Original Articles

War with NATO, suicide for Pakistan – by Shiraz Paracha

A low-intensity military conflict between Pakistan and the United States is going on in Afghanistan and along the Pak-Afghan border since the U.S. military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Both sides have been using proxies and guerrilla war tactics to harm each other’s interests. Nevertheless a large-scale and direct military conflict with the 27-member strong NATO and the United States will be disastrous for Pakistan and its people.

A group of Pakistani generals, politicians and journalists wants to drag Pakistan into a quagmire that can drown the country. Such attitude is immature, reckless and irresponsible. It also shows that many in Pakistan are unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

Pakistan definitely needs to come out of  the U.S. led ‘war on terror’. It ought to adopt an independent and balanced foreign policy and should engage in regional alliances but without challenging the United States militarily.

Western powers have invaded Afghanistan not for the wellbeing of the Afghan people or development of Afghanistan. The occupation of Afghanistan is part of the ongoing war to control Eurasian energy sources and transportation routes. Western powers are using Afghanistan as a strategic base to contain Russia and China and slowdown processes of growing economic and political integration in the region, particularly cooperation between Russia, China and Central Asian states.

Even so China and Russia would not engage in direct military conflicts with the United States. Russia and China have stronger armies and both posses more nuclear weapons than Pakistan but Chinese and Russian leaders and media don’t create war hysteria and make claims of bringing America down.

Since the end of the Cold War small-scale wars are a major source of profit for Western corporations. They apply new and innovative means and technologies to wedge and win wars. Big businesses select war zones, create conditions and then lobby politicians and the media to support military adventures.

Western powers act as a pack of wolves and attack a selected target. Under this strategy target states are isolated and weakened by multifaceted and concentrated psychological warfare campaigns. International organizations, rights groups, charities and the media are used in such campaigns. This is happening in case of Pakistan, too.

Pakistan is a U.S. ally but anti-American sentiments are really strong in the country therefore neutralizing and weakening of Pakistan could be one of the U.S. goals. Pakistan is already struggling against a domestic insurgency that appears to have foreign sponsors. At a time when Pakistan is in the grip of internal conflicts and crisis a direct military conflict with NATO will further damage the country’s ability to resist foreign pressure and dictation. Also it will be a serious blow to Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure.

The country is already discredited internationally due to the foolish policies and actions of its ruling elites. The military controls Pakistan’s foreign and domestic policies and promotes ridiculous security concepts because of which the country is perceived as a problem state by nations in the East and the West.

Most Western media outlets caricature Pakistan as a society of paranoid, intolerant and deceitful people; of course it is an inaccurate description but it has been created with purpose, however, Pakistan has not been able to dispel such impression about its national identity and character. Some non-Western countries also do not trust Pakistan as a reliable and stable state.

Foreign policy and international relations require calm, cold and objective analysis and well-thought through strategies. Even in the so-called open and democratic Western societies, foreign policy is considered an elite issue and major decisions are taken after thorough discussions often behind closed doors and policies are filtered at different levels.

In Pakistan, however, foreign policy is driven by shallow emotions and illogical assumptions of few generals. The Pakistani media and politician are unscrupulous and play with the public emotions using  provocative rhetoric. Some in the military have been engaged in dangerous and deadly adventures. Generals like to take pride in their mastery in deception and ability to apply low-tech and low-cost guerrilla war tactics in Afghanistan and elsewhere to outmaneuver powerful enemies. They imply as if Pakistan can defeat any power of the world.

It is insane to believe that economically paralyzed, divided along ethnic and sectarian lines and ideologically confused Pakistan aims to conquer the world. But a few Pakistani generals and their civilian comrades in the media and politics publically claim that Pakistan, an ideological fortress of Islam, will lead the holy war and will eventually rule the world.

The above tendencies have created a perception that the Pakistani military plays double games and the hot-headed Pakistani public can be easily provoked. In other words, Pakistan is not a reliable nation. Such a perception provides fuel to accusations that Pakistan is not a responsible nuclear state.

Before it is too late Pakistan needs to reconsider its foreign policy and should immediately undertake serious efforts to develop strategic partnerships with Russia, India and Iran. In doing so Pakistan does not have to be an enemy of the United States. Both Russia and China do not support all U.S. policies and strategic goals and often oppose American hegemonic designs but at the same time the both countries are trade partners of the United States.

People like General Hamid Gul are absolutely wrong when they oppose the idea that Pakistan provides a trade corridor to India for energy imports from Central Asia. The trade corridor between South and Central Asia will offer immense opportunities for the people of the region. It may also bring peace and stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Actually, General Hamid Gul represents a sick and outdated mentality that has harmed Pakistan and its people. Due to the ill-conceived and stupid policies of General Hamid Gul and his associates, the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan have suffered. General Hamid Gul, General Aslam Beg and their supporters in the media and politics should be tried for war crimes and bringing  instability to Pakistan.

The argument that the Indian-based U.S. multinational companies will benefit from the trade corridor between India and Central Asia is simply rubbish. On the contrary, the U.S. and Europeans are opposed to the trade and energy corridor between South and Central Asia because if that will happen a significant volume of Russian and Central Asian energy will be diverted to Pakistan, India and beyond. Such a shift could deprive the West from vital energy sources.

