Pakistan's Press Turns on Washington

In the wake of nationwide protests in Pakistan against the unsuccessful U.S. cruise missile strike against Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, the county's English-language press is criticizing both the U.S. and Pakistani governments for the action. Not only did the attack kill at least 18 Pakistanis, say the usually pro-Western editorialists, it also showed that the United States does not really trust Pakistan.

The News International said the attack would be unjustified even if it had killed Zawahiri: "Apart from the element of Pakistan's sovereignty, this country is the United States' partner in the 'war on terror.' To state the obvious, the alliance ought also to involve sharing of intelligence. If the US forces had received information that al-Zawahiri was holed up in one of the three houses destroyed in Damadola village and had passed it on to its allies, Pakistani forces would probably have done an equally good job of it, if not better."

The Daily Times scoffed at the Pakistani government's "feigned anger" over the raid. The "fallout of the intelligence botch-up" has left the government's struggle against local warlords supportive of Al Qaeda "alarmingly tilted in favour of the terrorists," said the Lahore-based news site.

Despite Pakistan's "active cooperation" in the war on terrorism, complained The Nation, "we do not enjoy the confidence of our western allies. The US and its European allies are least bothered about the angry backlash, the latest being the countrywide protests on Sunday. ... Yet our government is still reluctant to review its use of the military option both in Balochistan and the troubled tribal areas.... In whose cause are Pakistanis being killed?"

Dawn, a Karachi daily, was relatively mild in its criticism, only asking Pakistan's authorities to explain the U.S. action: "Do the US military and its agencies seek prior clearance from Pakistan before they launch raids like this?" asked the editors. "Random attacks and the killing of women and children will only win public sympathy for shadowy operatives and organizations and create fresh problems for us."

The harshest criticism came from the editors of the Frontier Post in the city of Peshawar near the mountainous region where the attack occurred. They said the Americans "have outrageously trespassed into our territory twice with their fighter aircraft and have unpardonably killed our innocent children, women and men with their inexcusably appalling strafing. Do they think we are their colony or some kind of a banana republic? Let the American warlords based in Afghanistan and their bosses back home in Washington know that we are nobody's colony but an independent nation that deeply regards its sovereignty, freedom and honour. And they must also know that it is not the American lives that alone are precious in this world."

By Jefferson Morley |  January 16, 2006; 2:34 PM ET  | Category:  Asia
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Interstingly, widely-circulated urdu newsppaers like 'Jang' ( ) have avoided castigating Pak or USA govt. The newspaper even has doubts about whether American govt was involved in it.

English news papers don't habe that much readership, so they can afford to be anit-USA and anti-Pak army. But the urdu newspapers r widely read, and under strong pressure from the pak army to be 'moderate' in their editorials and news reports. Circulations from Pak army r published as facts.

Posted by: Moid | January 16, 2006 03:40 PM

Hey, get used to it, you Pakistanis. The Bush government doesn't give a damn about what people in other countries think. It just moves on in and bombs when it feels like it.
Most of the world's governments objected to the Bush administration's illegal invasion of Iraq. It didn't give a damn then either. Just as it didn't give a damn when it turned its back on its Kyoto commitments.
International law means nothing to these outlaws. To them, war is always the solution.

Posted by: Antonio | January 16, 2006 04:52 PM

Hey, get used to it, you Pakistanis. The Bush government doesn't give a damn about what people in other countries think. It just moves on in and bombs when it feels like it.
Most of the world's governments objected to the Bush administration's illegal invasion of Iraq. It didn't give a damn then either. Just as it didn't give a damn when it turned its back on its Kyoto commitments.
International law means nothing to these outlaws. To them, war is always the solution.

Posted by: Antonio | January 16, 2006 04:54 PM

The killing of those innocent people is yet another show of disregard for human life by the current US government.

What I don't understand is that if certain policies can be blamed on the Bush administration and his neo-con advises, why is the US army killing people like that?

