People would rather not focus on the litany of undeclared wars this country currently fights, but when one of the adversaries considers putting defensive weaponry at the border to guard against future attacks, it’s worth taking notice.
Pakistan may deploy air defense weapons to the Afghan border to prevent future NATO airstrikes such as the ones last month that the Pakistani military claims were pre-planned and that killed 24 of the country’s soldiers, a senior lawmaker said Friday.
U.S. officials have denied last month’s attack was deliberate and have worked to repair the damage it caused to the country’s already strained relationship with Pakistan. Finding a way to mend ties is important because Pakistan is seen as critical to the Afghan war.
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The possibility of Pakistan deploying air defense weapons to the border shows just how much distrust exists between the country and U.S.-led forces fighting in Afghanistan, even though Islamabad has received billions of dollars in American aid over the last decade.
If you get defensive weapons deployed at a border crossing, you have just about every element to call the conflict between the US and Pakistan a war except for a charismatic general that Congressional delegations like to call out by name as “doing a great job.”
It’s fair to say that the relations between Pakistan and the West have degraded this year, between the bin Laden raid, the various other drone strikes and this latest mass slaughter of Pakistani military troops. Some elements in Pakistan blame the CIA for the latest airstrikes, and they both cut NATO supply lines and forced an evacuation of the Shamsi Air Force Base, at one time used to launch drone strikes in the region. This week, over 20 NATO tankers were set ablaze inside Pakistan as they idled at the cut-off supply lines.
The danger in deploying weapons to the border regions, as acknowledged by Pakistani military sources, lies in the fact that they are incredibly unstable areas, and the offensive weapons could easily get into the hands of militants, in many cases militants fighting the Pakistanis. It’s a sign of the desperation in Pakistan that they would even consider this.
The day that air defense strikes down a NATO plane, or merely if Pakistani troops engage against a future “errant” NATO strike, is the day that the complexion of the Afghan war transforms into the actual war against Pakistan that’s already happening in a covert fashion.