In Pakistan, Recent Attacks Shred Hopes for Regional Peace Model
By Pamela Constable and Kamran Khan
Washington Post, 2006-11-11

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

PESHAWAR, Pakistan —

Two months ago, Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf,
triumphantly announced a peace pact with Islamic extremists
in the North Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border,
saying he hoped it would become a model
for curbing domestic Islamic militancy
and cross-border insurgent attacks in Afghanistan.

Today that model lies in shreds.
Northwestern Pakistan’s fragile political peace
has been shattered by two devastating attacks:
  • a government missile strike
    that killed 82 people at an Islamic school
    in the Bajaur tribal district on Oct. 30, and
  • a retaliatory suicide bombing Wednesday
    that killed 42 army recruits at a training camp
    in the Malakand tribal district.

The missile strike was based on U.S. intelligence reports
that the school was being used as a training site for Islamic insurgents,
who have found sanctuary across the semi-autonomous tribal areas
where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda figures may also be hiding.
Now, officials are predicting a new wave of violence,
as anti-government anger spreads
and religious extremists call for holy war
against the Pakistani military and Western forces fighting in Afghanistan.

“This is a disaster. We all recognize the gravity of the situation,”
said a senior military official in this northwestern provincial capital,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It’s a nightmare to have an army being attacked on its own soil
and by its own people.”

After the two incidents, he added,
“the doors to peaceful negotiated settlements are closed.
I am afraid we are on a war course in the tribal areas.”


“If it was a military camp, I found no sign of it.
But the people were very inflamed,”

said Barrister Baachaa, one of the lawyers.
“Bajauris are known to be quiet and not carrying guns,
but the mood is becoming very militant.
If Bajaur can fall into Talibanization, so can the other tribal areas,
and then I fear it can spread to the settled areas, too,”

he said.
“This has to be contained, but the way they did it in Bajaur
has only made it worse.”


Will Bush Invade Pakistan?
I wouldn’t put it past him – or his Democratic successor
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-23

[Raimondo refers to a “new mood in Washington.”
Well, here is a possible cause for that “new mood.”
The washington post has been running anti-Musharraf editorials
for at least the last year.
He isn’t the ideal of their social view.
It is interesting that those wp editorials
preceded the government’s change of policy.
Are they a leading indicator, or a cause?]

by Graham E. Fuller
New Perspectives Quarterly, Fall 2007

[The beginning and end:]

Washington is now confronted with an essentially no-win situation in Pakistan.
We are witnessing the culmination of many years of ad hoc American policies
based on
an abiding faith in the power of U.S. military force
coupled with
ignorance of the strategic, cultural and psychological realities of the region.
At heart is an incompatibility of American strategic interests
with those of Pakistan,
particularly as perceived by the country’s strategic elite.
Powerful popular forces of Pakistani and Islamic nationalism
intensify this divide.

Washington wants what Pakistan will not deliver,
or cannot deliver except to a modest degree.
Bush wants to destroy al-Qaida in the Pak-Afghan region,
a goal shared by Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
But while al-Qaida lacks native roots in Pakistan,
Osama bin Laden is still
the object of sympathy by huge numbers in Pakistan and beyond.
Humbled Muslim societies everywhere see bin Laden
as one of the few figures in the Muslim world
willing to stand up with honor and bravery to the American colossus
and defy its imperial ambitions.
That makes bin Laden more popular than Bush or Musharraf,
even if most of the population
does not share bin Laden’s vision of violent global jihadi struggle.


the U.S. military presence is perhaps
the single most inflammatory element in politics across the region.
The American military response to this regional challenge
only serves to exacerbate it.
Sadly, Pakistan is now swift on the heels of Iraq and Afghanistan
in heading toward increased civil strife and bitter anti-American emotions.

A “made in Washington” settlement in Afghanistan — the heart of the problem —
is not going to work.
It only generates increasing hostility
as thousands more Lilliputians swarm the helpless Gulliver,
drawing hostile Pakistani Islamists more deeply into the equation as well.
In this sense bin Laden is winning.
The region will only calm down following
a withdrawal of U.S. forces from its confrontation with “Islam”
the development of a regional approach to the Afghan issue —
one that acknowledges the deep interests of the main regional players
who also seek stability in the region:
Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and India.
Yet this reality is anathema to
the hegemonic global strategy of the Bush administration.

And so the arc of Islamic crisis continues to swell.

Graham E. Fuller,
a former vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA,
is currently an adjunct professor of history
at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada,
and the author of The Future of Political Islam.

[Fuller writes:
“this reality is anathema to
the hegemonic global strategy of the Bush administration”.
Living in Vancouver, Canada,
he may not get much opportunity to read the Washington Post.
If he should get that opportunity,
I wonder if he thinks that the Bush administration
is any more eager for global hegemony
than the editorial page of the Post.
Each seem to see the United States as having the obligation, or the need,
to recreate the Muslim world in our image.]

Aunt Benazir's false promises
Bhutto's return bodes poorly for Pakistan --
and for democracy there.

By Fatima Bhutto (niece of Benazir)
Los Angles Times, 2007-11-14

[Isn’t it funny how opinion pieces like this,
that oppose the editorial policy of the Washington Post,
seem to be so rarely printed in the Post?]

Invade Pakistan?
Are they kidding?
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-11-21

Stop Meddling in Pakistan
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Future of Freedom, 2007-12-28

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

In the wake of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto,
the New York Times is calling on the Bush administration
to intervene in the Pakistani crisis
to “fortify Pakistan’s badly battered democratic institutions.”

I’ve got a better idea:
the U.S. government should butt out of Pakistani affairs
as well as the affairs of
Iraq, Iran, Korea, Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and all the rest.

My gosh, what does it take for interventionists to finally realize that

the solution to the messes that interventionism causes
is not more interventionism
but rather
no more interventionism?


What business does the U.S. government have
meddling and intervening in the internal political affairs of Pakistan?
After all, wouldn’t the feds go ballistic if some foreign regime —
say, in Cuba or Venezuela —
involved itself with the internal political affairs of the United States?


One problem with the Times and so many other interventionists
is that
when it comes to interventionism, hope springs eternal.
No matter how big the mess that previous interventions have produced,
the eternal hope is that
the next intervention will prove to be the magic elixir
that finally makes things right.

It will never happen.
Interventionism is an inherently defective paradigm.
No matter what the Bush administration does
to intervene further into Pakistani affairs,
the result will only be worse, especially for Americans,
than the situation that currently exists.

Yes, bad things happen all over the world.
They always have and always will.
But U.S. interventionism
only makes the United States part of the messes
and also makes the messes worse.
When will Americans finally wise up
and realize that our Founding Fathers,
who counseled against foreign entanglements and foreign meddling,
were right and that the neo-con interventionists are flat wrong?

[Bur let us not forget that
the interventionists are equally numerous on the left.
For example,
his prime example is the NYT,
while the editors of the Washington Post [12-28, 12-29] and the New Republic
practically foam at the mouth
in their eagerness to instruct the rest of the world
how and by whom it should be governed.]

How Bhutto Won Washington
New York Times Week in Review, 2007-12-30

[Its beginning (emphasis is added):]


BENAZIR BHUTTO always understood Washington
more than Washington understood her.

Ms. Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader and two-time prime minister,
who was assassinated in Rawalpindi on Thursday
as she campaigned for the office a third time,
had a more extensive network of powerful friends in the capital’s political and media elite
than almost any other foreign leader.
Over the years, she scrupulously cultivated those friends,
many from her days at Harvard and Oxford.
She was rewarded when her connections —
at the White House, in Congress and within the foreign policy establishment —
helped propel her into power in Pakistan.

But in the end, with yet another American administration behind her,
Ms. Bhutto’s Washington network only underscored
how little the United States fathomed the feudal politics of South Asia,
and its own ability to control events in the cauldron of Pakistan.

[Way to go, meritocracy!
But what can you expect when feminists and Zionists
so dominate the American political process,
making good relations with the vast bulk of the Muslim world
Mission Impossible?]

Local Militants in Pakistan Add to Qaeda Threat
New York Times, 2007-12-30

[Its beginning.]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —
The Qaeda network accused by Pakistan’s government
of killing the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto
is increasingly made up not of foreign fighters
but of homegrown Pakistani militants bent on destabilizing the country,
analysts and security officials here say.

In previous years,
Pakistani militants directed their energies
against American and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan
and avoided clashes with the Pakistani Army.

But this year they have very clearly expanded their ranks
and turned to a direct confrontation with the Pakistani security forces
while also aiming at political figures like Ms. Bhutto,
the former prime minister who died when a suicide bomb exploded
as she left a political rally on Thursday.

According to American officials in Washington,
an already steady stream of threat reports spiked in recent months.
Many concerned possible plots to kill prominent Pakistani leaders,
including Ms. Bhutto, President Pervez Musharraf
and Nawaz Sharif, another opposition leader.

“Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan
and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people,”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters in Washington on Dec. 21.

