Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike By Syed Saleem Shahzad
This is the first article in a two-part report.
ISLAMABAD - Al-Qaeda carried out the brazen attack on PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi on May 22 after talks failed between the navy and al-Qaeda over the release of naval officials arrested on suspicion of al-Qaeda links, an Asia Times Online investigation reveals.
Pakistani security forces battled for 15 hours to clear the naval base after it had been stormed by a handful of well-armed militants.
At least 10 people were killed and two United States-made P3-C
Orion surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft worth US$36 million each were destroyed before some of the attackers escaped through a cordon of thousands of armed forces.
An official statement placed the number of militants at six, with four killed and two escaping. Unofficial sources, though, claim there were 10 militants with six getting free. Asia Times Online contacts confirm that the attackers were from Ilyas Kashmiri's 313 Brigade, the operational arm of al-Qaeda.
Three attacks on navy buses in which at least nine people were killed last month were warning shots for navy officials to accept al-Qaeda's demands over the detained suspects.
The May 2 killing in Pakistan of Osama bin Laden spurred al-Qaeda groups into developing a consensus for the attack in Karachi, in part as revenge for the death of their leader and also to deal a blow to Pakistan's surveillance capacity against the Indian navy.
The deeper underlying motive, though, was a reaction to massive internal crackdowns on al-Qaeda affiliates within the navy.
Volcano of militancy Several weeks ago, naval intelligence traced an al-Qaeda cell operating inside several navy bases in Karachi, the country's largest city and key port.
"Islamic sentiments are common in the armed forces," a senior navy official told Asia Times Online on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
"We never felt threatened by that. All armed forces around the world, whether American, British or Indian, take some inspiration from religion to motivate their cadre against the enemy. Pakistan came into existence on the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations and therefore no one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," the official said.
"Nonetheless, we observed an uneasy grouping on different naval bases in Karachi. While nobody can obstruct armed forces personnel for rendering religious rituals or studying Islam, the grouping [we observed] was against the discipline of the armed forces. That was the beginning of an intelligence operation in the navy to check for unscrupulous activities."
The official explained the grouping was against the leadership of the armed forces and opposed to its nexus with the United States against Islamic militancy. When some messages were intercepted hinting at attacks on visiting American officials, intelligence had good reason to take action and after careful evaluation at least 10 people - mostly from the lower cadre - were arrested in a series of operations.
"That was the beginning of huge trouble," the official said.
Those arrested were held in a naval intelligence office behind the chief minister's residence in Karachi, but before proper interrogation could begin, the in-charge of the investigation received direct threats from militants who made it clear they knew where the men were being detained.
The detainees were promptly moved to a safer location, but the threats continued. Officials involved in the case believe the militants feared interrogation would lead to the arrest of more of their loyalists in the navy. The militants therefore made it clear that if those detained were not released, naval installations would be attacked.
It was clear the militants were receiving good inside information as they always knew where the suspects were being detained, indicating sizeable al-Qaeda infiltration within the navy's ranks. A senior-level naval conference was called at which an intelligence official insisted that the matter be handled with great care, otherwise the consequences could be disastrous. Everybody present agreed, and it was decided to open a line of communication with al-Qaeda.
Abdul Samad Mansoori, a former student union activist and now part of 313 brigade, who originally hailed from Karachi but now lives in the North Waziristan tribal area was approached and talks begun. Al-Qaeda demanded the immediate release of the officials without further interrogation. This was rejected.
The detainees were allowed to speak to their families and were well treated, but officials were desperate to interrogate them fully to get an idea of the strength of al-Qaeda's penetration. The militants were told that once interrogation was completed, the men would be discharged from the service and freed.
Al-Qaeda rejected these terms and expressed its displeasure with the attacks on the navy buses in April.
These incidents pointed to more than the one al-Qaeda cell intelligence had tracked in the navy. The fear now was that if the problem was not addressed, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supply lines could face a new threat. NATO convoys are routinely attacked once they begin the journey from Karachi to Afghanistan; now they could be at risk in Karachi port. Americans who often visit naval facilities in the city would also be in danger.
Therefore, another crackdown was conducted and more people were arrested. Those seized had different ethnic backgrounds. One naval commando came from South Waziristan's Mehsud tribe and was believed to have received direct instructions from Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban). Others were from Punjab province and Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
After Bin Laden was killed by American Navy Seals in Abbottabad, 60 kilometers north of Islamabad, militants decided the time was ripe for major action.
Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces.
As a result, the militants were able to enter the heavily guarded facility where one group targeted the aircraft, a second group took on the first strike force and a third finally escaped with the others providing covering fire. Those who stayed behind were killed.
This is big news....so soon after the SSS interview. Interesting, that western media is mostly ignoring it. Looks like beard on beard type attack. Loss of two P3C Orions is a big loss for the pakis, apart from the idea that its likely that the terrorists had inside help...First, the US caused a lot of H&D (honor & dignity) loss with the OBL raid, now the military has been caught napping. I would be very surprised if Kayani and Pasha can keep their jobs...ofcourse they can always mount an attack on India to relieve the loss of H&D.
KARACHI: Militants stormed one of Pakistan’s main military bases in the country’s largest city late Sunday, triggering explosions and gunbattles three weeks after the US killing of Osama bin Laden. According to DawnNews there could be 10 to 12 attackers still inside the base as at least six reported to be dead amid terrorist’s attack.
DawnNews at 03:30 am reported that according to the Pakistan Navy’s spokesman, Commodore Irfan ul Haq, four Pakistan Navy officials and a Rangers soldier were martyred in the attack, while at least seven Navy officials were injured as well.
Two P3C aircrafts were also destroyed during the attack, he added.
Here's an interesting interview with SSS of atimes, who is well connected with AQ and Taliban...he makes a few interesting points, in the wake of OBL's killing 1. Parts of the paki army may mutiny, as they are mad at the generals. Hopefully, it wont be the section dealing with nukes. 2. The taliban will be supportive of AQ, in the post OBL world, because they are a "courteous people"...referring to pashtoonwali, code of conduct.
If the ISI/Army generals, keeper of the crown jewels lose power..Pak is in essence one step away from being denuked. The civilian govt in Pak is not enamoured with nuclear weapons, as they see that it has cost them their development.
The Paki nukes are the elephant in the room. Why would it be difficult to denuke pak. Yes a direct military strike on pak will be messy to say the least and not feasible politically. But there are other non-military ways to achieve the same goals. I think its worth thinking along those lines. The broad principle should be to weaken Pak territorially and increase the cost of keeping the nukes.
eg What is the impact of stopping US aid to pak and simultaneously getting rid of the Durrand line. At first glance, it would appear that China will replace the US as the big money donor, but with the Durrand line gone, China could no longer fund Pak without pissing off the pashtoons. Even the Haqqani group would prefer an enlarged Afghanistan. As Pak loses territory and aid dries up, it will no longer be feasible for them to maintain their nukes. With NWFP/FATA gone, other provinces namely Balochistan, followed by Sindh will want to be free. Having lost territory a weakened pak army will be forced to give up nukes.
I realize that some of the consequences might be unpredictable...but these need to be gamed.
I wish I had the answers to the hard questions you pose. The simple answer is to not continue doing what we have been doing, since that is not working. So what have we been doing: We have been paying Pak for not sending terrorists over to the US. We have been killing of some terrorists (eg TTP) who are against the Pak state and the US, but not doing much to the haqqani group and others who support pak, but kill Americans. This approach has not yielded any significant benefits, because Pak will not kill the golden goose. If they kill all the terrorists that the US wants, then the moolah will stop coming, and it would weaken Pak vis a vis their state policy of terror against India. The new approach should therefore rely on imploding pakistan. As multiple other authors have correctly noted, Pak is not about to give up its "non-state actors".
I have a simple proposal, of which only one step (#2) is difficult, but not impossible. I am sure there are some in the US govt, who have a better understanding of those issues. If for some reason, step 2 is impractical, all of the other steps can still be accomplished quite easily, even without denuking Pak....what puzzles me is why is the US govt not doing it and getting some brownie points, while extricating itself from a messy situation.
1. Kashmir: Recognize that Kashmir belongs to India, or at the very least that the US will not support Pak's quest to get it. This can be done quite simply by a speech by the POTUS and change of official US policy. This will demoralize the purelanders army, to start fixing their internal affairs. The immediate benefit would be that India will be drawn closer to the US sphere of influence and against China.
2. Another important aspect is control of Pak's nukes. Pak is in many instances like N.Korea, punches above its weight, because of its nukes. Take away the nukes and the problem goes away. If the US wanted to, that could be done. The nukes were not previously considered important, because they only threatened India, but now with the jihadis pushing towards europe and the usa, they are raising concerns in the west. Another reason to take them away, that is less well recognized is that the nukes are not solely for the use of purelanders, but they belong to the ummah. It is not inconceivable that some hard line paki general decides to punish the great satan, or little satan for that matter. Infact, on balance the risk of a rogue nuclear attack on India is now less, because the hatred against the US is more than that against India. I think its in American interests to denuke them. With the nukes gone, Pak will behave, otherwise India will finish them off and partition them (Pashtoonistan/Afghanistan, as well as free balochistan)
3. Derecognize the Durrand line: Instead to recognize Pashtoon and afghan aspirations. This may be the best way to make peace with the taliban and gain their support long term. Remember, the Durrand line was arbitrarily created by the british, it never existed for centuries before that. Were the US to support this, the entire Afghan nation would support the US. AQ cannot survive, if the locals dont support them. With NWFP/FATA under pashtoon hands, the sanctuaries in pak go away.
4. With the nukes and NWFP/FATA gone, next would be Balochistan. Balochistan was a princely state which was annexed after they had declared independence. As pak unravels, Balochistan will gain independence. Helping the baloch gain independence will also send a message to Iran. Sindh is not a "pure" state, it will likely join the Baloch or India, since its made up of "immigrants" from India. Only the much weakened Pakistani Punjab (pakjab) will remain as the core.
Its important to complete the above steps, in a controlled manner, because Pak is moving towards that fate in an uncontrolled manner.
What I have not discussed is how to denuke Pakistan...since I dont know enough about their nukes.
Dont agree with everything below, but the highlighted part is quite insightful.
How to Reduce Pakistan's Leverage
Updated May 10, 2011, 07:47 PM George Perkovich is the director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Aid is not the only independent variable that affects Pakistan. Other things the U.S. says and does are important, too.
If the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, it would greatly reduce our reliance on the Pakistani security establishment. For example, the United States’ effort to help India become a global power, including by building up its nuclear and advanced conventional armories, makes the Pakistani establishment ever more angry and distrustful of the United States. The deployment of unaccountable mercenaries like Raymond Davis turns average Pakistanis against the U.S. These and other U.S. policies, including drone attacks in the tribal areas, may be tactically necessary because Pakistan’s own security establishment will not do its best to counter terrorists acting against India and Afghanistan. India’s growing power and importance inevitably will make the U.S. and others seek favorable terms of cooperation with it.
But aid combined with these other U.S. policies clearly has not changed the Pakistani military’s obsession with contesting India. There is nothing India or the United States can realistically do that will change this self-destructive obsession because the problem is India’s existence itself.
The pattern in U.S.-Pakistan relations merely repeats mutual frustrations and failings since the early 1950s. The U.S. always treats Pakistan as a means to achieve a larger end -- preventing the export of terrorism from Afghanistan now -- and Pakistan uses the U.S. to build capabilities to fight India. In fact, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan, and too important to instrumentalize.
The U.S. would do less harm, and perhaps more good, by seeking the most friendly possible end of the symbiotic relationship with the Pakistani Army and intelligence services. By moving decisively to negotiate conditions for the withdrawal of most U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, the U.S. would greatly reduce its reliance on the Pakistani security establishment and that establishment’s leverage on Washington. The U.S. could then concentrate on Pakistan’s civilian political-economic development, offering assistance only in and as the Pakistani state itself is clearly committed to combating terrorism and promoting internal development.
Meanwhile, Pak runs into the waiting arms of China.
And India into US arms....so its a delicate dance. If China gets too close to Pak, India gets closer to US, which pisses of China. The main thing holding back India from America is the american propensity to support Pak. I think the Indo-US alliance will get stronger as China strengthens. The Osama affair has irreversibly damaged relations between US-Pak...its like infidelity in marriage, very hard to overcome.
The US govt needs to think about the root cause of Pak-India conflict, its Kashmir. Attempts to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan, support of terror groups to wage war in India (who are now expanding to the western countries), waging jihad, development of nukes, all of these things relate to their quest to wrest Kashmir from India.
The legal situation wrt to Kashmir is quite clear, at Indian independence the ruler of Jammu (hindu dominated), Kashmir (muslim dominated), and Leh (Tibetan dominated) areas of "Kashmir", joined the Indian Union, along with tens of other princely states (who are part of the Indian Union). Pakistan which was formed as a muslim state, did not like this, and quite soon sent in irregulars and occupied parts of Kashmir (Pak occupied Kashmir). The point is that inspite of the formation of East (Bangladesh) and west pak (current Pak), a large population of muslims still choose to remain in India, so Pak has no right per se on Kashmir, just because its a muslim majority state.
After losing 4 wars (India has never started any), losing half their country (Bangladesh), suffering severe economic hardship, lack in development, rise of terrorism due to failed policies of supporting terror, most pakistanis know that they can never win back Kashmir. No Indian govt can give up Kashmir, the population would go ballistic. Yet the pakistani army living in la la land, believes it can, (a few years back Musharraf tried the Kargil misadventure). Paki army generals are delusional, because the US has always supported them, always asked India to bend over backwards to accomodate the purelanders. If the US and the world starts to understand the facts, and what can be changed and what is not even negotiable, Pakis will get the message.
