Pakistan concerns with war against religious bigots

NY Times:

American missile strikes and Pakistani military raids have reduced Al Qaeda’s global reach but heightened the threat to Pakistan as the group disperses its cells here and fights to maintain its sanctuaries, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

The officials acknowledge that the strikes and raids are proving effective, having killed as many as 80 Qaeda fighters in the past year. But they express growing alarm that the drone strikes in particular are having an increasingly destabilizing effect on their country.

They also voiced fears that the expected arrival of 17,000 American troops in Afghanistan this spring and summer would add to the stresses by pushing more Taliban fighters into Pakistan.


The analysis reflected the increasing public pressure on the Pakistani government to oppose the drone attacks, which are deeply unpopular here for the civilian casualties they have inflicted.

But it also underscored ominous signs of Al Qaeda’s resilience and pointed to new and unintended dangers for American policy in the region — a rapidly destabilized, nuclear-armed Pakistan, a state with a weak civilian government and a military struggling to fight an expanding insurgency.

The sobering Pakistani assessment was in contrast to the optimism voiced earlier this month by the new American director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair.

While the Pakistani analysis agreed with Mr. Blair’s conclusion that Al Qaeda’s ability to conduct large-scale attacks against the United States was most likely degraded, it also signaled no cessation to the attacks by Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban aimed at undermining Pakistan’s government.

Here is the problem with the Pakistan government policy. It has always been based on doing the minimum. By basing its strategy on doing the minimum, the Taliban influence has spread and the government has shown weakness in dealing with it.

One of the major failures of the Pakistan government has been its failure to accept US training in counterinsurgency warfare. Right now the Iraqi army which has been built from the ground up in the last six years is a more effective counterinsurgency force. This should be an embarrassment to the Pakistani government and its army.

Their resistance to US training of troops in counterinsurgency operations makes no sense. It is in their interest and it would alleviate the concerns they express about new US forces going into Afghanistan. They should also accept US help in guarding the supply lines into Afghanistan. Destroying the enemy attacking those convoys is in Pakistan's interest as well as ours.

As for the UAV attacks, they should be expanded to leaders of the Taliban who are making war against the government. It makes no sense to reduce them, when the Taliban are just going to continue to try imposing despotic Shari'a law in the country.


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