Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Author Tariq Ali Warns against U.S. Actions in Pakistan

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Author Tariq Ali Warns against U.S. Actions in Pakistan

Article excerpt

THE PROMINENT British-Pakistani author and historian Tariq Ali was the featured speaker at an event organized by the Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF) in Newark, CA. Ali is touring the U.S. to promote his latest book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power.

The journalist, filmmaker and political commentator warned that U.S. raids in Pakistan could provoke instability in South Asia. He condemned the deadly U.S. air raids across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border which have killed more than 35 people. Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has strongly condemned the actions, warning that his country's sovereignty will be defended "at all costs."

At the heart of recent turmoil in Pakistan, Ali charged, is a bid to control the BTC oil and the BTE natural gas pipelines. The latter, which runs from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas fields through Baku and Tbilisi to the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum, will supply natural gas to the European market via a pipeline extending from Erzurum to Vienna-the so-called "Nabucco" pipeline. In addition, in February 2007 Iran, Pakistan and India resolved to proceed with a joint pipeline project to deliver Iranian natural gas to Pakistan and possibly on to India.

Clashes on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan could destabilize the new government in Islamabad and open up the area to U.S. military intervention, using the excuse of seeking to protect nuclear facilities. Throughout Pakistan's upheavals during the past year, including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the eventual ascension to power of her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, the U.S. has openly worried about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear plants. "The plants are protected by a half-million-strong standing army," Ali said. "They are safe. The Americans know that, but still they ask to check over and over again!"

Ali, who had recently returned from Pakistan, described the changing role of the Taliban. British intelligence has started using the term "neo-Taliban," he said, explaining that the movement has morphed into the largest resistance to American occupation in the form of Pashtun nationalists. These people are not trying to change the religious character of the society, as did the original Taliban, Ali explained. …

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