By Saima Ghazanfar, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, February 10, 2014
The cold war resulted in an end to bipolar world, disintegration of the former Soviet Union and declaration of the unipolar world, victorious the USA. The end of the cold war didn’t end war for the USA. Since an end to cold war, the US has been at war for 16 out of 23 years. However, the ‘War on Terrorism’ is the most expensive and the most prolonged war. The US has spent $100 billion and 12 years, but still it is in a state of war.
Recently, in a State of Union speech on January 28, 2014 the US President Barack Obama being staunchly determined to come out of the quagmire of war stated, “We will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.” Let’s hope.
Pentagon presented two options; either ‘zero option’ completes withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan or to retain 10,000 American soldiers. Practically, the US has to cope with many challenges in Afghanistan, the challenge, the challenge of stubborn attitude of Karzai, the challenge of enactment of the bilateral security agreement which allows the legal physical presence of the US in Afghanistan; without it the US would be forced into a complete drawdown of its troops from the region, the challenge of fledgling democracy, the challenge of hefty funding and financial support of post 2014 while facing a fiscal cliff. Hence, a challenging war even after spending $100 billion.
According to the recent report in the New York Times, on January 26 2014, the US should refrain from the ‘zero option’. It maintains that the US should stay to defend the American facilities, conduct counterterrorism raids including those in eastern Afghanistan where drones and nuclear monitoring are based. In the case of the ‘Zero option’ the US will lose its base in Afghanistan to conduct drones strikes and “nuclear monitoring” over the place, “that’s where the biggest problem is,” Pakistan.
Not surprisingly, the US latest and the most advanced ‘Reaper drone’ with considerable range of 1,100 miles puts Pakistan tribal area in range effectively, whereas substitute bases in Manas and Persian Gulf are far to response promptly in the case of emergency, “If there were a crisis in the region, such as missing nuclear material or weapons in Pakistan and India.” However, the report feared that the US allies in Persian Gulf will not allow using their territories to launch illegal drone strikes against Pakistan.
The US paranoia about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons security and safety is not anew, keeps the US President Barack Obama awake at night. The US perceives Pakistan’s inability and incompetence to secure it nukes.
Let’s have glance in 2009. In 2009, the US concocted a flimsy “loose nuke” story about nuclear weapons of Pakistan.
On the contrary, in the USA, two years ago in August 2007, US B52 bomber flying across the US carrying 6 live nuclear-armed cruise missiles each with a W80 nuclear were carried on a flight from North Dakota to Louisiana. Indeed, the crew of the plane was unaware about the fact that the plane had carried nuclear weapons. The sheer negligence regarding sensitive issue of nuclear security that occurred on the US territory through the US Air Force was confirmed by the military officials and CNN. God forbid not in Pakistan.
Moreover, the US officials in NYT report equated Pakistan’s development of defensive tactical nuclear weapons with that of the US deployed during the cold war to pursue aggressive policy to disintegrate the Russia and to quell Communism. The report negated Pakistan’s fundamental right of self-defense portrayed the lopsided picture, disregarded Indian aggressive policy and conventional weapons superiority over Pakistan. The report underplayed the defensive posture of Pakistan and stated that, “In recent years the country has accelerated its drive to build small tactical nuclear weapons — similar to what the United States placed in Europe during the Cold.”
Objectively, Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons to strengthen its self- defense and to contain its arch rival’s aggressive Cold Start doctrine. Being a responsible nation, in this world of ‘Realism’ Pakistan is not oblivious to changing security dynamics in the world generally and in South Asia particularly. Pakistan is continuously upgrading weapon systems to sustain credibility of “full spectrum deterrence,” while in bearing mind the nuclear safety and security, paramount.
Pakistan has had maintained and asserts that Pakistan Nuclear Weapons are well dispersed, safe and secure insulated from the US self- imagined “rouge.” No terrorists have dared to access Pakistan’s safe and secure strategic assets. Indeed, “Pakistan outranked India in nuclear material security, a fact endorsed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) 2014 report.”
Not surprisingly, even after seventy years of World War II, the US troops are still present in Germany. Six decades after Korean War armistice, the US army is still guarding the 38th parallel. History repeats!
Hence, to retain troops in Afghanistan and operationalization of drone base under the pretext of unsafe Pakistan nuclear weapons is baseless. The drone feud has abated trust deficit between Islamabad and Washington. The US should not perceive the post Afghanistan situation through narrow lens of self- raised nuclear issue. The US President “prudent limits on the use of drones” should completely halt drone strikes on Pakistan.
The US President illusion boast to, “set an example for the rest of the world” can only be transformed in reality by mutual confidence building, reconciliation, cooperation on nuclear issue and not leaving alone its non-NATO ally as it did in the wake of Cold War. Evidently, if this war caused $100 billion loss to the US, the worst suffered ally sacrificed 50,943, both civil and military precious lives. For sure, of course, humans cost transcend billions.