This fear is one of the factors behind the NATO’s war effort  in Afghanistan. A prolong war and instability in Afghanistan and Pakistan can block the eastward flow of Eurasian energy and for the time being  this suits some NATO member countries. Western powers will allow ‘peace’ in Afghanistan only on their conditions and which suit their interests. Will they achieve their goals is another question.   

Russia and Central Asia are also rivals to Saudi Arabian led oil producers. It is natural for Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries to impede Russian and Central Asian oil exports by sponsoring war and militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan’s President Asif Zardari seems to have offended the House of Saud and the White House both in his efforts to warm diplomatic relations with China, Russia and Central Asian states. He has taken the right path, however, his steps are not enough as more serious and concrete efforts are needed to build bridges with Eurasian countries. It will require a new vision, dedication and consistency to change the focus of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Despite provocations Pakistan has to avoid military conflict with the U.S.or NATO because it will block or delay the opening of new trade routes and economic opportunities. Relations between India and Pakistan may also improve once trade between India and Central Asia starts via Pakistan as the both countries will benefit from the new economic opportunities. A war between Pakistan and NATO, on the other hand, is not in the interest of any country in the region because it will further diminish chances of economic integration and prosperity.

Shiraz Paracha is a journalist and analyst. He can be reached at: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com




About the author

Shiraz Paracha

Mr. Paracha has worked as a journalist, with newspapers, television, radio and online companies in Britain, Central Asia and Pakistan. Between 1995 and1996, hosted and presented very popular television programs (Awami Forum and Awami Jirga) in Pakistan. His former employers include the BBC and Press TV among other notable names. Mr. Paracha is also a journalism professor and has taught journalism and communication courses at international universities outside Pakistan.


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  • Finally, some voice of sanity in the noise of Ghairat Brigade.

    General Hamid Gul will turn Pakistani into another Afghanistan. That mad man belongs to prison, not media.

  • The warmongers are playing the psychological warfare of ghairat as the basis to lead pakistan into war. They want to use this as a pretext to wrap up the system.
    Have we ever thought waht will happen in case we fight a war with USA or NATO?

  • Old Wine In new bottle. Can some body compare the national attitude and Army’s role when a politician invited Indian PM in Pakistan and we have Kargil fiasco? This time its western border and distraction is American forces… For general’s strategy it’s just a matter of creating distractions to destabilize political governments. Few foot soldiers are just a small cost they think they can pay for the bigger reward.

  • For those who consider international relations: It is a tough situation and a strong message from West specially from USA. Since long West has been giving warning on the presumption what they thought and believed that State of Pakistan was not scratching off the terrorists rather they were helping them with training and arms and ammunition assistance. Pakistan thought they were smart enough to deny these blames. Through recent incident of attack on a Pakistani check-post near Afghanistan, West has sent a strong message that they have decided to fight this state-sponsored terrorism both strategically and also on conventional war scale. How we are reacting by plugging the NATO’s supply was well within their assessment beforehand. Shamsi airbase evacuation by USA is no big deal for USA, they have already shifted their drones to Afghanistani tarmacs. It is foolish to think otherwise. All consequences of post attack are very well discussed on war table.

    Last but not the least – USA thinks in the long run they would inflict much damage to Pakistani military than its civilians. We can eat grass but military would get weaker every passing day. No replenishment, no repairs job, no replacement. Ansar Abbasi’s hollow feeler that Pakistan has achieved the technology and built “smart nukes” would not make a slightest dent in American behaviour. They know very well the man (Ansar Abbasi) does not know even the ABC of nuclear technology. In that how small particle accelerator in the bomb shell bombards neutron particles on U235 or U239 atoms in the core that breaks the atoms and resulting small neutrons ultimately a fission in the shape of chain reaction develops. And he is talking of “smart bomb”. Thanaks to internet even a six year kid can google. A word of advice to Ansar Abbasi, journalism is no joke, a journalist must know all the things and every thing before writing an article. A word of advice to Ansar Abbasi, come to me I will teach you some knowledge, my tutorial fee is only Rs.8,000 per hour.

  • Listen me carefuly ,,, dear we are not Baghairat that we always Bow our head before Americans , Indians and NATO .. we will kick them off from our land when they try to attack us.. o bai ziada se ziada hum mar jaengy laken Dunia ko b pata chalay ga k Shaheed ka khoon kabi raegaan nai jata. GEN HAMEED GUL was our hero and he is…1 baat to mujay samaj me aati nai ye tum log marne se kyun darty ho?dont u remember what Tipu sultan said? this iz only due to you people that American’s slap on your face again and again and you bloody idiots have no sharam to see in the eyes of ur enemy..
    i really appreciate PAK army to take this step against NATO & AMERICAN’S..

  • There Are lot of bastards who always under estimate the Pakistan’s millitary power by explaining the names NATO, US and India, I want to ask one question from this type of coward bastards who always threat the Pakistani Nation under the Unbrella Of Zoinism by saying that Pakistan can not fight with USA, NATO or India, Why these bastards are not attacking the holy Pakistan, what for they are waiting since 2001, why dont they attack, why, their economies, their societies are going to collapse under the scatalogical shadow of Capitalism, But a few of our bastards always tries to tell us some names of elements os Isotopes, B52, and what not and what not.

    By the grace of Allah Pakistan is a millitary power today that’s all.

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