Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty

How do the people of Pakistan feel about raids by US troops on their soil?  Do they share Gov Palin’s enthusiasm?  Here we see the first rumbles of a response. 

About Geo News, per Wikipedia:  Geo News is a Dubai based Pakistani news channel, fully owned and run by Jang Group. The channel started its broadcasting in 2005. It is considered as one of the famous news channels of Pakistan with millions of ‘Urdu speaking’ viewers around the world.

Pakistan Army ordered to hit back“, Pakistan News Service, 12 September 2008

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army has been ordered to retaliate against any action by foreign troops inside the country, Geo News quoted ISPR spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas as saying on Thursday night.

Shakil Shaikh adds from Islamabad: Pakistan`s military commanders resolved to defend the country`s borders without allowing any external forces to conduct operations inside Pakistan.

The military commanders expressed this resolve on the first day of the two-day Corps Commanders conference, which began here on Thursday at the General Headquarters. Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the all-important conference against the backdrop of the new strategic developments taking place in the region.

General Kayani has already rebuffed the American policy of including Pakistani territory in their operations against terrorists and those hiding in the areas bordering Afghanistan. Reports say that the US President Bush has allowed air raids from drones and ground operations in Pakistani areas including FATA.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has termed General Kayani`s response to the Americans as a true reflection of the government`s policy. The military commanders are understood to have discussed the implications of the American attacks inside Pakistan and took stock of the public feeling.

“In his statement, Genral Kayani has represented the feeling of the entire nation, as random attacks inside Pakistan have angered each and every Pakistani,” said a senior official. As the corps commanders continue their discussion on Friday, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has supported the Bush administration`s policy of conducting attacks inside Pakistan.

President Zardari is expected to talk to Mr. Brown on this issue during his first visit to Britain next week. Pakistan`s Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, is also learnt to have already talked to senior security officials in Washington. The latest spate of attacks from drones in Fata has killed many innocent people recently, which has only added to the gravity and complexity of the situation.

Update #1:  the importance of sovereignty

The Instapundit raises several important points in his post:

I’m not at all sure these are a good thing, even if Barack Obama does favor the idea. On the other hand, I don’t think they’re an invasion of Pakistan’s “sovereignty,” since the area in question is one in which Pakistan has not exercised sovereignty. Indeed, these areas have been the launching pad for attacks into Afghanistan, and a key attribute of sovereignty is responsibility for preventing such things. So either these areas are only notionally under Pakistan’s sovereignty, and in fact effectively stateless, or Pakistan is turning a blind eye to Taliban and Al Qaeda activities that it could stop if it wanted. Either way, though cross-border attacks may turn out to be unwise, I don’t think the sovereignty argument adds much.

Taking these by the numbers…

(1)  All the candidates are enthusiastic about the war in Afghanistan.  See stories #3 and #4 at in the following section.

(2)  Whether or not Pakistan exercises sovereignty over the border territories is a lawyer’s argument, probably  irrelevant to the people of Pakistan.  If our actions are an affront to their pride, we may consider their reaction irrational but nonetheless unpleasant.  If our border crossings help turn them against the US, historians probably will consider them an idiotic tactic.  Consider Bismarck taking Alsace-Lorrain from France after the Franco-Prussian War.  While a normal practice for the past 500 years, the rising but irrational sense of French nationalism made this an expensive fruit of victory — paid for millions of times over in the mud of WWI.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Update #2

Punitive Strikes v. Invasion“, Joshua Foust, Registan (“All Central Asia, all the time”), 15 September 2008 — Excerpt:

Pretending the Pakistani government has done nothing about the tribal areas is daft: at American insistence, they have lost nearly 1,000 troops trying to quell the uprising there since 2004-about double what NATO and Coalition nations have lost in Afghanistan since 2001. Though only now, since removing the odious Pervez Musharraf, has the government been trying negotiations not with the militant leaders but the few tribal leaders left alive who are willing to take a stand, these have not been given a chance to succeed. It takes time-during the war against the Faqir of Ipi from 1936-1947, the British had miserable luck even getting the local maliks to tamp down on anti-British violence, though on occasion it worked. But the Faqir was only undermined after Partition, when agitating for a Muslim State became unnecessary.

Other Posts about the candidates’s enthusiasm for war

1. How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other, 7 February 2008 — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.

2. A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008 — What is next in Iraq?  None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future.  McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ).  On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…

3. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.

4. These days all American Presidents are War Presidents (part 2), 13 September

To see the archive of all FM posts: About the candidates for President.
For interesting articles about the candidates from other sources, see About the candidates for President of the United States.

Other posts about our war in Afghanistan (and now Pakistan)

  1. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  2. More about America’s newest war: in Pakistan, 14 September 2008 — NPR tells us a bit more about the war.

