Still deluded after all the intervention in AfPak.

mmghosh's picture

So the NYT has an extensive article about how Osama bin Laden was deliberately protected by the ISI, with the full knowledge of the State.


The Pakistani government, under President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was maintaining and protecting the Taliban, both to control the many groups of militants now lodged in the country and to use them as a proxy force to gain leverage over and eventually dominate Afghanistan. The dynamic has played out in ways that can be hard to grasp from the outside, but the strategy that has evolved in Pakistan has been to make a show of cooperation with the American fight against terrorism while covertly abetting and even coordinating Taliban, Kashmiri and foreign Qaeda-linked militants. The linchpin in this two-pronged and at times apparently oppositional strategy is the ISI. It’s through that agency that Pakistan’s true relationship to militant extremism can be discerned — a fact that the United States was slow to appreciate, and later refused to face directly, for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with a powerful Muslim nation.

Well and good.  So it is now obvious that the extensive support for the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s had major negative consequences for the stability of South Asia, with admittedly a few isolated terrorist acts outside of this region.  Not only that, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto removed perhaps the only Western-oriented politician in the area, planned and executed by the same group of people.

In late December, a group of militants, including two teenage boys trained and primed to commit suicide bombings, arrived at the Haqqania madrasa in the northwestern town of Akora Khattak. The madrasa is a notorious establishment, housing 3,000 students in large, whitewashed residence blocks. Ninety-five percent of the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan have passed through its classrooms, a spokesman for the madrasa proudly told me. Its most famous graduate is Jalaluddin Haqqani, a veteran Afghan mujahedeen commander whose network has become the main instrument for ISI-directed attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan.

The two young visitors who stopped for a night at the madrasa were escorted the next day to Rawalpindi, where Bhutto would be speaking at a rally on Dec. 27. As her motorcade left the rally, it slowed so she could greet supporters in the street. One of the two teenagers fired a pistol at her and then detonated his vest of explosives. Bhutto was standing in the roof opening of an armored S.U.V. She ducked into the vehicle at the sound of the gunfire, but the explosion threw the S.U.V. forward, slamming the edge of the roof hatch into the back of her head with lethal force. Bhutto slumped down into the vehicle, mortally wounded, and fell into the lap of her confidante and constant chaperone, Naheed Khan.

After this kind of extensive documentation, the conclusion, I would imagine would be - finally, not to be deceived by appearances of "co-operation" with the West, "westernisation", fostering of modernism and so forth.  But what delusional conclusion does the writer come to?  An appeal for the US to continue to remain in Afghanistan!  My emphases.

When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.

Was she leant upon to suddenly include this passage at the end of an analysis that shows exactly the opposite?

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Pakistan is not our friend

Bird Dog's picture

Musharraf played a double game from Day One.

Pakistan is a state sponsor of militant Islamism.

Unlike Iran or Syria, the United States has fallen way short in confronting Pakistan on its state sponsorship, in exchange for access to Afghanistan.

Because they have not dissociated from al Qaeda and most likely never will, it is in the interests of the United States for the Taliban to not return to power. Popular elections and a semi-functional Afghan military is perhaps the best antidote.

The U.S. will do what it can to prevent that return, so it will encourage democratic reforms and help build a semi-functional Afghan military to fight the militant Islamists.

The U.S. has done a poor and incompetent job in its efforts against the Taliban, from one administration to the next. The Obama administration did indeed alienate Karzai, but it's not a one-way street.

Hence the dissonance.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

The USSR couldn't invade Pakistan, either


though they knew the mujahidin were using the far side of the mountains.  Just how far can the US go into Pakistan, with no end game?  What's our overarching strategy in Af/Pak?  It's not like we can run either Afghanistan or Pakistan, even for a few years.  India's got its finger up Afghanistan's gand and well we know it.   Afghanistan is crawling with Indian spies.  Pakistan's paranoia about Indian meddling is entirely justified.  If we wanted to put an end to this struggle, geopolitically, we'd work for peace between India and Pakistan as assiduously as we try to get the Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile.  We'd talk to both India and Pakistan about their problematic situations with minority populations, working towards some resolutions on that front.  You know, democracy, rights of man, get them to do something about the corruption plaguing both nations.


If I'd been Bush43, I'd have told Pakistan to cut loose the Taliban or we'd move for the creation of a Pashtunistan, carved out of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  As for OBL, well, pashtunwali says they have to protect their house guests, understandable, I'd have taken the matter to their tribal authorities and bought OBL's head on a spike.  But knowing the history of Afghanistan, my scheme would involve turning the Taliban/Pashtun to give Pakistan the well-deserved beating they've had coming for many years.  I blame Pakistan for most of the troubles with India.  India's not blameless, see prior para, but by God and his angels, Pakistan needed a kick in the goolies and still does.  And the Pashtun would do it for us.

Isn't Meddling With Afghanistan Its Own Punishment?

M Scott Eiland's picture

If I was running Pakistan and therefore hated the guts of everyone living in India, I'd sort of *hope* that India got its junk caught in the beartrap that is Afghanistan. Of course, if India really wanted to meddle in Afghanistan, they'd smuggle a Lorena Bobbit style butcher knife to every woman in the country and implictly *dare* the Taliban to take over and start pulling their misogynistic crap again.

. . .and Don Mattingly must be fired (bye Ned--don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out!).

The area of the NFWP/AfPak is contested territory for 3000 years

mmghosh's picture

at the very least.  Since recorded history/myth, anyway.  


The Prince of Gandhara (modern Kandahar) was a trickster who literally schemed  and triggered the Mahabharata war.  This is something every child learns in South Asia, even illiterates, who watch traditional folk dances, dramatisations and, of course, Bombay movies and TV serials.  Not just Hinduism, but AfPak is a traditional battleground for the Sikhs and Muslims - Babur, the conqueror of India was the King of Kabul, and Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Maharaja was responsible for driving out the Afghans out of the Punjab.  These Sikh-Muslim conflicts are portrayed on the murals of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, something almost everyone in the Punjab knows.


Why do you think that over 3000 years of myth, religion, culture, tradition - and conflict - the stuff of life in these parts - will simply disappear when Americans appear on the scene?  Think about how difficult it is to erase the conflicts and memories of the Civil War in the US - something that happened a mere 150 years ago.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

The Taliban is the ISI's Mean Dog.


Pakistan was never a friend of the West.  Nobody was ever deluded into thinking it was a friend.  Nor has India shown itself a true friend to the West, for all that, playing one superpower off against another as its own vast security and intelligence infrastructure, the fearsome IB, remains completely unaccountable to India's PM or Parliament.  The Central Bureau of Investigation has done little, nor can it. 


Everyone has a Mean Dog.  Such dogs bite their owners with greater frequency than they attack any of the masters' enemies.  Our dogs, the CIA and NSA, did bark before 9/11, warning us of the threat posed by OBL.  We knew Pakistan was dealing with the Taliban, even then.  Our politicians did not act on the warning and continue to believe they can buy off Pakistan, or at least rent them.