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Founding Editor view on Limited wars in South Asia

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The 26 November attack on Pakistan Army’s post in Mohmand Agency is a seminal event in a troubled relationship between allies in a constant spat. Whatever the spin put out by the Pakistan Army, or United States military spokespersons, the truth of the matter will remain confined by the differing perceptions generated out of this vexed relationship.

Stories of vastly different interpretations abound, as they are expected to when the occasion is of such magnitude. And it is of enormous magnitude, one that cannot be measured by merely the statistical recourse to the number of casualties. 26 dead and at least half as many injured is a significant figure by any stretch of imagination. Even in the realms of South Asian negligence of the value of human life this is an enormous calamity that has hit the Pakistan Army.

Pakistani spin masters have been quick to point to various loopholes in their domestic airspace management, rules of engagement and the unequal nature of the relationship with the United States of America. What matters more to them is that the convoluted justifications find news space, not that they necessarily absolve the Pakistan Army of all its wrongdoings. And the list of wrongdoings are legendary in their audacity, myopia and the sheer subversion of law and good relations with all. The relations with the United States has been the bedrock as far as the Pakistani state is concerned and more so its military. Beneficiaries of arms sales and slush funds by the billions the Pakistani military machine was on hire to the United States for the longest time. Both looked the other way when it came to protecting core interests. If the Pakistani state allowed itself to become the frontline of anti-communist subversion it did so on its own volition. And if the United States slept over Pakistan’s nuclear shenanigans it did so with its eyes wide open. The problem, however, with looking the other way is that the earth is round and there comes a point when the two opposing visions are bound to collide.

Which is precisely the basis of the ongoing tensions over happenings on both sides of the Durand Line. Even as they may claim to be allies in the War On Terror, there is nothing to suggest that Pakistan and United States have interests anywhere near being common. The facts on ground clearly point to the fact that there is not convergence of interests between the two. In fact even as Pakistan draws coalition support funds from the United States its actions have clearly been subversive of NATO / ISAF interests. In that Pakistan has always been consistent, especially adept at pulling wool over the eyes. But such tactics have a limited shelf life and the expiry date was clearly crossed on 13 September 2011 when the militant attack on US interests in Kabul left a trail leading directly to the ISI. The Rubicon was crossed that day by Pakistan and 26 November is a direct outcome of that game. Suffice to say, the final whistle is a long way off.


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