[The Times, U.K.]
Daily Jang, Pakistan
In and Out of Pakistan, U.S. Policy of Force Has
Bush Administration and U.S. intellectuals learned anything from Iraq. … Is
the idea to kill everyone? Is that the solution?"
By Dr. Masooda
July 21, 2007
Pakistan - The Daily
Jang - Original Article (English)
's tribal belt is
under fire again, just two weeks after General Musharraf
and a U.S. intelligence reports
indicating that al-Qaeda is gaining a stronghold there.
The picture that the U.S. report paints is so
extreme, that journalists are asking the Bush Administration why the United States isn't sending troops
into the tribal areas as it did to Iraq. The government has
refuted the U.S. report, but given
that its own reports also show a resurgence of pro-Taliban forces, it hasn't a
leg to stand on. The real question really is, haven't the Bush Administration
and U.S. intellectuals learned
anything from Iraq?
Repeatedly asking Pakistan's government to
launch military operations or sending U.S. troops into the area
will do nothing to eliminate anti-American sentiment there, and it's clear that
the strategy of force adopted after September 11 has made the region more
vulnerable than ever. Afghanistan is hardly stable and Iraq
is a major tragedy,
where death tolls of 100 a day have become routine. And the proxy war that the
Pakistan Army has been fighting against its own people on behalf of the
United States is failing.
Suicide bombing, which is now a routine matter, didn't exit in Pakistan before September 11.
At the same time there has been an extreme polarization within society due to
the war on terror, which could be a prelude to secular and religious civil
unrest in Pakistan. Before the United States even contemplates
attacking another country or part of a country (i.e., Pakistan
's tribal areas), it
must demonstrate how past interventions in the name of the war on terror have
reduced the terrorist threat.
The question is simple: what would the objective be of such
military operations in the tribal areas? If the objective is to reduce jihadi sentiment in the area, clearly the strategy of force
is not working. For over four years now, the Pakistani military has undertaken
operations in the area, and now both Pakistani and American intelligence claims
that the concentration of pro-Taliban forces is at a high point. If force is the
answer, then why has it failed to deliver?
The answer given is that not enough force has been used, and that
we need to use more. But, who can determine how much force is enough. Is the
idea to kill everyone? Is that the solution? The enemy isn't sitting around in
easy-to-identify uniforms. Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers could be anyone in
the population - not just in the tribal areas but even in the heart of Pakistan's cities. How will
Pakistani U.S. troops identify them?
The problem with these military operations is that they are
carried out with little understanding of the enemy and its strategy for
mobilizing foot soldiers. What guides Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders and their
forces isn't blind indoctrination but an analysis of Western policies that are
seen as biased toward Muslims. Whether it's a student pf a madrassah
who joins the jihad or a graduate student (and we have both, even some who have
studied overseas) the power to mobilize is derived from Western bias in dealing
with Muslims, be it be the issue of Palestine or the war on Iraq.
As one of my very affluent research respondents who studied
overseas once said: "When the West adopts policies like those is holds for
Palestine and since September 11, Afghanistan and Iraq, it persuades you
that when the Quran says that the Christians and Jews
can never be sincere friends, it is right." What the U.S. has to realize is
that it is dealing with an enemy with a very powerful ideology, and that in
this case, rather than reducing its power, the use of force only strengths it.
The use of military force in the tribal areas has already made this
area highly inaccessible. It is impossible to get reliable information on what
is happening in there. This too is to the advantage of the militants, as a lack
of information makes it very difficult to differentiate between real militants
from ordinary people, And even those are likely to hold quite fundamental views
when it comes to core Islamic beliefs. If there is a solution to problems in
the area, it is in developing better intelligence networks that could help
identify the real militants and their hideouts. In general, bombing the area
will do no good.
So far the intelligence on bomb targets has been extremely poor,
and has resulted in a great number of civilian casualties. At the same time, a
long-term strategy of engagement has to be developed in the area. To think that
you can bomb the area one day and launch a development project the next day is
naive. A short-term strategy of force and a long-term of developing the area