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
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