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Aijaz Ahmad: Musharraf reluctant to fight Pakistani tribes – serious crisis developing

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ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: The third question we put to The Real News Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad is: what does the US wish to achieve by expanding these CIA operations and special forces operations in Pakistan?

AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: The real fight in Pakistan, actually, so far as the United States is concerned and so far as the NATO forces are concerned, is over supply lines. On the one hand, the Taliban are using northwestern Pakistan as a rear area from which men and matériel flow into southern Afghanistan, more and more of which is now passing into the hands of the Taliban. On the other hand, and perhaps more critically, are the supply lines in Pakistan which run through very rugged, very difficult terrain, through which some 80 percent of all military supplies to NATO pass, especially fuel. Virtually all the fuel that is used in Afghanistan is coming through Pakistan. That cannot be airlifted; that has to go by land routes. And the Taliban and whatever other insurgent forces there are against foreign occupation of Afghanistan are determined to cut those supply lines. So the US wants to send in their troops to secure those supply lines. The Pakistan army’s position is that it cannot be done through external intervention, that Pakistan army itself is not willing to fight Pakistani citizens and their Pashtun brethren in order to secure a foreign domination of Afghanistan, that this needs to be solved politically. All of this is coming to a head at this point, because there is expected to be a very big spring offensive by the Taliban. Musharraf has recently gone to European capitals, notably Brussels and Paris and London. He senses that the EU might be willing to open negotiations with the Taliban where it matters, that is to say, the highest levels of the Taliban, in a way that the United States is not willing to open. This again, I believe, brings Musharraf in direct conflict with US policy. Whether or not the United States is in a position to set aside Musharraf, arrange a military coup, and get the rest of the military command of Pakistan to follow its own prescriptions, we cannot tell, because these are highly secretive dealings. But Pakistan is really on the brink of a very major crisis.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.