The expansion of Pakistan’s own militants,
with their fortified links to Al Qaeda,
presents a deeply troubling development for the Bush administration
and its efforts to stabilize this volatile nuclear-armed country.

It is also one that many in Pakistan have been loath to admit,
but that Ms. Bhutto had begun to acknowledge
in her many public statements about
the greatest threat to her country being in religious extremism and terrorism.

Panic Over Pakistan
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2007-12-31

Why precipitous intervention is not the answer


Border Complicates War in Afghanistan
Insurgents Are Straddling Pakistani Line
Washington Post, 2008-04-04

[An excerpt.]

Last May [i.e., in 2007],
after Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. of the 82nd Airborne Division [see especially]
attended a meeting
to ease frictions between Afghan and Pakistani forces
in the Pakistani frontier town of Teri Mengel,
he was shot dead by a Frontier Corps guard,
military officials said.

Pakistan Defies U.S. on Halting Afghanistan Raids
New York Times, 2008-05-16

[An excerpt.]

“Pakistan will take care of its own problems,
you take care of Afghanistan on your side,”

said Owari Ghani,
the governor of North-West Frontier Province,
who is also President Pervez Musharraf’s representative in charge of
the neighboring tribal areas.

Mr. Ghani, a key architect of the pending peace accord,
believes along with many other Pakistani leaders that
the United States is floundering in the war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, should not be saddled with America’s mistakes,
especially if a solution involved breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty,
a delicate matter in a nation where
sentiment against the Bush administration runs high.

“Pakistan is a sovereign state,” he said.
“NATO is in Afghanistan; it’s time they did some soldiering.”

[I can hardly wait to see how Donald Graham’s men (and women) on the Washington Post’s editorial board
take Mr. Ghani to task for his insolence,
daring to think that the job of Pakistan is other than
doing the bidding of WaPo’s ed board (e.g.).]

A Sober Assessment of Afghanistan
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post, 2008-06-15

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[U.S. Army General Dan K.] McNeill declined to endorse
a U.S.-funded program to train and equip Pakistan’s Frontier Corps,
which guards the border,
questioning the effectiveness and loyalty
of the tribally recruited guards.
“It takes well-trained, well-equipped forces, disciplined to take this thing on,”
he said.
“The Pakistanis,
in using the Frontier Corps as a military entity to take on the insurgency,
will find some challenges.”

McNeill raised two instances in which
the guards have shot and killed U.S. soldiers,
saying he would be “forever scarred”
by what he described as the “assassination”
of Maj. Larry J. Bauguess Jr. of the 82nd Airborne Division [see especially]
after a border meeting last spring. [cf.]
Another soldier was shot in the neck and killed
by a Frontier Corps guard in 2002,
he said.

After Musharraf, U.S. Struggles to Find New Pakistan Ally Against Taliban
New York Times, 2008-08-23

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz] Sharif
enjoyed a good relationship with President Clinton
when he was prime minister in the 1990s, but

the former prime minister
is regarded warily by Washington policy makers as being
too close to conservative Islamic forces in Pakistan.

[And just what do “Washington policy makers” have against
“conservative Islamic forces”?

The media and politics-dominating elite had declared that we are in a war
first with terrorists,
then with Islamic “radicals” and “extremists.”
Now with merely conservative Muslims?

I have always been suspicious of
just what makes a Muslim a “radical” or “extremist”
in the eyes of America’s elite.
My suspicion is that it is anyone who is opposed to either
feminism or Zionism.

Both of these are, by the way, operationally alike in Washington:
Any politician who declares him (or her) self opposed to either one
is marked for defeat.

But back to the point of this article.
I think it is becoming clear
(in fact, it has been clear for quite a while to some of us)
that Washington policy makers in general,
and, for example, the editorial page of the Washington Post in particular,
are declaring all too many people, ideas, forces, and causes to be
“enemies of America.”
America simply doesn’t have enough resources or power to handle
all the enemies it is declaring,
as well as the internal problems
that it will become impossible to continue to ignore
in the not-too-distant future.]

Pakistan: The War Party's New Frontier
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-09-08

The more things change...

Pakistan’s Military Chief Criticizes U.S. Over a Raid
New York Times, 2008-09-11

[The beginning; emphasis is added.]

In an unusually strong statement
criticizing the United States for sending commandos into Pakistan
to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda,
the chief of the Pakistani Army said Wednesday that his forces
would not tolerate such incursions and
would defend the country’s sovereignty “at all costs.”

“No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan,”
the military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in
what amounted to a direct rebuff to the United States by the Pakistanis,
who are regarded by the Bush administration as
an ally in the campaign against terrorism.

Quagmire, Phase 2: The Invasion of Pakistan
By William Pfaff
Truthdig.com, 2008-09-11


Some comments by the author of this blog:

Remember when the elite was trying to persuade America to invade Iraq?
We were told over and over again that

Saddam had WMD!
might give them to terrorists!

In particular, we were told
that there was conclusive proof that he had biological and chemical weapons,
and that a nuclear weapon might be just around the corner.
Condoleezza Rice memorably warned us:
We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
As to the connection to terrorism,
links between Saddam and both 9/11 and al Quada
were frequently either directly claimed or alluded to.
And Washington Post editorials frequently drove home all these claims
(all of which, of course, later proved to be false).
Even in 2008, as part of their commentary on the Russian/Georgian war,
the Post editorialized (2008-09-02; emphasis is added):

The United States, Britain and other nations
deposed the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein because
he repeatedly violated his promises to the United Nations,
after his earlier invasion of Kuwait,
to rid himself of weapons of mass destruction
and prove that he had done so.

But that was then.

Consider now the following excerpts from the 2008-09-14 Post editorial
The War in Pakistan”:

By now it is clear that
Pakistani army and security forces
lack the capacity to defeat the extremists --
and may even support some of the Taliban commanders


[The conclusion of the editorial:]
[N]o risk to Pakistan's political system or its U.S. relations
is greater than
that of a second 9/11 staged from the tribal territories.

U.S. missile and commando attacks must be backed by the best intelligence
and must minimize civilian casualties.
But they must continue.

But wait a minute:
Pakistan, in particular, its armed forces, do have nukes.
This is not just conjecture, but unchallenged fact.
Further, as their 09-14 editorial observes,
Pakistan’s security forces have scarcely challenged ties
to, at least, the Taliban, if not directly to al Qaeda
(if not, then they have a one-step tie to al Qaeda).

Finally, as Pakistan's Army chief explicitly stated,
Pakistan (at least its army) is firmly opposed to
American challenges to its sovereignity.

The worry, that is clear to me at least, is that
if the U.S. continues to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty,
and in general makes itself sufficiently obnoxious
to the conservative Muslim men
that doubtless predominate in the Pakistani military and intelligence services,
the risk becomes high that some of the Pakistani military
who are now safeguarding the Pakistani nuclear weapons
will take it upon himself (or themselves)
to “divert” one or more of the nuclear weapons in their care
to people who desire to make America pay
for what they consider affronts to Islam and to Pakistan.

Now, that of course is just a hypothetical scenario.
But then so is the Graham newspaper’s speculation about
“a second 9/11 staged from the tribal territories”.

I suggest you decide for yourself
which would produce a greater “risk to [Pakistan’s] U.S. relations”,
whether the U.S. should do everything possible to avoid the diversion scenario,
and whether the Post’s editorial page was doing America a service
in its encouragement to get the U.S. to, in effect, invade Pakistan.

U.S. Strike Reported as Mullen Consults Pakistanis
By Pamela Constable and Shaiq Hussain
Washington Post, 2008-09-18

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Pakistan has been far more willing
to hunt down alleged foreign al-Qaeda terrorists
than to attack homegrown Islamist groups.

The Pakistani military has long tacitly condoned
strikes by U.S. Predator drones in the tribal region --
Wednesday’s [09-17] attack appeared to be another of those operations --
the Pakistani public and many politicians are deeply against them
at a time when the military’s influence in the country appears to have declined.


U.S. military officials are frustrated by what they see as
Pakistan’s reluctance to aggressively take on Taliban fighters
operating from its soil and
staging increasingly bold attacks in next-door Afghanistan.
In recent months,
the Americans have felt increasingly justified
in unilaterally pursuing those targets,
despite widespread opposition inside Pakistan.

Pakistan, for its part,
has been held back by domestic political and religious concerns,
including alleged years of close relations
between some extremist groups and government intelligence agencies
a growing anti-American sentiment
in the Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people.
Those feelings have intensified with
a recent series of U.S. cross-border raids
that have killed numerous civilians as well as fighters.

“The outrage is spreading right through society,”
Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani author and expert on Islamic militancy,
said by telephone Wednesday night from Lahore.
“People are genuinely upset, and anti-Americanism is increasing,
in the military most of all.
This can make it much harder for the next U.S. president to deal with Pakistan.”

On the other hand, Rashid said, Pakistan has shown
“continued reluctance to deal with the Afghan Taliban leaders on its soil,
and the military has no cohesive strategy to deal with the terrorist threat.”

