THE Pakistani Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, yesterday spelt out that Pakistan cannot accept actions like the recent US cross-border air strike on a village in Pakistan that killed 18 people, mainly women and children.
Aziz added: ‘The relationship with the US is important, it is growing. But at the same time such actions cannot be condoned.’
This statement was forced out of the regime, led by ex-military leader President Musharaff, by massive demonstrations all over the country in the last four days, as well as by strikes.
US media reports said the attack was aimed at al-Qaeda’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri who was thought to be in the attacked village, and Osama bin Laden who was thought to be in the area.
Villagers have said that neither of the two men were in the village and that they are not in the area. They insist that the casualties killed by the US were all poor Pakistani villagers.
The whole country was incensed by the US cross border raid, one of a spate of recent US operations from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
The demonstrations throughout the country called for all US troops to be driven out of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and for the Musharaff regime to be driven out of power as a US puppet, which cares more for its American masters than it does for the lives of the poor people of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Aziz made his critical remarks at a press conference in Islamabad in the company of former US President George Bush Senior, who is touring areas hit by the recent earthquake in Pakistan. It was a pre-planned declaration made before the father of the present US president.
The US ruling class however remains unrepentant and convinced that if the opportunity should arise again, to hit a target in Pakistan that rumour has it harbours bin Laden or Zawahiri, that the opportunity to kill them, and any other people who get in the way of the US missiles and bombs, will be taken as quickly and as decisively as possible.
As far as the US is concerned there is very little difference between the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and both are expendable in the furtherance of the ‘US war against terror’.
These sentiments go for its Pakistani agents as well.
While the Prime Minister was publicly rebuking the US, in front of the US President’s father, the CIA and the regional government of the Bajur Pakistan tribal region were defending the action and claiming it as a success.
A statement by the administration of Bajur tribal region, bordering Afghanistan, said that 10 to 12 foreign extremists had been invited to dinner at the village hit in Friday’s attack. One of them was Ayman al-Zawahiri, who did not show up and sent some aides instead.
The provincial government did not identify who the foreigners were. It added ‘Four or five foreign terrorists have been killed in this missile attack. . . It is regrettable that 18 local people lost their lives in the attack, but this fact also cannot be denied, that 10-12 foreign extremists had been invited to a dinner.’
The US has still not commented on the attack on the Pakistan village on Friday and the deaths of 18 civilians.
It is clear that the cross-border US attacks, from Afghanistan into Pakistan, are to continue. In fact they will be escalated as the armed forces of the Taleban and Al-Qaeda are becoming much more active and powerful, not just in southern and eastern Afghanistan but also in the north of the country and within the national capital, Kabul, itself.
The way forward for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan is to drive out the imperialist armies and the US stooge regimes in both countries.