Sunday, January 18, 2009
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Pakistan to face consequences in case of another attack on US, India: UK scholar
* Predicts Obama admin will pressurise Pakistan even harder
* US could impose sanctions on Pakistan if attacked
By Muhammad Bilal
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan can face dire consequences if terrorist attacks like the 9/11, or the ones in Mumbai, occur in the United States or India again, a noted British scholar said on Saturday.
Dr Anatol Lieven, professor at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, was speaking at a public talk on US president-elect Barack Obama’s administration and the war on terror.
The event was organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, which was attended by various defence analysts, envoys - including the Saudi Arabian and Syrian - and a number of former Pakistani ambassadors.
Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Athar Abbas was present as well.
US pressure: The professor said there was no possibility of a radical change in the foreign policy of the incoming Obama administration and it would continue pressurising Pakistan even harder to clamp down on terrorists. Lieven said the Americans believed that the presence of Al Qaeda’s major players in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas was a constant threat, not only to them but the world at large.
Sanctions: He said if Al Qaeda struck the US or London, the US would hit Pakistan hard. The scholar said the US might not necessarily bomb Pakistan, but could impose economic sanctions that would be equally disastrous in the country’s current financial crisis.
“The consequences will be dire. Believe me,” he maintained.
Lieven feared the US might invade the Tribal Areas to flush out terrorists, saying it could deploy its own troops there - a strategy he termed ‘very dangerous’.
The British scholar said the US would be encouraged to attack Pakistan if India witnessed strikes similar to the Mumbai terrorist attacks again. He respected the decision taken by Pakistan’s previous regime to join the US-led war on terror following the September 11 attacks, saying it would have been ‘ridiculous’ to refuse cooperation.
“US does have the capacity to destroy Pakistan,” he added.
Lieven, however, said the US did not provide much financial assistance to Pakistan, as it had extended to other countries, because it was the frontline state in the war against terrorism. To a question, the professor answered that the Pakistani government could press the Obama administration to help resolve the Kashmir dispute.
He said Obama would try to defuse the Indo-Pak tensions and make efforts to engage India and Pakistan to carry on talks on Kashmir. He praised President Asif Ali Zardari’s desire to move forward on the composite dialogue process, but said the Indian response was lukewarm. Lieven also shared his views on the possible US strategy for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.