Pakistan not acting on intelligence

Washington Post:

Bush administration officials have responded with skepticism to an appeal by visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani for increased intelligence cooperation, which he said would help his country attack militant groups and terrorist encampments near its border with Afghanistan.

"The problem from our perspective has not been an absence of information going into the Pakistani government," said one Bush administration official familiar with discussions this week between the two governments. "It's an absence of action."

Both governments stressed that their meetings have been cordial, and public statements underlined a shared commitment to counterterrorism. President Bush, in an appearance with Gillani after a White House meeting Monday, twice noted U.S. respect for Pakistani sovereignty. In an interview yesterday, Gillani emphasized Pakistan's desire "to maintain excellent relations with the United States."

But beneath the surface pleasantries and what the administration official called "a desire to make this a nonconfrontational meeting," there was little indication that tensions over their respective contributions to the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban had eased.


A Pakistani military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said yesterday that U.S. officials had not notified Islamabad before the attack. "There was no information from their side," he said. "They have struck like this many times. We are trying to convince them to share information."

Both the U.S. military and the CIA operate unmanned Predator aircraft in the region. But the military, whose Predators are based at the Bagram base north of Kabul, maintains some level of coordination with Pakistani military liaisons at the base.

Although the CIA maintains close ties with its Pakistani counterpart, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, the relationship has long been tinged with U.S. suspicion of ISI links with extremists. CIA distrust of the ISI has increased in recent months, particularly within the CIA operations directorate, a U.S. official said.

Gillani said such attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty, and noted that "we don't have the sophisticated weapons -- Predators or others." If Pakistan had the capacity and the information, he said in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters yesterday, "then we can hit [such targets] ourselves. Otherwise, it's a violation and nobody [in Pakistan] will like it."


Pakistan's problem is not the lack of sophisticated weapons. It is the apparent lack of will. I have noted before that Pakistan is the master of doing the minimum needed to work with the US. As this story points out, sometimes they do not even meet the minimum. Instead of acting as a energetic partner in defeating our common enemies, they act more like a recalcitrant donkey sometimes.

Pakistan needs to become more proactive in going after the intelligence leads. The fact is that sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. The Pakistanis should look to the Iraqis as an example of what can be accomplished when there is energetic leadership working in cooperation with the US. Iraq has fewer al Qaeda operatives now than Pakistan.

Then there is the Pakistan double standard that needs to be dealt with. Pakistan claims it can't tolerate US or NATO forces operating on its soil, but it readily tolerates Taliban and al Qaeda forces on its soil and is too often lethargic in dealing with them. The fact is the Frontier Corps is not up to the task of dealing with this problem. The more professional Pakistan Army needs to take command of the situation. It is a capable force and if they would adapt counterinsurgency training and operations they could solve the problem.

Pakistan has not explained its reluctance to use its army in the project. The actions of the Taliban are the biggest threat to the country and the government seems to be leaving it up to its weakest forces and it negotiators who are dealing with people of bad faith.

A peaceful Afghanistan would not be a threat to Pakistan, but the conflict the Taliban is pushing is a threat to Pakistan as is the presence of al Qaeda. It would help if the government showed some sense of urgency in dealing with the threat these groups pose.


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