D.C., September 24, 2008 — The
Pakistani American Leadership Center (PAL-C) met with Pentagon
to discuss U.S. military action in Pakistan. Representing
PAL-C, from left to right was PAL-C Executive Director
Taha Gaya, National Director Dr. Maqsood Chaudhry, Founding
Director Mossadaq Chughtai, Founding Director Pervaiz Lodhie
and Founding Director Dr. Rafiq Rahman.
Office of the Secretary of Defense was, from left to
right: Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Asian and
Security Affairs Mitchell Shivers, Country Director for
Pakistan, David Smith, and Country Director for Pakistan,
Deputy Assistant Secretary Mitchell Shivers opened the
meeting by expressing condolences over the Marriott bombing
in Islamabad and by noting that just as 9/11 took the lives
of Pentagon personnel in the very building in which we
were meeting, the Marriott bombing likewise reminded us
that the fight against terrorism is one that both the U.S.
and Pakistan share.
PAL-C Directors acknowledged the shared struggle against
terrorism and emphasized that as Americans — and particularly
as Pakistani-Americans — we feel that shared responsibility
keenly. The Directors also mentioned that the Pakistani-American
community and PAL-C in particular, could serve as a resource
to the Pentagon in understanding the challenges posed by
the affected areas in Pakistan.
The Directors then presented Deputy Assistant Secretary
Shivers with a Letter of Concern raising serious questions
about the way in which the War on Terror was being conducted
in Pakistan with particular attention given to the increasingly
counterproductive escalation of unilateral U.S. military
action within Pakistan.
The Directors highlighted that many of the U.S. strikes
and incursions, while failing to successfully eliminate
targeted high-value militants, resulted in unacceptably
high levels of civilian casualties and risked creating
a popular insurgency among the wider tribal population.
They reiterated the need for a greater emphasis on soft
power including economic aid and development, diplomacy,
and a reduced emphasis on hard power or direct military
force. The Directors also noted that the U.S. should take
great care to avoid a counterproductive escalation in tension
with the Pakistani armed forces themselves, noting that
crucial supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan pass
through Pakistan at Pakistan's discretion.
the Directors noted that although cross-border attacks
from militants in Pakistan targeted NATO troops
in Afghanistan, NATO has refused to join the U.S. in any
kind of military strike or incursion across the border
into Pakistan. In fact, the French Foreign Ministry went
as far as to say, "Not only are [the strikes] creating
human tragedies but also situations that have counterproductive
effects on the political dynamics that we would like to
see, and that means a partnership between Afghanistan,
Pakistan and the international community."