While Admiral Michael Mullen, the US Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff was busy 'reassuring' the Pakistan Prime Minister and his top foreign, interior, defence and military hierarchy that the United States would respect the country's sovereignty, missiles were fired from its drones hitting a house in South Waziristan killing seven people and injuring scores of others. This came in the wake of mounting tension between the two 'allies' as a consequence of a spate of drone and ground attacks launched by the American forces inside Pakistani territory in the last few weeks. The timing of the most recent attacks shows how much the Americans really mean their 'word' when it comes to realising their myopic and lopsided regional and international objectives in a year when the Republicans seem to be coming under mounting pressure because of the growing lead that Mr Obama is building over his adversary in the race for the US presidency. The current development comes amidst growing perception of a divergence of opinion between the political and military leaderships of Pakistan regarding the ways to tackle the American incursions. While the chief of army staff reiterated a firm resolve to initiate military steps to blunt the attacks, the prime minister was conspicuous by acknowledging Pakistan's inadequacies to take on the American might and, instead, advocated that the issue would be handled at the diplomatic level. As a matter of fact, there was visible ambivalence on the part of the prime minister regarding a concrete strategy being in place to tackle the onslaught. Initially, he stated that the government concurred with the COAS regarding the resolve to blunt the attacks with full force, but retracted the next day stating that Pakistan was not in a position to fight the American military. In addition to it being an extremely inappropriate stance of the prime minister of a sovereign nuclear state, the two diametrically opposite approaches could reflect a meaningful divide between the political and the military leaderships of the country that would be extremely dangerous if the attacks, as seems likely, were to continue in the future. There is no longer any confusion about the stated US policy that it has the right to attack inside Pakistani territory in pursuit of Al-Qaeda/Taliban targets and that orders to the effect have already been signed by President Bush. The argument centres around whether the Americans are obligated to 'tell' Pakistan about these attacks before proceeding, or wait to seek 'prior permission' before doing so. At this moment, it seems it is neither of the two as the US is pursuing a reckless policy of expanding the scope as well as the intensity of the ongoing so-called War On Terror'. The uselessness of these attacks has been conclusively demonstrated by the fact that, so far, not a single leader of renown of either Al-Qaeda or Taliban has been eliminated. Instead, scores of civilians have either been killed or maimed on account of these indiscriminate assaults. The military invasion of Pakistan coincides with the success of another US-sponsored step on the road to having India inducted as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This came in the shape of the General Assembly's decision to conduct "inter-governmental negotiations" on reforming the council instead of leaving the matter to the open-ended Working Group where Pakistan and Italy had been effectively blocking the induction of new permanent members since 2005. The removal of Ambassador Munir Akram may have played a critical role in the passing of the resolution as his replacement, Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, being a political appointee and unfamiliar with multi-lateral negotiations, did not even bother to attend the General Assembly debate that led to the new decision. The General Assembly will now take up the expansion question during its 63rd session that will be inaugurated next week by President Bush in the presence of our own Mr Zardari and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The session may prove to be the beginning of a damaging reversal regarding Pakistani efforts to stop India's induction as a permanent member of the Security Council. This latest move is only a confirmation of the discriminatory US designs in this part of the part that had already been put on the shelf through the signing of the civilian nuclear deal with India while denying the same right to Pakistan. A lady who wrote to me has drawn an apt parallel of the ongoing US strategy in the region with its policy in Indochina: "The United States has just invaded Cambodia. The name of Cambodia this time is Pakistan as, otherwise, it is the same story as in Indochina in 1970." She continues: "An American army, deeply frustrated by its inability to defeat an anti-American insurgent movement despite years of struggle, decides that the key to victory lies in a neighbouring country. In 1970, the problem was the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia. Today, it is the Taliban and Al-Qaeda bases inside Pakistan, which the United States has been attacking from the air for some time with controversial "collateral damage" and has now decided to invade through a ground assault as well." The joint US- South Vietnamese "incursion" to cut off the trail commenced in April 1970. It simply pushed the supply operations deeper into Cambodia. Richard Nixon announced that he had acted to prove that the US was not "a second rate power". After the US defeat by the Khmer Rouge, genocide followed as the US turned its back on the "killing fields". She cautions: "The eventual outcome of the American intervention in Cambodia in 1970 was communist overthrow of the US-sponsored military government in that country, followed by genocide. With an overwhelming public opinion against an American war being fought inside Pakistani territory, the future consequences in a nuclear-armed Pakistan may include civil protest and disorder, even anarchy, political crisis, a major rise in the strength of Pakistan's own Islamic fundamentalist movement and, conceivably, a small war between the US and Pakistan army which is a key institution in the country, has a mind of its own and is not a negligible military force." Extremely worrying, but viable projections Living amidst the two (nay three) emerging powers in the region and, instead of staying home and devising a pragmatic, credible, honourable and sustainable policy to tackle the looming danger, President Zardari opted to undertake a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Britain with the one to the US in the offing. Pakistan deserves a lot better than that The writer is a media and political consultant based in Islamabad E-mail: raoofhasan@hotmail.com