Gates Defends Right of US Military to Launch Attacks Into Pakistan
Antiwar.com News, 2008-09-18

Pakistan PM Rules Out Compromise as US Air Strikes Test Alliance
Antiwar.com News, 2008-09-18

Zardari Warns US on Raids as Pressure Mounts Over Bombing
Antiwar.com News, 2008-09-22

After Bombing, Pakistan’s President Is Pressured
New York Times, 2008-09-22

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

There has always been a strong feeling in Pakistani society that

using force against militants
would cause them to retaliate against civilians.

Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the hotel bombing,
some Pakistanis say they believe
it was in retribution for
the military’s current campaign in Bajaur, in the tribal areas.


Mr. Zardari also
faces pressure
to avoid doing the bidding of the Bush administration,

Pakistanis are largely opposed to
American policies in the region.

'Running Out of Time'
New York Times Editorial, 2008-09-22

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Washington must finally persuade Pakistan’s leaders that
this is not just America’s fight
but essential to their own security and survival as a democracy.
And Pakistan’s leaders must persuade their citizens.

[What the Times is asking Washington to persuade Pakistan’s leaders of,
and those leaders to persuade Pakistan’s citizens of,
in fact is a lie.
The internal strife within Pakistan is caused by
American actions and precisely the American pressures on Pakistan
of the sort that are here being requested. (Cf.)
Pakistan could ratchet down a lot of its internal violence
if the Americans would stop messing around in the tribal areas,
and pressuring Pakistan to do likewise.]

We fear that a rising number of civilian casualties, on both sides of the border,
is driving more people into the hands of
the repressive Taliban and other extremist groups.
These attacks are also making Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari,
look weak and irrelevant.

[The adjectives highlighted above,
“repressive” and “extremist”, go to the heart of the problem.
What is repressive and extremist to America’s elite
is quite normal in conservative Muslim countries.
This shows what much of our media/political elite really want:
Not merely a war to defend America’s national interests and security,
but a war against “repression” and “extremism”.

Let us hope that more media figures and politicians
rebel against fighting such an unnecessary and in fact immoral war.
At a minimum, they should not allow it
to be described as a “War Against Terror,”
which sadly misdescribes what it is really a war against.

America should reduce its objectives to its own national security,
not transforming societies many of whose most martial members
do not want to be transformed.]

A US-NATO War In Pakistan? – An Anatomy of the Current Crisis
by Alan Nasser
CommonDreams.org, 2008-09-23

Confronting Taliban, Pakistan Finds Itself at War
New York Times, 2008-10-03

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

PESHAWAR, Pakistan —

War has come to Pakistan, not just as terrorist bombings,
but as full-scale battles,
leaving Pakistanis angry and dismayed as the dead, wounded and displaced
turn up right on their doorstep.

An estimated 250,000 people have now fled
the helicopters, jets, artillery and mortar fire of the Pakistani Army,
and the assaults, intimidation and rough justice of the Taliban
who have dug into Pakistan’s tribal areas.

About 20,000 people are so desperate that
they have flooded over the border from the Bajaur tribal area
to seek safety in Afghanistan.


even as the gruesome effects of the battles slam the national consciousness,
there has been scant effort to prepare the public
for the impact of the fighting.

Public opinion
has soured on
Pakistan’s alliance with the United States

has strongly opposed
military campaigns that inflict heavy civilian casualties.

Danger Ahead for the Most Dangerous Place in the World
By Sumit Ganguly
Washington Post Outlook, 2008-10-12

[Its beginning; emphasis is added.]

Here’s an alarming thought:
Pakistan is in even scarier shape
than most of the so-called experts are willing to admit.

This nuclear-armed state of 168 million
is no stranger to political upheaval, of course.
But this time, things are different.
Today’s ongoing crisis -- marked by
a rash of suicide bombings,
the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December,
inflation as high as 25 percent and
a resurgent Taliban movement --
could spell doom for the Pakistani state itself.
The global financial crisis has only made matters worse:
Pakistan’s foreign-exchange reserves are collapsing,
and credit markets are worried
that it could soon default on its debt payments.
The grim truth is that
Pakistan is becoming something alarmingly close to a failed state.
And that could have disastrous consequences
for the United States, NATO and
Afghanistan’s struggle to hold back its own Taliban insurgency.

True, Pakistan does have a newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari,
but let’s not kid ourselves about
his ability (or even desire) to turn his country around.
During his last stint in office
(as minister of investment in the government led by his late wife, Bhutto),
Zardari became known as “Mr. Ten Percent” for his alleged propensity
for skimming funds from lucrative government contracts.
And Zardari’s probable replacement, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif,
may be even more corrupt and incompetent.
Simply put, Pakistan is facing an existential crisis --
on its streets and in its courts, barracks and parliament.
American pundits and politicians might be hoping for the best
for the country whose lawless border regions
are widely thought to harbor Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders.
But I don’t see much chance of a happy turnaround.
If, as both John McCain and Barack Obama have claimed,
a strong, dependable Pakistan is the key to winning the war in Afghanistan,
then we are waging an unwinnable war.

Pakistan’s Tribal Militias Walk a Tightrope in Fight Against Taliban
New York Times, 2008-10-24

Some in Washington hope the tribal militias
can replicate the success of the Awakening movement in Iraq.
But there are significant differences.

How Many Villages Must We Bomb Before We Find bin Laden?
by William Pfaff
Truthdig.com, 2008-11-13

Ringed by Foes, Pakistanis Fear the U.S., Too
New York Times, 2008-11-23


Obama’s Worst Pakistan Nightmare
New York Times Magazine, 2009-01-11

[Here is the blurb for this article from the NYT’s main web page on 01-09:]

The biggest fear is not jihadists taking control of the border regions.
It’s what happens if
the country’s nuclear arsenal falls into the wrong hands.

[Good point.
This happens to be one I pointed out back on 2008-09-17,
but it’s nice to know the NYT, so beloved by the elite,
is making the point too.
But what about Donald Graham and Katherine Weymouth’s Washington Post?
Well, back on 2008-09-14, the Post’s editorial board thundered to its readers that

no risk to Pakistan’s political system or its U.S. relations
is greater than
that of a second 9/11 staged from the tribal territories.

The Post considers that a greater risk than
a nuclear explosion in an American city,
resulting from a nuke purloined from Pakistan’s stockpile,
launched not from the tribal territories, but from wherever,
but motivated by precisly the attacks on the tribal territories that the Post is calling for?
That seems crazy.

A further point:
Many of America’s women are obsessed (that is the correct word) with
the “rights of women” under Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Taliban rule.
Well, they can obsess about that all they want,
and drive the men they influence into sharing and acting upon their obsessions,
but a far more important point for America is:

How many enemies is America making by
its slavish devotion to
  1. promoting feminism in Muslim countries
  2. supporting Israeli aggression?
These are the issues that drive Muslim hostility to America,
not the idiotic cover story that
“they attack America because they hate our values.”
It may be true that many of them hate our values, but,
as Michael Scheuer has repeatedly observed,
as long as we do not attempt to impose those values on them by force,
there is no evidence that they care enough about
what we do in America
to attack American interests.

Consistent with that point of view,
please note the following remarks from The Clash of Civilizations
by the late Samuel Huntington:

A War on Pakistan's Schoolgirls
By Yasmeen Hassan
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-01-26

[A sample of the explicitly feminist argument
for the U.S. to involve itself with the internal politics of Muslim countries.]

America’s Confused Cause in Central Asia
by William Pfaff
Truthdig.com, 2009-02-18
(Also available at williampfaff.com.)

[All but the beginning of the article; emphasis is added.]

It [the Taliban/Pakistan truce over Swat]
certainly raises again
a question this writer has asked a number of times in the past
without getting a convincing answer,
either from U.S. officials
or from those of my colleagues who have worked in the region.

Exactly what do we think we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Are we there to
  • liberalize their forms of religious observance, or
  • conduct a war over theology, or
  • take permanent control of Afghanistan (or Pakistan)
    and establish permanent NATO bases there
    (as some Afghans are convinced); or
  • are we searching for Osama bin Laden and his principal collaborators,
    in order to bring them to justice for the 2001 attacks carried out
    against the New York World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon?

It seems that we are doing all of these things at the same time. But why?

It is essential that the new Obama administration give us an answer.
Clearly we want Osama bin Laden, but it is equally clear
(on the basis of present experience there, as in Iraq)
that adding another 40,000 troops to the 40,000 already there,
plus the NATO forces present,
offers absolutely no assurance of success in capturing the head of al-Qaida.

Is it that we actually want permanent bases in Afghanistan?
If so, the American public deserves an explanation of why this is so.

Do we want a permanent American client-state there,
such as Iran was for us before the 1979 revolution,
or as Iraq was at the time of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s,
when Saddam Hussein was our man in the Middle East?
(An episode yet to be clarified by the historians.)

Do we seriously want to crush Taliban religious belief and liberalize Islam?
To send American clergymen, social reformers and feminist scholars there
for a series of seminars?
To run a new Inquisition at gunpoint, American-style?

