Pakistan resisting US demands for new offensives

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PAKISTAN’S army has just announced that it will launch no new offensives on its territory in 2010. At the same time the US Defence Secretary Gates has arrived for talks with the Pakistan military and government to force them to organise these offensives.

The Pakistan military has said that the two offensives it launched in 2009 overstretched and severely strained their armed forces.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Pakistan yesterday to try to coordinate an offensive by the Pakistan army in North Wazirstan, along the border area with Afghanistan, at the same time as the 30,000 US surge troops are to drive the Taleban over the border onto their guns.

This is not a popular course of action in Pakistan.

The Pakistani army launched major ground offensives in 2009 in the north-west against Pakistani Taleban strongholds in the Swat region, last April, and in South Wazirstan last October.

The Taleban hit back with a wave of suicide bombings and attacks that killed hundreds of people across Pakistan, rocking the Pakistani government and army, and bringing the country to the brink of civil war.

Any new offensive by tens of thousands of US troops pressing the Taleban over the border into North Wazirstan, which the Pakistani army will have occupied, will lead to civil war in Pakistan.

Gates is also keen to step up the US drone strikes at alleged Taleban targets along the Afghan-Pakistan border and also inside Wazirstan.

These have already killed hundreds of Pakistani villagers in the last year. In the opinion of the Pakistani government and military the strikes have destabilised Pakistan as a whole.

They want these attacks stopped. The US – Obama Gates and Clinton – intends to step them up, a tactic that will inevitably unleash a tide of anger against the US and its Pakistani allies throughout the country.

Gates’ position is that ‘We have common enemies on both sides of the border. We are interested in an even closer working relationship with the Pakistanis to go after these common enemies.’

Many Pakistani officials have already openly criticised Obama’s decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan as an unnecessary expansion of the war. They say that as soon as the going gets really tough, the US will abandon ship.

Gates has vowed that the US will not desert Pakistan. He has admitted that the United States made ‘a grave mistake’ in the early 1990s by cutting defence ties with Pakistan and losing interest in the region after running a successful covert war to drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

Gates served as CIA director from 1991 to 1993 and was a key leader of Washington’s Afghan policy during the Cold War.

US officials are now heaping pressure onto Pakistan to expand their operations into North Wazirstan, a suspected haven for al-Qaeda leaders as well as the Haqqani network, a Taleban faction that has organised many high-profile attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani military, which has a longstanding covert relationship with the Haqqani network, is resisting the pressure.

Major General Athar Abbas, Pakistan’s chief military spokesman, commented yesterday ‘You will completely destabilise the area if you push forward and expand.’

US and UK imperialism are determined to press ahead to expand the war into Pakistan. Iran, their next target, has a common border with both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The war will lead to revolution in Pakistan, and the US will find that 30,000 troops are but a drop in the ocean to the numbers of troops that will be required.

British workers must be for the defeat of all UK-US forces in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and must demand the immediate withdrawal of all British troops from the region.

For the British working class the enemy is at home, and is the British ruling class.