The Corner

Our Friends, the Pakistanis

IBD has an explosive editorial this morning. It alleges that we are being double-crossed — and the killing of our troops in Afghanistan is being abetted — by the Pakistani intelligence service (the ISI), which is harboring Mullah Omar and other Taliban notables. The Taliban, moreover, continues to be bank-rolled by the Saudis.

Here’s how the game works. The Pakistanis are currently engaged in a much heralded crackdown on jihadists. But they are limiting those operations to the jihadists in the northwest tribal region — i.e., those whose primary target is the Pakistani government. By contrast, the Taliban — i.e., the jihadists targeting the U.S. and Afghanistan — are holed up in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, under the protection of the ISI. In fact, there are now reports that Mullah Omar has been moved to Karachi to protect him from U.S. drone attacks.

ISI created the Taliban with the help of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (whose widower, Asif Ali Zadari, is now running the Pakistani government). It continued to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government even after the 9/11 attacks (Saudi Arabia was the only other nation to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s government). In fact, IBD says, “before the U.S. invasion, Islamabad evacuated as many as 1,000 intelligence officers, Taliban commanders and foot soldiers from Afghanistan in a major airlift spanning several nights.” Pakistan has always regarded the Taliban as a strategic asset against India. Thus, the editorial alleges, ISI expects to install Mullah Omar again once the U.S. vacates Afghanistan in the next couple of years.

The IBD editorial also says that, even as it claims to be stepping up the fight against terrorism (with huge U.S. financial support), “the Pakistani military is running training camps in Lahore for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the al-Qaida subcontractor that attacked terror targets in Mumbai last year. In fact, a Pakistani major was just arrested in that attack.”

Here’s how the IBD editorial sums it up:

This is the double game Pakistan is playing. In effect, Pakistani intelligence is running its own secret war against America, a war bankrolled by the Saudis. These are the Taliban’s shadow partners. And they are winning. In effect, we are offering Pakistan-based insurgents 30,000 new targets with no changes in the rules of engagement. Even now, when our troops come under attack, they are not permitted to pursue enemy fighters back across the border and destroy their Pakistani redoubts. Imagine sending troops to France to free the French from the Nazis but failing to take out their Eagle’s Nest next door in Germany. Welcome to our war policy today in Afghanistan. 

General Petraeus is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. It’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say about all this — if he’s asked. General McChrystal’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee was not very enlightening or encouraging. As the Washington Times reports:

One of the few congressional Republicans to oppose a troop surge, Rep. Walter Jones, drew an analogy between Afghanistan and the Vietnam War in asking whether enemies would be able to escape across the border into Pakistan and exploit the rules of engagement. “Do you have the green light to go across the border in hot pursuit?” asked Mr. Jones, North Carolina Republican.

Troops will be allowed to fire across the border at enemy forces when in pursuit, Gen. McChrystal said, but he did not immediately know whether they would be able to physically cross the border. “Pakistan does have sovereign, strategic interests, which I respect. And I think it’s important that what we as a nation do is recognize those, and just like we do with Afghanistan, reinforce that long-term partnership,” Gen. McChrystal said.

What if Pakistan’s sovereign, strategic interests involve protecting the terrorists whose elimination is our only reason for being in Afghanistan?

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