Washington, Oct 28 : A leading US expert on South Asia has warned the Bush administration's policy against carrying out military strikes in Pakistan as, according to him, it "threatened co-operation between the two countries, possibly to the breaking point".
In a column in the Washington Times, Marvin G Weinbaum reportedly wrote that in its eagerness to reverse the mounting insurgency in Afghanistan, the US has embarked on a policy course "that could shatter its vital strategic partnership with Pakistan".
"There is no popular support for the US in Pakistan as the invasion of Iraq has galvanised the people in their belief that, as in Afghanistan, the war is essentially about defeating Muslims," he said and added: "By contrast, openly violating Pakistan's territory will make matters worse. And Pakistan can easily retaliate. Most supplies for US and coalition forces in Afghanistan are delivered to the port of Karachi and then shipped by road to Afghanistan. Early last month, trucks seeking to cross the border were stopped, a warning of what might happen if US raids continue."
"By allowing American combat forces to freely conduct raids into Pakistani territory, the US intends to pressure Pakistani leaders to step up the fight against militants. The 80,000 to 120,000 Pakistani troops that have engaged the insurgents since 2003 have been funded by the US at a cost of one billion dollars a year, but their performance has been 'inconsistent and incomplete' because they are ill-equipped, poorly trained or unmotivated," the Daily Times quoted Weinbaum, a resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, as saying.
Warning that there was too much at stake for the US to risk 'dangerous, misguided policies', Weinbaum said that intrusions by US special forces or missile attacks by drones by themselves will not take out the insurgents and their allies along the frontier. "Nor can they seriously disrupt the global terrorist network. The massive US intervention that it will take to clear the area of insurgents is not possible. Casualties both military and civilian will be heavy," he added.
Even a more covert approach, playing radicalised tribal groups against one another, will be likely to show that their hatred for America exceeds any historic or personal animosities. There simply are no quick fixes, Weinbaum argues. "The co-operation of the Pakistani military and its intelligence services, working with a civilian government, remains indispensable," he wrote in his article.