What we currently are doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan
is blowing up Pakistanis and Afghans.
The same New York Times story reporting this Swat Valley agreement
noted in passing that, on Feb. 17,
an American drone fired four missiles
into still another area close to the Afghan border
and killed 31 people,
“according to a government official and a resident.”

As those who know the region mostly acknowledge,

this war between the United States and the Taliban has,
since the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan,
something resembling
a religious and nationalist uprising among ethnic Pathans.

The Pathans are the largest tribal group in this part of Central Asia.
They are held to number some 40 million closely allied tribal people.

The final question I would ask is simply
whether this is the way Barack Obama and his team
really want to take the American people during the next four years?

Strikes Worsen Qaeda Threat, Pakistan Says
New York Times, 2009-02-25

Pakistan and Afghan Taliban Close Ranks
New York Times, 2009-03-27

After agreeing to bury their differences and unite forces,
Taliban leaders based in Pakistan
have closed ranks with their Afghan comrades

to ready a new offensive in Afghanistan
as the United States prepares to send 17,000 more troops there this year.

Beware Those Treacherous Afpakis
by Eric Margolis
LewRockwell.com, 2009-03-31

[This column offers an, I suspect, totally valid point of view on an important topic
which is rather different from that often found in, say, Washington Post editorials.
This article suggests that
America should not be trying to transform Pakistan or Afghanistan into something that will make the feminists so powerful in the Washington Post’s power structure happy,
but rather accept that America simply cannot afford to,
and probably is not able to,
accomplish those PC ends.

Emphasis is added.]

President Barack Obama has now taken full ownership of the Afghanistan War. Gone are Washington’s pretenses that a western “coalition” was waging this conflict. Gone, too, is the comic book term, “war on terrorism,” replaced by the Orwellian sobriquet, “overseas contingency operations.”

Obama’s announcement last week of deeper US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan – now officially known in Washington as “Afpak” – was accompanied by a preliminary media bombardment of Pakistan for failing to be sufficiently responsive in advancing US strategic plans.

The New York Times in a front-page story last week that was clearly orchestrated by the Obama administration charged that Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), has been secretly aiding Taliban and its allies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 2003, the NY Times severely damaged its once stellar reputation by serving as a primary conduit for fake war propaganda put out by the Bush administration over Iraq. The Times has been beating the war drums for more US military operations against Pakistan.

Even so, these latest angry charges being hurled by Washington at Pakistan’s spy agency ring true. Having covered ISI for almost 25 years, and been briefed by many of its director generals, I would be very surprised if ISI was not quietly working with Taliban and other Afghan resistance movements.

Protecting Pakistan’s interests,
not those of the United States,
is ISI’s main job.

According to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Washington threatened war against Pakistan after 9/11 if it did not fully cooperate in the US invasion of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s bases and ports were and remain essential for the US occupation of Afghanistan.

Pakistan was forced at gunpoint to accept US demands though most of its people supported Taliban as nationalist, anti-Communist freedom fighters and opposed the US invasion. Taliban, mostly composed of Pashtun tribesmen, had been nurtured and armed by Pakistan.

Many of Pakistan’s generals and senior ISI officers are Pashtun, who make up 15–18% of that nation’s population and form its second largest ethnic group after Punjabis. ISI routinely used Taliban and militant Kashmiri groups Lashkar-i-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Pakistan was enraged to see its traditional Afghan foes, the Communist-dominated Northern Alliance of Tajiks and Uzbeks, put into power by the Americans. The Northern Alliance was strongly backed by India, Iran, Russia, and the Central Asian post-Communist states.

Pakistan has always considered Afghanistan it “strategic hinterland” and natural sphere of influence. The 30-million strong Pashtun people straddle the artificial Pak-Afghan border, known as the Durand Line, drawn by Imperial Britain as part of its divide and rule strategy.

Pakistan supports the Afghan Pashtun, who have been excluded from power in US-occupied Afghanistan. But Pakistan also fears secessionist tendencies among its own Pashtun. The specter of an independent Pashtun state – “Pashtunistan” – uniting the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistanhas long been one of Islamabad’s worst nightmares.

Pakistanis are outraged by US bombing attacks against their own rebellious Pashtun tribes in the frontier agencies. Most also strongly oppose Washington’s “renting” 130,000 Pakistani troops and aircraft to attack pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen. A majority believe the increasingly unpopular and isolated government of President Asif Zardari serves the interests of the US rather than Pakistan.

Pakistan is bankrupt and now lives on American handouts.

Its last two governments have been forced to do Washington’s bidding though most Pakistanis are opposed to such policies.

The US has ignored intensifying efforts by India, Iran, and Russia to expand their influence in Afghanistan. India, in particular, is arming and supplying Afghan foes of Pakistan.

Washington sees Pakistan
only as a way of advancing its own interests in Afghanistan,
not as a loyal old ally.
Obedience, not cooperation, is being demanded of Islamabad.

President Barack Obama announced that more US troops and civilian officials will go to Afghanistan, and more billions will be spent sustaining a war against the largely Pashtun national resistance in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

None of this will benefit Pakistan. In fact America’s deepening involvement in “Afpak” brings the threat of growing instability and violence, even the de facto breakup of Pakistan as the US tried to splinter fragile Pakistan just as it did Iraq.

It is ISI’s job to deal with these dangers, to keep in close touch with Pashtun on both sides of the border, and to counteract the machinations of other foreign powers in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal belt.

Many Pakistanis also know that one day
the US and its allies will quit Afghanistan,
leaving a bloody mess behind them.
Pakistan’s ISI will have to pick up the pieces and deal with the ensuing chaos.
Pakistan’s strategic and political interests
are quite different from those of Washington.
But few in Washington seem to care in the least.

ISI is not playing a double game, as Washington charges,
but simply assuring Pakistan’s strategic and political interests in the region.
The Obama administration is making an historic mistake
by treating Pakistan with imperial arrogance
and ignoring the concerns and desires of its people.
We seem to have learned nothing from the Iranian revolution.

Time Is Short as U.S. Presses a Reluctant Pakistan
New York Times, 2009-04-06

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

President Obama’s strategy of offering Pakistan a partnership to defeat the insurgency here calls for a virtual remaking of this nation’s institutions and even of the national psyche, an ambitious agenda that Pakistan’s politicians and people appear unprepared to take up.

Officially, Pakistan’s government welcomed Mr. Obama’s strategy, with its hefty infusions of American money, hailing it as a “positive change.” But as the Obama administration tries to bring Pakistanis to its side, large parts of the public, the political class and the military have brushed off the plan, rebuffing the idea that the threat from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which Washington calls a common enemy, is so urgent.

Some, including the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the president, Asif Ali Zardari, may be coming around. But for the military, at least, India remains priority No. 1, as it has for the 61 years of Pakistan’s existence.

How to shift that focus in time for Pakistan to defeat a fast-expanding Islamic insurgency that threatens to devour the country is the challenge facing Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to the region, as they arrive in Pakistan for talks early this week.

Strengthening Pakistan’s weak civilian institutions, updating political parties rooted in feudal loyalties and recasting a military fixated on yesterday’s enemy, and stuck in the traditions of conventional warfare, are generational challenges. But Pakistan may not have the luxury of the long term to meet them.

Some analysts here and in Washington are already putting forward apocalyptic timetables for the country. “We are running out of time to help Pakistan change its present course toward increasing economic and political instability, and even ultimate failure,” said a recent report by a task force of the Atlantic Council that was led by former Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. The report, released in February, gave the Pakistani government 6 to 12 months before things went from bad to dangerous.

A specialist in guerrilla warfare, David Kilcullen, who advised Gen. David H. Petraeus when General Petraeus was the American commander in Iraq, offered a more dire assessment. Pakistan could be facing internal collapse within six months, he said.

General Petraeus, in Congressional testimony last week, called the insurgency one that could “take down” the country, which is home to Qaeda militants and has nuclear arms.

Even before the insurgency has been fully engaged, however,

many Pakistanis have concluded that
reaching an accommodation with the militants
is preferable to
fighting them.

Some, including mid-ranking soldiers,
choose to see the militants not as the enemy,
but as fellow Muslims
who are deserving of greater sympathy than are the American aims.

It is problematic whether the backing of Mr. Zardari, and the Obama’s administration’s promise of $1.5 billion in aid for each of the next five years, can change the mood in the country, said a former interior minister, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, who visited Washington last fall to meet with some of the people who are now officials in the Obama administration.

Fighting the insurgency is commonly seen in Pakistan as an American cause, not a Pakistani one, he said.

There are questions, too, of whether the Obama offer of nearly $3 billion in counterinsurgency aid can quickly convert the Pakistani military from a force trained to fight India on the plains of Punjab into an outfit that can conquer the mountains of the tribal areas, where the militants operate.

“After such a long time of being with the Americans, the country has been through such stress and strain and nothing good has come of it,” Mr. Sherpao said. “A cross-section of people is dead set against the Americans. Another section is not happy but not vocal. About 1 to 2 percent would say this policy of America should continue.”

