August 4, 2012

WASHINGTON – I was visiting Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States when the phone on his desk rang.

“The hot line,” he said. “Sorry I have to take this call.”

As he listened, his face grew darker and darker. Finally, he banged down the phone and exploded: “Another US drone attack that killed a score of our people. We were never warned the attack was coming. We are supposed to be US allies!”

This strongly pro-American ambassador was wrong. While the US hails Pakistan as a key non-NATO ally, the US treats it like a militarily occupied country. The government in Islamabad is left to observe increasing drone attacks and CIA ground operation with deepening embarrassment and helplessness.

Average Pakistanis have no doubt about what’s happening. Most believe their nation was more or less occupied by the US after the 2001 attacks on the US.

The Pakistani leader who allowed this to happen, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has admitted that the US put a gun to his head and demanded he allow the US to use Pakistan’s army, air bases, ports, intelligence service, logistics, and air space – or face war. Musharraf quickly caved in to the US ultimatum, something a tough predecessor, Gen. Zia ul-Haq, would have surely rejected.

As US drone attacks intensify in Pakistan’s tribal belt and inside Afghanistan, the government of President Asif Ali Zardari, which was engineered into power by Washington and sustained by US dollars, keeps imploring the US to halt the attacks that are enraging Pakistanis. Senior Pakistani diplomats have been warning that the drone strikes that have so far killed 2,500-3,000, mostly civilians, are fuelling extremist groups in Pakistan and humiliating its armed forces.

No one in Washington is listening. Islamabad’s attempted to show some independence by halting US-NATO truck convoys from Karachi to Afghanistan for seven months after a deadly US air attack last November that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers.

But the blockade was recently lifted after $1 billion of American aid to Islamabad was unfrozen. The dollars are flowing again – many of them right back out into Swiss, Dubai or Singapore bank accounts.

Anti-American feelings in Pakistan have been soaring. Some polls show over 90% of respondents expressing hatred or anger against the US. These public sentiments have been worsened by more loose talk by Republicans in Washington about seizing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, making Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan a separate state, or putting Pakistan on America’s terrorist list.

There are even rumbles from the far right and pro-Israel neocons about attacking Pakistan. America’s failing war in Afghanistan is being blamed on the Pakistan-backed Haqqani group which is also ironical since during my days in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, Haqqani was a favorite of CIA.

Washington’s not so discreet threats of punishment have abated for the moment thanks to the mess in Syria and rising threat of war against Iran. But Pakistan remains a potent generator for anti-American jihadist sentiment, and for rising anti-Muslim sentiment in America.

Ironically, the US went to war in Afghanistan to supposedly punish anti-American groups, yet now ends up creating ten times more enemies in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the truck craziness has reared its head again. Supply trucks for US and NATO forces are backed up at Pakistani border crossing points because supposedly because of security threats.

Trucking supplies into northern Afghanistan via the Black Sea, Russia, and Central Asia has been costing the US $100 million monthly at a time when 44 million Americans live below the poverty level. Flying supplies and munitions from the US to Afghanistan costs ten times more than ground transport.

On top of this, Taliban and its allies are annoyed that the truck convoys have stopped. Why? Because they were being paid off millions more of baksheesh by the US to let the convoys pass.

Talks this past week in Washington between CIA chief David Petraeus and Pakistan’s new intelligence director, Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam were said to be cordial but not 6discernably productive. Nor were talks between top Pakistani and US generals. Diplomats seem to have dropped out of the picture.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

This post is in: Afghanistan, Asia, International Politics, Military and Security Affairs


  1. I wonder how one says”Checkmate” in Pashtun, Arabic, Persian, etc.

  2. Eric,

    Early this morning EST, Mars Curiosity Rover landed on Mars in the most difficult, complex robotic landing ever devised. It was a triumph of ingenuity and seeing all those wonderful scientists cheer in joy, as I cheered myself, I could not help but wonder how much more the USA could accomplish if we did not spend so much on War. How many more friends and admirers would the US have again, if they brought their soldiers and drones home and reallocated their Military budgets to the exploration of Space? How many more children at home and around the world would preen their heads to the sky in wonder and not in fear of Death? America truly has become a bi-polar nation capable of Heaven and Hell, Wonder and Death…I am so excited and worried for the future at the same time.

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      What would you do with the hundreds of thousands of returning soldiers? Stand guard along the Mexican and Canadian borders?
      You certainly can’t demobilize them all. You would drive up the unemployment rate; a disaster for your elected congress in Washington.
      Better to invent wars and enemies that “they” can sell to a complacent and compliant citizenry.
      Your optimism is admirable. I too see your dream of science “to the stars”. Perhaps if you can convince all of your fellow citizens to vote for someone like Congressman Ron Paul, who will stop the insanity of fighting perceived enemies abroad, and disbanding the Federal Reserve, your Dream may just come true .
      You must read and re-read the written word of your Founding Fathers. Be wary of your government. Question everything they say. Listen to Independent Academics who can vet what elected officials say. You might read about your seventh president Andrew Jackson. He vetoed the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. It was a private Central Bank, just like Federal Reserve is today. Being a private institution, the shareholders are not known. The Central Bank forces were outraged. They raised capital to defeat Jackson in his second run for the presidency. So Andy Jackson did something unprecedented. He went on the road to tell the people why he was against a Central Bank.
      He won his re-election in a landslide. Prior to Jackson’s Presidency, incumbent Presidents stayed in the White House. They did not campaign as their opponents did, giving stump speeches.

      ad iudicium

  3. One has to wonder what America would be saying if it was the Russians who were using drones.

  4. Giordano says:

    I can remember when The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in a rush, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee had attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons. Obama had stated that “dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts”. If this was for “Peace”, why is he sending drones all over the world (invading others’air space)? Why is he putting sanctions, which affect all citizens, on other countries? Why block the IAEA’s resolution to have Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection? NPT non-signers are India, Israel and Pakistan, all of which developed nuclear weapons with “U.S. help”, in violation of the NPT. I guess that the Committee, at the time, was very impressed with Obama’s eloquent speeches and refused to look deeper. No wonder anti-American feelings are soaring!

  5. Who is financing all this in the US? With their humongous debts already accumulated and all war efforts having so far negative results, one would think, that nobody would throw more good money after bad. But the government seems to be able to unrestrained keep on piling up more debts, which makes me wonder, who does actually run the show? Who is actually financing these capers? What is the ultimate goal? Somehow things do not add up, if we use the arithmetic, that the government says it uses.
    Why are Syria, Lebanon and Iran threats to the US? Has anyone of them threatened the US? Afghanistan was supposed to be retribution for that dubiously explained 9/11, so why involve Pakistan?
    We know, the US lied its way into the Iraq war,which has cost an untold number of innocent lives and still does.
    The US forfeited whatever credibility it may have had left, with that Iraq war. So why should we still believe anything, that comes out of Washington? Some roles may be played by different actors, but the script has not changed.
    We are being informed about a few pawns, their positions and movements on a chessboard, but nobody identifies the kings and queens, or even the smaller of the elites on the board.

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