Why doesn't the army leadership object to such operations that WILL ALWAYS kill innocent people?

How can attacking villages with missiles ever be justified, even if Bin-Laden himself was there?

The problem in America goes beyond the current hawkish administration.

Virtually no one cares if 18 innocent people, including children, from some remote village in Pakistan are killed by US missile.

No one is held responsible for such crimes either.

If Al-Qaeda was founded by Arabs, Pakistani will be joining them too.

Posted by: Karim | January 16, 2006 06:42 PM

There are different levels of criminal guilt for the killing of people. Besides intentional killing with specific intent, it also is murder to kill others without a specific intent to do so, if the killer acts with "wanton indifference" to a high probability that his acts will kill. It is manslaughter, also a crime of killing, when one's acts kill when it was "reasonably foreseeable" that such death might occur. These are all crimes of criminal homicide even though a specific person's death was not "the goal".
So it is no defense to the US murders of Pakistani villagers this week that their deaths were not "the goal" of the attack. The US by all appearances acted with wanton indifference, or minimally with a "reasonable foreseeability" that villagers would be killed. This is criminal behavior by all civilized standards.
Once "deterrence" is allowed as a justifiable rationale for murder or torture, there are no limits to the consequent barbarianism. Why? Because - absent an immediate need for self-defense from an imminent attack - there are no objective civilized standards to limit the scale and manner of killing and torture to deter future behavior by others. What is effective deterrence is entirely subjective, without rules. Kill children, kill women... whatever works to deter is OK with the barbarians.
There is no principle that permits wantonly indifferent or recklessly foreseeable murder of civilians outside a war-zone setting.
And those who claim the contrary in principle, that "deterrence" killing is morally justifiable outside a "war-zone" setting, must then admit that anywhere in the world, including within our own land, the wantonly indifferent or recklessly foreseeable killing of non-combatants as part and parcel of someone's idea of "deterrence' is by the same principle justifiable.
"Deterrence killing" is a barbaric behavior - no matter by whom committed. The US sows barbarism, it is logical it will reap the same. Senator McCain has made that clear on the issue of torture, and it applies equally to all forms of barbaric behavior.

Posted by: Sandra | January 16, 2006 09:16 PM

The main question you all failed to address is whether the "War on Terror" should be addressed as an issue of war or issue of police action. I don't agree with tactics involving the use of Hellfire missles to destroy suspected targets. There is no concrete way to identify whether or not a specific target is in a location from airborne drones. The Bush administration is proceeding against terrorist organizations as if engaged in a conflict, no matter what ground that conflict may be on. I can't say their handling of the War on Terror is the best way to go; I tend to see this type of action generating more anger rather than less. But to claim this was any different than tactics used againt major drug exporters in South and Central America would be a farce; I don't remember anyone crying about us killing drug lords back in the 80's and 90's...

The fact of the matter is that anti-terror operations should be handled like police actions; it is better to sweep in and arrest these men rather than blowing them and "collateral damage" to kingdom come.

BUT, I take exception to people pointing to "US Barbarism" in attacking a village that was sheltering thugs and murderers whose goals are no more noble than the Society of the Black Hand or Russian Communist thugs that assassinated people in the 1800's. The fact remains that these people were giving shelter to villains of the lowest kind. There can be little doubt that there MUST have been terror members present in those homes. Sorry to disappoint, but the US on its worst day does not act with such wanton disregard. Another factor probably influencing American actions is the recalcitrance of Pakistan in dealing with these people themselves. The Pakistani military refuses to cooperate in most cases, and have only made very half-assed attempts at trying to track these people down. You also fail to see that the US was probably forced to use such heavy handed tactics because Pakistan refuses to allow the US to make forays over the border to get these guys.

Please stop with the anti-American diatribes, analyze the situation, compare it with past historical actions and then post your remarks.