27 thoughts on “Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty

  1. One wonders if the political leadership of countries pursuing these operations by special forces on the ground inside Pakistan have made the decision to undertake them without taking into account the obstacles, the costs and the possibilities of insuccess.

    The same thing may be said about these military adventures in general.

    I actually wonder, if it really is necessary to undertake these sorts of covert operations – why is the media even aware of them? Surely if it is necessary to whack a terrorist it is best done out of public view.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The major result of the Iraq Expedition might be the false lessons we have learned. The euphoria about special operations forces and COIN might encourage adventures which have unfortunate effects.

  2. It still doesnt explain why the media is aware of these things. They speak about them with some degree of confidence. Media knowledge of bombs from drones is one thing. Knowledge about ground incursions is something else.

    I have wondered if it could be an effort to provoke Pakistans military to occupy the tribal belt in force.

  3. Kind of a high stakes game of poker to get Pakistan to enforce its soverignity in a lawless region and over the people there.

    Good Luck.

  4. Celebau, the correct spelling on this thread is not ‘soverignity’ but ‘soverignty’!

    Speaking of which, all this hoo-ha about Georgia’s sovereignty being violated etc. etc. and now here is the US YET AGAIN riding roughshod. Putin’s speech a while back about how the unipolar approach is undermining international law and order seems right on the money.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Please, no comments on spelling. WordPress has no spell-checker. I, or one, type these comments in at warp speed, relying on The Force to correct my spelling. Any errors s/b reported to George Lucas, not here.

  5. interesting speculations about Pakistan-Iran possibilities. US tanks being drop-shipped into Afg. begging the question: where are they going to be used since clearly not in Afg. mountains..

    US to invade Iran any day now?“, Russia Today, 12 September 2008 — Excerpt:

    “A few weeks ago the Russian newspaper Izvestia, a well-known and authoritive daily published nationwide and abroad, came forward with something that would have been looked upon as a conspiracy theory if published by a tabloid.

    “The paper suggested that by attacking South Ossetia, the Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had badly damaged a planned U.S. military operation against Iran. In the newspaper’s opinion Georgia was supposed to play the role of another “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for the U.S., i.e. an operational and tactical base for U.S. aircraft that would be making bombing raids into Iran. Something akin to what Thailand was in the Vietnam war.

    “Thailand certainly benefited from the arrangement, and Georgia would have too, insists the paper, if its President hadn’t put his ambitions above the US national interest and ended up beaten, disarmed, chewing on his neckties and totally incapable of providing whatever the U.S. needs from him.

    “That’s why, according to Izvestia in yet another article on the matter, the U.S. response to the Russian retaliation was harsh in words but very mild in action. The latest on the issue suggests that Mikhail Saakashvili may be replaced any day now by direct order from Washington.”

  6. So I didn’t use a spell checker this time. Get over it.

    In regard to “US YET AGAIN riding roughshod”;

    Cross border special operation patrols during times of heightened tensions are not unusual. Konfrontasi (confrontation) between Indonesia and Malaysia from 62 to 66 is a case in point. In support of Malaysia, Australian, British and New Zealand Special Forces would cross the border on the ground into Indonesia.

    All of which was kept secret at the time and for a long time afterwards.

    (Spell checked for Erasmus’)

  7. Celebau : yeah, both ’em nations still HATE each other to the core, despite havin’ the same ancestors, similar language roots & even the same religion… Konfrontasi indeed.

  8. Re #5 : I find that section about Georgia being a potential aircraft carrier viz. an Iranian campaign credible; however it argues against the recent Ossetia contretemps. If they wanted it as aircraft carrier, why provoke Russians to trample all over it? Unless of course this entire affair was actually provoked by the Russians in order to for them to have valid excuse to charge into Georgia for a few days and seriously put a dent in their military infrastructure.

    The part I found most interesting was the offloading of tanks in Afghanistan since they are not the preferred vehicle in mountain terrain, which in this case includes Pakistan.

    “Shortly after that, a phone call came from a college friend who had just come back from Kandahar in Afghanistan, where he had seen American battle tanks being unloaded from a Ukrainian-registered Antonov-124 “Ruslan”, the heaviest and largest cargo airplane in the world. The friend asked if I had any idea what tanks would be good for in Afghanistan, and I said I didn’t. It’s an established fact from the Soviet war in Afghanistan that tanks are no good for most of the country’s mountainous territory. They are good for flatlands, and the main body of flat land in the region is right across the border in Iran.

    Later in August there was another bit of unofficial information from a Russian military source: more than a thousand American tanks and armored vehicles had been shipped to Eastern Afghanistan by Ukrainian “Ruslans” flying in three to five shipments a day, and more flights were expected.

