Can The US Afford a Military Conflict With Pakistan?
Pakistan’s forces and its 180 million strong population is ready in ambush. Obama must decide if he is ready to face the wrath of a nation that has held a grudge against this sworn enemy for decades.
In face of the latest and unprecendated downturn in US-Pakistan relations,Pakistan Army can at the very least boast the kind of popular support that PresidentObama can only dream of.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is the man of the moment, fast turning into a national hero by default, thanks to the hyperbole emanating from Washington. On the other hand President Obama resembles the captain of a ship that is sinking fast.
Under pressure due to a faltering economy and suffering humiliation in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has kicked off a noisy blame game pointing fingers at Pakistan for America’s failures in what is known as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. Attacks on what were thought to be some of the most secure targets in Kabul have blown the cover of America’s false claims. With the Afghan Taliban in control of over 80% of Afghan territory and now knocking on the doors of Kabul, one can be forgiven for thinking that things could not get any worse for the American occupying forces. Because it looks that they will.
Around 75% of American and NATO military supplies pass through Pakistan. Shutting off this vital lifeline alone would spell disaster for the American and Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has a highly trained army which, unlike the Iraqi forces, are itching to hammer the Americans. It has a fairly strong air force that is, at the very least, capable of downing a good few US bombers. And it also has a modest navy that is quite capable of causing damage.
Around 200,000 US, NATO and Afghan forces that are incapable of fighting against the Haqqani insurgents, numbered between 5000 to 10,000 at most, will prove no match for Pakistan’s highly trained army consisting of around 600,000 active troops and another 550,000 reserves. Add to that the million strong tribals residing on the Pak Afghan border and armed to the teeth, who have pledged support to Pakistan’s armed forces in the event of a direct confrontation with US/NATO forces. Last but not the least are the Jihadi organisation active in Indian OccupiedKashmir, with a strength of around another 100,000.
Pakistan is quite capable of unleashing hell on the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan if it decides to. And that is without even taking into account Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal and its advanced missile systems that are capable of hitting any US target within a 3,500 mile radius. Already under heavy fire from a rag tag poorly equipped and trained force of the Afghan Taliban, the US and NATO forces will prove easy pickings for Pakistan army’s elite commandos. Its missileswill level US bases and military installations to the ground.
President Obama, even in his wildest dreams, cannot dare to enter a military conflict with Pakistan at this moment in time. And therefore the the US tantrums seem nothing more than an immature bluff, without taking into account the geopolitical implications as well as the consequences it will have to face in Afghanistan, if it dares violate Pakistan military’s ‘red lines’.
The best they can hope to do is isolate Pakistan internationally declaring it a pariah state that sponsors terror, and enforce economic sanctions. Then again, if the Pakistani intelligence agencies and armed forces are indeed secretly helping the Afghan Taliban under the pretence of being a front line ally, imagine the damage they would be able to do if declared the enemy