An attack on Pakistani troops

NATO's helicopter raid on a Pakistani checkpoint killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers and triggered an avalanche of public anger and suspicion against the U.S.

This was no accident, said the Peshawar Frontier Post in an editorial. NATO claims that its helicopter raid on a Pakistani checkpoint last week, which killed at least 24 Pakistani soldiers, was called in by Afghan and U.S. troops in Afghanistan who said they were under fire from the Pakistani side of the border. It’s a lie. “This was a naked aggression, plain and simple, deliberate and planned.” The site is clearly marked on NATO maps as a Pakistani base, yet U.S. forces battered it for more than an hour. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not the first time, or the second, or even the third that U.S. forces have killed Pakistanis on our territory. And each time the Americans slaughter our people, our government meekly accepts their apology.

No more, said the Lahore Nation. It’s time for Pakistan to “refuse to continue an alliance with such a high cost in its soldiers’ blood.” Past retaliation for fatal attacks has always been temporary and perfunctory. Last year, for example, after NATO forces entered Pakistani territory and killed two security officials, we shut the supply routes to Afghanistan, but after the U.S. ambassador apologized, we relented and reopened them. Now, the military has again closed the supply routes, and ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from a Pakistani air base, but will these measures, too, be temporary? Pakistanis have had enough. It’s time to “end the alliance” and make it clear that “Pakistan will brook no further interference or foreign presence in the region.”

Such “anti-American viewpoints” are now dangerously ascendant, said the Karachi Dawn. The avalanche of public anger is understandable, but Pakistani officials are overreacting. “Maintaining a constructive or at least working relationship” with the Americans is crucial, particularly as the deadline for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches. For our own security, we have to deny safe havens to militants on both sides of the border—and for that we need U.S. cooperation. Do we really want to jeopardize peace on our border out of pique?

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Cooperating with the U.S. will not bring peace, said Javid Husain in The Nation. The U.S. keeps attacking sites in Pakistan because of a simplistic theory that if it can stamp out the militants hiding there, Afghanistan would become stable. That is a fantasy. The source of the armed resistance is “the U.S.’s attempt to impose a government of its choice on Afghanistan,” without regard to the country’s tribal character. In so doing, the U.S. has alienated most of the Pashtuns, who make up half the country. The Taliban are staging a successful comeback in Afghanistan “not because of the alleged help from Pakistan’s tribal areas, but primarily because there is a large reservoir of support for them within the Pashtun belt” in Afghanistan itself. The U.S. military incursion into Pakistan, then, is not merely bad diplomacy. It’s a strategy “doomed to failure.”

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