My latest is up at FPM and I take a look at Admiral Mullen’s comments about Pakistan’s involvement in terror attacks on US citizens and where the relationship might go from here.
Admiral Mullen made some other interesting comments at that senate hearing as well. He said, “With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack” on September 10 that killed 5 and wounded 77 coalition soldiers. Mullen added, “We also have credible evidence that they were behind the June 28th attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations.”
The State Department leaked to the Washington Post: “Adm. Mike Mullen’s assertion last week that an anti-American insurgent group in Afghanistan is a ‘veritable arm’ of Pakistan’s spy service was overstated and contributed to overheated reactions in Pakistan and misperceptions in Washington.”
What “misperceptions” could there be? An arm of the Pakistani government is colluding with terrorists to kill Americans. To most, that would seem a straightforward problem with which our government should be dealing. David Goldman (aka “Spengler”), writing on his blog at PJ Media, quotes another unnamed diplomat saying, “The administration has long sought to pressure Pakistan, but to do so in a nuanced way that does not sever the U.S. relationship with a country that American officials see as crucial to winning the war in Afghanistan and maintaining long-term stability in the region.”
The Pakistanis, in short, continue to murder Americans with impunity by threatening us with their own failure. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of the scene in Blazing Saddles in which the black sheriff intimidates a lynch mob by holding a gun to his own head and threatening to shoot himself.
The Pakistani military’s response to Mullen’s comments and the support he received from the Congress and notable pundits for his accusations has been sharp and without precedent. Not only has the Pakistani military angrily dismissed the charges made by Mullen, the it has flatly refused an American request to go after the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, while cozying up to China at the same time.
The civilian government, racked by corruption and seemingly powerless to control the military, was less direct in its criticism. It is trying to turn the issue into a question of nationalism and sovereignty, appealing to the people’s anti-Americanism and patriotism. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said at the UN that “Pakistan’s dignity must not be compromised.” And thousands of protesters poured into the streets across the country on Tuesday chanting anti-American slogans and burning American flags. A speaker at one of the protests said, “We warn US not to indulge in any misadventure with us, or the whole nation will stand united to defend our country.”
To tap into this sentiment and build support, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will chair an all-party conference on Thursday to come up with a position on fighting terror and the course of future relations with the US. This will give an opportunity for the politicians to posture against America while fanning the flames of patriotism and nationalism. How that will quiet the situation remains to be seen.