Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reports: Pakistan still Pakistan

Just the same, this is not good:

Pakistan is objecting to expanded American combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan, creating new fissures in the alliance with Washington at a critical juncture when thousands of new American forces are arriving in the region.

Pakistani officials have told the Obama administration that the Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan will force militants across the border into Pakistan, with the potential to further inflame the troubled province of Baluchistan, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

Pakistan does not have enough troops to deploy to Baluchistan to take on the Taliban without denuding its border with its archenemy, India, the officials said. Dialogue with the Taliban, not more fighting, is in Pakistan’s national interest, they said.

The Pakistani account made clear that even as the United States recommits troops and other resources to take on a growing Taliban threat, Pakistani officials still consider India their top priority and the Taliban militants a problem that can be negotiated. In the long term, the Taliban in Afghanistan may even remain potential allies for Pakistan, as they were in the past, once the United States leaves.

The Pakistani officials gave views starkly different from those of American officials regarding the threat presented by top Taliban commanders, some of whom the Americans say have long taken refuge on the Pakistani side of the border.

Recent Pakistani military operations against Taliban in the Swat Valley and parts of the tribal areas have done little to close the gap in perceptions.


The United States maintains that the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, leads an inner circle of commanders who guide the war in southern Afghanistan from their base in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.

American officials say this Taliban council, known as the Quetta shura, is sheltered by Pakistani authorities, who may yet want to employ the Taliban as future allies in Afghanistan


The Pakistani intelligence officials denied that Mullah Omar was even in Pakistan, insisting that he was in Afghanistan.The United States asked Pakistan in recent years to round up 10 Taliban leaders in Quetta, the Pakistani officials said. Of those 10, 6 were killed by the Pakistanis, 2 were probably in Afghanistan, and the remaining 2 presented no threat to the Marines in Afghanistan, the officials said.

They also said no threat was posed by Sirajuddin Haqqani, an Afghan Taliban leader who American military commanders say operates with Pakistani protection out of North Waziristan and equips and trains Taliban fighters for Afghanistan.

Last year, Washington presented evidence to Pakistani leaders that Mr. Haqqani, working with Inter-Services Intelligence, was responsible for the bombing last summer of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed 54 people.

Pakistani officials insisted that Mr. Haqqani spent most of his time in Afghanistan, suggesting that the American complaints about him being provided sanctuary were invalid.

Another militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, is also a source of deep disagreement.

GEN McChrystal gets it:
In an interview last week, the new leader of American and NATO combat operations in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, paused when asked whether he was getting the cooperation he wanted from Pakistani forces in combating the Quetta shura. “What I would love is for the government of Pakistan to have the ability to completely eliminate the safe havens that the Afghan Taliban enjoy,” he said.
Of course, that's the bitch of it: what this article is telling us is that even if they did have that ability, the Pakistanis still may not be particularly inclined to do so.


  1. The whole Af-Pak strategy completely confuses me, utterly and completely. Yeah, yeah, I know it's me, it's all me, but at least I am trying to understan!.

    1. Pakistan serves as a haven for the Taliban/Al Q.
    2. We (and out partners) will help Pakistan with some kind of counterinsurgency, or whatever you want to call it, againt this.
    3. In turn, Pakistani efforts will prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for the Taliban/Al Q, again? All while building a kind of nascent state in Afghanistan? In roughly one year, at least for the state building part?

    Well, I said I was confused, and apologies to those of you who actually know something about the topic!

    (All the great Afghan metrics in the world won't change the relationship between India and Pakistan, will it? Only they can change it, themselves, and I hope the two countries do just that for the sake of their peoples.

    Slightly OT, but I remember traveling close to the Pakistani border in Rajasthan, years ago on a visit to relatives, and it was such a funny little place. Remote, with a small triangular stone marker with Pakistan written on one side and India on another. Of course, we all posed on both sides of the little stone. I was mostly into the architecture and arts of Rajasthan and paid absolutely no attention to world affairs or politics, then, and would have been irritated if you brought it up. Just give me art, I would have said. Kinda hard to create if things are falling apart around you, though.)

  2. You know, I did actually kind of proof read that. Is there something wrong with my brain that I can proofread something for work, make it absolutely perfect, but I can never get it right on a blog comment?

    I give up.

  3. Madhu - you are not the only one confused. I'd like to meet the guy who isn't, because I haven't yet.

  4. Madhu--on proofing, I have the problem both at work and on blogs so at least you're a step ahead. Then there's the added problem that I tend to write French in English and English in French (thus making sentences shall we say, challenging). As to confusion, yes, it would be nice to meet the person who understands all of this clearly.

  5. Madhu, i think you got it pretty much right actually. Confused or not.