Once the purelanders recognize that Kashmir is not even on the table, Pak has no reason to waste money on nukes, building a large army, or supporting terrors groups who have now graduated to threatening the US and Europe. India is no longer the economic basket case it was in the 60's and 70's. The current generation of senior Indian leaders, eg prime minister Man Mohan Singh was born in Pak (so he has a soft corner for Pak) will pass away soon, the new generation of Indian leaders dont have any sympathies or birth ties to pak, so one can be sure of a more aggressive Indian response. Interestingly, Musharraf (was born in India!) and ruled Pak.!.
"The Islamists outside the PA (pak army) and the Islamists within the PA are increasingly becoming indistinguishable in their worldview. Certainly, the most influential section of the ulema (and therefore the society) is militant Deobandi, not the more circumspect Berelvi though the latter may still exist in absolutely larger numbers. I include Wahhabis and Ahl-e-Hadiths under the Deobandi classification. Not that the Berelvis are less jihadist or less fundamentalist (as Taseer's case demonstrated) in nature. In such a milieu, it is difficult to judge with any certainty when the PA would lose the nuclear weapons. The 'cradle-to-grave' vetting mechanism which the Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD) proudly claims to its American interlocutors or the multiple layers of security it claims to have in place for guarding the crown jewels, is as hollow as the claim by GoPak that PA is fighting against global terror. In a society that is overwhelmingly believing that 'Islam is in great danger' and conspiracies are being hatched against the Muslims, who can implement a comprehensive vetting process more common in civilized societies and guarantee its success ? How can the SPD even find men who do not subscribe to these falsehoods or jihadi ideologies ? Why should we even assume that the SPD itself is above board in these Islamist matters ? There has been a long list of jihadi Islamist Generals as DG of ISI or as Corps Commanders of the PA. The top leadership of PA may present a different face to the American interlocutors but the distrust of and anger against the infidel among the rest of PA is complete and cannot be reset. Why should we expect that the nukes may not fall into more adverse hands in Pakistan ? It is prudent to proceed on the assumption that it is indeed the case."
“I don’t care if someone is giving us money; we are not a purchasable commodity. We cannot be bought. We can live in hunger, but we won’t compromise our national interests.”
– Bashir Bilour, a Pakistani senior minister, in angry response following an al-Qaeda reprisal for the American killing of Osama bin Laden
That quotation sums up in a nutshell our current impasse with Pakistan and why it is time to redefine our relationship. If one were to follow the counterfactual logic of Mr. Bilour, it was not in the national interests of Pakistan to arrest the mass murderer of 3,000 Americans living in sanctuary in the suburbs of its capital city. It was not in Pakistan’s interests because a vast segment of the Pakistani population favors the agenda of radical Islam, either condones or is indifferent to its jihadism, and feels that only American cash prevents the government from overtly supporting a preferable Islamist agenda. So Bilour is quite right: Pakistan should not be a “purchasable commodity,” and instead should feel free both to reject American aid and not to compromise its “national interests” by opposing radical Islam.
For years, we have heard ad nauseam both Pakistan’s excuses for why it acts so duplicitously and our own diplomatic community’s reasons why we, in response, cannot cut off aid.
The two narratives often run something like this:
The Pakistani Plea
(a) We suffer more from radical Islamic terrorism than do you, and in fact have experienced an upswing in violence because of our decade-long, post–9/11 alliance with you.
(b) The United States does not respect our sovereignty and violates both our land borders and our air space at will.
(c) There is no hope for Afghanistan without us; cut us off and we will cut you off from all logistics coming in and out of Afghanistan.
(d) Your aid — $3 to $4 billion a year — is not all that much.
(e) We are the only Islamic nuclear nation, and we deserve a respect commensurate with our strategic importance, especially given your use and abuse of us during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
(f) You already favor India, and you must show some modicum of diplomatic, political, and strategic balance.
American diplomatic, academic, and military experts tend to agree, and they usually offer us somewhat similar apologies.
The American Argument
(a) Yes, elements of the Pakistani government support terrorists — both al-Qaeda and the Taliban — who kill Americans and disrupt Afghanistan, but other, “good” elements of the military and government oppose these “rogue” actors and help us. So we are in a partnership with good Pakistanis against rogue Pakistanis.
(b) In truth, Pakistan is more duplicitous and untrustworthy in its alliances with Islamists than it is with the United States.
(c) A poor Pakistan has vast regions of wild borderlands and frontier that it simply cannot control; how can it be faulted for failing at what it cannot possibly do?
(d) Pakistan has the bomb; our aid, humiliating to us as it sometimes is portrayed, actually serves as valuable bribe money, ensuring that Pakistan does not “lend” a nuke or two to another illegitimate Islamic dictatorship or “lose” three or four bombs to assorted terrorists.
(e) The American public does not grasp, and cannot be fully told, of the myriad ways, informal and stealthy, that Pakistan helps us in the region.
All of these narratives have some merit but are ultimately unconvincing reasons to subsidize Pakistan.
First, we regret that Pakistan is a victim of domestic terrorism; but it antedated and will postdate our alliance, and is the wages of Pakistan’s own endemic corruption, religious intolerance, and government illegitimacy.
We can hardly respect a theoretical sovereignty that the Pakistani government itself admits it does not exercise. Are we to assume that Pakistan cannot enter its own borderlands, and so America cannot either, when those areas harbor killers of our citizens?
Americans do not like duplicitous allies, but they especially do not like subsidizing the duplicity. Almost every major Islamic terrorist with American blood on his hands whom our forces have captured or killed, from Khalid Sheik Mohammed to Osama bin Laden, was finally tracked down in Pakistan — often in upscale urban areas. As far as Afghanistan goes, Pakistan might do its worst, and we will try to do our best, and that is just the way it is, in this eternally bad/worse-case scenario.
There are all sorts of important nuclear powers that we do not subsidize. Russian Communism in Afghanistan was a greater threat to Pakistan than it was to the United States. Should we have given no aid then, or given aid and then stayed on? Either policy would have incurred Pakistani animosity. Again, as for nukes, it is not in Pakistan’s own interest to give nukes to anyone, unless it wishes current terrorism against it to include a nuclear component or prefers to lose its Islamic nuclear exclusivity. The United States would assume that any use of a nuclear device against America by an Islamic terrorist would ultimately be traced to Pakistan — and, of course, we would take the necessary countermeasures and retaliation. We would hope that deterrent message was by now well known.
India is democratic and pro-American; Pakistan is not. India is also huge, successful, and an ally in the war against jihadism. The question is not balance, but why we do not tilt farther toward India, a free-market economy that shares many of our own goals and aspirations. India is a natural and strategic ally; Pakistan is increasingly a natural and strategic belligerent.
As for our own rationales, consider the following rebuttals:
The good and bad elements of the Pakistani military and government are now so intertwined that even they cannot sort them out. What counts is not factions within Pakistan, but how they are expressed and play out. Among the worst setbacks in American foreign policy in the last twenty years were Pakistan’s acquisition of the bomb, and Pakistan’s hand in ensuring that bin Laden was largely safe for a decade. We care about those facts, not about Pakistan’s internal politics.
If Pakistan renounces American aid, it will nevertheless still incur terrorist attacks. Again, terrorism is endemic to Pakistan for reasons that transcend America.
Pakistan’s wild lands are useful to Pakistan, both providing deniability (e.g., “We can’t go there either”), and as an ongoing excuse for American aid. Terrorists get their own play yard, and their eternal presence justifies eternal billions in aid to Pakistani elites.
When we used to give aid to Pakistan it nevertheless still started work on the bomb; has resumption of that aid done much of anything to curtail its nuclear posturing?
The inability to explain the Pakistan alliance in any convincing fashion to the American public is not a reason to maintain the aid, but one to end it outright.
In conclusion, over the last two decades we have had all sorts of relationships with a nuclear and non-nuclear Pakistan: estrangement; an anti-Soviet, anti-Indian alliance; restored diplomatic relations; massive foreign aid; etc. We often change our approach; Pakistan stays the same.
What is the problem? The majority in Pakistan, so far as we can tell, is religiously intolerant, anti-American, and tribal. A plebiscite, fairly conducted, would result in a far more illiberal government than the Westernized megaphones that the often rigged and corrupt elections produce. Because elite Pakistani military and political leaders do not have real legitimacy, they must alternately disguise and lament, and then indulge and appease, the illiberal natures of their constituents.
What is the solution? Praise Pakistan. Avoid provocative statements. But by all means gradually and without fanfare prune back aid — say, at the rate of about $100 million a month. And then accept that in reaction Pakistan will more shamelessly hide terrorists, threaten nuclear proliferation, and destabilize the Karzai government, as it is freed to express its natural proclivities and “national interests” as a de facto enemy of the United States. Develop much closer relations with India. All of this will not make the situation in the region any better, but it will bring clarity, send a message that America is tired of treacherous allies — and save money. And in this ungodly mess, that at least counts for something.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, the editor of Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome, and the author of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern.http://
Osama bin Laden’s death in a mansion in exclusive club house territory of retired Pakistani officers has exposed the terrible paradox at the heart of our war in Afghanistan—Pakistan’s hypocrisy and our acquiescence. Bin Laden’s Pakistani hosts, two rich businessmen called Arshad and Tariq Khan who owned the house and were killed with him, hail from Charsadda, 15 miles north of Peshawar. Their uncle was a retired Brigadier. (Arshad was apparently the courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who led intelligence officials to the compound.) This is not a lawless land. This is highly controlled territory.
We give billions in aid to Pakistan’s military and civilian government. Yet Pakistan is harboring our enemies and even the enemies, one could argue, of its own healthy survival. Portions of our money are being funneled into the variety of insurgent networks whose fighters are killing American soldiers, Afghan soldiers, American civilians, Afghan civilians, European civilians, Pakistani civilians—mothers, fathers, children on multiple continents. Why, asks a US army major, did all his friends die in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when the real problem is on the other side of the border? Why, asks a twelve-year-old Afghan girl in Kandahar whose family has been wiped out by US air strikes, are you bombing us? How has this come to pass?
In 2006, I traveled through Baluchistan and the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, meeting with many Taliban fighters. I described it at the time as a kind of Taliban spa that offered them rest and rehab between battles in Afghanistan to which they would be returning. But it was more than that. I met Afghan Taliban who’d tried to make a deal with the Afghan government to get back to a life without fighting. One told me he was then arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI, and blackmailed—they would release him if he would resume fighting and dispense with notions of reconciliation. He rose up the ranks of the Taliban command, traveling freely between Quetta in Pakistan and Zabul, a province in Afghanistan, where he was an intelligence commander for Afghan Taliban fighting coalition forces.
Another young Afghan Taliban I met in Peshawar was involved in the production and distribution of propaganda and recruiting DVDs—beheadings, inspirational music videos, and killings of American soldiers, all set to Pashtun war songs. But after spending hours and hours with him, I noticed his anti-infidel rhetoric beginning to subside, and when the subject of the ISI’s operatives came up, his whole demeanor changed. “Snakes,” he called them. Their first offense, he said, was trying to oust Mullah Omar and create a more obedient Taliban leader—like Jalaluddin Haqqani, an old jihadi we once financed to fight the Soviets but who has now set up shop in Waziristan under ISI protection. (Along with his son Sirajuddin, Haqqani stages the big-media-grabbing attacks in Afghanistan but seems to abide by the rules of his hosts—no attacks against Pakistan. He also runs a virtual kidnapping factory in Waziristan and the Pakistanis have done nothing to stop it.)
Then he said:
I told you that we burn schools because they’re teaching Christianity, but actually, most of the Taliban don’t like this burning of schools or destroying of roads and bridges, because the Taliban, too, could use them. Those acts were being done under ISI orders. They don’t want progress in Afghanistan.
He told me about ISI orders to behead an Indian engineer who was captured (and these orders were later corroborated). “People are not telling the story, because no one can trust anyone,” he told me. “And if the ISI knew I told you, I’d be fucked.”
That was 2006. Since then, just about everyone has learned the rules of the game: The ISI will continue to support the various jihadi groups (like Lashkar-e-Taiba) in order to attack and intimidate India, and get what it wants in Afghanistan—more or less a semi-independent extension of Pakistan. In 2008, American intelligence even proved definitively what Afghans and Indians on the ground already knew: that the deadly attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul was planned with the help of the ISI.
And it isn’t just the ISI that is supporting the Taliban. During my travels through Pakistan, I had a long discussion about the Pakistan Army’s conflicted loyalties with Najam Sethi, the longtime editor of Lahore’s Friday Times. What does it want? Where does it stand? The Pakistani military retains a secular strain, but religion is central to its ideology. Since its inception in 1947, its raison d’etre has been to defend the Muslim world. This mission, however, is constantly undermined by the fact that, while Pakistan was founded as a refuge for South Asia’s Muslims, more Muslims live in India, and most of the attacks by the militant groups it supports have ended up killing fellow Muslims. There is a contradiction at the heart of the Pakistani Army and it’s expressed in what everyone has come to call Pakistan’s “double game.”
The military officers I met—many of them retired, living better than bin Laden, in lavish Latin-American style mansions with pure-bred dogs, English-style cooks, and manicured lawns—spoke to me as if they envied the jihadists’ clarity of purpose, their moral vision. In Sethi’s view, the military also harbors “a degree of self-disgust for selling themselves” to the Americans. They are still angry with the US for abandoning them after the Afghan jihad, and for sanctioning them over the nuclear program. The standard army phrase about their treatment by the Americans was, Sethi said, “They used us like a condom.”