The distrust has been heightened by charges from American officials, including General Petraeus and Mr. Holbrooke, that Pakistan’s spy agency is still supporting the Islamic militants who pour over the border to fight American troops in Afghanistan.

A former director general of the agency Inter-Services Intelligence, Lt. Gen. Javed Ashraf, said the American opinions — long held but now publicly stated — did not augur well. A spokesman for the Pakistani military called them “baseless” and part of a “malicious campaign.”

“You can’t start a successful operation with a trust deficit,” General Ashraf said. “Pakistan is an ally. But then you say we are linked with the Taliban. The serving army people will say, ‘To hell with them if this is what we are going to get after laying down more than 1,500 lives.’ ” That is the number of soldiers the Pakistani Army says have been killed fighting the militants in the tribal areas.

The lack of trust was evident, military analysts said, in the American refusal to consider a request from the Pakistani military that it operate the remotely piloted aircraft the C.I.A. has been using to hit the militants in the tribal areas.

Although those Predator drones have been successful in killing top Qaeda operatives, a factor acknowledged privately by Pakistani officials, the attacks continued to be criticized even as the new Pakistani-American partnership was supposed to be taking root.

“Predator strikes are not a strategy — not even part of a strategy,” a former army chief of staff and ambassador to Washington, Gen. Jehangir Karamat, said in a front-page article in the newspaper The Nation. “They are tactical actions to ratchet up body counts.”

The Americans have been stingy on even the more basic tools for guerrilla warfare, like helicopter gunships and night-vision goggles, which Pakistan has requested for the past three years, Pakistani military officials say. There are still doubts that Washington will deliver such equipment speedily, they say.

Then there is India. Its growing presence in Afghanistan — the building of roads; the opening since 2001 of two consulates in two cities close to Pakistan — makes Pakistan believe it is being encircled, said Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a former senator from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q party.

Pakistanis complain that even though Mr. Obama, during his European trip, called for dialogue between India and Pakistan, his plans fail to address this major strategic concern.

“The United States has to get India to back off in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Khakwani, who is sympathetic to the American position. “Then Pakistan will see Indian interference is diminished and that will give confidence to Pakistan.”

The deep questioning about
why the Pakistani Army should fight the Taliban
reaches well down into the ranks of the soldiers and their families.
Dissent on that goal
has become increasingly prevalent among rank-and-file soldiers,
and even in the officer corps....

There have been at least a half-dozen reported courts-martial
of soldiers who refused to fight,
and the real number was probably larger...


Taliban Exploit Class Rifts in Pakistan
New York Times, 2009-04-17

PESHAWAR, Pakistan —

The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering

a class revolt
that exploits profound fissures between
a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants,

according to government officials and analysts here.

The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat Valley,
where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week,
and it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan,
particularly the militants’ main goal,
the populous heartland of Punjab Province.

In Swat, accounts from those who have fled now make clear that
the Taliban seized control
by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power.

To do so,
the militants organized peasants into armed gangs
that became their shock troops,

the residents, government officials and analysts said.

The approach allowed the Taliban to offer economic spoils
to people frustrated with lax and corrupt government
even as the militants imposed a strict form of Islam
through terror and intimidation.

“This was a bloody revolution in Swat,”
said a senior Pakistani official who oversees Swat,
speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the Taliban.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if
it sweeps the established order of Pakistan.”

The Taliban’s ability to exploit class divisions
adds a new dimension to the insurgency
and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan,
which remains largely feudal.

Unlike India after independence in 1947,
Pakistan maintained a narrow landed upper class
that kept its vast holdings
while its workers remained subservient,
the officials and analysts said.
Successive Pakistani governments have since failed to provide land reform
and even the most basic forms of education and health care.
Avenues to advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist.

Analysts and other government officials warn that
the strategy executed in Swat is easily transferable to Punjab,
saying that the province,
where militant groups are already showing strength,
is ripe for the same social upheavals
that have convulsed Swat and the tribal areas.

Mahboob Mahmood,
a Pakistani-American lawyer and former classmate of President Obama’s, said,
“The people of Pakistan are psychologically ready for a revolution.”

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions
that have long festered in Pakistan, he said.
“The militants, for their part,
are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling,” he said.
“They are also promising Islamic justice,
effective government and economic redistribution.”


The myth of Talibanistan
By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 2009-05-01

Pakistan's Ethnic Fault Line
By Selig S. Harrison
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-05-11

America's Evil Asian Empire
Eric Margolis says US is destroying Pakistan
Scott Horton Interviews Eric Margolis
Antiwar.com Radio, 2009-08-05

U.S. Officials Get a Taste of Pakistanis’ Anger at America
New York Times, 2009-08-20

KARACHI, Pakistan —

Judith A. McHale was expecting a contentious session with Ansar Abbasi, a Pakistani journalist known for his harsh criticism of American foreign policy, when she sat down for a one-on-one meeting with him in a hotel conference room in Islamabad on Monday. She got that, and a little bit more.

After Ms. McHale, the Obama administration’s new under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, gave her initial polite presentation about building bridges between America and the Muslim world, Mr. Abbasi thanked her politely for meeting with him. Then he told her that he hated her.

“ ‘You should know that we hate all Americans,’ ” Ms. McHale said Mr. Abbasi told her. “ ‘From the bottom of our souls, we hate you.’ ”


Pakistanis Continue to Reject U.S. Partnership
New York Times, 2009-10-01

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Even with the arrival of the Obama administration and the prospect of substantially increased aid, more Pakistanis — an overwhelming majority — continued to reject the United States as a partner to fight militancy in their country, a new poll finds.

The survey, conducted by the Washington-based International Republican Institute, underscored the difficulties the Obama administration faced in its efforts to tamp down Islamic militancy in this strategically vital nation.

The I.R.I. is a nonprofit pro-democracy group which is financed by the American government.


Face-to-face interviews were conducted July 15 to Aug. 7 with 4,900 adults throughout Pakistan’s four provinces, excluding areas in the North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus one percentage point. The survey results will be available on the institute’s Web site, www.iri.org, on Friday. The I.R.I. has conducted surveys in Pakistan since 2002.

A troubling aspect of the findings for the Obama administration, analysts said, was the significant increase in the rejection of the United States as a partner in the war against Islamic militants.

According to the poll,

80 percent of the respondents said
they were opposed to United States assistance
in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism,

a 19 percentage-point increase
since the last survey conducted by the institute in March.

The survey says that
76 percent of the respondents were opposed to
Pakistan partnering with the United States on missile attacks
against extremists by American drone aircraft.

Pakistan Attacks Show Tighter Militant Links
New York Times, 2009-10-16

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

A wave of attacks
against top security installations over the last several days
demonstrated that
government officials and analysts said.

[Cf. what Michael Scheuer wrote in 2004 in Imperial Hubris.]


Clinton Ends Visit as the Focus of Pakistani Barbs
New York Times, 2009-10-31

[The following was picked off the web on 10-30 at 1730Z;
it represents a draft of what will be published on 10-31.]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrapped up a three-day visit here,
she faced yet another round of skepticism and sharpened questions as
Pakistani audiences vented their anger over
American policies in the region.

An interview with
several women who are prominent Pakistani television anchors,
broadcast live,
turned into a pointed, sometimes raucous back-and-forth,
as her questioners cut each other off and shouted to be heard
as they parried with Mrs. Clinton.
criticized American drone strikes in Pakistan,
said the military presence
[which?] was stirring unrest and
expressed their doubts about
whether the United States had a long-term commitment to Pakistan.

One of the women said that
Pakistanis were experiencing “daily 9/11’s,”
and an audience member asked Mrs. Clinton
whether the drone strikes amounted to acts of terrorism.

Mrs. Clinton was also challenged in a meeting with
Pakistani tribal residents who live near the border with Afghanistan,
a focal point of the fight with Taliban insurgents.

“Your presence in the region is not good for peace,”
one of the men in attendance told Mrs. Clinton,
according to The Associated Press,
“because it gives rise to frustration and irritation
among the people of this region.”

Throughout the three days of her visit here,
Mrs. Clinton would not comment on the drone attacks —
a classified C.I.A. program —
but said that the United States hoped to act as a partner with Pakistan
on military and domestic issues.

Mrs. Clinton’s parade of meetings with television, radio and print journalists
was an effort to improve public portrayals of the United States
in Pakistan’s vibrant, influential, but sometimes rumor-driven press.

But a car bomb struck a market in the border city of Peshawar within hours of her arrival, killing more than 100 people;
a United Nations guest house was attacked in Kabul, leaving 11 dead; and
Mrs. Clinton has met with unremitting skepticism.
All of that has underscored the precarious security situation and
highlighted the diplomatic struggles facing the United States
as it tries to rout terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan
and support democracies in both.

