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Monday, February 16, 2009

Islamabad’s heavy cross —Ejaz Haider

Also, there is credible information that the US has not made these strikes unilaterally, though the fact that these UCAVs may be flying out of a Pakistani base does indeed come as a surprise; besides, it puts a whole new construct on the extent of cooperation.

I have also argued with responsible people within the government, questioning the policy of denial and describing it as “implausible deniability” (Ejaz Haider, Daily Times, November 21, 2008). The government’s view has been that it would be politically more costly and wrenching to own up to them. Hence the need to continue to cooperate covertly while protesting the strikes overtly.

As events have shown, the policy of denial was unsustainable in the longer run. These things cannot be kept secret for long and when information descends from the Western governments and/or the press, it becomes damning.

Feinstein’s statement has not only effectively buried the policy of denial, it has also left Islamabad to bear this cross. Given the credibility problem for this government, it is going to be a heavy one. Also, if this disclosure has been deliberate, someone in Washington didn’t think hard enough about its consequences.

The old policy was flawed; but having pursued it now for so long and written the story-board, to go for a disclosure at this stage is pure idiocy.

Punjabi has a saying for it: Naani nain khasam keeta burra keeta; kar kay chhadya, hore burra keeta (It was bad enough for granny to have married; but having done that to divorce the husband now is worse). Islamabad’s heavy cross —Ejaz Haider


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