The US has been in a bizarre state of semi-war against its ‘ally’ Pakistan for months, launching covert ground and air raids into its territory.
Pakistan, first under the US-backed dictator Pervez Musharraf, and now the new, US-backed president, Asif Zardari, has been put in the impossible position of waging a small war at the behest of Washington against its own pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen in the frontier zones known as FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) that is bitterly opposed by most Pakistanis and regarded by many as treasonous.
[Meanwhile] Pakistan is almost bankrupt, with less than eight weeks of hard currency reserves to pay for vital imports of food and fuel. Half of Pakistan’s 165 million people live on less than $2 daily.
A major overt US commando raid against a Pashtun village inside Pakistan killed up to 20 civilians last week and brought threats from Pakistan’s chief of staff, Gen. Afshaq Kayani, the 650,000-man armed forces would fight to defend the nation’s territory.
Increased US incursions into FATA will almost certainly arouse most of the Pashtun tribes to resist the attackers and eventually involve units of the regular Pakistani armed forces. Pashtuns, 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population, are heavily represented in the higher ranks of the military and intelligence service, ISI.
[Excerpt of an article by Eric Margolis, veteran American journalist, writing in the Khaleej Times]