Despite these widely held sentiments and the evidence against a strong alliance, US diplomats and generals have tried to sustain the image of close cooperation.
In 2010, I had the chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the US relationship with Pakistan. He’d just been to the country to urge its generals to go after the jihadists, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network. I asked Gates how he could possibly consider Afshaq Kayani, the chief of the Pakistani army, an ally. “It’s frustrating,” Gates told me. I waited for more, but nothing came. Your silence says a lot, I said. “Well, I was very specific in a couple of my meetings in looking at them point-blank and saying, ‘Haqqani and his people are killing my troops. I’ve got a problem with that,’” Gates responded. And what did they say, I asked. Gates is all control, but he cracked a small smile as he said: “They listened.”
Admiral Mike Mullen has spent the better part of the first two years of the Obama administration—hours and hours of flight time, face time, and phone time—cultivating a strong relationship with Kayani. Up until recently, Kayani’s Wikipedia entry said that he counted Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as a close friend and ally. That line has now been removed. US officials maintain they don’t think that Kayani or ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had direct knowledge themselves about bin Laden. But even before Sunday’s assassination of bin Laden, a friend of mine told me that when he recently saw Mullen the admiral seemed puzzled by the breakdown of the relationship. “What relationship?” my friend asked. “[Kayani] was never on your side.”
Or as an advisor to Ambassador Holbrooke told me not long before Holbrooke died: “We see Pakistan as a flawed ally and the Afghan Taliban as our enemy. The truth is the reverse.” It is the Taliban, the advisor suggested, who can be worked with; they who distrust—and in many cases despise—the ISI overlords they depend on for safe havens and support. All along they’ve let it be known through different channels that they want to talk directly to the Americans. The question is how?
Will the revelation that bin Laden and family were dwelling in a newly built Pakistani Army mansion not far from the capital finally change the nature of the strange dance between the US and Pakistan? One wonders how good and smart men and women are taken in by diplomatic friendships, how they allow themselves to believe lies they know to be lies, or worse, settle for the lie because it seems there’s no way out, no creative solution to change the trusted old forms of diplomacy or the definitions of enemy and ally.
Of course at the heart of the problem lies Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. We’d rather our Pakistani army enemy controls it than our Pakistani Taliban enemy. But will we ever know who is who, and can we tell them apart? And so our policy in Pakistan has collided with the Lot equation: How many righteous men must there be for God to save Sodom and Gomorrah, asks Abraham. And when God says fifty, Abraham keeps lowering the number. What if there is just one? How many American, Afghan, Pakistani, European casualties are worth keeping this Catch-22 policy alive?
Washington (CNN) -- The killing of Osama bin Laden raises many haunting questions. Here's the most important: Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete? To think through that question, start with a prior question: Why did we remain in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban? The usual answer to that question is: To prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist safe haven. There have always been a lot of problems with that answer. (For example: Does it really take 100,000 U.S. troops, plus allies, to prevent a country from becoming a terrorist safe haven? We're doing a pretty good job in Yemen with a radically smaller presence.) But this week, we have exposed to sight two huge problems with the usual answer. 1. The world's most important terrorist safe haven is visibly not Afghanistan, but instead next-door Pakistan. New videos of Osama bin Laden State Dept: Awaiting Pakistan's answers al Qaeda vows revenge U.S. wants answers from Pakistan
2. Because the U.S. presence in Afghanistan requires cooperation from Pakistan, the Afghanistan mission perversely inhibits the United States from taking more decisive action against Pakistan's harboring of terrorism. Here's a very concrete example. Through the 2008 presidential campaign, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama tussled over the issue of direct anti-terrorist action inside Pakistan. On February 20, 2008, McCain called Obama "naive" for suggesting that he might act inside Pakistan without Pakistani permission. In retrospect, McCain's answer looks wrong. But think about why McCain said what he did. He knew that acting in a way that offended Pakistan would complicate the mission in Afghanistan. The United States looks to Pakistan to police the Pashtun country on the other side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Guerrilla wars become much harder to win if the guerrillas are allowed sanctuary across an international border. So if the mission in Afghanistan is the supreme priority, then acting in ways that offend Pakistan must be avoided. But this thinking leads to an upside-down result: In order to prevent Afghanistan from ever again harboring a potential future bin Laden, we have to indulge Pakistan as it harbors the actual bin Laden! Some Democrats have retrospectively seized on McCain's upside-down logic as proof that candidate Obama was "right" in 2008. I was a guest on the Bill Maher program on HBO on Friday night where he insisted on this point. But, of course, President Obama has made decisions that have aggravated the upside-down problem. By inserting so many additional U.S. forces into Afghanistan, he has made the United States more dependent than ever on Pakistan -- with the result that even after finding and killing Osama bin Laden in the heart of Pakistan's national security establishment, the Obama administration is reluctant to challenge Pakistan publicly or even privately. Think now: What would our policy in South Asia look like if we had a much smaller mission in Afghanistan? Perhaps 20,000 U.S. and allied troops on a security assistance mission rather than 100,000-plus on a combat mission? By emancipating itself from dependence on Pakistan, the United States would gain scope to focus on the most vital questions in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, such as: • How confident do we feel that the people who sheltered bin Laden do not also control Pakistan's nuclear force? • If we do not have confidence in the people who control Pakistan's nuclear force, what plans do we have to disable that nuclear force? • Why wasn't Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear proliferation, delivered to U.S. custody? • Pakistan has a long history of not only harboring anti-U.S. terrorism, but actively promoting and supporting terrorism against India. Why is Pakistan not listed alongside Iran as a state sponsor of terror? • Why is Pakistan receiving U.S. military aid? • Why does Pakistan have the benefit of a trade and investment agreement with the United States? Instead, even now -- even now! -- we're told that Pakistan is just too important to permit the U.S. to act on its stated doctrine--articulated by George W. Bush's administration and not repudiated by Obama's: "Those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists themselves." So long as we remain in Afghanistan, that statement remains true. The question is, shouldn't we be taking now the steps to render the statement less true? The less committed we are to Afghanistan, the more independent we are of Pakistan. The more independent we are of Pakistan, the more leverage we have over Pakistan. The more leverage we have over Pakistan, the more clout we have to shut down Pakistan's long, vicious, and now not credibly deniable state support for terrorism. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.
High Noon in Pakistan WALTER RUSSELL MEAD The taking of Osama was a defeat for Al Qaeda. It was a disaster for Pakistan.
The Assassination in Abbottabad was a strategic catastrophe for the military rulers of this slowly and painfully failing state. On the one hand, it leaves the reputation of Pakistan as an effective partner against fanatical terror groups in ruins. The debate in Washington and around the world now is whether the Pakistani state is in league with Al Qaeda or whether it is so weak, divided and incompetent that rogue factions within the state have escaped all control. The rich intelligence haul the US gathered in Osama’s lair will help the US learn more about Osama’s protectors in Pakistan; in the meantime it is transparently clear that whether incompetence or malfeasance is more to blame, the government of Pakistan cannot safely be trusted — by anyone, on anything.
The argument for a continued US-Pakistani alliance took a body blow. If Pakistan can’t or won’t help us with the capture of Osama bin Laden, what possible justification does the alliance have? Arguably, the two people who have done the greatest damage to American interests in the last twenty years have been A. Q. Khan, ringmaster of the nuclear proliferation circus that helped countries like North Korea, Libya, Syria and Iran advance their nuclear ambitions, and Osama bin Laden. What country produced one and sheltered both?
From the ISI/military point of view, trust is not just a problem when it comes to relations with the US. The Pakistani military has to have foreign patrons; without foreign aid it cannot pretend even to itself to be a serious competitor to India. India is too big, and Pakistan is too small, too unstable, too divided by bitter internal fault lines, too poorly developed and too incompetently governed to hold its own without outside help.
As US-Pakistan tensions rise, the Pakistanis have looked to China as an alternative great power backer. The Pakistani argument to China is that Pakistan offers an offset to India that makes it harder for India to challenge Chinese influence in southeast Asia and elsewhere. Pakistan can also offer China friendly ports close to the vital oilfields of the Middle East and also a useful land route for trade and power projection.
This is not an unattractive proposition, and China is already in business with Pakistan, providing foreign aid and promoting growth in bilateral trade. The value of China’s aid to Pakistan is hard to estimate, but trade between the two countries is worth about $8.7 billion. (US military and economic aid to Pakistan last year totaled almost $4.5 billion and US-Pakistani trade was worth $1.6 billion.) Additionally, China provides material and financial assistance for Pakistan’s nuclear program; during a visit to Pakistan in December 2010, Wen Jiabao and Pakistani officials finalized plans for the construction of a one gigawatt nuclear reactor in Chashma, making it the third and largest reactor in Pakistan. China’s agreement to provide nuclear materials to Pakistan despite Pakistan’s nuclear program and poor record on proliferation was seen in Pakistan and elsewhere as a counter to the US-India agreement.
But for the Chinese, who have so far flirted with Pakistan but never come close to giving the Pakistanis the support they desperately crave, there are three very big catches.First, Pakistan looks as bent on self-destruction to China as it does to everyone else in the world; why put your money on a such a weak horse?
Second, if China becomes the partner of Pakistan’s dreams, it wrecks its relationship with India and drives India into America’s arms. A closer relationship with Pakistan might be necessary for China in the event that the US and India developed a tight alliance aimed against China, but China’s best strategy now is to prevent the US-India relationship from turning into an anti-China alliance. Flirting with Pakistan makes sense as a way to keep both Washington and Delhi on their toes, but anything more would be a costly mistake.
And third, there are the same questions of competence and trust that give Washington pause. Can Pakistan really be trusted on the subject of ‘Islamic’ terror? The Pakistani defense establishment is totally fixated on maintaining links with terror groups and radical groups to advance its interests in both Afghanistan and India. China doesn’t like this very much; none of the great powers with interests in Central Asia have much sympathy for Pakistan’s desire to strengthen radical Sunni groups. But if Pakistan showed that it was willing and able to use this weapon selectively — to tolerate and even promote terror groups aimed at India while cracking down ruthlessly and effectively on any Muslims crazy enough to dream of fighting for their co-religionists in western China — then maybe, just maybe, Pakistan and China could cut a deal.
But the Abbottabad imbroglio calls Pakistan’s good faith and its ability into question. Will Islamabad really suppress, murder and betray Uighur Muslims who want to bring jihad to their homeland, or will Pakistani weakness, incompetence, religious fanaticism and/or corruption mean that Pakistan will provide sanctuary and perhaps more to China’s deadly enemies even as it takes China’s cash? On the evidence of Abbottabad, few Chinese foreign policy analysts will propose trusting Pakistan. Nice words, candy and flowers on its birthday, but little else.
The attack on Abbottabad was not just a blow to Al Qaeda; it was a direct blow to the heart of Pakistani self confidence. Pakistan puts a lot of faith in its nuclear bombs. ISI types in Pakistan believe that US mistrust of Pakistan is so deep that the US is looking for an opportunity to take control of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
The strong likelihood that somebody powerful in Pakistan was helping Osama makes the (far fetched) scenario of an American nuclear snatch more frightening to Pakistan. If the US concludes that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terror with close links to Al Qaeda with nuclear weapons and a long record of bad behavior on proliferation issues, the desire to separate those weapons from unworthy hands could become very strong.
The Abbottabad raid demonstrates two things that have shocked the Pakistani security establishment to the core: that the US in pursuit of supreme national interests is willing to send military forces into the heart of Pakistan’s territory and security zone — and that we have the capacity to do so at will. A. Q. Khan may be sleeping a little less soundly and may well have moved all his thumb drives to a more secure location.
India, of course watched the raid closely. India, a victim in the past of Pakistan-supported terrorist violence, has the same concerns about Pakistani nukes and terror groups that Washington does. After observing the mysteriously powerful Stuxnet computer worm in neighboring Iran, and now shocked by American ability to move forces at will, the Pakistani security establishment is now coming to terms with some profoundly unsettling realities. Already, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir has warned India off an Abbottabad-style raid aimed at the accused perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The US is tightening the screws on this unsatisfactory ally. So far as it goes, that is good. Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin have been calling for the US to go farther — to stop aid to Pakistan.
But even that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The US and Pakistan have had a long relationship, but the love has long since gone out of this bromance. Our interests are likely to diverge much more radically than at present as the US exit from Afghanistan draws closer.
Many of the most important details of the US-Pakistani relationship are only known by a handful of officials. That is inevitable when sensitive matters like counter-terrorism and nuclear weapons come into play. This means that outsiders are not going to get many of the vital nuances of one of the most delicate and difficult dances in the diplomatic world. But it does seem clear that the US now needs to muster all of its energy, resources and will for a strategic battle to determine the future parameters of our relations with Pakistan.
We are going to have to get tough. The Pakistani security establishment lives to a very large degree in what, to American eyes, looks like a dangerous and delusional imaginary world. As I’ve written before, Americans (and virtually everyone else in the world who looks at this question) sees Pakistan locked into a profoundly dysfunctional combination of misguided security ideas and comprehensive domestic failure. Pakistani strategists embrace these seemingly destructive policies out of some very deeply-held beliefs and in response to what they see as existential questions of national identity and cohesion. They will not be lightly diverted from this long-established and cherished course, however suicidal, and as is often the case with people whose goals are unrealistic, they are accustomed to very high risk strategies and brinkmanship. Defeat after defeat by India, progressive deterioration of the domestic security climate and the utter collapse of political morality in what passes for the governing class in Pakistan have not forced a reevaluation. Charm and appeals to sweet reason by American officials and emissaries won’t do it either. Neither will humanitarian aid: the suffering of ordinary Pakistanis has little impact on the elite, and in the short to medium term public opinion in Pakistan is so anti-American and so politically marginal that we could die of old age waiting for spending however generous to change our image in Pakistan enough to change the politics of the relationship.