[By the way, have you noticed that
the “democracies” that we support in Afghanistan and Pakistan
are both dogged with credible charges of rampant corruption?
The accusations of corruption against Karzai’s government are well-known,
while Zardari, during his marriage to Benazir Bhutto,
was known as “Mr. Ten Percent” for his long trail of kickbacks and corruption.
Islamist regimes, while they drive social liberals nuts,
at least seem to be much less susceptible to the virus of corruption.]

A gathering on Thursday at Government College University in Lahore
was particularly hostile.
Rarely in her travels as secretary of state
has Mrs. Clinton encountered an audience
so uniformly suspicious and immune to her star power
[“Star power.”
This term denotes
the ability of “elite” opinion-leaders to describe as “stars”
whoever supports the ideas they wish advanced.]

as the polite, but unsmiling, university students who challenged her there.

One after another,
they lined up to grill Mrs. Clinton about what they see as
the dysfunctional relationship between Pakistan and the United States.
They described a litany of slights, betrayals and misunderstandings
that add up to a national narrative of grievance,
against which she did her best to push back.

Why did the United States abandon Pakistan
after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, they asked.
Why did the Bush administration
support the previous military government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf?
What about reports in the Pakistani news media
that American contractors illegally carried weapons in Islamabad?
Even her fans have come armed with spears.
A young woman, a medical student,
thanked Mrs. Clinton for being an inspiration to women,
then asked how the United States
could justify ordering Predator strikes on targets in Pakistan
without sharing intelligence with its military.

Mrs. Clinton said only,
“The war that your government and your military are waging right now
is an important one for the country.”

[Pakistanis might respond, accurately if impolitely,

“Who are you to tell us what is important for our country?
How would you like it if
our foreign minister visited a United States college campus
and told American students what the important issues are for America?”

If ever there was a perfect example of
what Michael Scheuer so accurately called imperial hubris,
this is it.]

Pakistanis pay high price for anti-militant drive
By Faris Ali
Reuters, 2009-11-11


“Operations are not a solution.
It’s an unending war,”
trader Abdul Majid Khan said.
“It’s spreading further chaos in our society.
You have got to hold talks with them.
You have got to assure them you’re sincere and not an American stooge.”


Defending the Arsenal
by Seymour M. Hersh
New Yorker, 2009-11-16

In an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe?

America’s dealings with Pakistan
may be increasing the risk of radicalization.


[T]he Taliban overrunning Islamabad
is not the only, or even the greatest, concern.

The principal fear is mutiny—
that extremists inside the Pakistani military might
stage a coup, take control of some nuclear assets,
or even divert a warhead.

Pakistan Reported to Be Harassing U.S. Diplomats
New York Times, 2009-12-17

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —
Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence services are mounting
what American officials here describe as
a campaign to harass American diplomats,
fraying relations at a critical moment
when the Obama administration is demanding more help
to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.


Ominous signs for US-Pakistan ties
By Robert Grenier
english.aljazeera.net, 2010-05-12

This is going to turn out badly.

Obama’s Gulf of Tonkin
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-05-17

A war of their own: Democrats target Pakistan

The Pakistan Mess
CounterPunch.org, 2010-05-21

Return of the Ugly American


Take the media portrait of Faisal Shahzad, the accused Times Square perp:
a man with an MBA hugging his wife.
What would drive him to terrorism?

His early education and upbringing in Karachi, wrote Professor Hoodbhoy, one that “typifies the young Pakistani who grew up in the shadow of Zia-ul-Haq's (President of Pakistan from 1977-88 who emphasized Muslim values to U.S.-backed Jihadist fighting Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan.) hate-based education curriculum.”
Current media and school curriculum
offer the public photos of dead Palestinian kids
alongside Washington’s pro Israel and anti-Palestinian statements.

Two recent western pollsters in Pakistan reinforced Hoodbhoy’s conclusion.

According to Gallup, hired by Al Jazeera,
59 percent of Pakistanis believed
the United States was Pakistan’s greatest threat.

An August Pew Research Center study found
64 percent of Pakistanis consider the U.S. “as an enemy;”
9 percent thought of Washington as a partner.


The U.S., however,
has maintained its hold over elite sectors for decades
by backing (buying?) undemocratic and often corrupt heads of state.
Ambassador Anne W. Patterson asked a large newspaper group
to block a weekly column by a prominent academic and critic of U.S. policies.

For a decade, Dr. Shireen Mazari
had often used her column in The News International
(one of Pakistan’s largest English-language dailies)
to criticize U.S. policies.
Her Pakistani readers were shocked by the act of censorship
thanks to the U.S. ambassador’s “private” letter
to the publication’s management.
(Pakistan Daily, Sept 3, 2009)

[Since when is it the job of the U.S. State Department
to censor foreign media?]

“The Ugly American of the sixties is back in Pakistan,
and this time with a vengeance,” wrote the censored Mazari.
“It's an alliance (U.S.-Pakistan) forced on the country
by its corrupt leadership. It's delivering chaos.
We should distance ourselves.
You can't just hand over the country.”
(Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Sept 8, 2009)

The rising numbers of civilian casualties
and U.S. refusal to help Pakistan in its conflict with India over Kashmir
have now given Pakistani politicians an easy pretext to criticize Washington
for infringing on Pakistani territory -- for spy planes and drones.


U.S. Is a Top Villain in Pakistan’s Conspiracy Talk
New York Times, 2010-05-26


Conspiracy theory is a national sport in Pakistan, where the main players — the United States, India and Israel — change positions depending on the ebb and flow of history. Since 2001, the United States has taken center stage, looming so large in Pakistan’s collective imagination that it sometimes seems to be responsible for everything that goes wrong here.

“When the water stops running from the tap, people blame America,” said Shaista Sirajuddin, an English professor in Lahore.

The problem is more than a peculiar domestic phenomenon for Pakistan. It has grown into a narrative of national victimhood that is a nearly impenetrable barrier to any candid discussion of the problems here. In turn, it is one of the principal obstacles for the United States in its effort to build a stronger alliance with a country to which it gives more than a billion dollars a year in aid.

It does not help that no part of the Pakistani state — either the weak civilian government or the powerful military — is willing to risk publicly owning that relationship.

One result is that nearly all of American policy toward Pakistan is conducted in secret, a fact that serves only to further feed conspiracies. American military leaders slip quietly in and out of the capital; the Pentagon uses networks of private spies; and the main tool of American policy here, the drone program, is not even publicly acknowledged to exist.

“The linchpin of U.S. relations is security, and it’s not talked about in public,” said Adnan Rehmat, a media analyst in Islamabad.

The empty public space fills instead with hard-line pundits and loud Islamic political parties, all projected into Pakistani living rooms by the rambunctious new electronic media, dozens of satellite television networks that weave a black-and-white, prime-time narrative in which the United States is the central villain.


Distrust Slows U.S. Training of Pakistanis
New York Times, 2010-07-12


Pakistan ... restricts the number of American trainers throughout the country
to no more than about 120 Special Operations personnel,
fearful of being identified too closely with the unpopular United States
even though the Americans reimburse Pakistan more than $1 billion a year
for its military operations in the border areas.
“We want to keep a low signature,” said a senior Pakistani officer.

The deep suspicion that underlies every American move here
is a fact of life that American officers say they must work through
as they try to reverse the effects of
the many years when the United States had cut Pakistan off from military aid
because of its nuclear weapons program.

That time of estrangement, which lasted through the 1990s,
left the Pakistanis feeling scorned and abandoned by the United States,
and its military distant and seeded with officers and soldiers
sympathetic to conservative Islam —
and even at times the very militants
they are today charged with fighting.

the American-led war in Afghanistan
and its continuing campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas

have made the United States suspect
at all levels of the military, and among the Pakistani population,
as anti-Americanism has hit new heights.
This training program is among the first steps to repair that relationship.

[Good that the New York Times could mention
the American war against the Taliban
taking place in both Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan
as a prime source of anti-Americanism in Pakistan.
But too bad they left out
what are undoubtedly other major drivers of anti-Americanism:
the war in Iraq and Israel’s actions against its Muslim neighbors.]

Pakistan’s Elite Pay Few Taxes, Widening Gap
New York Times, 2010-07-19

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

Much of Pakistan’s capital city looks like a rich Los Angeles suburb. Shiny sport utility vehicles purr down gated driveways. Elegant multistory homes are tended by servants. Laundry is never hung out to dry.

But behind the opulence lurks a troubling fact. Very few of these households pay income tax. That is mostly because the politicians who make the rules are also the country’s richest citizens, and are skilled at finding ways to exempt themselves.

That would be a problem in any country. But in Pakistan, the lack of a workable tax system feeds something more menacing: a festering inequality in Pakistani society, where the wealth of its most powerful members is never redistributed or put to use for public good. That is creating conditions that have helped spread an insurgency that is tormenting the country and complicating American policy in the region.

It is also a sorry performance for a country that is among the largest recipients of American aid, payments of billions of dollars that prop up the country’s finances and are meant to help its leaders fight the insurgency.

Though the authorities have tried to expand the net in recent years, taxing profits from the stock market and real estate, entire swaths of the economy, like agriculture, a major moneymaker for the elite, remain untaxed.

