President Bush has fingered Pakistan as the biggest threat to America, said the Peshawar Frontier Post in an editorial. In an interview with ABC News last week, the U.S. president said that the next attack on the United States was likely to come from al Qaida terrorists based not in Afghanistan or Iraq, where the U.S. has troops and bases, but in Pakistan. Apparently he was trying to pre-emptively dump the blame for any attack onto our shoulders. Nice try. If our tribal regions have really become a “safe haven” for al Qaida, then “who else is responsible if not he himself?” Bush is the one who failed to send enough troops to seal off the Afghan border and prevent militants from coming into Pakistan. He is the one who fully three years ago told the CIA to pull out its “special unit assigned to capture Osama bin Laden.”
Bush isn’t merely trying to shift blame, said the Islamabad Post. His administration is laying the groundwork for an invasion of Pakistan, “training its gun toward the tribal areas” in particular. NATO forces have already bombed buildings suspected of being militant hideouts, “resulting in deaths of scores of innocent people, including children.” Such violations of Pakistani sovereignty are unacceptable, especially given that “Pakistan has unconditionally sided with the U.S. in the war on terror.” The new Pakistani government will have to make it very clear to the Bush administration that Pakistani territory is sacrosanct.
Too late for that, said the Karachi Dawn. The Pakistani military, CNN recently reported, is collaborating with the U.S. military on its own, without waiting for orders from the civilian government. The network said that U.S. troops have entered Pakistani tribal areas to train the Frontier Corps to fight the Taliban, in “the first step in a long-term U.S.-Pakistani military program on counterinsurgency.” The two militaries are conducting joint war games and planning operations together as if there is no need to “bother at all with the elected government” of Pakistan.
But let’s not pretend we don’t need the help, said the Lahore Daily Times. There is, in fact, a terrorist threat in Pakistan. So far, it hasn’t been striking U.S. targets—it has been hitting us. Just last December, terrorists in Pakistan killed presidential candidate Benazir Bhutto, and since then they have bombed government buildings, schools, and restaurants in Lahore, Islamabad, and Karachi. We need to face the fact that much of the tribal area is “out of Pakistan’s control, and the rest of it is under severe pressure.” Some local leaders are ready to adopt sharia in the hope that Islamic rule will placate the militants. It’s easy to criticize the United States, whose poor efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan have made our situation worse. But we can’t dismiss any offer of American aid. “We will need all the help we can get from the world outside to save ourselves from the brainwashed killers who are dynamiting our schools and destroying our culture.”