I favor generous and long term assistance to Pakistan as part of a long term relationship — assuming that the country is willing to stop running toward the abyss and to start moving, however slowly, in a more promising direction. But we should not deceive ourselves that civilian aid buys much goodwill with what is, under a thin and increasingly unconvincing veneer of civilian rule, a military government on all security matters.
When it comes to changing Pakistani policy, aid however generous for schools and hospitals Pakistan’s rulers don’t care much about matters less than a credible threat that Pakistan could face an active US-led alliance from which it is excluded and which might even actively seek to frustrate its interests on key issues.
To get our relationship with Pakistan on the right track, the Obama administration is going to have to assemble and develop some serious threats. Sending the Seals to Abbottabad is a nice shot across the bow, but more will be needed. The administration is going to have to look at a broad range of options that stretch from adding some new dimensions to US-India relations and engaging more directly with more neighbors about the future of Afghanistan to additional operations like the Abbottabad raid where intelligence suggests appropriately important targets can be found. On the other hand, the administration needs to develop a crystal clear and specific vision for what we want from Pakistan and what we will do if and only if we can secure it.
This matters. The administration’s ability to put its relationship with Pakistan on a clear path will go far to determine both the speed at which we are able to leave Afghanistan and the nature of the post-US situation there. More, what is at stake in both Afghanistan and Pakistan is still America’s security at home. President Obama clearly understands that defending Americans from 9/11 style attacks remains the most important item on his job description. Getting Pakistan right is a must.
In this negotiation the Americans will do better if we have coordinated our approach with the Saudis — they, next to China, represent Pakistan’s best hope of a replacement partner should the US alliance cool even further. The Saudis are widely believed to have helped support Pakistan’s quest for what some call the ‘Sunni bomb’; Pakistanis are ready and, if suitably paid, willing to support embattled Sunni Arab sheikhs against restive Shi’a subjects. From the Saudi point of view, Pakistan’s 169 million people and nuclear arsenal look like reliable allies against Iran if US support should prove unreliable and one suspects that Pakistani contingency planning for a crisis with the US includes some assumptions about Saudi help.
The US needs to address this. The Obama administration can’t make geography go away; the Saudis can and should have a relationship with Pakistan based on mutual interests and strategic need. But the Pakistan card goes up in value as the US card falls: the Obama administration needs to improve its relationship with the Saudis and clear up any misunderstandings about where we stand on the question of Saudi security. The Saudis may be religiously radical by some standards, but as long as they believe in the strength of the US umbrella they are conservative geopolitically. There are all kinds of reasons (including the restraining influence that Saudi money can have on radical clerics) to make sure the Saudis understand the depth of the American commitment to their survival.
We have another card to play, I suspect. Some of the information the Seals acquired in Abbottabad is likely to show that under Pakistani protection Bin Laden continued to plot and scheme against the Saudis. Pakistan has betrayed everyone, including the Saudis. Nobody likes this kind of behavior; Pakistan has burned more than one bridge.
The much feared and long delayed moment of truth in US-Pakistan relations is almost upon us. Nobody outside the government can really know all the important factors here, but the Obama administration is unlikely to develop a satisfactory relationship with Pakistan unless it is ready, willing and able to face a complete rupture. As long as Pakistan perceives that Washington is desperate to keep the relationship alive, it will play games.
Perhaps we truly have no choice; in that case the US must continue mushing on as best we may. But Pakistan is a weak and vulnerable state, wracked by internal dissension, ethnic rivalries and the guerrilla secessionist movement in Baluchistan. It is high time that the US began looking carefully at the alternatives to its alliance with Pakistan and taking some of the initial steps to ease what may be a necessary and inevitable transition to a new alignment in the region.
One hopes those steps would bring some badly needed sobriety to the strategic culture of Islamabad. This may well be our only hope now of changing Pakistan’s behavior. In any case, basing our policy on comforting lies that we tell ourselves because we are too afraid to face bitter truths is not a good move.
The promise to focus on Pakistan was one of the hallmarks of President Obama’s 2008 campaign. The raid on Abbottabad shows he is still on the case. Every American should wish him and his team well as they prepare for even tougher choices ahead.
Here's some interesting info on the Pak budget...not much there for health, education, electricity....
"According to the budget presentation at the ministry of finance on Thursday, May 4, some 82 percent of the available national financial resources in the next fiscal year 2011-2012 will be allocated to three sectors: debt servicing, defence and running of the civil administration. Even though these figures are a conservative estimate, they reveal the pathetic state of the economy and the callous nature of our ruling classes towards social development and the plight of the masses."
Here's a short 10 point primer to Pak by "Shiv" a blogger.
Ten point Pakistan primer 1. Pakistan was created in 1947 by a group of politically savvy Indians who leveraged the tumultuous events in India after World War II to secede and carve out a country for themselves. Even though the majority of Muslims remained behind in India, the creators of Pakistan claimed that Pakistan was a "homeland for the Muslims of India" 2. Pakistan was created as two separate units a thousand miles apart in an act of voluntary but disastrous cutting of centuries of cultural, family and trade ties. This made Pakistan politically unstable from the beginning requiring military rule for unity. Despite that a part of Pakistan split in 1971 to form Bangladesh. 3. Pakistan's voluntary amputation from millennia of trade with mainland India made Pakistan's economy untenable, causing its military rulers to depend on foreign aid obtained from great powers and other wealthy nations in exchange for providing support and soldiers for the cold war and other military campaigns.This got them arms from the USA and eventually nuclear weapons from China. 4. Foreign aid was largely appropriated by Pakistan's military making them powerful and wealthy, while the people of Pakistan languished and lagged behind in development literacy, healthcare and women's rights. 5. For the Pakistan military to retain its privileged position in Pakistan it had to have an enemy and conduct external military campaigns. India became that designated enemy. 6. Since the people of Pakistan had been Indians for many centuries and looked like, spoke like and ate like Indians, some new differentiating factor had to be created for enmity. Islam, which had coexisted in India for a thousand years was suddenly declared to be in danger in Hindu India ignoring the fact that India was home to more followers of Islam than Pakistan, 7. As the Pakistan military fought and lost a series of wars with "enemy number one" India, its need to rely on irregular Islamic insurgents to fight India increased. These armed islamic zealots came in useful to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, The Taliban was created out of these groups. 8. When the cold war ended, the Islamic militias of Pakistan, safe in their new Afghan hideouts, turned their attention to other irredentist campaigns abroad, from India to the middle east, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Philippines, western Europe and finally the USA on 9-11-2001. 9. 9-11 brought the US into Afghanistan and this drove the armed Islamic militias back to Pakistan where they had come from in the first place. 10. The Pakistan military needs the Islamic militias (like the Taliban and Lashkar e Toiba) to fight its wars while it retains its wealthy, pre eminent position in a decrepit, overpopulated country in a state of social and political failure. The people of Pakistan would benefit from peace and trade with India, but the nuclear armed Pakistan military stands to lose its main crutch for staying in power if that happens. The military,along with its Islamist allies will not allow that to happen.
http://outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271662 VIEW FROM PAKISTAN A Cat And Mouse Game Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. PERVEZ HOODBHOY
Osama bin Laden, the figurehead king of al Qaeda, is gone. His hosts are still rubbing their eyes and wondering how it all happened. Although scooped up from Pakistani soil, shot in the head and then buried at sea, the event was not announced by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani or by President Asif Ali Zardari. Instead, it was the president of the United States of America who told the world that bin Laden’s body was in the custody of US forces.
Suggestions that Pakistan played a significant role ring hollow. President Obama, in his televised speech on May 1, said “our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden”. But no sooner had he stopped speaking that his top national security aides declared that the United States had not told Pakistani leaders about the raid ahead of time. Significantly, Obama did not thank Pakistan. An American official pointedly declared that the information leading to bin Laden’s killing was shared “with no other country” and this top secret operation was such that “only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance”.
Today, Pakistan’s embarrassment is deep. On numerous occasions, our military and civilian leaders had emphatically stated that bin Laden was not in Pakistan. Some suggested that he might be in Sudan or Somalia. Others hinted that he might already have died from a kidney ailment, or perhaps that he was in some intractable area, protected by nature and terrain and thus outside the effective control of the Pakistani state.
But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.
Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?
Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.
So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:
“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.
So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.
Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.
Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.
Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.
Pervez Hoodbhoy is professor of physics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. This article was first published in The Express Tribune, Pakistan
Next steps wrt to Pak... Historically the US has always supported Pak as a balance to India, especially since India was aligned with the ex-soviet union. Now however things have changed, the soviet union collapsed, India is non-aligned and an emerging power, China is moving towards super power status and has started to challenge the US. In these circumstances, US will have to partner and support India (that's a separate discussion).
Pak perfidy has cost us a lot of treasure as well as lives, since the last 10 years. Americans are unwelcome in the country, why the american tax payer should support nation building in a land where the common abdul hates americans is beyond me.
The key to controlling paki behaviour is through control of their nuclear weapons. If they are denuked, all their aggressiveness and support of terror will disappear because India would have no reason to with hold a punishing response to Pak every time there was a terrorist incident in India. The terror sanctuaries exist in pak, only because of state support. Currently the thinking in India is that pakis have nothing to lose in a nuclear exchange (except some goats and pakis) because there is very little industrialization, while Indian progress would receive a severe setback in the event of a nuclear exchange... and the jihadis are mad enough to lob a few towards India. The tactical brilliance of the pakis is seen in their recent missile test which was developed in response to India's Cold Start doctrine (a rapid response attack inside Pak). Apparently, they developed a nuclear tipped missile for use in their own country, to halt any rapid thrust by India in paki territory. The clowns forgot that use of a nuke in their own country on Indian troops would invite an additional larger nuclear response from india inside paki territory....but this is getting OT. http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/20/n-capable-ballistic-missile-tested.html
So the question is how to denuke the purelanders....and there are many ways to skin a cat.
KPS Gill, the Indian Police Officer, who brought the Khalistani movement in India (sponsered by pak) under control, wisely said wrt to Pak in 2008,
"The reality is, there is no such thing as Islamist terrorism. To understand the position correctly, we need to recognise that there is only ISI terror that has been dubbed as 'Islamist terror'. What we have, on the ground, is the proliferation of Pakistani terrorism, strategically compounded across new areas of disorder by networks loosely affiliated with their Pakistani sources. If Pakistani state support to so-called Islamist terrorism ended today, it would not be long before the various terrorist groups atrophied and withered away, lacking safe havens, institutional support and training infrastructure, and the vast ideological resources that have been brought to bear on the so-called global jihad".
This is a key lesson that Obama needs to take to heart, atleast when dealing with pak.
Its very clear that the ISI/Army was hiding OBL. It seems the house was built in Musharraf's time (very likely with US money!). Of note, current army chief (Kiyani), was the head of the ISI then. The house is in the army cantonment area, ie its completely under army control. One cannot build anything without approval from the army. It seems that OBL has been there for a few years, ie full blessings of the ISI.
So now that the US has expended over a trillion $ over 10 years + lives, the least that the US should do is to declare Pak a terrorist nation....but we wont. ISI needs to be disbanded and brought under civilian control. Paki duplicity cannot be tolerated....its time to call a spade a spade.
The article is certainly Bondesque ... Initially, the American thinking was that an India-Pak nuclear exchange while undesirable, was without risk to the US and so the US turned a blind eye to Chinese proliferation support to Pak. Today, the thinking on Indian defense sites is that the jihadis hate the US and Israel more than they hate India (infact polls show that). Anytime the pakis hate someone more than India, that's a major achievement....ie the nukes may come back and bite us in the US and not India. I for one dont doubt the plausibility of the scenario.
The paki army is highly jihadized, their motto is "Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah". Translated into English, it means "Faith, Piety and Fight in the path of God". They now claim to have more nukes or weapons grade material than the UK. Continuing the story...I forsee a jihadi general allocating a couple of rough nukes for shipment to the US. The general would know that the retaliation from the US would be painful, so I would expect that the general would move out of Pak to some mid east country until things settle.
It should come as little surprise, but U.S. headlines are again dominated by dour news out of Pakistan. The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is today under severe strain, rattled by heated disputes over CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas; clandestine U.S. intelligence operations inside Pakistan; and Islamabad's persistent refusal to crack down on the Taliban and their radical allies. Intelligence cooperation is at an all-time low.
This latest series of rifts may indeed prove more damaging and permanent than previous disruptions, but they fit all too neatly in the general narrative of U.S.-Pakistan relations. One day Islamabad is touted as an indispensable ally; the next it is a back-stabbing fountain of Islamist militancy. For the longest time, these competing tensions were encapsulated in the Washington debate over whether or not Pakistan was playing a "double game."
But we were debating the wrong question. Of course Pakistan is playing a double game. Of course its intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), supports Islamist militants. The relevant question is not if Pakistan is playing a double game, but why? The simplest answer is that Pakistan believes it needs a pliant, anti-Indian regime in Afghanistan and - as it has for decades - Pakistan is using Islamist militants as an extension of its foreign policy.