“This is a system of the elite, by the elite and for the elite,” said Riyaz Hussain Naqvi, a retired government official who worked in tax collection for 38 years. “It is a skewed system in which the poor man subsidizes the rich man.”

The problem starts at the top. The average worth of Pakistani members of Parliament is $900,000, with its richest member topping $37 million, according to a December study by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency in Islamabad.

While Pakistan’s income from taxes last year was the lowest in the country’s history, according to Zafar ul-Majeed, a senior official in the Federal Board of Revenue, the assets of current members of Parliament nearly doubled from those of members of the previous Parliament, the institute study found.

The country’s top opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, reported that he paid no personal income tax for three years ending in 2007 in public documents he filed with Pakistan’s election commission. A spokesman for Mr. Sharif, an industrialist who is widely believed to be a millionaire, said he had been in exile and had turned over positions in his companies to relatives.

A month of requests for similar documents for Pakistan’s president and prime minister went unanswered by the commission; representatives for the men said they did not have the figures.

“Taxes are the Achilles’ heel of Pakistani politicians,” said Jahangir Tareen, a businessman and member of Parliament who is trying to put taxes on the public agenda. He paid $225,534 in income tax in 2009, a figure he made public in Parliament last month. “If you don’t have income, fine, but then don’t go and get into a Land Cruiser.”


US Must Grow Up On Pakistan
by Michael Scheuer
The Diplomat, 2010-07-26

Pakistan has done more than was in its own interests
in the war on terror.
Its support for the US has left it with a civil war.


Obama administration is divided over future of U.S.-Pakistan relationship
By Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard
Washington Post, 2011-05-15

According to the internal accounts,
the Americans tried time and time again
to convince the Pakistanis to change what former CIA official Bruce Riedel,
who authored Obama’s first Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review in early 2009,

their “strategic calculus” that
ties with the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban
were the only way they could
maintain their strategic influence in neighboring Afghanistan.

Are We At War With Pakistan?
by Justin Raimondo,
Antiwar.com, 2011-09-23

Seems like it ...

Pakistan leans toward talks with Taliban, not battle
By Karin Brulliard and Haq Nawaz Khan
Washington Post, 2011-10-17


Amid growing American frustration with Pakistan’s handling of Islamic militancy,
the government here appears less willing than ever to challenge insurgent groups
and is more inclined to make peace with them.

In a series of recent statements,
Pakistani officials have rejected the notion of robust military action
against insurgents based in its tribal belt
and instead called for truces.
At a recent summit, political leaders issued a resolution
that did not condemn terrorism but said their policy is dialogue.
The decree was widely viewed as having been rubber-stamped
by the powerful military, whose top two figures briefed the conference.

The approach has puzzled U.S. officials and renewed debate in Pakistan
about how to handle insurgents who have killed thousands in attacks nationwide.


Sounds pretty clear to me.
They are saying you are fighting America’s war, not Pakistan’s.]

Pakistan boosts air defenses at Afghan border
By Simon Denyer
Washington Post, 2011-12-10

“This [the Pakistan army] used to be
the most pro-American army in Asia,
but it is mind-boggling how things have turned around
in the last 10 years,”

said defense analyst and former helicopter pilot Ikram Sehgal.
“In fact, the relationship has broken down.”

[And why is that?
Clearly it is the result of U.S. policy,
the policies pushed by the Washington Post editorial page.]


Drones at Issue as U.S. Rebuilds Ties to Pakistan
New York Times, 2012-03-19

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

Making up is never easy.
But as Pakistan and the United States try to restart their troubled relationship
after a year of spectacular crises,
the difference could come down to drones.

For the Obama administration,
facing a faltering war effort and increasingly distrustful allies in Afghanistan,
the covert C.I.A. drone strike campaign
centered on North and South Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan
has acquired new relevance.


Interviews with militants in those areas leave little doubt
that the drones have disrupted their operations,
driving fugitive leaders deeper into the mountains.
But that matters little in mainstream Pakistan, where

public discourse
rings with thunderous condemnations
of breached sovereignty
and civilian casualties.

Here, the C.I.A. campaign is as unpopular as ever —
and could stymie efforts over the coming days
to revive diplomatic relations with Washington
that have been frozen for four months now.


“The drones are killing innocent bystanders,
including children and women,”

said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in Parliament,
in an interview.
“They must be stopped forthwith.”


On the American side, the drone program is also evolving.
The pace has relented, with 64 strikes recorded in 2011, down from 117 in 2010,
according to the Long War Journal, a Web site that closely monitors the strikes.
A lively debate inside the Obama administration last summer
gave the State Department greater say in the strikes.
The final say, however,
still rests with David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director.


On a visit to Islamabad last week, Noor Magul, a farmer from North Waziristan,
spoke of his anger at the death of three relatives who were killed last Oct. 30
when a drone struck the car in which they were traveling.
Naming the men as Khastar Gul, Mamrud Khan and Noorzal Khan,
Mr. Magul insisted they had no militant links but worked in a local chromite mine.

“I have revenge in my heart,”
said the 64-year-old, fingering his ash-colored beard.
“I just want to grab a drone by the tail and smash it into the ground.”

Accounts of civilian casualties
play a major role in Pakistani anger toward the drones.
An extraordinary claim
by President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, last June
that there had not been “a single collateral death” over the previous year
drew an indignant response.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which monitors the toll,
counted “credible media accounts”
of between 63 and 127 nonmilitant deaths in 2011,
and a recent Associated Press investigation found evidence that
at least 56 villagers and tribal police had been killed
in the 10 largest strikes since August 2010.
But analysts, American officials and even many tribesmen agree
the drones are increasingly precise.
Of 10 strikes this year, the local news media have alleged civilian deaths in one case.
The remainder of those killed — 58 people, by conservative estimates —
were militants.

“The overriding concern is to avoid collateral damage,”
another senior United States official said.

For diplomats on both sides,
the drone issue has become the Rubik’s Cube of their relationship —
a puzzle with no easy solution.
“Things are at a very delicate point right now,”
one senior United States official said.


Tensions With Pakistan A New Excuse for Keeping Afghan War Going
by Jason Ditz
antiwar.com, 2012-04-03

Pakistan Gives U.S. a List of Demands,
Including an End to C.I.A. Drone Strikes

New York Times, 2012-04-13

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In a rare show of unity, the government and opposition joined on Thursday to present the United States with a list of stringent demands, including an immediate end to C.I.A. drone strikes, that were cast in uncompromising words but could pave the way for a reopening of NATO supply lines through the country.

After two and a half weeks of contentious negotiations, the main parties agreed on a four-page parliamentary resolution that, in addition to the drone demand, called on the Obama administration to apologize for American airstrikes in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. It declared that “no overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be permitted” — a broad reference that could be interpreted to include all C.I.A. operations.


United States Talks Fail as Pakistanis Seek Apology
New York Times, 2012-04-28

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

The first concentrated high-level talks aimed at breaking
a five-month diplomatic deadlock between the United States and Pakistan
ended in failure on Friday over Pakistani demands for
an unconditional apology from the Obama administration for an airstrike.
The White House,
angered by the recent spectacular [????] Taliban attacks in Afghanistan,
refuses to apologize.

The Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan,
Marc Grossman,
left the Pakistani capital Friday night with no agreement
after two days of discussions aimed at patching up the damage caused by
the American airstrikes last November
that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghanistan border.

Both sides insist that they are now ready to make up and restore
an uneasy alliance that at its best offers
support for American efforts in Afghanistan as well as
the battle against some extremist groups operating from Pakistan.
The administration had been seriously debating whether to say
“I’m sorry” to the Pakistanis’ satisfaction —
until April 15,
when multiple, simultaneous attacks struck Kabul and other Afghan cities.

“What changed was the 15th of April,” said a senior administration official.

American military and intelligence officials concluded the attacks
came at the direction of a group working from
a base in North Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal belt:
the Haqqani network, an association of border criminals and smugglers
that has mounted lethal attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.
That confirmed longstanding American mistrust about Pakistani intentions —
a poison that infects nearly every other aspect of the strained relationship.
That swung the raging debate on whether Mr. Obama or another senior American
should go beyond the expression of regret that the administration had already given,
and apologize.

The negotiations are complicated by a complex web of interlocking demands from both sides.
Without the apology, Pakistani officials say
they cannot reopen NATO supply routes into Afghanistan
that have been closed since November.

The Americans, in turn, are withholding
between $1.18 billion and $3 billion of promised military aid —
the exact figure depending on which side is speaking.

The continuing deadlock does not bode well for
Pakistan’s attendance at a NATO meeting in Chicago in three weeks,
assuming it is even invited.
The administration has been eager to cast the event as a regional security summit meeting,
and Pakistan’s absence would be embarrassing.


U.S. drone strikes resume in Pakistan;
action may complicate vital negotiations

By Richard Leiby and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, 2012-04-30

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—

CIA drone missiles hit militant targets in Pakistan on Sunday
for the first time in a month, as

the United States ignored
the Pakistani government’s insistence that such attacks end
as a condition for normalized relations
between the two perpetually uneasy allies.

