Pakistan gets a taste

In the last one year, US forces have mounted attacked inside Pakistan territory no less than 42 times according to an estimate. Look at that number again. 42 times. All of these were incidents of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles being fired from Predator unmanned combat air vehicles into villages and towns along the Pak-Afghan border, mostly in Waziristan. On September 3, Pakistan's sovereignty became an international joke when a contingent of US Army heliborne forces mounted an audacious ground attack in South Waziristan without informing the Pakistan Army.

If you don't already know it, this is a crisis of potentially terrible proportions for Pakistan. Here's what the famed Air Marshal Ayaz Ahmed Khan had to say in a recent column in a Pakistani newspaper:

"Violation of Pakistani territorial sovereignty must be challenged. Pakistan Air Force must be prepared to shoot down American drones, gunship helicopters and engage USAF fighter aircraft attacking and bombings Pakistani tribal villages. We must not act as frightened crows, when outsiders continue to kill our elders, brothers, sisters and children. Pakistan Air Force must defend Pakistan's air space. PAF's tradition is that it will rise to great heights to defend Pakistan."

This, from a column where he's running around wringing his hands and virtually wetting himself about the ongoing Su-30MKI induction in the IAF and how it gives the Indians an "edge" over the PAF. But that's a different story, we all know that.

The fact is Pakistan finds itself in a situation not just of its own making, but one that it was sure would never come about. A simple matter of overplaying your hand and eating dust for it. Musharraf's enduring vapour trail, apart from the assassination of Benazir, will be the bludgeoning of the Pak-Afghan border villages with impununity by American forces. For godsake, they've even stopped the customary pre-notifications to the Pak Army because they've found that this compromises missions, and terrorists/militants are usually far from their laser-illuminated lairs by the time the Hellfires lock on. Too much damn trouble, informing Rawalpindi.

What can the Pakistan Army do about it? So far, nothing. Overplaying your hand -- orchestrating a fake self-centrality to the so called war on terror -- and lying through your teeth about it, is a game in which any slip-up costs blood. A lot of it, as we're seeing. The Pentagon knows, like India has for decades, that Pakistan harbours, funds and arms terrorists. And more troublingly for Pakistan, the US is having progressively less diplomatic reservations in talking tough about the Pakistan Army and ISI's clear-as-a-bell role in regional terrorism. That's great news for India, sure, but it doesn't make the problem any less a problem. We're still the ones on the other side of the fence if Islamabad talks itself into a corner.

According to the Sunday Times of London, the Brits hid for a whole year the fact that a Taliban commander they'd bumped off in the Sangin valley in 2007 was actually a Pakistan Armyman. Yawn. Like this tells us anything new? The only amazing thing about the jigsaw of evidence that's been thrown together vigorously over the last 10 months by the so called "international community" about Pakistan is the fact that anyone is amazed at all. It's like the Chicago police finding that they're finally going to get to nail Al Capone on tax evasion charges. But that did do him in, didn't it? So the evidence can't afford to stop. It never did. It's just that now, there's a big difference.

The only reason nothing ever happened to Pakistan, is not a reason anymore. The US is pummeling Pakistani villages with bombs and missiles on a ridiculously frequent basis. It's no loss for the yanks, make no mistake -- the militants and the people in that part of the world hate them anyway, so it's not like they're going back on a PR exercise or anything.

Pakistan has made severe and foolish miscalculations with the United States -- not something it does often. The ISI, after all, can safely be described as one of the must successful agencies of its kind, for the enduring and tireless proxy war it wages against India using nothing more fancy than disillusioned youth with no future.

So what really is the future of Pakistan? Is of course is the operative word.

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