Pakistan to send ‘volunteers’ to Iraq

Its always those volunteers

In 1947-48 it was the tribal volunteers who invaded Jammu & Kashmir state. During the anti-Soviet war it was volunteers who trained the tribal mujahideen. During the Taliban rule, it was volunteers who served as military advisors. And it was volunteers who crossed the Line of Control into Indian Kashmir and sparked off the last hot war in the subcontinent. Never mind, that those volunteers were actually members of Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry.

The government would consider sending volunteers to Iraq to protect the United Nations’ installations, but no decision has been made, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said in Rawalpindi on Saturday. “We don’t want to receive coffins of our troops. The question of sending military troops to Iraq does not arise,” Sheikh Rashid told reporters at the opening of a water plant and a tubewell in Rawalpindi Cantonment. [Daily Times]

To avoid those body bags, the Pakistan army goes to such lengths as to disown its own soldiers killed in battle; getting regulars to pose as volunteers also destroys the protections soldiers enjoy under the Geneva conventions. Initially the purpose of such obvious subterfuge was for reasons of covertness and plausible deniability. But the army’s corporate interests may also weigh against risky deployments; why sweat it out in the field when you can have that cushy governorship or secretaryship ?