In short, Islamabad sees a Taliban-led government in Kabul as the best guarantor of its interests in neighboring Afghanistan. But this, too, begs the question: What are its interests? Why risk international condemnation and the ire of your superpower benefactor for influence in a desolate, landlocked country with few natural resources or infrastructure, and of questionable strategic value?
Two motivations are often cited: First, Islamabad is said to covet Afghanistan for "strategic depth." Pakistan is geographically narrow and its major cities, positioned as they are near its eastern border with India, are vulnerable to attack in the event of a war with its rival. Thus, Pakistan's military planners - for whom an Indian invasion is always imminent - yearn for the rugged Afghan terrain to the west, where a retreating army could regroup and coordinate a guerrilla war, if necessary.
Second, Pakistan is fearful of Indian influence in Afghanistan. Around every corner in Kabul, Pakistanis see Indian agents and behind every Afghan initiative, a nefarious Hindu plot. That India's presence in Afghanistan has been benign, civilian and economic in nature has not stopped the ISI from backing brazen jihadi attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
This suggests that Pakistan's perceived interests in Afghanistan are India-centric. However, the fear of ethnic (specifically Pashtun and Baluch) nationalism may play an even greater role in Pakistan's strategy, penetrating to the heart of what constitutes Pakistani identity and the integrity of the Pakistani state.
There are roughly 40 million Pashtuns straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border, the notoriously autonomous "martial race," with legendary fighting prowess (virtually all Taliban are Pashtun, but not all Pashtun are Taliban). The Af-Pak border that cuts this stateless nation in half was drawn by India's colonial British overlords in 1893. Incorporating a sliver of the Afghan frontier into northwestern India, the Durand Line, as the border is called, was designed to create a buffer zone between India and the lawless hinterland beyond. But after partition in 1947, the new (West) Pakistani state inherited these Pashtun tribal areas.
Like their countrymen in the east, the Pashtuns - and the even more disaffected Baluch minority in the south - are Muslim, but they share little else in common in terms of culture, language, allegiance or history. So it comes as no surprise that they have periodically agitated for greater autonomy, independence or even incorporation into Afghanistan. As the saying goes, the Afghans have a terribly weak state but a cohesive national identity. In Pakistan, the strong, military-run state is in part compensation for its fragile national identity.
Consequently, Islamabad is hypersensitive to ethnic nationalism and separatism. Pakistan already lost nearly half its territory - East Pakistan - to another disgruntled ethnic minority in the 1971 war that created Bangladesh. To complicate matters further, successive Afghan governments, including the Pakistani-backed Taliban regime of the 1990s, have refused to recognize the Durand Line. Pakistan fears that a strong and independent Afghanistan - let alone one allied to India - could challenge their artificial border and agitate Pashtun or Baluch nationalists, undermining Pakistan from within. A friendly, Taliban-led regime in Kabul is thus seen by Islamabad as the best defense against this possibility and against Indian "encirclement."
Of course, none of Pakistan's "interests" in Afghanistan justify its backing fanatical jihadists that slaughter the innocent, the majority of which are Muslim. But Washington must better understand the misguided logic behind Pakistan's double game if it insists on being a party to it until 2014. Pakistan, on the other hand, has been obsessing for so long over a phantom menace, it is blind to the real threat to its strategic interests: a fundamental split with the United States. Ten years of supporting America's Islamist enemies has poisoned its reputation in America. Its once-mighty defenders in Washington are isolated and shrinking in number, while a younger generation of policymakers knows nothing of Pakistan but militancy, corruption and deception. When the United States inevitably departs Afghanistan, so too, will Pakistan's "leverage" over America. Only then will Pakistan's leadership realize the true cost of their double game.
Jeff M. Smith is a fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.
The change in Drone Strike Ratio, and the respective composition of ISI-proxy-Taliban vs. TTP (Tehrik e Taliban Pak) in various agencies, gives a good indication as to the direction in which US-TSP relations have been headed for a while.
The figure also attempts to illustrate where PA (pak army) is active (blue regions), where PA has refused to deploy in spite of US demands (red/purple regions), where the US drones are active (also the red/purple regions), and where new fronts are being opened by TTP against TSPA at the present time (blue regions in central and eastern FATA.)
There is a clear distinction between theatres of interest that is beginning to show up. PA/ISI are using proxies mainly in the western part of FATA... Waziristan... to wage war against NATO and Kabul. TTP is stronger in central and eastern FATA, and directing its energies towards eastern NWFP in the direction of Punjab (to link up with Punjabi Tanzeems?) The US is hitting the PA/ISI proxies with 95% of its drone strikes, and largely leaving the TTP alone (at least on Pakistani soil.)
A slightly different picture than "US being taken for a ride" that some have advanced. At least three distinct wars are going on in different theatres: 1) Kabul/NATO vs. ISI-proxy-Taliban in North and South Waziristan and in Southwest Afghanistan 2) Kabul/NATO vs. TTP-leaning Taliban in Central/Eastern Afghanistan 3) ISI/TSPA vs. TTP-leaning Taliban in Central/Eastern FATA and in NWFP.
It seems interesting that the new fronts being opened by TTP do not seem directed towards expanding influence in the FATA but are going directly for the heart of Pak proper...NE part of NWFP, Dir and Swat.
Here is some history (from one of the blogs I frequent) about the Kunduz airlift, and the results of the strategic brilliance of the purelanders that you may be unaware of.
"The tragic events of 9/11 thrust Pakistan into limelight once again for all the wrong reasons. As is its wont, Pakistan saw an opportunity even amidst the gloom of being reduced to a rubble and being taken back to stone-age. It offered its unstinted services to the USA and hoped to resurrect its relationship with that country which was at its nadir then. More importantly, it also wished to stem the growing India-US engagement which was being interpreted as a threat for itself. Thus, it hoped to correct the perceived tilt in US policies favouring India. It also saw a window of opportunity to acquire American arms and ammunition apart from getting large funds just as in the decade of the 50s and 80s. It was also Pakistan’s calculation that with the US once again dependent on it due to its geographical advantages, it will get a free hand in pressurizing India on Kashmir and other issues through not only diplomacy but terrorism as well, just as it happened in the 80s when terrorism in the Indian Punjab was instigated. This is where it differed from a host of other countries which also demanded and got various favours from the US for their support for the US prosecution of war on Al Qaeda.
Pakistan therefore gave the US permission to use its airbases at Jacobabad, Dalbandin, Shamsi, Pasni, naval base at Ormara and several unmarked airstrips in Balochistan to operate drones. It allowed it unhindered airspace during the initial stages of the war on terror. It allowed logistics to support troops in Afghanistan through the Karachi Port and the Indus Highway to Khyber pass in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Agencies) and Chaman pass in Balochistan It allowed the CIA to operate freely within the country, setup electronic listening posts, capture Al Qaeda suspects including Pakistanis and deport them secretively elsewhere. These Pakistani policies were to result in a severe blowback later, but, for the moment Pakistan was benefitting from its surrender of sovereignty. Apart from the write-off of some debts and the postponement in repayments of most others by over two decades, Pakistan was getting sophisticated arms ostensibly to fight terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, like F-16s, AMRAAM, naval ships, Harpoon missiles etc !!
Pakistan also extracted other tangible benefits as well from such unstinted support. One such famous benefit was the Kunduz airlift which was authorized at the Presidential level within the US to allow Gen. Musharraf to save his face and possibly his skin by airlifting over a thousand Pakistanis including ISI officers, regular Pakistani soldiers of the Frontier Corps and possibly some members of Pakistani terrorist outfits, from Kunduz in north-east Afghanistan in mid November, 2001. For the location of Kunduz, see map below.
Map Courtesy: The United Nations
To send hundreds of Pakistani Army regulars and ISI officers as far away as Kunduz to fight the Northern Alliance of Ahmed Shah Masoud, demonstrates how much Pakistan values the 'Strategic Depth' of Afghanistan. When they were finally airlifted to the safety of Pakistan, they were simply let go. Several of those charged with many assassination attempts on Gen. Musharraf later in c. 2003 were former soldiers who were airlifted out of Kunduz. Many of them later also joined Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) set up by Maulana Masood Azhar (with the help of the ISI) who was released from an Indian prison in December, 1999 in exchange for the release of the hijacked IC-814 flight. It is these Punjabi Taliban (mostly from Punjab and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,POK) who are wreaking extensive havoc within Pakistan today. Thus, the Kunduz airlift not only helped Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders to escape, but also deeply affected personally the man who requested that, Gen. Musharraf and far more importantly has brought Pakistan to its knees today by rehabilitating hundreds of battle-hardened and vengeful jihadists. Pakistan’s tactical decisions, while looking impressive at that moment, have thus brought that nation only strategic misery.
As the Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban groups escaped into Pakistan’s unruly FATA with the support of Pashtun tribal leaders on either side of the Durand Line and also the Pakistani Army at the border checkposts, they later re-grouped to take on the NATO and Afghan forces. One strategy employed by the Al Qaeda and Taliban was to bring under a common umbrella the various other jihadi outfits and warlords operating within Pakistan and in FATA. Thus, the Islamic International Front (IIF) of Osama bin Laden truly morphed into what is today known as AQAM with the merging of the various Pakistani terrorist tanzeems. Thus, Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) was formed (officially in c. 2007) to coordinate efforts within Pakistan given the fact that the Taliban needed to marshal the meagre and battered resources well against the mighty forces of the US, NATO and Pakistan arrayed against them. This was a tough task because of the oftentimes conflicting clannish loyalties, inter-tribal rivalries and independent warlords. The effort of unification took a long time and has not been a complete success either but it survived and has been fairly successful over the years. Though the AQAM leadership knew that Pakistan would not get too close to the Americans for AQAM’s comfort, they still needed to ensure that, by creating the TTP which maintained enough pressure on the Government and the Army of Pakistan. With Islamist-military leaders like Gen. Aslam Beg, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and Col. Imam guiding them, the AQAM knew only too well what perfidy Pakistan was capable of. Therefore, they needed to establish the Caliphate in FATA and TTP was the force to capture space, establish the rule there and maintain it. This is the first of the twin objectives of TTP.
Already the Pakistani terrorist tanzeem, Harkat-ul-Ansar (later renamed as Harkat-ul-Jihadi-al-Islami or HuJI and the original bearer of the tag, Punjabi Taliban) occupied an important place in the governing structure of Afghanistan during the heady days of the Taliban there. Later, Jaish-e-Mohammed also threw its weight behind Al Qaeda and Taliban. Others like the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the Ahl-e-Hadith Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Wahhabi Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) of Maulana Sufi Mohammed of Malakand, Brigade 313 of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Karachi-based Jandullah of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the Berelvi terrorist organization Sunni Tehrik and the mother of all Pakistani terrorist organizations Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) coalesced with them making the AQAM a formidable group at least within Af-Pak. Collectively these Pakistani terrorist organizations are referred to as the Punjabi Taliban.
The latter have carried their 'Hanud' component to the 'Yahud-Nasara' conspiracy theory of Al Qaeda. The collective wisdom now seems to be that Pakistan must also be turned into Taliban-style rule so that in future the Taliban regime of Afghanistan would be secure and a worldwide assault on the kafir can be sustained. The Afghan Taliban, while still needing the support of the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, has therefore outsourced that effort to TTP. They give the appearance of keeping the TTP at an arm's distance. The Pakistani Taliban thus seek to overthrow the Pakistani government. This is the second of the twin objectives of TTP. The Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan have no option but to continue with their support for the Afghan Taliban as they blindly continue to chase the mirage of 'strategic depth'. Like a monkey whose hand is trapped in the honey jar, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan are thus caught in a cleft, from which they can come out only if they let go of their Indian obsession, an impossibility. Thus the Afghan Taliban is the cleverest of them all as it gets support from Pakistan while at the same time bringing it under its sphere of influence (a reverse strategic depth).While the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan believe that by supporting the Haqqani Shura and the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, another old friend of the ISI, they are preparing themselves for the day after the American departure, the AQAM also believes that it has also prepared well for the same day. Pakistan therefore could be in for a rude shock when the reinstated Taliban might fall foul of their creators and mentors, the Pakistani Army and the Government of Pakistan, because it has grown an independent mind and strategy. The assassination of Khalid Khwaja and the mujahideen and Taliban creator Col. Imam are pointers in that direction.
My speculation is that the purelanders know that we are leaving, which is a fair assumption based on Obama's wishes. The pakis are now in the process of scoring points with the locals (jihadis), that the tough purelander army is going to throw out uncle sam. This will save their H&D (Honor & Dignity), after all the beating they took over the drone strikes. OTOH, if the US is actually wanting to stay in pakiland, then this misbehaviour on the part of the purelanders will result in more baksheesh. Its a win-win, as far as I can see.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=14021 ISI chief meets CIA head and leaves Washington WASHINGTON: Pakistan's ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha held an important meeting with the CIA chief on Monday but apparently cut short his visit and was leaving the US capital on Monday night.
A Pakistan Embassy official confirmed that Gen Pasha was scheduled to leave Monday night although earlier reports had indicated he may be staying in Washington for three days and leave on April 13.
There was no official word from the Pakistani side but the New York Times quoted a CIA spokesman, George Little, saying that the two spy chiefs had held "productive" meetings and that the relationship between the two services "remains on solid footing."
Political analysts were, however, a little surprised that Gen Pasha, who had arrived on Sunday evening, was leaving the US capital in just about 24 hours. There was no word of his meetings, if any, with other senior US leaders, including the Defence Secretary.
"The United States and Pakistan share a wide range of mutual interests," the CIA spokesman said, "and today's exchange emphasized the need to continue to work closely together, including on our common fight against terrorist networks that threaten both countries."
