Pakistan Army at Cross Roads as Nawaz Shariff Asserts Himself
The Pakistan Army Cornered
On 26 November helicopters of the NATO force were fired upon by insurgents from the Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan. The leader promptly contacted NATO headquarters for permission to fire back. This was approved and and rockets rained against the insurgents. The insurgents fled, but in the cross fire 24 Pakistan soldiers were killed. This was at 2 am in the morning.
But the incident blew out of all proportion as the Pakistan army stung by its ineptitude decided to prevail on the political leadership to hit back. The fact is ever since the US marine commandos entered Pakistan air space with impunity and without detection and shot dead Osama bin Laden, just 60 miles from the Pakistan Capital of Islamabad, the Pakistan army is being painted as an inefficient force. In fact at that time the joke going around in Pakistan was " Radars cannot catch enemy planes, but can tune in to Indian Star TV'
Thus the Pakistan army was greatly disturbed and this fresh attack where 24 of their soldiers died without firing a shot rankled with General Kayani and the Pakistan General Staff. They had to do something. This has now happened and the Pakistan government on pressure from the Pakistan army has served a 15 day notice on the USA to vacate the Shansi air base, the center of the US drone attacks. in addition all the supply lines to Afghanistan have been snapped and no trucks are allowed to cross the border into Afghanistan.
A prolonged disruption can seriously affect the NATO operations in Afghanistan. The US and NATO have embarked on a damage control exercise and an inquiry has been ordered to placate the Paki's. the relations between the USA and Pakistan are already at a low as the Pakistan ISI ( inter services Intelligence)is supporting the Haqqani faction of the Taliban. This faction was responsible for the murder of the ex president of Afghanistan as well as the brother of President Karzai, who has long complained of Pakistan duplicity in operations against the terror groups. It should not be forgotton that Pakistan army had housed Osama in a safe house close to Islambad at Abottabad.
It will be interesting to see how the events unfold further as the USA and NATO take stock of the fresh developments. Perhaps at some stage Obama may have to take a harder line against Pakistan in case they want to win in Afghanistan.