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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The government must come clean on the war - by Rahimullah Yusufzai

Pakistani authorities, or officials of the foreign ministry to be precise, have been arguing in unusually forceful manner in recent days that the US wasn’t authorized by international law or the terms of engagement between Islamabad and Washington to launch such strikes in Pakistani territory. By the way, shouldn’t our democratically-elected government take its people into confidence about those terms of engagement? It is all the more important in view of the widely held belief, partly fuelled by apparently Pentagon-leaked reports in sections of the American press and by accusations frequently made by opposition politicians in Pakistan, that President Asif Al Zardari and the ruling PPP have agreed to an arrangement with the US under which the Pakistani government would simply protest the American missile strikes in Pakistani territory without taking any steps to stop the incursions. Despite denials by government functionaries, many Pakistanis continue to believe that the US has been allowed to carry out cross-border missile strikes in Pakistan. The low credibility of the present Pakistani rulers, particularly President Zardari, is reinforcing this impression. Doubts are also raised when some government functionaries such as ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, make statements to the effect that the ruling PPP leadership was sincerely cooperating with the US and producing results in the "war on terror" unlike President General Pervez Musharraf’s largely rhetorical and self-serving support to the Americans. After all, PPP leaders have been arguing that they could do a better job in tackling extremists compared to President Musharraf.


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