From the Los Angeles Times:
Reporting from Washington — In an assessment that raised questions about the future of Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Wednesday that the country’s fragile government is facing an “existential threat” from militants who are now operating within a few hours’ travel of the capital.Clinton told a House committee that the government of Islamabad is ceding more and more territory to the militants and is “basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists” in signing a deal with militants that limits the government’s involvement in the war-torn Swat Valley.
“I think we cannot underscore [enough] the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances,” said Clinton, adding the nuclear-armed nation also poses a “mortal threat” to the United States and other countries.
The unusually bleak warning came as militants expanded into new territory adjacent to the Swat Valley and as a top U.S. military official, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in the country for meetings following a visit this month with U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke.
Clinton’s comments to the House Foreign Affairs Committee underscored increasing U.S. alarm at how the militants’ strength has grown even as the Obama administration has begun trying to implement a new strategy for stabilizing the country.
Hillary Clinton has always been a liar. Always. So, this latest obfuscation is not materially different than her previous manipulations of the truth. And I’m well aware that her husband, current boss and both Bushes have as much culpability in this as she does. It’s just that she made the statement to Congress; she’s going to press the case for a military intervention in Pakistan; she’s going to write the marketing script for the Enemy Du Jour. The issue here is that the consequences are so very grave.
These are trying times for the people of Pakistan. It is an absolutely stunning country. Pakistan is blessed with majestic peaks, lush green valleys, fresh water lakes and more – but it is on the precipice of a disaster. On April 15, PBS aired a documentary on that nation and the recruitment of children by the Taliban. As most of us know, the Taliban might have disappeared a long time ago were it not for Tom Hanks. The actor or someone he represented on film was instrumental in providing much needed financial, operational and military support to this beleagured group which was based in Afghanistan during their conflict with the s0-called Russians.
How important is Pakistan? How about $10 billion worth of military staging important. Check this out:
By Shaheen Sehbai (December 1, 2008)
WASHINGTON: The US Central Command (Centcom) has provided startling official data of what General Pervez Musharraf’s Pakistan did for the US in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) against Afghanistan, allowing 57,800 US air attacks from Pak soil with the Pakistan economy suffering a staggering loss of US$ 10 billion.
05/19/03: (South Asia Tribune) This is the first official estimate of losses suffered by Pakistan, given by the US military high command and analysts say these figures could now be used extensively by the anti-American political forces in Pakistan to pressurize General Pervez Musharraf and his Government to explain his Taliban U-Turn and justify what Pakistan received in return.
With the upcoming visit of General Musharraf to the White House in Washington, or to Camp David in Maryland, as some Pakistani diplomats are now trying, this data will strengthen his case for more US aid as the Afghan situation has not yet fully settled as envisaged by the US. Pakistan’s strategic and military help is still a key factor in containing the anti-US elements.
The Centcom figures are far in excess of what Pakistani Government officials and experts have been claiming, the highest claim being US$ 2-3 billion. In contrast, what the US has offered to Pakistan so far, a US$ 1 billion write-off of loans, looks like as spoon of tomato ketchup in place of a full fledged state banquet.
“This is a goldmine of political ammunition for the religious right wing forces, like the MMA, to blast the US and the Musharraf Government,” one analyst said.
These figures have been revealed in a detailed review of Pakistan’s role in the operation and are specifically mentioned under the title “Effects of Operation Enduring Freedom on Economy of Pakistan” at the US Centcom web site, a huge resource about the US and coalition activities under the Command.
The Web site is still not complete but it gives a list of all the countries which contributed in the international coalition, 51 states named so far. Each country has been assigned a full page and details of that country’s efforts and contributions have been listed. After Canada, Pakistan has the most data on the page. Many country pages, including that of Saudi Arabia, are still under construction. The web site is, however, up to date on all other Centcom activities.
“Operation Enduring Freedom adversely affected the already fragile economy of Pakistan. Major losses were caused to the civil aviation, tourism, investment and shipping due to rise in the rates of insurance,” the Centcom site data says.
