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[The Times, U.K.]

 

 

The Daily Jang, Pakistan

In and Out of Pakistan, U.S. Policy of Force Has Failed

 

"Haven't the Bush Administration and U.S. intellectuals learned anything from Iraq. Is the idea to kill everyone? Is that the solution?"

 

By Dr. Masooda Bano

 

July 21, 2007

 

Pakistan - The Daily Jang - Original Article (English)

Pakistan 's tribal belt is under fire again, just two weeks after General Musharraf received a Pakistani 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 are incompatible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





































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