No Troops From Pakistan Without Mandate and Framework Change In Iraq

This should be an easy guess. What is the most ‘wanted’ item on the list of ‘deliverables’ drawn up by President George Bush for Pakistan’s General Parvez Musharraf ? A contingent of Pakistani troops to Iraq. A ‘request’ Bush would likely have repeated in his latest telephone conversation with the General Musharraf. The US is now desperate for foreign and especially Muslim troops in Iraq. The refrain of the unwilling Muslim states has been; not without the UN command. Hence Washington’s decision to return to the UNSC fold.

But the UNSC fold alone is insufficient. It does not resolve the issues that are at the heart of the Muslim states’ unwillingness to send troops. One of the command and framework and second of the troop mandate.

The US-authored draft of a UNSC resolution on Iraq, currently under review does not address the command and the political framework issue. Paras 10 and 17 of the draft deal with these issues. These paras merely reaffirm the current political and military arrangements without addressing the concerns of other UNSC members. Essentially the demand of the international community is to change the political framework so that it provides a realistic and definitive road map for transition from US occupation to Iraqi self-rule. The present resolution draft merely reinforces the logic of occupation. This will have to be greatly altered to factor in the concerns of other UNSC members.

The second issue is of troop mandate that is specifically what an international force wil target? In his first address since May when Bush had announced the end of the US mission in Iraq, Bush ominously told the Americans "Iraq is now the central front."

Post Saddam Iraq is the second ‘hub’ of terrorism. Bush will ‘clean’ it too, Like Afghanistan. This Bush ‘vision’ of Iraq complicates matters for most Muslim countries. While no one condones terrorism the US anti-terrorism agenda may mean that all Iraqi opponents of its occupation will be legitimate targets for its army.

More importantly many media leaks and official statements all point towards the US assessment that a cross-border al-Qaeda trail exists extending to Saudi Arabi, Syria, Jordan and even Iran. On especially Iran’s links with al-Qaeda there is detailed information. Clearly US now needs Iran’s support to get the ‘big fish.’ Yet for now cooperation appears unlikely. Instead, if the Bush administration is determined to ‘clean-up’ the Middle East, this al-Qaeda connection along and the Iranian nuclear could prompt them to ‘go’ for Iran. The calculated and systematic leaks on al-Qaeda, nuclear and Iran connection may mean exerting pressure on Iran or preparing to carry out strikes against Iran.

As for Iraq it is US’s second Afghanistan; the next battle ground. US and European intelligence believe that the second tier al-Qaeda leadership is opening up a front in Iraq. A State department official quoted in a September 6 Washington Post story said that " most intelligence agencies think Baathists are behind the current violence. Yet Rumsfeld’s men are tutored differently. On the ground US forces will conduct a deep and desperate search for al-Qaeda. All Iraqi resistance to US occupation can only be delegitimized through al-Qaeda label.

US intelligence-based media reports maintain that US occupation of Iraq has propelled another trns-national muslim outrage. The Egyptian haul of 23 men heading to fight US troops included Bangla Deshis, Turks, Indonesian and Malaysian. Others prevented from going to Iraq have included German muslims, Algerians , Tunisian with Italian passport too. Small numbers yet crucial for what they signal; anger and resentment of the weak and the violated. After all not all those resisting US occupation are neither al-Qaeda nor terrorists. Ironically as Bush seeks to enlist support "of other nations for a free Iraq", various Iraqi and now evidently trans national Muslim groups are coalescing to resist US occupation. Unless amends on the frameowrk of intervention are not made , these numbers may grow.

Even if under international pressure the present US occupation framework is changed into an Iraqi peoples-based genuine UN supported political, development and security framework , the already unleashed guerrilla resistance will go through a cycle of violence. US occupation has already triggered the cycle of resistance and reaction. For the US forces then it would be a ‘rolling’ battle front’; spreading across borders into countries from where the alleged "terrorists" are converging onto Iraq.

Forces from no Muslim country can afford to fight an open ended battle against Iraqis. Not unless transparent systems are put in place to prevent all opponents of US forces as "terrorists."

Pakistan has its hands full already having to handle the bitter blow-back of the Afghan jihad. Yesterday’s ‘blue-eyed boy’ of the anti-Soviet world, Pakistan was praised for organizing the ‘international jihad" bank-rolled by the Americans, the British and the Saudis. Today it is everyone’s favorite punching bag. Internally too we have suffered infinitely.

If we have learnt our lessons , we must avoid partnership in the latest jihad; an American ‘jihad’ against terrorism. Especially if the current framework of occupation is not altered.