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Pakistan: after the missiles, the smokescreen

As we already said in previous articles, the US attacks against Pakistan, whose supposed goal was to eliminate Al-Qaeda’s Number 2: Ayman Al Zawahiri, allowed to attack rebel movements in Baluchistan. However, the mainstream media have never considered this offensive as evidence of Washington’s support of his allied Pervez Musharraf and an attempt of brutal “pacification” of a strategic zone that is crucial for the transfer of oil from the Caspian Sea. Giving more importance to the myth of the “global war on terrorism”, analysts leave aside the subtleties of Pakistan’s policies to focus on the justification, or condemnation, of the principle of “selective killing” and on other questions about the regime of Pervez Musharraf.

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As we already said in previous articles, the US attacks against Pakistan, whose supposed goal was to eliminate Al-Qaeda’s Number 2: Ayman Al Zawahiri, allowed to attack rebel movements in Baluchistan. However, the mainstream media have never considered this offensive as evidence of Washington’s support of his allied Pervez Musharraf and an attempt of brutal “pacification” of a strategic zone that is crucial for the transfer of oil from the Caspian Sea. Giving more importance to the myth of the “global war on terrorism”, analysts leave aside the subtleties of Pakistan’s policies to focus on the justification, or condemnation, of the principle of “selective killing” and on other questions about the regime of Pervez Musharraf. Nonetheless, by doing so, they bring to light elements that should compromise their own certainties.

Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the regime of Pervez Musharraf has a paradoxical condition in the Atlantist media: sometimes it is portrayed as a loyal ally in the pursuit of Al Qaeda assassins, and others, as a traitor with ambiguous goals whose ties with the Talibans are often recalled. In fact, Pervez Musharraf has always been a loyal ally to Washington and he serves as a regional ally and as a media scapegoat that hides the support the White House gave in the past to former Afghan leaders.
This role of scapegoat is used by Jim Hoagland, conservative editorialist of the Washington Post, to exonerate the United States from the crime committed in Damadola. In his opinion, the 18 victims in that village are the collateral damage of an action for which Pervez Musharraf was responsible. If Musharraf had sent troops to the regions where the members of “Al Qaeda” are based, the United States would have not been forced to use unmanned planes and there would have been no collateral damages. The analyst denounces the double role played by the Pakistani president. He believes that he helps both the Taliban and the West at the same time and that he is essential for both of them and he takes advantage of that. Mr. Hoagland concludes with a hardly concealed threat: Pervez Musharraf has a lot to lose if he does not fight terrorism.
However, in his accusation, Mr. Hoagland brings an interesting element to light: the United States has settled in the border region and it is carrying out commando operations. In that case, why use unmanned planes and carry out bombings whose results are fortuitous when the target is one person?
A former advisor to the Pakistani ex Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and also open adversary of the Musharraf regime, also shows the contradictions of the official thesis and attacks Islamabad. In Gulf News, the author expresses doubts about General Musharraf’s supposed ignorance of the attacks that would be carried out. He notes that several US senators affirmed that Pakistan had been warned in advance and that the United States had little interest in hiding its intentions to its ally. In the author’s opinion, Pakistan was probably aware of the attack but had to protest in a formal manner faced with the people’s reaction.

In spite of all the elements presented in our articles, the media’s favourite choice is to say that Pakistan was not warned and that the United States made a “mistake” by trying to kill a leader of Al Qaeda that could not be detained in any other way.

Considering this postulate, Anatol Lieven and Rajan Menon, researchers with the New America Foundation, show their concern in the Christian Science Monitor over the negative impact that this issue may have for General Pervez Musharraf. In their opinion, the Pakistani military power is a precious ally that should be supported against the will of the people. Thus, by acting in an arrogant manner and refusing to apologize, the United States weakens its ally and de-legitimizes its alliance. Paying little attention to the civil victims, the authors ask for a symbolic gesture to help the Pakistani military regime.
The director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, Daniel Byrman, also expresses concern over the bad image that this incident has brought to the Bush Administration. In Los Angeles Times, the author analyzes, based on the Israeli example, the best way to use selective killings. He affirms that there will be “errors” and, consequently, “collateral damages”, but he believes that this policy is useful in the case of men who are impossible to detain. He encourages the United States to explain its policy of killings to create ample consensus within the population.
In short, the author shows complete disregard for the lives of others and he shows interest mainly in the means that should be used so that people accept state terrorism.

Outside the United States, there is concern for the meaning of this attack. Some analysts take the opportunity to question their country’s alliance with Washington.
Egyptian writer Amir Said affirms in the Saudi journal Almoslim that, from now on, all countries, friends or foes, can be targets of the United States. The attack against Pakistan shows, in his opinion, that no country can face up to them; friends and enemies can be targets of the interference of US intelligence services. So, what is the use of acting in a conciliatory manner towards Washington?
For his part, Australian Parliament member for the Labour Party and former Justice Minister, Duncan Kerr, denounces in The Age the practice of extra-judicial assassination in the “war on terror”. In his opinion, it is counterproductive, it undermines the principle of national sovereignty and, in the case we are analyzing, it weakens the government of Musharraf, an ally of the West in the war on terrorism. Mr. Kerr asks the Australian conservative government to urge the United States not to use its Australian infrastructure to carry out this kind of operations and that the United States does not implement its actions on Australian soil. This article reflects the movement that, within the Australian Labour Party, denounces the excessive docility of Howard’s government in relation to Washington.

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