power. It was less than two years that he seized power in October 1999 by overthrowing the democratic government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his military government lacked legitimacy.
Musharraf’s post-9/11 quick policy turnaround made Pakistan a pivotal player in the US “war on terror” and gave it prominence in the international community that helped the military regime in its quest for legitimacy. It also brought huge economic and political dividends to President Musharraf's government. From a pariah state, Pakistan became the centre of focus of the international community…. Pakistan was, once again, the US's strategic partner. It was also given the status of a non-member strategic NATO ally.
President Musharraf complied with Washington’s highly unpopular demands that he has deeply angered his people, who increasingly call him a tool of the west. At the behest of US, Musharraf deployed more than 80,000 army on its border with Afghanistan and launched an unpopular war against its own Pashtun tribes in Federally Administered Tribal Area and Swat.
Not surprisingly, in February 18 elections the nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) emerged as the leading political party in the strategic North West Frontier Province, the scene of current military operations. The ANP, which is going to form the government in the province, sees the current military operations as killing of its own people. Its leaders have shown willingness to negotiate peace with the “militants.” This is in contradiction to the US position that Pakistan government is not doing enough to contain militant groups.
There are now reports that President Musharraf has endorsed a US plan under which US would set up special coordination centres on the Pakistani side of the tribal belt not only for the purposes of intelligence sharing but also for having 30 counterinsurgency experts on the ground to train Pakistani elite force units in the fight against militants in the area, and ultimately for conducting joint military operations with Pakistani troops.
According to the New York Times, United States Special Operations forces are training Pakistan's elite Special Service Group at a site near Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, which abuts the tribal areas….. fewer than 100 Americans were involved in that training, according to Mike Vickers, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations. The goal was to double the size of the Special Service Group to about 5,000.
To put pressure on Pakistan, Admiral Mullen, in a written assessment to Congress last month said he believed the next terrorist attack on the United States would probably be started by Qaeda terrorists operating from the Pakistani tribal areas.
Eleven Fresh US demands
Now more than six years later, the US has handed over another ‘wish-list’ to Pakistan. US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen's two recent visits to Pakistan were reportedly linked to the following 11 American demands for the US military and auxiliary personnel to be deployed in Pakistan under new plan:
1-The US military and auxiliary personnels should be granted a status that is accorded to the technical and administrative staff of the US embassy in Islamabad. Meaning diplomatic immunity.
2-These personnel be allowed to enter and exit Pakistan on mere National Identification (for example a driving license) that is without any visas.
3-Pakistan should accept the legality of all US licenses, including the arms licenses.
4-All these personnel should be allowed to carry arms and wear uniforms as they wish, across the whole of Pakistan.
5-The US criminal jurisdiction be applicable in Pakistan to US nationals. In other words, these personnel would not be subject to Pakistani laws.
6-They should be exempted from all taxes, including indirect taxes like excise duty, etc.
7-They should be allowed inspection-free import and export of all goods and materials.
8-Allow free movement of vehicles, vessels including aircraft, without landing or parking fees.
9-Selected US contractors should also be exempted from tax payments.
10-Free of cost use of telecommunication systems and using all necessary radio spectrum.
11-A waiver of all claims to damage to loss or destruction of others’ property, or death to personnel or armed forces or civilians.
The Seven Demands of September 2001 were nothing compared with the 11 new demands given to Pakistan’s Defense Ministry this time. What does they mean? Two of the demands are especially galling. The first is that the personnel posted in Pakistan be exempt from Pakistan's laws and instead be covered by the US criminal system. Tied to this is a demand for waiver from any claim to damages for loss of property or death caused by US personnel. This implies that the US troops would not be asked to account for killing Pakistani citizens, whether military or civilian, or destroying their homes, villages or fields. It is not a license to kill in a way?
Not surprisingly, the leaked report, published in The News, about the new 11 demands have shocked the nation. Here are few editorials in Pakistan’s leading newspapers:
It's Time to Resist
Much of the blame rests with our own government. It continued to blindly cooperate with the United States in its War on Terror, instead of refusing to accept the undue pressure brought to bear upon it from time to time.
Fresh offensives were launched in the tribal areas in violation of the peace agreement reached with local tribesmen some time ago. This resulted in the spill over of violence, earlier restricted to the troubled region, into the settled areas of the NWFP and the rest of the country.
The need for a paradigm shift is very important at this crucial time, when the ongoing spate of suicide attacks is posing a serious threat to our internal security. (The Nation)
Assault on Sovereignty
Quite obviously, Pakistan cannot even consider granting most of these demands. If it were to do so, it may as well raise the Stars and Stripes over the country, and accept a status as the 51st state of the United States.
The demands made are obviously absurd and the question arises why they have been put forward at this time. It has been reported that the list, seeking the kind of freedoms the US enjoys in 'conquered' countries such as Iraq, has created a considerable flurry in official corridors.
Certainly, the actions of US private mercenary outfits, such as Blackwater, given contracts in Iraq are enough to cause shivers to run down collective spines. Blackwater's obviously trigger-happy men were involved in the shooting of Iraqis including women and children. They were then whisked out of the country.
Crimes by US military personnel in Japan and South Korea, including rape, have also caused intense local hostility, since the personnel were exempted form local laws.
Any US presence, particularly under any agreement giving personnel a blanket cover to do what they please, would only heighten the strongly felt anti-US sentiments that have fuelled extremism in the first place. (The News)
Making a Wild West of Us
As if the US intrusion was already not enough of it, a set of new demands, which according to a contemporary Washington has come up with, portends making of Pakistan virtually a sprawling Wild West and its citizens another Indian aborigines of America.
The only difference is that instead of settlers, cattlemen and ranchers, here it will be the American diplomats, soldiers and private security militias, having a free run of the country, setting shop wherever they liked and the way they liked and poaching on whoever they want and wherever they want, and with a free ride to kill whoever they wish and maim whoever they desire, without any questions being asked and without being held to account at all.
A law unto themselves will they be, not subject to any law of Pakistan, practically treating this country as their protectorate and a vassal state.
Washington hoped to yield upon politically weak President Musharraf, whose only strong constituency now is Bush Administration, to accept these demands as he did in September 2001. At that time he was legitimacy for his military regime. However after more than six years, situation has changed in Pakistan. A pseudo democratic system is taking shape in Islamabad and it will not be easy to persuade to a political government which will be answerable to a parliament not very friendly to the United States. (Frontier Post)