A new role for Pakistan

Washington Post:

President Obama has offered Pakistan an expanded strategic partnership, including additional military and economic cooperation, while warning with unusual bluntness that its use of insurgent groups to pursue policy goals "cannot continue."

The offer, including an effort to help reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, was contained in a two-page letter delivered to President Asif Ali Zardari this month by Obama national security adviser James L. Jones. It was accompanied by assurances from Jones that the United States will increase its military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan and that it plans no early withdrawal.

Obama's speech Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will address primarily the Afghanistan aspects of the strategy. But despite the public and political attention focused on the number of new troops, Pakistan has been the hot core of the months-long strategy review. The long-term consequences of failure there, the review concluded, far outweigh those in Afghanistan.

"We can't succeed without Pakistan," a senior administration official involved in the White House review said. "You have to differentiate between public statements and reality. There is nobody who is under any illusions about this."


Obama called for closer collaboration against all extremist groups, and his letter named five: al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Pakistani Taliban organization known as Tehrik-e-Taliban. Using vague diplomatic language, he said that ambiguity in Pakistan's relationship with any of them could no longer be ignored.

Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, was more precise in conversations with top Pakistani government and military leaders, U.S. and foreign officials said, stating that certain things have to happen in Pakistan to ensure Afghanistan's security. If Pakistan cannot deliver, he warned, the United States may be impelled to use any means at its disposal to rout insurgents based along Pakistan's western and southern borders with Afghanistan.

Current U.S. policy includes the use of missiles fired from unmanned drones on insurgent locations limited to roughly 50 miles inside the western border; training in two military camps for the Pakistani Frontier Corps; and intelligence exchanges. It prohibits kinetic, or active, operations by U.S. ground forces inside Pakistan.

While praising Pakistani military offensives against groups that pose a domestic threat -- primarily the alliance of groups known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan -- Jones made it clear that the administration expects more.


Pakistan is certainly important to any success we have in Afghanistan. Pakistan also fears that success in Afghanistan will merely push more Taliban into Pakistan. That is the reason it is important that Pakistan continue its offensive against the Taliban and not just stop in South Waziristan. It is in Pakistan's interest to destroy the Taliban it created.


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