The newspaper said the meetings were part of an effort to repair the already tentative and distrustful relations between the spy agencies that plunged to a new low as a result of the Davis episode, which further exposed where Pakistani and American interests diverge as the endgame in Afghanistan draws closer.
The NYT also reported that Pakistan has demanded that the US steeply reduce the number of CIA operatives and Special Operations forces working in Pakistan, and that it put on hold CIA drone strikes aimed at militants in northwest Pakistan, a sign of the near collapse of cooperation between the two testy allies.
The demand that the United States scale back its presence is the immediate fallout of the arrest in Pakistan of Raymond A. Davis, a CIA security officer who killed two men in broad daylight during a mugging in January, Pakistani and American officials said in interviews.
The NYT said the scale of the Pakistani demands emerged as Gen Pasha met the CIA Director. The paper said Pakistan Army firmly believes that Washington's real aim in Pakistan is to neutralize the nation's prized nuclear arsenal, which is now on a path to becoming the world's fifth largest, said the Pakistani official closely involved in the decision on reducing the American presence.
On the American side, frustration has built over the Pakistan Army's seeming inability to defeat a host of militant groups, including the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which have thrived in Pakistan's tribal areas despite more than $1 billion in American assistance a year to the Pakistani military.
American officials said last year that the Pakistanis had allowed a maximum of 120 Special Forces soldiers to operate in Pakistan. The Americans had reached that quota, the Pakistani official said.
In an illustration of the severity of the breach between the CIA and the ISI, two intelligence agencies that were supposed to have been cooperating since the Sept. 11 attack in the United States but that have rarely trusted each other, the Pakistani official said: "We're telling the Americans: 'You have to trust the ISI or you don't. There is nothing in between.'"
http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1708 US-Pakistan: Losing the plot Ramtanu Maitra 02 Apr 2011 With the handover of $2 million-plus in “blood money” to Pakistani relatives of his shootout victims, the controversial Raymond Davis is back in the United States. While Davis’ release has enraged vast numbers of Pakistanis, it has pleased others, including US state department officials and the Pakistan “experts” in Washington.
Think-tank based Pakistan experts are particularly relieved by the Davis settlement, because the unsavory event had put them in a dilemma about who to support and who to condemn. These pundits that are tied to one or another faction of the American political spectrum find it difficult to keep the party line going vis-à-vis the US-Pakistan relationship: namely, that it is mutually beneficial, substantive, vital, and deep-rooted.
As a result, they focus on extraneous matters, and contrive to insert Jammu and Kashmir into the debate, to somehow justify the rabid anti-Americanism within Pakistan. They would like to blame Islamabad for it but the Afghan crisis prevents them.
Meanwhile, the contradictions proliferate and play out. Droning the “bad guys” in Pakistan’s tribal areas warring against US and NATO forces finds complete acceptance in the US. But hitting the Pakistani “terrorists” attacking Jammu and Kashmir does not.
You could categorize this as “talking-heads’ license.” But more often than not, commentators on US-Pakistan relations mistake the wood for the trees, fixing on one or another aspect of the relationship as if it were the Rosetta Stone. For example, last November, prior to President Barack Obama’s visit to India and other Asian nations, Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser at the US Institute of Peace’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention advanced a disingenuous argument.
Yusuf argued that the Kashmir issue was not only central to improving India-Pakistan relations, but US resolution of the J & K dispute would grow America-Pakistan ties. “While the situation in Afghanistan and the threat emanating from Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has preoccupied the international community in recent years, long-term stability in South Asia cannot be achieved unless Indo-Pak normalization becomes reality. Kashmir remains the single most important outstanding issue,” Yusuf proclaimed.
“The objective reality in terms of Pakistan’s state policy vis-à-vis terrorism in India is difficult to decipher,” Yusuf went on in a paper on “US-Pakistan-India”. “Pakistan pledges incapacity to eliminate all anti-India groups completely in the short run. This is valid. However, whether incapacity is complemented by lack of will - as India contends - is not clear.”
“Regardless, what is clear is that Kashmir remains intrinsically linked to acts of terrorism - it is the outstanding nature of this dispute that allows militant groups in Pakistan to rally and continue operating with a certain amount of legitimacy,” Yusuf concluded. In other words, the US-Pakistan relationship also includes the deal that Washington must impose a resolution of the Kashmir issue on India.
Missing the wood...
In late January, the US Institute for Peace (USIP) held a one-day programme, “The Future of Pakistan,” that featured many of the most prominent experts. Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution warned that the US must not squander the symbolic value of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari’s expected visit to Washington, and be careful not to bad-mouth him ahead of the trip. Riedel suggested that Zardari ought to be asked to address a joint session of Congress to make the case for Pakistan. “He can fight for what Pakistan needs,” Riedel said. He also held that Obama’s pledge to visit Pakistan was rich with substantive and symbolic value. Riedel said Obama should get out of Islamabad to meet as many Pakistanis as he can. “This is an enormously important visit,” added Riedel. “He needs to connect with the Pakistani people.”
It is another matter that the Davis dispute and its prickly resolution have put Obama’s visit to Pakistan on long-term “hold”.
Another USIP academic, Andrew Wilder, pointed out that money may not be the all-encompassing solution. Since 2001, the US has given Pakistan some $15 billion in American aid, but the US-Pakistani relationship remains weak, at best.
Georgetown University’s Christine Fair (a former USIP senior research associate) noted that “It really is important that we think about a new “big idea” for Pakistan.” Fair said that the US and Pakistan actually don’t share strategic interests but can build a long-term alliance anyway.
For example, Islamabad does not believe that the US accepts Pakistan as a nuclear state. But if Washington conferred legitimacy on Pakistan’s nuclear programme, it could change the dynamic, she argued. “Putting that out on the table,” Fair argued, “creates an enormous space for us to talk about what you, Pakistan, can do to deal with these strategic issues over which we disagree so much.”
On the other hand, Brookings Institution’s Stephen Cohen focused on Kashmir. “The United States must have its own views on Kashmir. I think we should speak up and talk about this,” he said.
Another view is that the Kashmiris themselves must count for more. “For too long the Pakistanis and the Indians have been talking as if the Kashmiris don’t exist,” says the Atlantic Council’s Shuja Nawaz. “I see Kashmir as a great opportunity.”
Needed: Plain talking
One can begin to get an idea of what these experts are evading from an article by Arnold Zeitlin, “How Pakistan Is Seen by the Washington Think Tanks,” that appeared in the Pakistani daily, The News, in February. Zeitlin served as the first AP bureau chief in Islamabad in 1969 and was a close friend of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Zeitlin pungently wrote, “If Pakistan and the US were a married couple instead of being strategic players (if not partners), counselors would recommend at least a long, trial separation, if not total divorce.”
Though not part of the Washington punditocracy, Zeitlin attended the USIP’s discussion. He thought it “might have been more realistic to adopt the title used by the Heritage Foundation, which called a conference on Pakistan and the US “Deadly Embrace.” “Washington,” observed Zeitlin, “hosts what appears to be an endless fascination that borders on fantasy about the Pakistan-US relationship... Much of the DC hand-wringing about Pakistan often focuses on what the US must do to save its relationship with that benighted country.”
“I suspect the nervousness over saving Pakistan is rooted more than 60 years ago when the notorious China lobby of Henry Luce and others branded those Mao-influenced diplomats in the State Department as traitors for losing Chiang Kai-shek’s China to Mao Zedong. None now wants the distinction of losing Pakistan, even if Pakistanis are doing a good job of it themselves.”
Ramtanu Maitra is South Asia analyst for the Executive Intelligence Review in Washington DC.
Close on the heels of a spat over a CIA contractor who gunned down two men in Lahore, another diplomatic row is brewing between Pakistan and the US after Islamabad barred US military personnel from leaving the country.
The US personnel have been barred from leaving Pakistan because of expired visas and other documentary irregularities, the Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying. There are varying claims about the number of US soldiers denied exit. Some sources claimed about 20 to 30 people had been affected while others put the figure at slightly less than 100.
The personnel were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP), which oversees bilateral military relations, including training and equipment. Some of the personnel overstayed their visas while a majority of them had expired no-objection certificates (NOCs).
While I have the highest respect for Michael Yon, and he brings the unvarnished truth with all the gory details, I think organizations such as CADG that he talks about, are dealing with a microcosm of afghan society. CADG is likely welcomed by the locals, but it does not mean that their problems or the taliban's issues with the west are solved. Every winter there is a lull in insurgent activity, which picks up with the start of spring. Its also possible that the talibs have realized that the US will bring home troops come 2012 elections, so why not sober up for a while, extract $ and concessions from the US, and then it would be back to business soon thereafter. How else to explain this report from the Obama adminhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/US-doubts-Pakistans-plan-to-defeat-Taliban-Report/articleshow/7881142.cms.
So yes we are "winning" in Afghanistan, but losing in Pak. Such wins will likely be illusory, but will offer a face saving way to withdaw from afghanistan, and the talibs know all about saving face in that part of the world. Looks like we are able to swat the flies which cross into Afghanistan, but no one is doing anything about the large festering sore in Pakistan.
"WASHINGTON: Pakistan lacks a robust plan to defeat Taliban militants and its security forces struggle to hold areas cleared of the al-Qaida-linked fighters at great cost, according to US report released on Tuesday.
The United States wants Pakistan to subdue Taliban fighters using safe havens in its rugged tribal areas to attack US forces across the border in Afghanistan.
"There remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan, despite the unprecedented and sustained deployment of over 147,000 forces," President Barack Obama's administration said in a report to lawmakers in Congress.
Major security operations by Pakistani forces along the lawless Afghan border have failed to break Taliban fighters' resolve, a fact underlined by twin suicide bombings of a Sufi shrine in eastern Pakistan on Sunday that killed 41.
The report highlighted concern that even if areas were cleared of militants, fighters were not being kept out.
"This is the third time in the past two years that the army has had to conduct major clearing operations ... a clear indication of the inability of the Pakistani military and government to render clear areas resistant to insurgent return," the report said.
The doctrine of clearing ground occupied by insurgents, holding it against their return and then building up the infrastructure and public services to engender confidence in the local population was used effectively by US forces in Iraq. "
Aafia Siddiqui the MIT neuroscientist and daughter of Pakistan was arrested for trying to shoot a US soldier in Afghanistan...and for waging jihad. Currently, the pakis are clamouring to have Aafia freed....unlikely to happen.
The man who has been charged with masterminding and planning the 9/11 attacks on the US, Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, is of Pakistani origin and has interesting family connections. His clan comes from Balochistan and he is a cousin of former minister Zubeida Jalal. KSM’s family migrated to Kuwait, as many Baloch have done to Oman and the Gulf, and that is where he got radicalized. Abdul Aziz Al-Balochi, an important member of Al-Qaeda and second husband of Aafia Siddiqui, is also from the same family. In fact, he is both Zubeida Jalal and KSM’s nephew.
Orders were issued on Thursday at the "highest level " on an "emergency basis", including cancellation of leave of all personnel involved in air reconnaissance, BBC Urdu quoted its sources in the Pakistan air force as saying. The leave of all personnel stationed at airbases and the PAF headquarters in Islamabad too had been cancelled and officials at sensitive installations had been asked to ensure the presence of all personnel on Saturday and Sunday, the sources were quoted as saying.
Some "operational changes" had been made but they are being kept secret though these are apparently related to round-the-clock reconnaissance in the tribal belt, the sources said. The administrative and operational changes are part of Pakistan's efforts to quickly respond to threats from the CIA-operated drones, the sources said.
Yes, its likely that HUMINT operations will cease by the US, or will be done under ISI supervision...atleast for the next few months. I was pleased to see the national bird of Pakistan fly again. see picture, below.
DAVIS DEAL: US to Limit Humint Ops in Pak Territory
by B. Raman
It is leant from reliable sources in Pakistan that acceptance of blood money by the heirs to the two Pakistanis who were killed by Raymond Davis on January 27, 2011, their withdrawal of the complaint of murder against him, his release from detention in the Kot Lakpat jail of Lahore and his airlift from Lahore to the Bagram air base of the US in Afghanistan and subsequently to the US naval base in Diego Garcia on March 16,2011,followed an agreement reached between the Inter-Serices Intelligence (ISI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in secret talks held in Oman under the intermediary of the Saudi intelligence under which the CIA has agreed not to run its own Human intelligence (HUMINT) network in Pakistani territory.
2. It is further learnt that under this agreement while the US would be free to run its Technical Intelligence (TECHINT) network, which provides TECHINT for the operations of the US as well as Pakistan in the tribal belt, the US HUMINT requirements would in future be projected to the ISI which has agreed to strengthen its HUMINT capability with assistance to be provided by the CIA.
3. To avoid embarrassing allegations of payment of blood money by the official agencies of the US or Pakistan, it was reported to have been paid by the Saudi intelligence in the court before which Davis was being tried in Lahore on March 16.
4. According to these sources, the ISI and the Pakistani Foreign Office had the following two major complaints against the CIA:
Deployment of an increasing number of retired officers of the US intelligence community and Special Forces as contract employees in Pakistani territory without the knowledge and approval of the ISI for collecting HUMINT. Ex-post facto grant of diplomatic status to them after they had arrived in Pakistan with official or ordinary visas by showing them as members of the staff of the US diplomatic mission in Pakistan. 5. The sources say that the CIA has agreed to end both these practices. The agreement will not come in the way of the posting of regular staffers of the CIA under diplomatic cover in Pakistan for liaison with the Pakistani agencies. It will also not come in the way of officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) being posted under diplomatic cover as Legal Attaches in the US missions to liaise with the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the Police.
