Plea To Withdraw From Coalition - To Musharraf
Plea To Withdraw From Coalition - Letter To President Musharraf
Dear President Musharraf,
Re: Plea to withdraw from Coalition
I am sure you are alarmed by the statement of Mr Blackwill, the US Ambassador in India, about Kashmir. He is reported to have said that the US war on terrorism would deal with resistance in Kashmir in its next stage. This is a clear breech of conditions of Pakistan's participation in the coalition. The people of Pakistan are already outraged that the territory and air space of their country is being used for the invasion of a Muslim country. They have been demonstrating their anger and frustration on the streets but the majority was assuaged by your assurance that you made the decision in national interest to save Pakistan's nuclear deterrent and to protect the freedom movement in Kashmir.
I do not think you would have deliberately misled the people of Pakistan. Equally, Ambassador Blackwill would not have made the statement without clearance from his Government. The official reaction of the Foreign Office - the statement is being studied - indicates that you feel betrayed. But what is the nature of the betrayal? Making the threat public or the threat itself? I believe that the former is the case; you have been receiving threats from the US for some time. The USA would call it a misunderstanding and hope there would be no adverse fallout. But the policy that lies behind the 'misunderstanding' is not going to go away.
To be fair, the USA has always said that it has waged a long war on all forms and sources of terror. Sometimes it says it is fighting international terrorism and sometimes it says its target is Militant Islam. In both cases, it is quite clear that the US objective is to make powerful Muslim countries powerless; Pakistan is an obvious choice. The USA would continue to seek and find ever more obsequious leaders to head governments in the Muslim and Third World countries. The result would be instability and impoverishment of much of the world. But it would not help the US; it would damage it even more as hate and poverty spiral out of control. I believe the USA has embarked on a suicidal course.
The question before Pakistan is whether to publicise it fears and concerns or to conceal them. I believe it is wise not only to publicise our concerns but also to expose the suicidal nature of US policies. It would earn Pakistan the ire of America in the short run but it would restore peace and stability far more quickly than is envisaged in American plans. I believe that Pakistan should clearly say that it is no business of America to bomb freedom movements out of existence; nor should it make its case by threats - you are with us or with the terrorists. No country has a right to wage a war on another to seek out and destroy elements hostile to the third.
The second important point is the issue of proportionate response. The attacks on Afghanistan are quite out of proportion to their offence. The whole world is in a state of shock and would be very angry very soon. The USA is not bothered about the anger of the powerless but then it has missed the whole point of 11 September. Hate is a powerful weapon. Hate is entirely destructive but those who have nothing to lose are equally un-bothered as the USA. Now that you are under pressure to abandon the Kashmiri freedom struggle, you have to insist that the USA is wrong to fight hate by creating more hate. You cannot submit to US pressure. You should go to the people and ask if they agree to Kashmiri struggle being compromised. They would undoubtedly ask you to be steadfast in support of Kashmiris and accept the challenge of a long war. That is winning brief; those with a just cause always win in a long war.
There are three pillars of Pakistan's security: 1) Credibility of the Nuclear Deterrent, 2) Continuation of the Freedom Movement in Kashmir and 3) Friendly government in Afghanistan. By agreeing to join the coalition, you compromised the third pillar. If you do not resist pressure to abandon Kashmiris, you would compromise the second pillar. The USA would wait for a civil government to be inducted to knock down the first pillar. The difference between Nawaz Sharif and yourself would then turn out to be that you waited until you had a perfect alibi?
I believe you wish do what is right. The US has a right to respond to terrorism against itself but it has no right to deal with low intensity war in other countries where the US is not the target. Time has come for the US to be told that its conduct of war in Afghanistan is all wrong. The permission to overfly Pakistan should be denied to armed aircraft on the grounds that, 1) excessive force has been used against those who are not even an enemy, and that 2) the result of the US operations has been to imperil Pakistan's security by encouraging India in its genocide of Kashmiris and threatened our Northern frontier by installing an anti-Pakistan regime in Afghanistan. The conduct of war has compromised the common objectives of USA and Pakistan. What is more, it is making the return of civil war in Afghanistan inevitable albeit at higher intensity.
The US has already won the military campaign in Afghanistan. All it is doing now is wanton destruction to display its anger and hate. If Pakistan was to lead the way, much of the world including all of Europe would support it in saying enough is enough. You can do what no other country can. You can withdraw from the coalition; you can revoke permission for armed aircraft to overfly Pakistan; you can bring the air assault on Afghanistan to an end. Otherwise, it may be Iraq next, or even Pakistan.
Brigadier (retd) Usman Khalid
Leader of Al-Ansaar