Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Will US drone shooting change the Afghan war?
پاکستاان لیجر | PAKISTAN LEDGER | پاکستاني کھاتا |Sept. 23rd, 08 | Moin Ansari | معین آنصآرّی |
On May 1st, 1960 an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. Ironically the U2 took off from the Badabare US Airforce base near Peshawar. At first the US denied it. When it finally accepted that the existence of the plane , it was too late, Gary Powell, the spy plane's pilot had already spilled the beans."the incident was a great embarrassment to the United States and prompted a marked deterioration in its relations with the Soviet Union."
In July 1957, Pakistani Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was requested by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower of his government's agreement for the U.S. to establish a secret U.S. intelligence facility in Pakistan and permission for the U-2 spyplane to fly from Pakistan. A facility established in Badaber, 10 miles (16 km) from Peshawar, was a cover for a major communications intercept operation run by the American National Security Agency (NSA). Badaber was an excellent choice because of its proximity to Soviet Central Asia. This enabled monitoring of missile test sites and other communications. U-2 "spy-in-the-sky" was allowed to use the Pakistan Air Force portion of the Peshawar airport to gain vital photo intelligence in an era before satellite observation. Wikipedia
A lot of water has gone down the Potomac, the Indus and the Volga since those days when Pakistan was part of SEATO, CENTO and had two executive defense agreements with the USA.
Americans will selective amnesia have forgotten all that. Who cares if Pakistan assisted the US for 60 years and all through the cold war. Who cares if Pakistan risked nuclear annihilation. Ingrates don't remember favors. Bagram Airforce base in Afghanistan and all of Afghanistan was simply a Soviet colony at the time. After a direct threat from Kruschev, and President Ayub Khan realized that he wanted "Friends no Masters" the Badabare Airforce base was closed. In 1965 the US imposed an arms embargo on Pakistan.
Precisely 14 years later when Pakistan needed help against India, the 7th fleet headed towards to the Bay of Bangal didn't quite have the warp power to reach Chittagong before December 16th 1971. That date and the whereabouts of the 7th fleet are etched in the minds of all Pakistanis who were alive on December 16th, 1971.
Ingrates don't remember favors. Richard Armitage on September 11th 2001 informed the then president that "he would bomb Pakistan to the stone age" if it did not agree to the seven demands that he had presented. When reminded of history of the US-Pakistan relations, he said "history begins today"-- letting Musharraf and the Pakistan nation know in no uncertain terms that this was a transactional relationship.
Fast forward to September 23rd, 2008. A US had been shot down in Pakistan. This one did not take off from Pakistani territory to spy on Russia. This one took off from Bagram Airforce base Afghanistan to spy on Pakistani territory. the purpose of the drone was not only to spy but also to bomb Paksitani territory.
NEW YORK: An influential United Stated newspaper on Monday cautioned the Bush administration against attacks inside Pakistani territory and called for devising a policy to bolster Pakistan’s civilian government while enlisting its full support in the fight against extremists.Pakistan News reporting on the New York Times article
The impact of this "crash" may be very profound. It may signal that the Pakistanis have developed the technology to shoot down drones. If so, the US war in Afghanistan will face new challenges. The tide shifted against the USSR after Charlie Wilson introduced the Stinger missiles in Afghanistan. After the introduction of the Stingers no Soviet chopper was safe in Afghan air.
The president [Zardari] said Pakistan will ask any American troops crossing into its territory to leave and was confident that they would go.
Pakistan, he said, has a strong commitment to fight terrorism but only its troops have the responsibility to take anti-terror actions on its soil and any foreign troops crossing into its territory violate the U.N. Charter.
Is this drone shooting a seminal event. The events which will unfold in the next few weeks will inform the world if another drone "crashes". If so, GWOT is in real trouble and Pakistan's help in the war will become more important.
Of course, Mullen is very aware of Pakistan’s counter leverage. Most U.S. supplies for Afghanistan must flow through Pakistani ports and roads. Any interference with this access would jeopardize our operations. Additionally, the U.S. military needs a cooperative Pakistani armed forces and intelligence services to work along the Afghan border if the insurgency is to be stopped.
That’s why -- for mutually beneficial reasons -- both nations must put aside their differences before the situation gets out of hand. But America also must be realistic about Pakistan.
US drone 'crashes in Pakistan'
A suspected US drone aircraft has crashed in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan region, according to Pakistani security officials and media reports.
"A pilotless spy plane, we believe it is US, crashed in Pakistani territory but it did not disintegrate," a senior Pakistani security official said on Tuesday.
"Tribesmen picked it up and then Pakistani security forces retrieved it. No firing was heard in the area so there is no question of it being shot down."
Christian Patterson, a US military spokesman in Afghanistan, said officials were investigating the reports.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wright, a US Pentagon spokesman, said the CIA had "no reports of any loss of DoD (Department of Defence) drones," on Tuesday.
Dawn News, one of several Pakistani channels reporting the incident, said security forces had found the wreckage of the drone 8km from Angor Adda, near the village of Jalal Khel, and 3km from the border with Afghanistan.
US commandos launched a ground assault on September 3 in Angor Adda, which Pakistani officials said killed 20 people, including women and children.
The incident is likely to add to tensions between Washington and Pakistan
following a spate of recent American cross-border incursions and drone attacks targeting suspected fighters.
George Bush, the US president, said in New York on Tuesday that Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president visiting the country, had spoken strongly about protecting Pakistani sovereignty.
"Your words have been very strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect your country, and the United States wants to help," Bush said before meeting Zardari.
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, said on Tuesday that Washington would continue to take military action in Pakistan and called for co-operation from the government in Islamabad.
"I think it is essential for Pakistan to be a willing partner in any strategy we have to deal with the threat coming out of the western part of Pakistan and the eastern part of Afghanistan," Gates said, expressing hope for "an even stronger partnership" with Zardari.
Pakistan's support is regarded as crucial to the success of US-led forces trying to stabilise Afghanistan and fight al-Qaeda in the region.
But Pakistanis have become increasing angered over the heightened use of drones and ground units in the area bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistanis were outraged by the US September 3 raid - the first known ground assault by US troops into Pakistan - and the six-month-old civilian government issued a diplomatic protest.
General Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's army chief, said foreign troops would not be allowed on Pakistani soil and Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be defended at all costs.
Residents and some security officers said Pakistani troops fired on two US helicopters that crossed the border near Angor Adda a week ago, forcing them to turn back.
Pakistan and the United States denied the reports.