On August 2, US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, the seniormost US official responsible for South Asia, openly said on American TV that the US would not hesitate to use its own forces to attack Pakistani territory in order to crush Al Qaeda and Taliban forces, if it felt that President Musharraf was not doing the job effectively. Burns categorically said that the Al Qaeda were sheltering in the Waziristan area of Pakistan, while the Taliban was headquartered in Quetta in Balochistan.
Confirming that this was no off-the-cuff remark is the fact that the high profile US presidential aspirant from the opposition Democratic Party, Senator Barak Obama, said the same thing in virtually identical language just one day earlier in a public speech. He said: "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again.” "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."
Of course both Burns and Obama said that they regard Pakistan as an ally in their “war against terrorism”. At the same time, these two statements coming one after the other shows that US imperialism is preparing the political ground for aggressive military action against the sovereignty of Pakistan.
These remarks follow close on the heels of a new law passed by the US legislature which ties continuing US aid to Pakistan to six monthly reports of how effectively the Pakistan government is prosecuting the US-driven “war against terrorism”. Burns said that the US “as a friend” had a “right” to expect Pakistan to do better to fight the enemies of the US.
As is to be expected, public opinion in Pakistan and the government too has reacted strongly to these pressure tactics, and have condemned them. Accordingly on August 3 US President Bush is supposed to have rung up President Musharraf with soothing words about how the remarks made about US incursions into Pakistani terroritory were “unsavoury” and attributed them to the “environment of electioneering” going on at this time in the US.
What all this shows is that the US is using blatant pressure tactics and also preparing public opinion for possible military action against its own “ally”. Experience shows that the US has always used such maneuvers before launching a full-fledged military offensive, as it did in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The timing of these maneuvers has to do with the crisis situation that is unfolding in Pakistan, in which the Musharraf government is rapidly losing public support, while the various opposition political forces are divided and intriguing against each other. Musharraf is waging war against his own people in Balochistan and Waziristan, and is also hitting out at other forces who oppose him, terming them “extremists”. The loyalties of the Army are not clear either in this situation. As long as the US imperialists felt that Musharraf was in firm control, they praised him to the skies and offered him all kinds of support. Now when they feel that he is weak, and that he has no clear challenger, they are baring their fangs and acting as if they consider Pakistan as just an extension of the territory that they already control in Afghanistan. What is clear is that this position is held not just by the officials of the current Bush administration, but also by the Democrats who may come to power in the next US elections.
The situation is extremely dangerous for Pakistan, and it is also dangerous for the people of India and the rest of South Asia.
What this shows is that being an ally or “partner” of US imperialism offers no protection against the depradations of this rampaging superpower. At this time, various elements in the Indian ruling circles are crowing about the Indian state's increasing closeness to the US. They feel that a great thing has been done by hitching the fortunes of our country to the chariot of the biggest superpower at this time. This is a criminal illusion that they are propagating. The US imperialists offer their “friendship” in order to get their claws into the other country. They get access to all the information and intelligence they want, they get access to military bases and facilities in the other countries, they get various highly placed officials and politicians in their pocket. And then they are in a much better position to destabilise or attack when their interests require it.
The people of Pakistan, India and the whole of South Asia should unitedly oppose and fight the pressure and intimidation tactics of the US imperialists in this region, no matter against which country these are directed. They should unitedly oppose and fight the US presence in this region, and the alliances and partnerships that sold-out ruling classes are forging with these dangerous imperialists.