US yearns for Pak capitulation

US yearns for Pak capitulation

By Shireen M Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has given them bases and logistic
support as well as intelligence sharing but what the
US is now demanding from Islamabad has shocked the
Defence and Foreign Ministries and the initial
reaction has been a rejection of what are highly
intrusive demands for the US military and auxiliary
personnel in Pakistan.

This scribe has learnt of the latest set of 11 demands
the US has put to the Government of Pakistan through
the Ministry of Defence. As one goes down the list of
the demands, they become increasingly untenable.

The first demand is for granting of a status that is
accorded to the technical and administrative staff of
the US embassy. The second demand is that these
personnel be allowed to enter and exit Pakistan on
mere National Identification (for example a driving
licence) that is without any visas.

Next, the US is demanding that Pakistan accept the
legality of all US licences, which would include arms
licences. This is followed by the demand that all
these personnel be allowed to carry arms and wear
uniforms as they wish, across the whole of Pakistan.

Then comes a demand that directly undermines our
sovereignty – that the US criminal jurisdiction be
applicable in Pakistan to US nationals. In other
words, these personnel would not be subject to
Pakistani law.

In territories of US allies like Japan, this condition
exists in areas where there are US bases and has
become a source of major resentment in Japan,
especially because there are frequent cases of US
soldiers raping Japanese women and getting away with
it. In the context of Pakistan, the demand to make the
US personnel above the Pakistani law would not be
limited to any one part of the country! So the
Pakistani citizens will become fair game for US
military personnel as well as other auxiliary staff
like military contractors.

The next demand is for exemption from all taxes,
including indirect taxes like excise duty, etc. The
seventh demand is for inspection-free import and
export of all goods and materials. So we would not
know what they are bringing in or taking out of our
country – including Gandhara art as well as sensitive
materials.

At number eight is the demand for free movement of
vehicles, vessels including aircraft, without landing
or parking fees! Then, at number nine, there is a
specific demand that selected US contractors should
also be exempted from tax payments.

At number ten there is the demand for free of cost use
of US telecommunication systems and using all
necessary radio spectrum. The final demand is the most
dangerous and is linked to the demand for
non-applicability of Pakistani law for US personnel.
Demand number eleven is for a waiver of all claims to
damage to loss or destruction of others’ property, or
death to personnel or armed forces or civilians. The
US has tried to be smart by not using the word “other”
for death but, given the context, clearly it implies
that US personnel can maim and kill Pakistanis and
destroy our infrastructure and weaponry with impunity.

Effectively, if accepted, these demands would give the
US personnel complete freedom to do as they please in
Pakistan – in fact, they would take control of events
in areas of their interest.

It is no wonder then that Pakistan’s Defence Ministry,
the Foreign Office and the Law Ministry have reacted
with complete rejection. But, as one official source
feared, “This is just the opening salvo of demands and
the US can be expected to bargain in order to seek the
most critical of these demands.”

As he put it, “Any hesitation or weakness that the US
senses on part of Pakistan will put us on a fatal
slippery slope to total submission. This would result
in increasing instability in the country.”

So, for those who feel there is bonhomie and complete
understanding between the Pakistan military and the US
military, and the trouble only exists at the political
level, it is time to do a serious rethink. The first
step in dealing rationally with our indigenous
terrorist problem holistically and credibly is to
create space between ourselves and the US. As the US
adage goes: “There is no free lunch”. For Pakistan
lunching with the US has become unacceptably costly.
When US embassy in Islamabad was approached for
reaction to this report, Elizabeth Colton, US Embassy
Spokesperson, said, “We will not dignify this attack
with a comment.”

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