Regional response to NATO’s airstrike on Pakistan

NATO’s attack on Pakistan has enveloped the entire region in a serious row between regional and extra-regional forces. This dispute has compelled the regional actors to join hands to push the influence of external forces away. Rather than apologizing to Pakistan, US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter invited envoys of NATO countries in Pakistan to high tea at the US embassy in Islamabad. He asked them to persuade the Pakistani leadership to cooperate with the US. The US has been trying to portray the incident as a non-deliberate act.

However, Major General Ishfaq Nadeem, Director-General of Military Operations, had already claimed that two or three helicopters launched an unprovoked attack early on 26 November 2011. He also stated that NATO/ISAF forces had been conveyed positions of military posts through map references that left no scope for mistakes.

The response of China and Russia over this rift has exposed their serious regional concerns. China, expressing deep shock at the incident, stressed the need for ensuring Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity at any cost. It also emphasized that the event should be investigated thoroughly.

Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin also warned the US, though avoiding expressing direct concern over the unprovoked attack on Pakistan, he said that NATO supply lines would be blocked if the US failed to address Russia’s concerns over its install missile-defence shields in Europe. Russia’s statement, at this crucial moment, cautioned that Russia could never overlook possible incursions by US forces in its territory in the future.

Iranian parliamentarians also strongly condemned NATO’s attack. They urged Pakistan to review its ties with the US and never compromise on its territorial integrity.

This support to Pakistan from regional players has conveyed a strong message to the US and its allies.

It is highly unfortunate that the United Nations, a representative body of the world community, seems to be less concerned about the issue. The silence of the UN General-Secretary, Ban ki-moon over this incident also proved again that the UN can no longer be a real protector of nations.

Pakistan should convene a meeting of regional powers to discuss the matter. It can also call the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to gain their support. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also had already demanded an apology from the US and NATO.

It is worth mentioning here that to divert tension, the US can use any tactic to cause a rift between Pakistan’s government and its military.  The Wall Street Journal has claimed that the Pakistani side opened fire first and Pakistani military officials gave the “go-ahead” for US airstrikes that led to an attack on Pakistani soldiers.  However, Pakistan’s officials have outright denied this report.  Our civilian and military leaderships should maintain trust and unity among their ranks.

By Ms Noorul Ain Khwaja (Research Officer, PIIA)

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Filed under Discussion, NATO, Pakistan, United States

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