Posted by: Brian | January 17, 2006 10:59 AM

The propaganda persists. The US is a thug that does not recognize others borders, bombs the innocent without regrets and tries to be self righteous about it all. How many weddings today are they going to bomb? When you behave like the terrorists you chase and kill the innocents, yet play the innocent, who believes it beyond the hopelessly brainwashed and the politicians. Shame on America we are tired of you spreading mass murder in the name of democracy and acting oh so like it was you who was hurt.
Maybe American cowards need to go on the ground and take a look at your target, but more and more often you shoot a distance and to hell with the neighbours. Your reputation coudn't get any worse.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 17, 2006 01:21 PM

In regards to Brian's comments, he is right. It is not America/Americans that are barbaric, just our questionably elected Bush administration. I think that if Bush hadn't dropped the ball in Afghanistan and shifted focus onto Iraq, we may have gotten further along dealing with the actual problems of terrorism. I still wonder why Bush dropped the ball on terrorism. Bush dropping the ball on Afghanistan, particularly Bin-Laden, is like not taking the entire prescription of antibiotics before the illness is out of the body. Those that are left behind get to live on and develop an even stronger immunity to the antibiotics. Bush, by invading Iraq, had basically told the people of Afghanistan that we are not going to be there for them. The people in Afghanistan had no other choice but to follow the leaders who are currently living with them. They are fellow countrymen and women allwe are anymore are drones that spy and drop bombs on villiages. I wish it wern't the case, but I don't blame the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan for hating us. We have let them down in a big way.

Posted by: Jon | January 17, 2006 01:40 PM


What propaganda exactly are you speaking of? If you are referring to my statements, I think my comments pretty accurate for the record.

I in no way supporting the death of innocents in any action, but your comments about bombing weddings and being cowards, etc.. are simply off the wall. How else are people like bin Laden and Zawahiri supposed to be neutralized (killed or captured)? If Pakistan won't allow the US to go after these guys, then I see little choice but to do what they did. That doesn't make it right. Once again, we return to the fact that the War on Terror is being treated as a conflict instead of a police action. In such a situation, horrible, horrible things are bound to happen.

Before you open your big mouth, maybe you should consider all the other terrible things that have been done in the past in the name of this or that cause. Look at the systematic murders of 40 million Chinese and Russian peoples in the name of communism. Look at the horrors of the French-Algerian conflict, Vietnam, the countless African civil wars, Pol-pot, the Thirty Years War, Ghengis Khan, Hitler, etc. before you start talking about lies, atrocities and propaganda.

The facts remain that if you compare what we're doing today (which I am NOT justifying!) with violence from the past, the actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are mild in comparison. What makes things different is the spread of technology and information, allowing every ignorant person in the world to voice his or her indignity over the stupid decisions of an inept administration.

Posted by: Brian | January 17, 2006 02:25 PM

I am not speaking of Brian here I am speaking of the propaganda that is popping up about this event. You have good points.The horrors of the past cannot be revisited but the US is continuing a reign of terror without abatement, that existed before the war on terror. It is a seameless and continuing dirty war on those that beliefs don't suit them. There have never been any regrets expressed, or change in dirty policies.

Posted by: SpeakoutforDemocracy | January 17, 2006 02:52 PM


You wrote that you don't support killing innocent people but if there was no other way to neutralize enemies, then it becomes a necessity.

Well make up your mind, it is either you condone KILLING INNOCENT people or you don't.

There is no gray area when it comes to the lives of other human beings who haven't done anything to you.

Really, your logic is Al-Qaeda's.

Al-Qaeda hit the US the way they did because they claimed they had no other way. Bin-Laden even claimed that he tried peaceful ways before resorting to violence and that he openly (warned) declared war on the US for refusing to leave Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaeda even claimed that they chose not to hit targets that would have killed much more people.

Bringing up older conflicts and comparing other massacres to the ones committed by the US government against foreign people is disgusting.