6. Raymond Davis, who was shown as a member of the technical and administrative staff of the US Consulate-General in Lahore, had reportedly arrived in Pakistan with an official and not a diplomatic visa. He was subsequently shown by the US as transferred to the US Embassy in Islamabad, which upgraded his status to a diplomatic one, but he continued to function from the Lahore Consulate. The unilateral upgradation of his status by the US Embassy had not been accepted by the Pakistani Foreign Office.
7. The option of a blood money had been there from the beginning, but was not seriously considered because the heirs to the two Pakistanis allegedly killed by Davis were under tremendous pressure from the Islamic fundamentalist organisations not to accept it. The ISI refrained from pressuring them to accept the blood money, but once the US agreed to accept the ISI's demands in respect of HUMINT operations, the ISI intervened and persuaded the legal heirs to accept the money and move for the withdrawal of the prosecution of Davis.
8. The adverse public and jihadi reactions in Pakistan to the release were expected to some extent. The Government is hopeful that the ISI, which handled the negotiations, would be able to contain the protests through its influence over the fundamentalist and jihadi organisations and prevent any new wave of reprisal attacks. Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of the ISI, has been given an extension of one more year from March 18, when he was due to retire. But one should not over-estimate the ISI's ability to control the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Sunni extremist Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ). The recent assassinations of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, and Shabaz Bhatti, Minister for Minority Affairs, showed the limited nature of the ISI's control over these organisations. The ISI has fairly effective control over the Punjabi Taliban organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, but its control over the TTP, the SSP and the LEJ is very weak. Serious reprisal attacks could come from these organisations. Pakistan could be in for a renewed spell of reprisal suicide terrorism directed against the ISI and the political leadership.
9. Does the agreement also provide for the eventual release of Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani neuro-scientist, presently in jail in the US after having been convicted on charges arising from her suspected collaboration with the Afghan Taliban? The answer to this is not clear. Aafia's case is much more complex than that of Davis. She has already been convicted whereas Davis was only an under-trial.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com)
Also of interest, Gen.Pasha, head of ISI got a year's extension. The Sharif brothers were conveniently out of the country, and Nawaz Sharif is now in London hospital admitted with chest pain!. So the story will be that RD was released when the Sharif's were out of the country by the PPP and zardari...
"13.There are three destabilizing ideological influences in Pakistan---- the Wahabised Islamic extremism, the trans-Ummah pan-Islamism and the country-wide anti-Americanism. The Wahabised Islamic extremism calls for the transformation of Pakistan into an Islamic democracy ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah, as interpreted by the clerics. It says that in an Islamic democracy, Allah will be sovereign and not the people. The trans-Ummah pan-Islamism holds that the first loyalty of a Muslim should be to his religion and not to the State, that religious bonds are more important than cultural bonds, that Muslims do not recognize national frontiers and have a right and obligation to go to any country to wage a jihad in support of the local Muslims and that the Muslims have the religious right and obligation to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in order to protect their religion, if necessary. The anti-Americanism projects the US as the source of all evils afflicting the Islamic as well as the non-Islamic world. The religious elements look upon the US as anti-Islam. The non-religious elements look upon it as anti-people.
14. The geo-religious landscape in Pakistan is dominated by two kinds of organizations-----the fundamentalist parties and the jihadi organizations. The fundamentalist parties have been in existence since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and have been contesting the elections though they are opposed to Western-style liberal democracy. Their total vote share has always been below 15 per cent. They reached the figure of 11 per cent in the 2002 elections, thanks to the machinations of the Pervez Musharraf Government, which wanted to marginalize the influence of the non-religious parties opposed to him such as the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif. In his over-anxiety to cut Mrs.Bhutto and Mr.Nawaz down to size, Musharraf handed over the tribal areas on a platter to the fundamentalists and the jihadis, thereby ---- more unwittingly than consciously --- facilitating the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda.
15.The jihadi organizations are so called because they misinterpret the concept of jihad and advocate its use against all perceived enemies of Islam----internal or external, non-Muslims or Muslims---- wherever they are found. Their call for jihad has a domestic as well as an external agenda. The domestic agenda is the setting up of an Islamic democracy in Pakistan ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The external agenda is to “liberate” all so-called traditional Muslim lands from the “occupation” of non-Muslims and to eliminate the influence of the US and the rest of the Western world from the Ummah.
16. The jihadi organizations were brought into existence in the 1980s by the ISI and the Saudi intelligence at the instance of the CIA for being used against the troops of the USSR and the pro-Soviet Afghan Government in Afghanistan. Their perceived success in bringing about the withdrawal of the Soviet troops and the collapse of the Najibullah Government has convinced them that the jihad as waged by them is a highly potent weapon, which could be used with equal effectiveness to bring about the withdrawal of the Western presence from the Ummah, to “liberate the traditional Muslim lands” and to transform Pakistan into an Islamic fundamentalist State. The Pakistani Army and the ISI, which were impressed by the motivation, determination and fighting skills displayed by the jihadi organizations in Afghanistan, transformed them, after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, into a new strategic weapon for use against India to annex J&K and in Afghanistan to achieve a strategic depth.
17.The aggravation of the anti-US feelings in the Islamic world post-9/11 has resulted in a dual control over the Pakistani jihadi organizations.The ISI has been trying to use them for its national agenda against India and in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden has been using them for his global agenda against “the Crusaders and the Jewish people”. The jihadi organizations are now fighting on three fronts with equal ferocity----against India as desired by the ISI, against the US and Israel as desired by Al Qaeda and against the Pakistani State itself as dictated by their domestic agenda of an Islamic State ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The growing Talibanisation of the tribal areas in the FATA and the Khyber Pakhtoonkwa province (KP) and its spread outside the tribal areas are the outcome of their determined pursuit of their domestic agenda. The acts of jihadi terrorism in Spain and the UK, the thwarted acts of terrorism in the UK and the unearthing of numerous sleeper cells in the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries and the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are the outcome of their equally determined pursuit of their international agenda. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf and the Western countries have been playing an increasingly active role in facilitating the pursuit of their international agenda.
18.The international community’s concern over the prevailing and developing situation in Pakistan has been further deepened by the status of Pakistan as a nuclear weapon State. The Pakistan Army has been repeatedly assuring the US and the rest of the international community that the security of its nuclear arsenal is strong and that there is no danger of its falling into the hands of the jihadi terrorists. Despite this, the concerns remain. This is due to various factors.
19. Firstly, it is admitted even in Pakistan that there has been an infiltration of extremist elements into every section of the Pakistani State apparatus---- the Armed Forces, the Police, the Para-military forces and the civilian bureaucracy. When that is so, it is inconceivable that there would not be a similar penetration of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment.
20. Secondly, the fundamentalist and jihadi organizations are strong supporters of a military nuclear capability for the Ummah to counter the alleged nuclear capability of Israel. They project Pakistan’s atomic bomb not as a mere national asset, but as an Islamic asset. They describe it as an Islamic bomb, whose use should be available to the entire Ummah. They also support Pakistan sharing its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries. In their eyes, A.Q.Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, committed no offence by sharing the nuclear technology with Iran and Libya because both are Muslim States or with North Korea as a quid pro quo for its sharing its missile technology with Pakistan. They look upon Pakistan’s sharing its nuclear technology and know-how with other Islamic States as an Islamic obligation and not as an illegal act of proliferation.
21.Thirdly, while serving scientists may be prepared to share the technology and know-how with other Muslim States, there has been no evidence of a similar willingness on their part to share them with Islamic non-State actors such as Al Qaeda. However, the dangers of such a sharing of know-how with the non-State actors were highlighted by the unearthing of evidence by the US intelligence after 9/11 that at least two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists ----Sultan Bashiruddin Chaudhury and Abdul Majid---were in touch with Osama bin Laden after their retirement and had even visited him at Kandahar. They were taken into custody and questioned. They admitted their contacts with bin Laden, but insisted that those were in connection with the work of a humanitarian relief organization, which they had founded after their retirement. Many retired Pakistani military and intelligence officers have been helping the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations. The most well-known example is that of Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, who was the Director-General of the ISI during Mrs.Benazir’s first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988-90). Are there retired nuclear scientists, who have been maintaining similar contacts with Al Qaeda and other jihadi organizations?
22. The Pashtun belt on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border would continue to be under the de facto control of Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations with neither the Pakistani Army in Pakistani territory nor the US-led NATO forces in the adjoining Afghan territory being able to prevail over the terrorists in an enduring manner. The NATO forces will not be able to prevail in the Afghan territory unless and until the roots of the jihadi terrorism in the Pakistani territory are initially sterilized and ultimately destroyed. The Pakistani Army has so far not exhibited either a willingness or the capability to undertake this task. The lack of willingness arises from its perception that it will need its own jihadis for continued use against India and the Neo Taliban for retrieving the strategic ground lost by it in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Army fears that any strong action by it against the jihadis operating in the Pashtun belt could lead to a major confrontation between the Army and the tribals, who contribute a large number of soldiers to the Pakistan Army. Next to Punjab, the largest number of soldier-recruits to the Pakistan Army comes from the KP and the FATA.
"Part of it is that failed states are the swamp that breeds AQ, and thus nation building is seen as the way to drain the swamp, part of it is mission creep.We can't been seen as pulling out without Bin Laden's head on a spike, otherwise it will be taken as a major victory by the jihadists worldwide."
I agree the ISI likely knows Osama's location...so what is the US going to doing about it. If nothing, then why are we wasting resources in Af-Pak.
The part which concerns me is the "nation building" and "draining the swamp". Nation building: One can do nation building in eg Japan, they want to put the tsunami behind them, they are a fairly advanced society. They are progressive. Doing the same is not going to work in a Islamic society like Afghanistan, which is very primitive (outside of kabul). eg It has taken many centuries for the muslims to adjust to indic values in India, it will be a long time, before the average taliban understands "democracy". Under optimistic conditions, perhaps a generation is needed.
Draining the swamp How many swamps can we afford to drain ?.
"Our goal in Afghanistan was to Kill Bin Laden and the core of AQ, destroy the AQ training camp infrastructure and make A-stan a place where AQ couldn't rebuild."
That's what they say...but let's look at the 3 points you make. 1.Bin Laden: is now dead, or if alive, the trail has gone cold. Bin Laden is likely not even in Afgh, but in Pak, so we are likely wasting our resources in Afghanistan. 2. Destroy "training camps": These are mostly in Pak (again we are in the wrong country), and very rarely do we hear of training sites in Afghanistan, and how do you destroy these camping sites with a few tents and perhaps a few obstacle courses. These are rudimentary camps, even if destroyed can be put back very quickly. So far I dont think we have bombed a single jihadi training camp, about 50 of which are known to be in POK. 3. Make Afg. a place where AQ cannot rebuild. Its the taliban who want to take over Afghanistan, not AQ. When the heat got too much in Sudan, Osama moved to the Af-Pak border, they can always move again. Its much more easy to go after governments that support terrorism.
The only thing sensible, we are doing, is with our drone attacks, but those video games can be played from Centcom in Florida, or from bases inside Pak.
I think the above goals, wrt afghanistan have been achieved to the extent we could, or wanted to. There must be something more to our presence in Afghanistan. Why do we want to build a permanent base in that country ?, its certainly not to tackle AQ a highly mobile terrorist organization, over the next 10 years ?. Why is the US taking all this crap from the beggar nation of pakistan, aka epicenter of terrorism. If our aim is to destroy the jihadis,we need to be squeezing the pakis. Since we are not doing that, there must be some other reason for the US in Afghanistan..
Iranian people are generally supportive of the US (they are not arab)...its Ahmedinijad who needs to go. Iran does not have friendly relations with the Baloch, since the Baloch are spread over into Iran, and eye their territory, sort of like the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey. The goals of US presence in Afghanistan are not clear (to me). I suspect, it has something to do with playing the new great game, or access to central asian oil resources. The reasons espoused, ie to get rid off AQ in Pak/Afghanistan are likely red herrings. We will never eliminate the last Al Qaeda in the AF-PAK theater, and even if we could, what's to stop AQ from moving to other "friendly countries" and setting up shop (which they already have) there (Pak, Yemen etc).
The world is changing, and traditional US support of Pak is receding, as the US seeks new allies and alliances against China. The Ray Davis saga is a manifestation of that, as the US moves away from pak (and towards India). In recent years, the US has wanted to strengthen India against China, which means less support for Pak. China will end up supporting Pak (which will be interesting, since the Chinese are tougher task masters).
The route that I was thinking of involves using the sea port of Chabahar in Iran. Yes, it will involve reaching agreement with the Iranians, but that should be possible because its in Shia Iran's interest to not have a sunni taliban leadership in Afghanistan. India has spend treasure and lives to link Delaram in Afghanistan to Zaranj (near Iranian border),http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaranj, so that the port of Chabahar can be used to bypass Karachi in Pakistan.
This port can be used for any supplies including oil that needs to come in by sea, just like Karachi, infact its geographic location may make it cheaper to use. If needed India could serve as a mediator, since India has historic ties to Iranhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo%E2%80%93Iranian_relations, as well as an interest to support the use of Chabahar (which was also built partially with Indian help).
There is a second way, if airlift will suffice. It will involve pissing of the purelanders, but perfectly legal. In this scenario, Indian help would be needed, for landing rights in India. Planes could fly from Diego Garcia, refuel in India and then through POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir), via the Wakhan Corridor to Afghanistan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakhan_Corridor. Wakhan is ofcourse part of Afghanistan. Pakistan cannot object to flights over POK, because that's disputed territory with India, and even the Pakis dont consider it as part of Pakistan (since they are supportive of Kashmiri Independence).
