Back in May, United States military forces killed Osama bin Laden at his hideout near Islamabad, Pakistan. Although U.S. officials initially reported that the Pakistani intelligence services were instrumental in finding bin Laden, there are many open questions still remaining about Pakistan’s complicity in protecting bin Laden during the years he was hiding in their country. Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have been strained, with a flurry of accusations and counter-accusations going back and forth between the two countries.
But today, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces—led by the U.S.—attacked two Pakistani military outposts on the Afghan border and killed at least 28 Pakistani troops. In retaliation, Pakistan has closed its Afghan border, cutting off supply routes that bring one-third of coalition supplies into Afghanistan.
Our raid against the bin Laden compound was clearly justified, as bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been making war against the United States. Pakistan wasn’t the target; al-Qaeda was. This is another example of what makes the Global War on Terror so unique among wars. The belligerent is not properly a state, but a non-state entity that operates within other states. Pakistan, of course, could have interpreted this as an act of war against them . . . that was a risk we had to take.
But in this case, there is no such nuance. We attacked Pakistani military outposts manned by Pakistani troops within Pakistani territory. We have committed a clear, undeniable act of war against Pakistan, and they are within their rights to retaliate. Given that Pakistan likely did protect bin Laden and other al-Qaeda elements for many years, I’m the first to question whether they are the ‘ally’ they claim to be . . . but we can’t label them an ally while we blow up their border outposts. If we’re going to be at war with Pakistan, let’s admit it. If we’re going to be allies with Pakistan, let’s not wage war against them.