Fears grow of U.S. attack on Pakistan

June 24, 2008

Some people have begun to voice what has been for some time an unspoken fear in Pakistan - that of a U.S. attack.

What would happen if there were to be another big attack  on the United States that is traced back to militants holed up in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the Afghan border?

A U.S. soldier on patrol in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border

“Such an attack would immediately trigger massive bombing and an invasion of Pakistan by the U.S. and NATO,” says Riaz Haq in his blog Haq’s musings. “It could also result in the removal of the democratically elected government and installation of a new military regime in Pakistan,” he writes. “In addition to unparalleled death and destruction, such a scenario could turn Pakistan into a failed state with widespread unrest, homelessness, poverty, hunger and disease.”

Within the United States, he says, it would mean the election of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

A top adviser to McCain appeared to corroborate that bit at least when he was quoted as telling Fortune magazine that a Sept.11-type attack before the November election would benefit McCain. Charlie Black has since apologised for his remarks following widespread criticism.

Haq is the not the only one worrying about the months ahead. Pakistani blogger Farrukh Khan Pitafi  goes as far as to say : “Accept it or not, Pakistan is the next target of the U.S. invasion.” Over-reaction ?  Paranoia ?

You could argue both, but four months after Pakistan voted a civilian government into office there is a leadership void in  Islamabad, argues the New York Times, and perhaps that is feeding some of the insecurities. There doesn’t seem to be anyone in charge, and there is even less coherence on dealing with al Qaeda and the Taliban. The confusion is allowing the militants to consolidate their sanctuaries while spreading their tentacles all along the border area.

U.S. air strikes earlier this month in Pakistan’s Mohmand agency that killed 11 soldiers of the Frontier Corps,  followed up by a threat by Afghanistan’s Washington-backed President Hamid Karzai to chase down militants inside Pakistan, have heightened the anxiety.

But it isn’t just Pakistan. Descent into Chaos  is the title of reputed Pakistani journalist and author Ahmad Rashid’s latest book and it, according to the reviews, chronicles how the war against Islamist extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.


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