Retrieving sovereignty

Shamsi airbaseThe full control of Shamsi airbase was handed over to Pakistan on December 11, the deadline by which it was due to be vacated. CIA’s drones have flown out and other paraphernalia at the base has been either destroyed or withdrawn.

Similarly, American military personnel numbering 75 have left. The decision to have Shamsi vacated was taken against the backdrop of the Salalah attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The control of the base marks steps towards repairing damages to our sovereignty as far as the Shamsi airbase is concerned. It is imperative that possession of bases at Jacobabad and Pasni is also received. Without that, we would not be justified in claiming that we enjoy full and unalloyed territorial sovereignty. The lending of any piece of land to a foreign country is scandalous, and it becomes all the more outrageous when that power uses that very place to launch attacks which claim thousands of lives in casualties, most of them innocent civilians.

The whole nation is still seething with anger, 16 days after the brutal incident, and not a day passes without street demonstrations taking place against this outrage. A large rally called ‘Save Pakistan’ was taken out in Lahore, on Sunday, roundly condemning the Nato attacks and calling for a befitting reply to any such attempt made in the future. Demands for an end to the alliance with the US were also voiced. To prevent any recurrence of the incident there are standing instructions to respond with full force against any further foreign intrusion, aerial or land, without waiting for permission from the high command. The armed forces have decided to treat any object, including drones, entering into our airspace as hostile and to shoot it down. On the other hand, to everyone’s utter surprise, ISAF commander in Afghanistan John Allen has refused to give any ‘guarantee against another Salalah-like strike in the war they are fighting in Afghanistan’, while the world has, in fact, been expecting the Americans to apologise for the unprovoked attack.

Under these circumstances, there appears to be little justification for the resumption of Nato supplies. Prime Minister Gilani has also said that it may take some weeks before the vehicles carrying these supplies are allowed to pass through Pakistan. However, Mr Gilani had earlier maintained that the decision on their continuation would be taken by Parliament. One wonders how he should be making such an observation without Parliament having considered the matter. In view of the ISAF commander’s remarks, Nato may want to consider making alternative arrangements for the shipment of its goods, and the containers and trucks, which have clogged our roads. – Nation