    Somehow all this, together with the series of articles in Izvestia, the information that all U.S. troops in Afghanistan are going to be reassigned and regrouped under unified command, the arrival of NATO naval ships in the Black Sea, the appointment of a man used to command troops in a combat environment as the new commander of the US Central Command and other bits and pieces. To my total astonishment, when they all fell together the Izvestia story started looking slightly more credible than before.”

    Now if there is anything to this conjecture, it sort of makes one wonder what’s up with the US in Pakistan. My best guess is that the US is simply executing the usual Afghanistan campaign by ignoring the international border just like their indigenous opponents – who didn’t draw it in the first place – in which case it isn’t necessarily all that significant except insofar as it is an outrageous insult to the larger Pakistani peoples and the new President’s administration.

  9. Hey folks! Soverignty is spelled “sovereignty”. Contains the OE root word “reign”. Out here in Calif, we have Souverain vineyards, which uses the French spelling, and produces a good wine.

  10. Like in Lebanon, first the country fails to establish its sovereignty over its own territory and allows armed groups to establish bases and attack other countries from its territory, and then they are totally outraged when said attacked countries act to take those armed groups out.

    This is why terrorists like failed states so much. They can build their force unmolested.

  11. Comments 5&8 are just nuts because the article they site is just nuts. If one knows anything about U.S. armored units and their operational demands this is just craziness. To put together a meaningful armored unit for an invasion into Iran would take more than 1000 an-124 flights. At an average of 4 a day thats 250+ days. By the time they finished the first tanks would have to cycle back out for maintainace unless they’re also going to fly a depot in.
    Tanks are not useless in mountainous terrain it depends what one will use them for. The anti-Taliban forces we helped take back Afghanistan had tanks and used them. So did the Taliban. Further a 500 kilometer + road march from Kandahar to the Iran border would not exactly allow surprise. “Tank” to many lay observers is anything that has tracks, armor and a gun. Many things have all three and are not tanks. I could go on for pages. I do wish people would spend a few minutes on a site like globalsecurity.org and apply a little common sense before they start speculating on stuff like this.

  12. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is way stoopid. Do we really need to antagonize and undermine the Pakistani military? After all, they have provided the leadership, if you want to call it that, that has kept the country out of the ‘failed nation’ category for more that a few years now.

    This will not shame the Army into taking care of the Taliban. It very well could inspire a clever ambush at least, or civil war at worst. The US seems confident they have scrubbed the officer corps of non-western loyalties, but that did not work in SE Asia either.

    Then there is the matter of the fragile condition of ‘civil society’ in the urban areas. A casual read of the headlines featured in the Drumbeat section of The Oil Drum reveals a disturbing picture of blackouts, protests, food riots, and civil government more obsessed with divvying the spoils than in governing. And they have nukes.

    Good call George. I’ve got nothing but warm fuzzies for the long term.

  13. It seems to me that Pakistan is the area, not Iran or Iraq or even Palestine, where the true conundrum for the US presents itself. Nuclear weapons and trouble for our allies in Afghanistan and India, plus a safe haven for the Taliban and A-Q. No apparent easy solution at all, and we are not equipped to impose any of the difficult solutions. It appears that Bush and Cheney are doing some high stakes gambling to swing the election for McCain, hoping that in the worst case we lose a few special ops people and see some demonstrations and kill a few innocents, and in the best case they get or kill someone big, perhaps OBL himself, and keep their party in power. And if the worst case is instead a coup in Pakistan….

  14. Clearing out this vipers nest is long overdue. Pakistan is unwilling or unable. This where Osama bin Laden is hiding and it is where we will kill him and all those who stand with him.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: You enthusiasm for foreign wars is interesting, esp without any attempt to relate this to anything relevant to America or its interests.

  15. Pakistan Peoples Party-30.6%-party sympathetic to bhutto…

    Pakistan Muslim League (N)-19.6%. anti-musharref, yes. insane?no. current leader,Nawaz Sharif, sought to normalize relations with India in 99.

    Pakistan Muslim League (Q)-23%. leader is a businessman educated in Europe

    Muttahida Qaumi Movement-7.4%. MQM Leader, Altaf Hussain has stated, “We consider all the sects, beliefs and religious minorities and groups as equal citizens. We shall stand by our belief regardless of the consequences and we are prepared to pay the price of our stand.”

    AQ took credit for BB on 12/7/07, we began in country strikes in Jan 08.

    we have crossed the point of where we can just say we are fighting in Afghanistan. while, no troop deployments have been made, we are fighting, and systematically eliminating anti-govt forces in Pakistan.
    with silent belssings.

    any of the above parties, in particular, really that opposed to the killing of Taliban/Aq leaders which drift between their border, and occassionally blow up something in Pakistan?

    The current leaders aren’t crazy…they have to express a zealous defense of their nation’s soveriegnty, but behind the scene, they are watching a more perfect run of what we learned in Iraq in regards to sanctioning anti-govt leaders.