You quickly forget how many people the US army (supported by US congress) killed in Vietnam, a country that was about 32 million people (north and south combined).

Over 1 million fighters were killed, and at least 2 million civilians were killed. Not to mention the devastation that Vietnam suffered from chemical bombings and conventional bombings. Even after the war ended, some 40,000 people have since died because of unexploded bombs.

So to sum it, at least 3 million people were killed in a country of 30 million.

How does that fair with even Al-Qaeda attacks if one uses your "we kill less than others" baseless claim?

The US government has as much blood on its hands as any other western country that was a working democracy.

No one knows what the US would do if it stops being a democracy like it happened in Germany or Communist Russia.

It could be worse than Nazi germany.

Posted by: Karim | January 17, 2006 07:17 PM

Brian: "Sorry to disappoint, but the US on its worst day does not act with such wanton disregard."

Actually, the US on its worst day was at My Lai.

"You also fail to see that the US was probably forced to use such heavy handed tactics because Pakistan refuses to allow the US to make forays over the border to get these guys."

Why not tell the Pakistanis and let them get him? The most senior al-Qaeda person captured yet was caught by Pakistani police, not the US Army.

Would the US let the Pakistani Army enter its borders guns blazing, in search of wanted terrorists? No? Then it's just America being hypocritical. Again.
As usual.

Posted by: OD | January 18, 2006 01:53 AM

Because, OD, Pakistan is not really our ally. The deal is, they pretend to hunt bin Laden, and we pretend they are our friends. Look at A.Q. Khan, nuclear arms dealer.

I don't know why Bush chose this course of appeasement, but there it is.

Posted by: | January 18, 2006 04:39 PM

Problem with Pakistan that even American news media has chosen to ignore and our Pakistani friends so easily forget is that Pakistan did not willingly join the fight against terrorism. Bush's statement 'either you are with us or against us' was most starkly applied in case of Pakistan by US State Department.

Remembering that Pakistan nurtured Taliban movement, Pakistani Army was the midwife of Taliban army, Osama bin laden could not have come to Pakistan-Afghanistan without explicit approval and facilitation of Pakistani government and Pakistan was given a choice of either joining US against Taliban or be lumped with Taliban to be the hotbed of terrorism - Pakistan did not have much choice but to join US or invite wrath of US on the same scale that Taliban government invited.

Thus when Pakistan crows about being against terrorism, it is really not by choice. Fact is Pakistani ISI planned, financed and facilitated 9/11 attacks, US has all the evidence proving it and Bush administration is supressing it only because Pakistan has agreed to help US against terrorism, albeit under duress.

So Pakistan has no reason to complain about death of few Pakistani citizens when the rewards are so handsome for having terrorized US in the first place.

Posted by: suresh | January 19, 2006 01:12 PM

Pakistan's millitary, and goverment are packed with supporters of millitant islam, alqaida, and Taliban... and the countryside is packed with Taliban, alqaida, and jihadis from around the globe.

Face it - Pakistan is full of international criminals that hate Musharref for not declaring war on the west and for cooperating in the capture of millitants.

Posted by: Pakistan is Terror-ville | January 19, 2006 03:48 PM

Suresh: quit your anti-Pakistani hatred. Thank God most indian's aren't blinded by the hate that you and your Gujarat rioter-type buddies have.

Moid: Pakistan historically has a pretty free press and a free economy.. I lived their for about 12 years and I can speak/read urdu. What you say is untrue and unfair.

It is wrong to knowingly kill innocent people just because you want to accomplish some goal tht your nation/state/ideology desires.

It was wrong for OBL to commit 9/11 -- his rationalization being to get America to stop being in Saudi/oppressing Palestinians

it was wrong for America to target civilians in Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki to win World War II (Nagasaki was done ONLY to terrorize Japan into complete surrender)

it was wrong of America to destroy a rather large building killing six children and six women in Pakistan


Posted by: Peace | January 20, 2006 04:04 PM

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