Unity for national defence

Not only the military leadership, but also the political, is gearing itself up for national defence. The threat is the USA, especially after Adm Mike Mullen, the US Joint Chiefs Chairman, said that the Haqqani Network was controlled by the ISI.The US blames the network not just for attacking American troops, but also for the assassination of ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani. That Admiral Mullen did not speak on the spur of the moment, but as the beginning of a campaign was shown by the statement by prominent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that ‘all options’ were on the table against Pakistan, a strange thing indeed to say of such a close ally.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani spent Sunday reaching out to the heads of other political parties, and they all agreed to take part in an All-Parties Conference. This is in addition to the statement by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, in the course of a press conference on capturing an arms cache in Turnol, that Pakistan would give the USA a befitting reply if it came to combat between the two. Also, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, during an interview to an American TV channel on her current visit to the USA to attend the UN General Assembly session, has warned the USA not to test Pakistan’s patience, because otherwise the doors of cooperation could be shut. This is consistent with the corps commanders who met, unusually on a Sunday, to say two things: first, that the American allegations were wrong, and second, that the armed forces would give the USA a befitting response if there was an attack.

However, the Army, by expressing a commitment to lasting peace in the region, kept the door open for a reconciliation leading to the continuing of a relationship that has long grated on the Pakistani people ranging from the constant killing of Pakistani citizens by drones, to the Raymond Davis affair. This should be considered an opportunity to end an unpopular relationship. It is unfortunate that it took Pakistan to the brink of war with it for it to end the US alliance, but if that is the price that must be paid, then so be it.

However, the political unity should not be limited to mere sloganeering. This is the time when multipartisan delegations must go to friendly countries and build up support for Pakistan at this crucial juncture. This is the time when the country should make it clear that its traditional allies must also make the stark choice that is now afforded Pakistan. This is perhaps not the time to go into how the unreasoning political obedience of the USA by the nation’s political and military elite have led to this pass. So long as the national interest is maintained, past mistakes can be overlooked. – Nation