It’s a helluva war when you can’t tell who your friends are.
That goes double for Pakistan. After creating the Taliban, they appear reluctant to annihilate them.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has resisted a direct appeal from President Obama for a rapid expansion of Pakistani military operations in tribal areas and has called on the United States to speed up military assistance to Pakistani forces and to intervene more forcefully with India, its traditional adversary.
In a written response to a letter from Obama late last month, Zardari said his government was determined to take action against al-Qaeda, the Taliban and allied insurgent groups attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan from the border area inside Pakistan. But, he said, Pakistan’s efforts would be based on its own timeline and operational needs.
The message was reinforced Monday by Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, who told Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, that the United States should not expect “a major operation in North Waziristan” in the coming months, according to a senior U.S. defense official. North Waziristan, one of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on the Afghan border, is a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban.
What do we get for tripling our aid to Pakistan?
In return, the United States wants Pakistan to “move on our mutual interests, which includes the Haqqani network and includes the Taliban in Pakistan,” Vice President Biden said Tuesday in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” His reference was to the North Waziristan-based faction led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son, Siraj, and the main Afghan Taliban organization, which are fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistani counterinsurgency operations this year have primarily targeted separate but allied groups — the Pakistani Taliban based in South Waziristan and operating in the Swat Valley region — whose attacks are directed toward Pakistani government targets.
“We’re committed to this war, but we’ll fight it on our terms. . . . We will prioritize targets based on our interests. We don’t want them to be dictated to us,” a Pakistani intelligence official said. He added: “The Pakistani Taliban is the clear and present danger. They are what matters most. Once we are done with them, we will go after the Haqqani network.”
Considering the fact that for the last 7 years, they have failed to close off their own borders to Taliban incursions into Afghanistan - with enough evidence that they are if not facilitating such crossings, they are ignoring them - one might legitimately question their commitment.
And those questions include wondering whether Pakistan is being deliberately obtuse in their statements about the Afghan Taliban. After all, we are not going to be there forever. They know that now. The idea of the ISI keeping a connection to the Taliban so that they can shape a post US Afghanistan to their liking should not be ignored by the Obama administration. Bottom line: They don’t want to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan. And they certainly don’t want to do us any favors.
And remonstrances are legitimate when it comes to the way the Pakistani government has dealt with the Taliban in Swat as well as South Waziristan in the past. From Mushrraffs Faustian bargain with them in 2006 to Zardari’s weasel deal with them earlier this year that allowed the Taliban a free hand in Swat, our urgings for the last 5 years to crack down on these thugs were met with contempt. The Pakistanis thought they could ride the tiger and not get mauled.
Recent events would seem to show them the error of their ways.
Yes, they have their hands full now in the FATA. But we have every right to question their commitment to assisting us. They will be glad to take our $7.5 billion and, when we’re not looking, spend it on killing Indians rather than terrorists. Their objection to that caveat for the military aid was so strong, the brass almost started a coup against the government.
But, we need them - desperately. There is only one major supply line to our troops in Afghanistan and it runs through Pakistan. The Iranians aren’t going to help us. And Russia has been helpful at times but not to the extent that we could rely on Putin to keep the chow line open.
If we want to stay in Afghanistan we need Pakistan’s full cooperation. That, unfortunately is the way of the world at the moment.