  16. Shakil Shaikh adds from Islamabad: Pakistan`s military commanders resolved to defend the country`s borders without allowing any external forces to conduct operations inside Pakistan.

    This is only a reporter’s paraphrase, but it sounds pretty non-specific as to the identity of the “external force”. This may refer to the Taliban as easily as the Americans and it’s my understanding that the Pakistani army has been more active than most realize in fighting the Taliban.

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  18. It’s ironic that Pakistan makes a display of caring so much about its sovereignty yet has effectively ceded a substantial portion of its territory to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Pakistan cannot be left as a safe haven for the Taliban/al-Qaeda regardless of its supposed hurt feelings. As to antagonizing Pakistan, it has hardly been a straight dealer with us anyway. It is either unwilling or unable to deal with the problem.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: This often happens. Mexico has, by many accounts, lost much influence in its southern regions to local elements; and is losing control to “crime” syndicates in its northern parts. But the Mexican government and people would fiercely resist any US troops crossing the border.

  19. To all : gentlemen, let’s just hope nothin’ MAJOR happens to this region in the next six months. Keep your fingers crossed…

  20. There is no Pakistan. There is no “Pakistani people.” Fictional sovereignty of a fictional land and people is a fine topic of discussion. What a flighty and frivolous people you are.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: At some level all high levels of organizations are abstractions, all borders are just imaginary lines on another construct of the imagination — a map. “The map is not the territory.”

    Just like love and fatherhood. But these intangibles have a hold on the hearts of men and women, and so influence their actions. As we see in the rivers of blood shed, on a small scale in family disputes and on a large scale in wars.

    As Benedick says at the end of “Much ado about nothing”, “Man is a giddy thing.”

    So what is your point?

  21. Pakistan is an almost failed state — with the Muslim shame of being so poor despite having nukes. It’s unfortunately likely that all the local Pakistani politicians, and thugs, will be happier to blame America (or Amerik-k-ka) for their own failings.

    I’m surprised there isn’t more attention spent on the border, at the various mountain passes — both electronic sensors and drones and more checkpoints.

  22. You know, no one seems to be noting that the Instapundit sees this happening under the Bush Administration, and all he can do is blame Obama for supporting it. His argument is also ignorant of the recent and somewhat less recent, history of the place.

  23. Bottom line, this comes down to whether the raids make us safer or not, serve our interests or not. All else is political posturing. Making Pakistan an enemy should not be on the US to do list, but allowing them to harbor terrorists, for whatever reason, is also not desirable.

    Pakistan wants its sovereignty respected; I understand that fully. But they cannot expect us to stand by and allow the remnants of an organization that murdered 3,000 or our people to live within their borders. We cannot respect that sovereignty if ultimately it threatens ours because to allows our enemies to survive, revive, and attack us.

    Its interesting that Pakistan claims to be ready and willing to engage us militarily, but has backed off doing so fully against the Taliban and Al Queda. Whose to say they are not already an enemy, anyway?
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    Fabius Maximus replies:

    “the remnants of an organization that murdered 3,000 or our people to live within their borders.”

    (1) This is a theory. Assuming that “remnants” has an substantial meaning.

    (2) We need to act on the basis of the current situation, not the past. We are no longer at war with many folks we fought in the past, because they no longer are a threat to us. There is no evidence that al Qaeda even exists, let alone is able to “revive and attack us”. Nor is their evidence that the Tailiban would aid al Qaeda if it did exist (this hardly worked well for them last time).

    (3) Tit for tat is perhaps the most effective strategy. But it does not work if we simply repeat the same actions, like robots, every round. People change, organizations change, the world changes.

    “Whose to say they are not already an enemy, anyway?”

    (4) There is a cost to this “fight everyone, all the time” belligerence. Wars are expensive and risky, and historically among the least successfully of national strategies.

  24. Pakistan has been responsible for the war in Kashmir despite the fact that India’s army outnumbered their population and India had nukes. Now they have nuclear weapons. What you gonna do?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: The world is filled with interesting situations. Difficult as it is for empire-builders to imagine, we need not do anything about most of these things. Many are none of our affair. Many of the rest have little to do with our national interests. Many of the rest are best handled by inaction. The remainder deserve focus.

  25. Tom Grey :

    America’s influence & (former) wealth seems to get on everyone’s nerves it seems… A convenient excuse for politicos in these lands to distract their financially distressed citizenry (even those crazies where I’m stayin’ do like so) from their daily sufferings. “Blame it all on the Americans & their jewish ilk!”

    To feverdown, Weary_G & Barry :

    “When weapons are blunted, and ardor dampened, strength exhausted, and resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications.

    Then, even the wisest of councils would not be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.” (www.sonshi.com)

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