The rapid deterioration of the relations and the seething though muted hostility between the US and Pakistan is due to the closing of the NATO supply route through the latter’s territory by the partner in the “war on terror”. What is being demanded, along with other things, is the increase in transit charges for NATO trailers from $250 to $5000.
Almost 600 of these passed daily through Pakistan, carrying vital military and logistical supplies for the imperialist occupation armies in Afghanistan. The cycle of supply and demand has been wrecked by the devastating capitalist crisis with its diplomatic, political and military strategies going haywire. The recent Chicago summit failed to resolve any of the issues arising from this war of attrition and the consequences of withdrawal of ISAF forces in 2014. [Note: The International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, also referred to as the Coalition Forces, is the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan].
In the meantime the bloody conflict is escalating with ‘collateral damage’- the grisly killings and maiming of the innocent non-combatants both by the fundamentalist terror and the brutal imperialist aggression. The Nobel peace prize winner, Obama according to Foreign Policy, “has become a George Bush on steroids with a kill list.” Drone attacks have been intensified with more than 42 people killed in three days last week in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The Guardian wrote on June 5th, “Many among the dozens of “suspected militants” massacred by the drones in the last three days in Pakistan are likely to be innocent...a collateral damage running into hundreds... During the 2008 presidential debates he [Obama] startled many of us with his threats to expand the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan. More disquietingly, he claimed the imprimatur of Henry Kissinger, who partnered Richard Nixon in the ravaging of Cambodia, paving the way for Pol Pot, while still devastating Vietnam.” Leon Panetta’s statement, “US losing patience with Pakistan”, exposes the intentions. However, the US economy today is not even a shadow of what it was in the 1960s. An all out war with Pakistan will have ramifications of a catastrophic conflagration.
With their humiliating failure in Afghanistan these are desperate times for the imperialists. They are striving for a face saving exit. Now the only discussion is on the calendar of withdrawal. Their strategists are terrified of discussing the ground realities in its aftermath. The French are pulling out this year and others will follow soon. There won’t be much of NATO “allies” left by 2014. Tremendous mass pressure is building up for withdrawal which has reached almost 70 percent in the US, where eighteen veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan commit suicide every day. The number of US soldiers that have died at their own hands, mostly by shooting themselves, is now estimated to be greater than the numbers (6,460) who have died in combat in these war zones.
Pakistan’s weak rulers were bribed and bullied into acquiescence till recently. But now the situation has turned into its opposite. The Taliban and ISI have been encouraged by the debates, opinion polls, war weariness and the antiwar sentiment escalating in the US and Europe. They have also been monitoring the impact of the economic crisis on the capability of the imperialists to sustain this war of attrition. Feeling that the Americans have no choice but to flee they have been emboldened and the proxy war between the Pakistani establishment and imperialism has become more ferocious. The covert support of the Chinese ruling elite has also given an added boost to the military top brass in Pakistan. India, China, Russia and Iran, who are deeply interested in Afghanistan, are fine-tuning their strategy to take advantage of the situation after the withdrawal.
The fraught efforts of the imperialists to negotiate with the Taliban and split them through the Doha process have flopped. Any progress in talks is regularly ripped apart by a massive blast or a major assassination. The Taliban leaders are fully aware that the ISI, which provides them with approximately $150million a year to finance their ‘jihad’, will never allow them to reach an accord with the Americans except on terms of the military hardliners with massive financial interests in the black economy that are generated through this war.
In spite of being a neo-colonial country, Pakistan’s elite has its own imperialist designs, like Czarist Russia in the nineteenth century. Now the chickens have come home to roost. This Frankenstein’s monster, a set up between the mujahedeen and the ISI, was created by the CIA to launch a counter-revolutionary insurgency for the over throw of the Saur revolution in the spring of 1978. But all throughout the war with the Taliban the CIA has never severed its relations with various factions of these fundamentalists involved in terror. Bruce Riedel, the sly CIA operative who has been advising the Clinton, Bush and the Obama administrations on Afghanistan has written an article in the Daily Beast titled, “ Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: America’s new best friend”. Actually he is a very old friend of imperialism. And although there are several parties in the resistance to the foreign occupation, including the secular nationalists, left groups and the new generation of the Khalq, Parcham and the communist parties, these are conveniently ignored by the media.
Of the three main Islamic fundamentalist armed outfits, the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omer and the Haqqani network are not willing to compromise for obvious reasons. But there are authenticated reports that after the negotiations with Hekmatyar in 2009, now his armed insurgents of Hizb a Islami are operating along with the US forces. The irony is that Hizb is the subordinate of the Jamaat a Islami which is the main organiser of the reactionary “Defence of Pakistan Council” that is threatening to block by force NATO supplies if they are restored.
The conflict reeks of hypocrisy on all sides. Mutual deceit is the name of the game. This atrocious war is weighing heavily on the toiling masses of the region. Paradoxically, this conflict has exposed the vainness of the Durand line drawn by the British to divide the Pushtoon people who offered them an invincible retaliation. The fate of the oppressed on both sides has been brought together through the retribution of history. It can only be transformed when the masses rise to overthrow this system that has drenched them in blood for centuries.