“Besides this, Pakistani exports also suffered adversely and foreign investments experienced a visible decline. According to a rough estimate, Pakistan’s economy suffered a loss of over US$ 10 billion since October 2001,” it adds. Click to View Pakistan Data on Centcom Web site
But more mind boggling are the other stats revealed by the Centcom about use of Pakistani air and ground space and facilities provided for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). For instance the Centcom data reveals that:
– Pakistan provided five air bases/airfields. However in emergency planes could land anywhere in Pakistan.
– On the average 400,000 liters of fuel per day was provided to US.
– A total of 57,800 sorties were generated from Pakistan’s air space/soil.
– In order to facilitate launching of air ops into Afghanistan, Pakistan provided 2/3rd of its air space as air corridor to the US/Coalition Forces. By so doing, Pakistan had to reschedule/ redirect many of its commercial flights.
– Pakistan Navy provided landing facility to the US/Coalition ships at Pasni.
– At sea, Pakistan Navy operations/training were curtailed in order to accommodate and facilitate the operations of US/Coalition Naval Forces.
– According to the US Marine Corps Gazette of June 2002, the Coalition Naval Operations at Pasni were the largest amphibious operations in size, duration and depth that the Marine Corps had conducted since the Korean War.
– In all, 8,000 Marines, 330 vehicles and over 1350 tons of equipment/logistic were off loaded at the beach and later flown to Kandahar from Pasni.
Besides these, in the War against Terrorism, according to the Centcom data, up to October 2002, the US side made 2,160 requests (of different nature) to Pakistan of which action on 2,008 was completed. Likewise 99 raids were conducted, 420 foreign nationals were apprehended of which 332 were handed over to the US, 34 were sent to other countries, 38 were released and 16 were under interrogation.
Details of Pakistan Army operations in the Tribal areas of Pakistan have also been provided at the Web site. Some of the data appears to have been provided to Centcom by the Pakistan Government and narrates the compulsions of the Pakistan Army in operating along the Pak-Afghan border.
“Tora Bora operations provided a window of opportunity to penetrate these areas which was capitalized by quickly moving the Army in Tirah Valley which captured 250 Al Qaida/Taliban fleeing into Pakistan. Later the Pak Army along with FC extended its operations to Miran Shah and Wana.
“In return, tribals have been offered a sizeable development package. The region, being remote and under developed warrants bringing it at par with rest of the country in terms of provision of basic facilities like communication infrastructure, health, education and employment opportunities. Same analogy is being followed in North Waziristan Agency/South Waziristan Agency (NWA/SWA) to prevent slipping in of Al Qaida/Taliban into our territory.”
“In spite of ominous threat on Eastern Border, Pakistan is maintaining a sizeable portion of her strategic forces on Western Border. This clearly speaks of our resolve to support coalition operations against Al Qaida/Taliban elements,” it says.
The compulsions mentioned include: Shortage of manpower, technical equipment and funds; Threats of war from India due to unresolved Kashmir dispute despite UN resolutions and Indian/international commitments even after 54 years; Constitutional restraint of operations in the FATAs (Federally Administered Tribal Areas); Domestic sensitivity to allow operations within Pak territory by foreign soldiers; and Cultural and religious sensitivities.
Figures of Pakistani deployment of Forces reveal initially two Army corps along with large contingents of FC troops (para military) were deployed along Western border including some of the areas hitherto considered as no go tribal areas. A total of 60,000 regular troops and 55,000 paramilitary personnel were employed on sealing of western border, internal security duties and protection of various bases being used by US/Coalition Forces. Later bulk of the regular formations was shifted towards the eastern border due to Indian Military build up.
Because of very effective security arrangements ensured by Pakistan, not a single breach of security has occurred around the bases in use by Coalition Forces.
And don’t bother looking for the Pakistan data on the USCENTCOM site. It’s gone.
This mortal threat was created by the US. In the business, it’s called “blowback” and it happens all the time.