With the United States and Pakistan at loggerheads over the escalation of US military strikes in North and South Waziristan, Pakistan’s US-friendly ruling coalition is seen as increasingly weak and major opposition figures are clamoring for a complete pullout from the US war on terror if they don’t stop unilateral attacks.
But according to Defense Secretary Kamran Rasool this simply isn’t an option. Citing Pakistan’s near-bankruptcy credit rating he warned that any attempt to withdraw from the US alliance would lead to having the nation declared a terrorist state and international sanctions that the nation’s faltering economy can ill-afford.
Secretary Rasool did assure that his government had made it “crystal clear” to the US that border violations won’t be tolerated. But prefacing this with a public acknowledgment that his government doesn’t believe it can even consider bucking the American policy on the terror war without facing economic ruin it is unclear how much weight this warning will have.
The US has insisted that North and South Waziristan are the center of militancy in Pakistan, though Pakistan has committed much of its military farther east in Bajaur. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has insisted the US has every right to launch attacks in North and South Waziristan, which has led to clashes with Pakistani border forces, most recently a five minute firefight in North Waziristan.
Pakistan’s army, however, has ruled out any new operations in North Waziristan, insisting it will abide by a peace accord signed early in the year. The Taliban forces in South Waziristan have also reportedly committed to their own peace deal with the tribes in the area.