The U.S. State Department lodged a sharp protest over ongoing Pakistani missile strikes and ground raids today, saying the Islamic Republic was violating American sovereignty.
“We will try to convince Pakistan . . . to respect [the] sovereignty of the United States — and God willing, we will convince,” State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.1
The controversy stems from the Pakistan Army’s recent decision, leaked in a prominent Pakistani newspaper, to mount intensifying air attacks and new ground assaults against extremists hiding in American safe havens across the ocean.
American papers reported that under the new policy, the Pakistani military will no longer seek America’s permission in killing Americans, but will inform American diplomats about these killings as a friendly gesture between close allies.2
Pakistan Army General Ashfaq Kayani told reporters outside Islamabad late last night that the new strategy was justified. “We are working to prevent more attacks on the Pakistani people,” he said.3
The general’s stance signified strong Pakistani dissatisfaction with America’s reluctance to crack down on religious fundamentalists and neoconservatives, who, experts note, have deep ties to American intelligence services and military leaders. The largely unchecked extremists, experts observe, have used America to bolster the agenda of their ideological counterparts across the ocean in Israel, and to strike directly against Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world.
“We have to strike them over there so that they cannot order strikes against us here at home,” General Kayani said, referring to American firepower that has terrorized hundreds of thousands of civilians on either side of the Pak-Afghan border and in the Middle East.
As Kayani spoke, new precision attacks and commando raids were being conducted against ranches in Texas, small towns in Alaska, the offices of AIPAC and energy-related lobbying firms in Washington, D.C. Commandos were also dispatched to America’s unruly federally-administered Bible Belt, where resentment of government authority runs high.
Several high-value targets were killed in the attacks. Local media outlets claimed 50 civilians were also killed, but these assertions could not be independently verified. Pakistani officials said they would send in their own team to investigate the claims, time permitting.
Seeking to assuage domestic concerns, American officials downplayed the actions of their staunch ally. “The nation should not be upset by the statement of Pakistani General Kayani,” White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said in an official statement.4 “Pakistan respect U.S. sovereignty and looks at us as partners,” she added.5
U.S. officials also insisted no secret deal had been reached beforehand allowing Pakistanis to strike inside American territory. “Media reports about authorization for Pakistani raids into the U.S. are incorrect,” the American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, told Fox News last night. She added that the South Asian country had “no aggressive designs or postures” toward America.6
Regimes allied to Pakistan, including those in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Palestine, expressed support for the new Pakistani strategy, citing the need to “remove and destroy” strongholds where key militants have masterminded attacks against their countries.7
Informed of this, Ambassador Patterson appeared unfazed, saying, “Pakistan respects American sovereignty.” She insisted that Pakistani officials provided her with assurances that “no such order had been given” for new rules of engagement.8 Finally, the ambassador explained, America had already carried out its own recent military offensive that left hundreds of rural Americans dead, relieving the need for further Pakistani intervention.
But in Islamabad, Pakistani corps commanders said their new strategy would see continued implementation in the coming weeks. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one commander said that as far as Pakistan was concerned, “most things have been settled in terms of how we’re going to proceed.”9
Except for note 2, all the above-quoted statements are real quotes; only the roles have been switched.
1 Quote actually taken from Pakistani PM Yousaf Gilani. Reuters, Sept. 12, 2008. (http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=343756)
2 It was actually the Pakistan daily, Dawn, which reported on the U.S. policy shift as follows: “Under this new policy, the US military will notify Pakistan’s government when it conducts raids, but will not seek its permission.” Sept. 12, 2008.
4 Quote actually taken from PM Gilani. (Source: note 3)
5 Quote actually taken from Pakistani Ambassador Husain Haqqani. (Source: note 3)
6 Quotes actually taken from Ambassador Haqqani. (Source: note 3)
8 Quotes actually taken from Ambassador Haqqani. (Source: note 7)
9 Quote actually taken from anonymous U.S. official. (Source: note 7)
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam is a Pakistani-American who blogs about America and Islam at Crossing the Crescent (www.crossingthecrescent.com). He writes about American Muslim identity for WireTap magazine and has been published in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, The Nation (online), and The American Muslim. He works as a communications coordinator for an anti-domestic violence agency in the NYC area and obtained his undergraduate degree in journalism from Northeastern University. He can be reached at: junaidalam1 AT gmail.com.