India would help, if the US was willing to shift policy re: maintaining balance of power between Pak and India, or if the US was serious about supporting Pak's break up, either into Pashtoonistan, or free Balochistan (which BTW, was always independent of Pak, as the princely state of Kalat, and annexed to pak after the India/Pak partition). The F-16's that the US supplies to pak are a significant pain to India.
These options are no worse than the deals we cut with Russia and Central Asian states.
The US war in Afghanistan would go much better, if the US could pressure the pakis. Instead the purelanders have the US by the family jewels, as military supplies need to go through Karachi...The US has looked for other options, such as the one outlined below, see link for maps. However, there exists another route, through a seaport, that is not being discussed. Anyone want to hazard a guess ?.
http://www.europeaninstitute.org/February-%E2%80%93-March-2010/new-supply-front-for-afghan-war-runs-across-russia-georgia-and-the-stans.html New Supply ‘Front’ for Afghan War Runs Across Russia, Georgia and the ‘Stans Written by Bill Marmon The U.S. engagement in Afghanistan, including the 30,000 “plus-up” currently underway, represents one of the most difficult logistical challenges in the annals of war – a challenge even for the United States, which is the world champion of supply solutions. Afghanistan is harder than the Vietnam “land war in Asia” or the Berlin airlift or Iraq I and II. These previous engagements, although difficult logistically, pale in comparison to the task of supplying 100,000 troops and as many contractors in Afghanistan over nine years and counting. Landlocked, mountainous, beset by civil war, banditry and extreme underdevelopment, Afghanistan is surrounded by a clutch of hostile, suspicious, barely functioning sovereignties.
And U.S. and allied troops require a Herculean mass of supplies from ammunition to toothbrushes, fuel, computers, night-vision goggles, concertina wire et cetera, et cetera – at the rate of thousands of tons per day. Even with the containerized packing systems and all the technology that made-in-USA delivery systems have made available to the military, the traffic volumes are immense. In 2008, nearly 30,000 containers were sent to the front – or about 75 percent of the total need in fuel, food, equipment and construction materials. Traffic reportedly doubled in 2009, and the requirements for 2010 will likely double again.
Part of this massive resupply travels by air in giant military transports (some American, some Antonovs leased from Russia): for example, the tons of ammunition, from small artillery to missiles, is delivered entirely by aircraft landing at military air fields. But the bulk of the traffic must be carried by sea-lift, mainly cargo ships that dock in the Indian Ocean port of Karachi in Pakistan, and then are off-loaded onto trucks. The road north is a hazardous trip of nearly 1,000 miles, finally passing through the difficult and often-hostile terrain of the Hindu Kush and then over the treacherous Khyber Pass before finally dropping down into Afghanistan.
Because of Pakistani sensitivities about sovereignty, these trucks are 100 percent civilian-operated, with no military escorts. The pay is good but the work is dangerous. Drivers are subject to kidnapping, ransoming, and destruction by roadside bombs or rocket and bazooka ambushes. U.S. sources report that over 450 trucks were destroyed in 2009, and one international shipping company confirms to European Affairs that 50 of its trucks were attacked, many of them fatally. Pilferage has been a problem too, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Karachi itself is a hotbed of political unrest rife with strong pro-Taliban currents: cargo ships and oil tankers have been sabotaged in the harbor.
Pakistan Supply Line
Map from Google Earth. Courtesy of CSIS
Not surprisingly, the U.S. military logisticians have sought a better way – or at least an alternative one affording a route around the potential choke-point in Pakistan. Pentagon planners started their quest for an alternative to Karachi as early as 2006, when the U.S.-led campaign there was still a comparatively low-level grind and well before there was even a blueprint for the current surge. Gradually, stage by stage, U.S. officials stitched together a series of deals for rights of passage, crucially with Russia and other nations around Afghanistan.
Largely under-reported and unnoticed by the public at the time, these bilateral accords finally took shape as a whole by mid-2008 in what the U.S. military has dubbed the “Northern Distribution Network (NDN).” In fact, the NDN comprises several itineraries, commencing at one of two “western hubs” in Latvia and Georgia. From these secure jumping-off points, the cargo goes by combinations of trains, trucks and ferries across Russian territory and the adjacent ex-Soviet “stans” to enter Afghanistan from the north. All of the new routes share the same attraction of altogether avoiding Pakistan. Taken together, these new routes in the NDN provide redundant paths for overland supplies that, however expensively, make it logistically sustainable for the U.S. and its allies to wage their Afghan campaign.
The most important new route, the “northern route” (see map), starts in the Latvian port of Riga, the largest all-weather harbor on the Baltic Sea, where container ships offload their cargo onto Russian trains. The shipments roll south through Russia, then southeast around the Caspian Sea through Kazakhstan and finally south through Uzbekistan until they cross the frontier into north Afghanistan. The Russian train-lines were built to supply Russia’s own war in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and today Moscow’s cooperation is making them available for use by the U.S. and NATO in their own Afghan campaign.
Map from Google Earth. Courtesy of CSIS
The NDN also involves two additional routes. A “southern route” transits the Caucuses, completely bypassing Russia, from Georgia. Starting from the Black Sea port, Ponti, it travels north to Azerbaijan and its port, Baku, where goods are loaded onto ferries to cross the Caspian Sea. Landfall is Kazakhstan, where the goods are carried by truck to Uzbekistan and finally Afghanistan. This southern route now carries about one-third of the NDN’s traffic volume. While shorter than the northern route, it is more expensive because of the on-and-off loading from trucks to ferries and back onto trucks.
Map from Google Earth. Courtesy of CSIS
A third route, which is actually a spur of the northern route, bypasses Uzbekistan and proceeds from Kazakhstan via Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which has a northeast border with Afghanistan. This route is hampered by bad roads in Tajikistan.
Map from Google Earth. Courtesy of CSIS
Not available to the U.S. for obvious political reasons is the most attractive land route into Afghanistan - through Iran, which has a 600-mile border along Afghanistan’s western provinces. The best line would begin at the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and proceed over excellent roads to the Afghan border city of Zaranj, which is connected to the main trans-Afghan highway by a recently completed road. Although the U.S. cannot use this route, other countries including European nations (among the 42 countries that have forces in Afghanistan) can take advantage of it, using private hauling companies to handle some non-lethal cargo. And as remote as it may seem today, a shift in U.S.-Iranian relations is a contingency to consider.
As of November 2009, the NDN had delivered 4,500 containers, and through-put on this route could easily double this year. As of now, the NDN routes are not only longer but also more expensive than the connection via Pakistan, but they are also safer and, despite the distance and border crossings, more reliable. U.S. Central Command, in charge of the Afghan campaign, would like to be able to move a third of the surface traffic over the NDN in the future.
Despite its signal success in establishing the new system, Washington has not trumpeted its accomplishment, perhaps it fears there might be a higher political price in drawing attention to the fact that the ongoing flow via the NDN depends on continuing cooperation with Russia and Uzbekistan and other “stans” that have often exhibited shaky relations with the U.S. Relations were recently strained with Uzbekistan, for instance, over human-rights issues with that country’s ruler. And given the ebbs and flows of U.S.-Russia relations, the reliability of continued cooperation from Moscow is not insured..
The issues and opportunities raised by the new routes have recently been well ventilated by reports prepared by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) [www.CSIS.org], a think-tank in Washington. CSIS initiated its thorough-going, politically sophisticated study a year ago after a senior CSIS executive, Arnaud de Borchgrave, was briefed on the subject over dinner by General David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in the theater.
The new routes are difficult and long, but they offer incontrovertible security advantages over the routes through Pakistan – an option that invited Taliban commanders to see the road as a long, exposed jugular vein of the U.S. force in Afghanistan. And there must be a surface route because air shipments to Bagram, the main Afghan airfield, cost $14,000 a ton, a prohibitive price tag. Even if Washington were ready to pay whatever it costs, air lift capabilities are already being strained (including those of civilian contractors) by the task of simply delivering weaponry and other “sensitive” materials. This air route also involves over-flight permissions that need to be secured (and often renegotiated frequently): in Kazakhstan, for example, U.S. access to the large airfield at Manas has been an on-and-off option that now seems to be “on” after bargaining that led to a fourfold increase in U.S. aid assistance to that country.
Russian assistance is obviously crucial, and that U.S. dependence on Moscow always raises some eyebrows in the security-policy community in Washington among people who worry that Moscow may someday take advantage of the leverage it has gained thanks to the NDN running across Russian territory. Proponents of the NDN contend that the route is an example of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia (and the European Union) that offers advantages to all three parties and could help pave the way to more such “triangular cooperation.” In any event, the U.S. needs this alternative so direly that it is worth some political risk, according to Obama administration officials. Russia has strong incentives not to hit the “off switch,” they add. Similarly, CSIS concluded that the Russian position is accurately formulated by Zamer Kabulov, the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan and a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, when he told the Times of London: “it’s not in Russia’s interest for NATO to be defeated and leave behind all these problems…we’d prefer NATO to complete its job and then leave this unnatural geography.” Of course, from Moscow’s vantage, the issues could be seen as a reprise of “the Great Game,” the long-running 19th Century struggle between Britain and Russia for control of central Asia that may be revisited in coming decades between Russia and U.S.-led NATO in the region.
Last summer at the U.S.-Russian summit conference Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama signed a significant military transit agreement that covers not only the overland routes across Russia but also over-flight permissions. Contracts for Russian transport on Russian military aircraft of non-lethal supplies, which proceeded without pause during the Russia-Georgian war, will also be continued. The agreement permits the movement of both soldiers and military supplies overland. The White House indicated the new transit routes would save at least $133 million annually in fuel, maintenance and other transportation costs.
Opening the new routes has been a quiet triumph of the U.S. military and diplomatic corps. The U.S. Central Command continues working to expand the supply routes to multiply the military options and cope with the additional logistical demands of 30,000 more U.S. troops and 10,000 more European and other allied reinforcements. With the arrival of these numbers and also more contractor corps that use the military resupply system, there will be a short term “bow wave” effect as infrastructure and pre-positioning supplies for the expansion moves to the area. Civilian policy observers see a potential long term gain for the U.S. in taking a leadership role in re-establishing the Silk Road that once brought thriving commercial life to Afghanistan and beyond. The NDN could also create a positive collateral effect of re-establishing a “Modern Silk Road,” which boosters say would contribute to the long term economic development of Afghanistan and surrounding countries. The new routes could presage a Modern Silk Road (“MSR”) if the routes opened for the military convert into civilian commerce and enhance regional prosperity for the adjacent central Asian nations. .
In the meantime, the opening of alternative supply routes for the military is a formidable achievement. If the Afghan war ends with anything like success, the NDN will likely be hailed as an important element of that success. Creation of the NDN once again proves the old axiom: “It’s OK for strategy to be conducted by amateurs, but logistics requires professionals.”
Bill Marmon is Assistant Managing Editor of European Affairs.
This is a typical article by Mr.10%....which demonstrates what I call pakiness...
"Two months ago my friend Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was cut down for standing up against religious intolerance and against those who would use debate about our laws to divide our people. On Tuesday, another leading member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in our cabinet, was murdered by extremists tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban." Mr.10 % did not even attend his friend's funeral.
"We will not be intimidated, nor will we retreat".Infact he has taken blasphemy laws off the PPP agenda, as well as off the pak govt agenda
"Our economic growth was stifled by the priorities of past dictatorial regimes that unfortunately were supported by the West". You are responsible for our miserable situation
"The religious fanaticism behind our assassinations is a tinderbox poised to explode across Pakistan." Give me money, or I blow my brains out
"Not to mince words, then, Davis is a hostage. In addition to the usual sense of the word, he is a hostage to the Pakistani authorities who dare not—even if they wish—make an enemy either of the Islamist mobs or the uniformed para-state run by the intelligence services. He is also a hostage to the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. government to call things by their right names. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made the correct noises about the relevant international statutes governing immunity, and their envoy Sen. John Kerry (who should never have been sent unless notified in advance that he would return with the prisoner) has even spoken of putting Davis on trial in the United States, which in ordinary circumstances might seem a little premature. But they all talk as if Pakistan were a country of law, and they all talk as if Pakistan were not a client state. Its client status, indeed, is what leads so many Pakistanis to detest America, without whose largesse and indulgence it would long ago have faced collapse. Thus to the final irony: We are denied leverage by the fact of the very influence for which we are hated. This sick relationship with Pakistan, which plays a continuous and undisguised double-cross on us in Afghanistan, will probably have to be terminated at some point. But in the meantime, it will have to be made very clear to the rulers of that country that if they want to keep Raymond Davis in prison, they will have to manage without our subsidies. He may be a bad test of an important principle, but it is still the important principle that is being tested, and we have no more right to compromise on the principle of diplomatic immunity than the Pakistanis have to violate it."
The Davis Spy Crisis: Top Spooks in the U.S. and Pakistan Get in the Act
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2055690,00.html#ixzz1FAHkswDs "There are people in this town," adds Washington-based Fair, "who are simply saying, 'F--- this, let's just call Pakistan the enemy.' They are saying Pakistan is supporting the killing of our troops in Afghanistan, they're supporting the LeT, they call [the rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist] AQ Khan a national hero. The fact that the CIA is coming to this conclusion should be very worrisome for Pakistan. For years, the CIA was the only organization in this town that would defend the Pakistanis."