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‘US cannot afford to open front against Pakistan’

Published time: December 04, 2011 09:08
Edited time: December 04, 2011 16:04

Pakistani fire fighters extinguish a fire on burning NATO supply trucks after a bomb hit them at a terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar (AFP Photo / A MAJEED)

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Last month’s attack by a NATO aircraft on Pakistani region that killed 24 soldiers has infuriated Islamabad. RT spoke to Hamid Gul, the country's former head of intelligence, about consequences the incident may have for US-Pakistani relations.

­Islamabad has already ruled out taking part in a US-backed conference on the future of Afghanistan next week. The decision was just one of Pakistan’s reactions to the airstrike, which brought already tense relations between the two countries to a new low. NATO supply routes through Pakistan have been shut off, and Islamabad officials said Washington would have to make amends and win back the people's trust.

“This is only going to give boost to the right-wingers here, [while] Americans are trying to manipulate in Pakistan, [whereas] the political direction in future, after they withdraw, should be more to the left, more towards the liberal kind of dispensation,” Hamid Gul told RT.

“I think, inevitably, [the mood] is going to drift more towards right. Giving the status of the most-favored nation to India had already created a situation when the right-wingers were very annoyed. And since I belong to the right-wingers, we are going to have a very big rally in Lahore on December 18, and we will see how the nation responds,” he added.

With the influence that the relations between the two countries inflict on the political situation in Pakistan being on one side of the problem, there is another issue, and that issue is the US withdrawal itself, with all the surrounding consequences.

“I will be expecting that immediately after the Bonn [conference on the future of Afghanistan], after they are given some kind of face saving, Obama would come up with this much expected announcement, because American public opinion is now turned against this war, and 86 per cent of voters of the Democrats, which is Obama’s party, want quick withdrawal,” Hamid Gul went on to explain.

“If Obama is to get some political benefit out of it, he must get the bulk of his troops out of Afghanistan before he goes to polls before November next year… and 67 per cent of the Republicans, which is the opposition, also want quick withdrawal,” he said.

At the same time, Gul pointed out, there are numerous players who are not interested in the US pulling out at all.

“The Indians don’t want, the Israelis don’t want…, there are security contractors…, and then there is the military establishment which knows that as soon as Obama pulls out the troops he is going to cut the military budget,” he said.

To pull out from the region, the US has no other choice but to rely on Pakistani transit corridors, Gul added. On top of that, multiple issues the United States have to deal with across the world, such as Libya, Syria and many others, Washington cannot afford to open another front against Pakistan.

“Pakistan is not an ordinary country. It’s not Iraq, it’s not Afghanistan – Pakistan can resist, and then the whole region will be turned into an inferno. It will light a fire which they will not be able to control,” Hamid Gul concluded.

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