By Nahella Ashraf
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“War on terror”: The Afpak disaster

This article is over 14 years, 6 months old
The war in Afghanistan has spread to Pakistan, and now the US is struggling to contain the disaster they call the Afpak war.
Issue 341

Pakistani militants are ambushing some 200 supply trucks a month as convoys make their way through northern Pakistan into Afghanistan. Videos have appeared on YouTube showing Pakistani militants with captured US trucks.

This is a huge embarrassment for the US, whose response has been to use drone attacks on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, killing countless civilians in remote villages.

When this didn’t achieve the desired effect the US applied huge economic and military pressure to push Pakistan’s president and army chief towards military operations.

For the US, Pakistan has always been key to the operation because it is the main supply route to forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan military launched attacks in South Waziristan last month. Since May, over 18,000 Pakistani troops have been involved in an offensive against the people of Swat Valley, one of the most remote areas of Pakistan.

Because the army feared casualties and were uncertain of the loyalties of some of their soldiers, they used air strikes, helicopter gunships and artillery to pound militant positions and to raze many villages and towns to the ground. The result was the displacement of over 2 million people – the largest displacement of civilians on the Indian subcontinent since partition in 1947.

The people of Swat Valley have paid the price of this army “success” with the destruction of their homes, businesses, schools and clinics and as a result of this many feel as much antipathy to the Pakistan army as they did to the Taliban.

The justification for these attacks was to root out the terrorists and militants. In reality it has shown the people of Pakistan yet again that their leaders were giving away their sovereignty. Many people in this area see little difference between Islamabad’s government using the army against its own people and Hamid Karzai’s support for the occupation of Afghanistan.

The militants do not oppose democracy or the rights of women, as the ruling class would have us believe. They see their struggle as the same as that of the people of Afghanistan. They may not support what the Taliban stands for but they see that they are the only people fighting those who have the power.

The working class in Pakistan recognises that its government and army are only supporting the US in this “war on terror” for their own benefit. Many states have an army but Pakistan is widely recognised as an army with a state. Before George W Bush left office he pledged $11.8 billion in aid to Pakistan. To this day no US-funded public developments have been created. Instead, at least 80 percent of this money went directly to the military.

The poorest people of Pakistan recognise that they will probably never see any US aid. As always they are paying the price for this failing war as the ruling elite sit in their comfortable mansions in Islamabad.


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