The drone strikes, which have long infuriated the Pakistani public,
killed four al-Qaeda-linked fighters
in a girls’ school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area,
security officials there said.

Warning of diplomatic consequences,
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attacks,
the first since Parliament’s unanimous vote this month
approving new guidelines for the country’s relationship with the United States.
Some politicians said the drone strikes might set back
already difficult negotiations over
the reopening of vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan
that Pakistan blocked five months ago.


In a process triggered by the November U.S. airstrikes on the Pakistani border posts,
Pakistan’s Parliament on April 12 unanimously laid down
foreign policy guidelines for future dealings with the United States,
then passed them to the government of President Asif Ali Zardari for enforcement.
The “terms of engagement” called for an immediate end to the CIA drone strikes,
which Parliament had twice demanded in recent years, to no effect.

[And the U.S. then flouted that Pakistani demand.
That shows how much the U.S. really respects democracy in foreign nations
when it conflicts with U.S. priorities.]

But this time, the civilian leaders acted with more authority than ever before
in the nation’s 64-year history.
The military, which conducted all previous Pakistani foreign relations,
stood back to give the lawmakers and the government room to formulate key policies
and negotiate with the United States.

The guidelines also said the government should seek an apology for
“the condemnable and unprovoked” border attack
by U.S. helicopters and fighter jets in November.
At various times since November,
the White House had considered making such an apology,
but after militant attacks in Kabul on April 15 —
blamed on the Pakistan-based Haqqani insurgent network —
the United States ruled that out.

The resumption of the drone strikes —
while not unexpected, given their efficiency and effectiveness —
highlights a schism in the U.S. approach to Pakistan.

“When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this,
and the U.S. keeps doing it, it undermines democracy,”

said a Pakistani government official,
speaking on the condition of anonymity to preserve diplomatic relationships.
“These drone strikes may kill terrorists,
but the net loser is freedom and democracy.”

Prominent politicians predicted that the new drone strikes,
the first inside Pakistan since March 30,
would provoke a backlash against further negotiations on the supply lines
and stir outcries that
the United States has no regard for Pakistan’s sovereignty.

“There will be repercussions whether in the government
or in the public or in the Parliament,”

said Aftab Khan Sherpao,
a National Assembly member who sat on the committee that drafted the guidelines.
“In no case would we allow the NATO supplies now.”

Others saw the drone attacks as a provocation that undermined any notion that
the United States had engaged in sincere, meaningful talks last week.

“The CIA could have opted not to go for a drone strike at such a crucial time,
when senior U.S. officials are trying hard to iron out differences with Pakistan,”

said Sheik Waqas Akram,
a member of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet.
“It shows that it has no regard for the Pakistani Parliament’s resolution.”


Pakistan, in a statement late Sunday,
called the attacks illegal and
“violative of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

Drone Strikes Continue in Pakistan as Tension Increases and Senate Panel Cuts Aid
New York Times, 2012-05-25

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

As tension between Pakistan and the United States deepened on multiple fronts on Thursday,
a Senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan further,
C.I.A. drone strikes continued in northwestern Pakistan for a second consecutive day
despite Pakistani condemnation.

Relations have worsened in recent days over Pakistan’s refusal
to reopen NATO supply lines that were closed down in November.
The issue led President Obama
to refuse to hold a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari
on Monday at the NATO summit meeting in Chicago,
administration officials said,
in a clear diplomatic slight.


The American drone strikes are immensely unpopular in Pakistan
and have caused increasing friction between the two countries.
While the United States views the remotely piloted aircraft
as vital in the fight against militants,
the drones are seen as a breach of national sovereignty
that also cause civilian deaths.

Politicians across the Pakistani political spectrum
have been unanimous in their criticism of the strikes.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Affairs Ministry on Thursday
called the continued strikes against international law, adding,
“They are illegal, counterproductive and totally unacceptable.”

The Pakistani Parliament has made ending the drone campaign a requirement
for restoring access to NATO’s supply lines that run through Pakistan to Afghanistan,
despite signals from senior government and military officials last week
that they were ready to allow a deal to go through,
albeit only at a much higher transit fee for each NATO container.

The supply lines were cut off in November after an American airstrike
mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers,
and Mr. Obama has refused to meet Pakistani demands for an apology.

Panetta: US Losing Its Patience With Pakistan
As US Drones Continue to Pound Tribal Areas, Who Should Be Mad at Who?
by Jason Ditz
Antiwar.com, 2012-06-07

Long touted as the one irreplaceable ally in the US global war on terror,
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was defiant on
the ever worsening relationship with Pakistan today,
saying the the US is “reaching the limits of our patience” with the nation.

Panetta couched the US “anger” at Pakistan in the terms of
their long-standing demands that
Pakistan launch an offensive against North Waziristan,
insisting that the site remains a “safe haven”
for terrorist groups to launch attacks into Afghanistan.
On that count,
both Afghanistan and Pakistan have had beefs with the other side,
as militant factions operate freely
across both sides of the rugged border.
For every strike into Afghanistan
staged from the Pakistani tribal areas,
Pakistan can cite a similar strike against Bajaur or Peshawar
that came from militants in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province.

This is, of course, only part of the issue,
and the real changes in the US-Pakistan relationship
have been in relation to
the closed border crossings,
and negotiations in which
Panetta accused Pakistan of trying to “price gouge” the US,
as well as Pakistan’s growing public criticism of
the US drone strikes pounding their tribal areas.

Indeed, between
the Raymond Davis fiasco,
the constant drone strikes and
the November US attack which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers,
one must marvel that Pakistan isn’t simultaneously “reaching the limits” of
its own patience with the US,
particularly as massive anti-US protests conducted regularly in Pakistan
make it a core issue in their next election.

Still, Panetta’s position
seems to be well supported among the US political class.
During a debate last night on BBC Radio 5,
high profile neo-con Richard Perle told me that
“I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Pakistanis in this situation,”
citing the recent Pakistani decision
to sentence a CIA doctor for “high treason”
for conducting a phony vaccination program aimed at
collecting the DNA of children in Pakistan.
The US Senate revoked some aid from Pakistan for this same reason,
arguing that without the covert program,
Osama bin Laden would never have been successfully assassinated.

United States, Pakistan appear to have reached
a stalemate on key issues

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, 2012-06-15

When Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta
was asked on a visit to India last week
why Pakistan had not interfered with
the U.S. operation to kill Osama bin Laden,
he answered with a grin.

“They didn’t know about our operation,”
Panetta said as the audience of Indian defense experts
broke into laughter.
“That was the whole idea.”

The joke did not go over well next door.
“I view it as an intended insult,”
a senior Pakistani military official said of Panetta’s “ridicule”
while on the territory of Pakistan’s traditional enemy.
Panetta “let it rip again” the next day in Afghanistan, the official said,
when he said at a Kabul news conference that
the United States was
“reaching the limits of our patience with Pakistan.”

“It is not the exclusive domain of the United States
to lose its patience,”

the Pakistani official said darkly.

Years of mutual mistrust and tactical mistakes,
now complicated by upcoming elections in both countries,
have brought the strategic relationship
between the United States and Pakistan
closer than ever to a dead end
that neither appears able or willing to avoid.

The Obama administration
considers Pakistan key to resolving the Afghan war
and wants its nuclear arsenal tethered to a solid U.S. partnership.
Pakistan remains dependent on U.S. military and economic assistance
and wants a prominent role in whatever happens in Afghanistan.

Yet the two countries appear to have reached a stalemate
on issues that have long divided them —
from the U.S. use of armed drones on Pakistani territory
to Pakistan’s continued harboring of the Taliban
and other groups affiliated with al-Qaeda,
and countless matters in between.


In the wake of the November deaths,
Pakistan’s parliament drew up new guidelines for the relationship,
including the demanded U.S. apology,
an end to territorial violation by drones,
and a new payment structure for the transit of NATO supplies.

Washington considers only the last of these within the realm of the possible,
and has tried to separate the border negotiations from
the far more difficult question of drones.

[Yes, that is the key question.
It is one of the worst decisions ever by U.S. deciosion-makers
to continue the despised (by almost the entire segment of Pakistan opinion)
violation of Pakistan's sovereignity
which those drone strikes indisputably consitute,
with the inevitable extraordinarily costly effects on America,
rather than simply folding our tent in Afghanistan
and admitting that
the three stated requirements by the Obama administration for Afghanistan
are simply unachievable.
Surely this ranks up with Barbara Tuchaman's "March of Folly",
where the desired goal is unattainable,
but the cost is enormous.
All cost, no benefit!
And you don't need to be an expert on South Asia or foreign policy
to recognize that,
merely sanity and placing the American interest ahead of
that of Israel and feminism
(two indisputable drivers of the policies of the U.S. Democratic Party).]

Peacocks at Sunset
New York Times, 2012-07-03

How the Indo-Pakistan border came to be