Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who Lost Pakistan?

That question is likely to bounce around the buck-passing corridors of power in Washington D.C. over the next four years. No matter whether it’s President McCain or President Obama doing the blaming, George W. Bush will likely be held responsible, as he will for so many bad things in the next quarter-century or so.

Our Pakistan policy has been flawed for decades, but in defense of Mr. Bush and all the others who have had to deal with it, it’s conceivable that there was nothing that the United States could do to improve the situation. Since 1947 Pakistan has been a failed state in the making, and now that failure is finally upon us:

Intelligence Report: U.S. Antiterror Ally Pakistan ‘On the Edge’

WASHINGTON — A growing al Qaida -backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistani army’s reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown, political infighting and energy and food shortages are plunging America’s key ally in the war on terror deeper into turmoil and violence, says a soon-to-be completed U.S. intelligence assessment.

A U.S. official who participated in drafting the top secret National Intelligence Estimate said it portrays the situation in Pakistan as “very bad.” Another official called the draft “very bleak,” and said it describes Pakistan as being “on the edge.”

The first official summarized the estimate’s conclusions about the state of Pakistan as: “no money, no energy, no government.”

This not-yet-completed NIE is so top secret that it has already been leaked to the press:

Six U.S. officials who helped draft or are aware of the document’s findings confirmed them to McClatchy on the condition of anonymity because NIEs are top secret and are restricted to the president, senior officials and members of Congress. An NIE’s conclusions reflect the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

[…]

The findings also are intended to support the Bush administration’s effort to recommend the resources the next president will need for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at a time the economic crisis is straining the Treasury and inflating the federal budget deficit.

In other words: there might not be a whole lot of money left over for Pakistan.

If you were looking at a drastically reduced budget and doing triage for the NSC, which would you choose to focus on: North Korean nukes, Iranian nukes, Pakistani nukes, containing Hugo Chavez, brinkmanship with the Russians, propping up Nouri al-Maliki, or propping up Hamid Karzai? I’m betting on Karzai, because Afghanistan is where all the heroin is coming from.

But then, I’m cynical.

And Pakistan may be about to descend into chaos:
- - - - - - - - -
The estimate says that the Islamist insurgency based in the Federally Administered Tribal Area bordering Afghanistan, the suspected safe haven of Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, is intensifying.

However, according to the officials, the draft also finds that the Pakistani military is reluctant to launch an all-out campaign against the Islamists in part because of popular opposition to continuing the cooperation with the U.S. that began under Pervez Musharraf, the U.S.-backed former president, after the 9/11 attacks.

Anti-U.S. and anti-government sentiments have grown recently, stoked by stepped-up cross-border U.S. missile strikes and at least one commando raid on suspected terrorist targets in the FATA that reportedly have resulted in civilian deaths.

The Pakistani military, which has lost hundreds of troops to battles and suicide bombings, is waging offensives against Islamist guerrillas in the Bajaur tribal agency and Swat, a picturesque region of the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan. U.S. officials said insurgent attacks on Pakistani security forces provoked the Pakistani army operations.

[…]

However, the ruling coalition, in which President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto, holds the real authority, has been preoccupied by other matters, according to the draft NIE.

These include efforts to consolidate its power after winning a struggle that prompted its main rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, to leave the ruling coalition.

Moreover, widespread anti-U.S. anger has left the coalition deeply divided over whether to unleash a major military assault on the Islamists, the U.S. officials said.

The government is also facing an accelerating economic crisis that includes food and energy shortages, escalating fuel costs, a sinking currency and a massive flight of foreign capital accelerated by the escalating insurgency, the NIE warns.

The Pakistani public is clamoring for relief as the crisis pushes millions more into poverty, giving insurgent groups more opportunities to recruit young Pakistanis.

Osama is trapped up there in Waziristan. But how long will he stay trapped, given the current situation?

We may be closer to an Al Qaeda nuke than we think.


Hat tip: Steen.

8 comments:

Henrik R Clausen said...

Pakistani loyalty extends no further than the amount of dollars we send them.

Perhaps even less so.

On the other hand, Bush and the Elite are so worried about stating the obvious that perhaps we should help him by not doing so?

The Anti-Jihadist said...

Strategy Page has a different take on the situation in Pakistan:

October 17, 2008: Largely out of the media spotlight, at least in the West, the Pakistani army has taken on the most numerous and aggressive part of the Taliban organization, and is tearing it to pieces. For the last two months, the Pakistani Army has been moving through the Bajaur Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), killing Taliban and al Qaeda fighters who have largely controlled the rural parts of the 1,300 square kilometer district for years. There were only a few thousand armed men working for the Taliban, and several thousand more who have come in since the fighting began. Over a third of these Taliban have been killed or wounded, and they have been driven from one compound (the fortress like groups of houses that are favored in this part of the world) after another. The army has used air power (mostly armed helicopters) and artillery to do most of the killing, using infantry to guard the roads and urban areas. The Taliban have had a hard time moving around, and have not been able to inflict many casualties on the army. Most of the civilian population has fled, as trying to use civilians as human shields does not work against the Pakistani army.

Read the rest at
[url]http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htterr/articles/20081017.aspx[/url]

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks, Anti-Jihadist. Very welcome news (Proper link to Strategy Page).

That fits what the Danish soldiers are reporting: The enemy has disappeared. The previous contingent had been in a lot of the tough fighting (I believe it is in Helmand), but the current one has, for a couple of months, hardly seen any Taliban activity worth mentioning.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Most of the civilian population has fled, as trying to use civilians as human shields does not work against the Pakistani army.

Yikes...

But at least that probably reduces the likelihood that Taleban pursues that tactic :)

Afonso Henriques said...

Nothing I have not told you people, Musharaf was "one of our own". Pakistan is falling apart and only islam can sustain it. What will happen? Will Pakistan fall apart? Perhaps, but will undoubtedly happen is a strenghtening of islam in Pakistan, especially among the youth.

"If you were looking at a drastically reduced budget and doing triage for the NSC, which would you choose to focus on: North Korean nukes, Iranian nukes, Pakistani nukes, containing Hugo Chavez, brinkmanship with the Russians, propping up Nouri al-Maliki, or propping up Hamid Karzai?"

As I see it this is what Amerikkka, the big Satan, should do, starting now:

1) Not give up in Afghanistan. You do not want to fight it? Don't, you can put blackwater there and call Eastern European Nato members, better, put Saakashvili there... Those Eastern Europeans would like to do the job and would do it properly, and you would always have blackwater like American companies running the business, who knows, under direct orders from the President or whoever bosses in the American Army in Afghanistan.

2) Get out of Iraq, fast! No, do not run. Instead, replace those American soldiers by Iraqi soldiers, in four stages (25% Iraqi/ 50% Iraqi / 75% Iraqi / 100% Iraqi) and be sure there is always one American/British/NATO person in charge.
Then don't worry about what happens in Iraq, just defend your oil, because that is why you people bought this war. Get the oil and leave the hell out of there. If something happens, let the Iranians or the Arabs intrevein. Be sure Israel will only be defensive.

3)Get the Pakistani nukes out of Pakistan. Do whatever you can to it. It is better not to go to war with Pakistan but to infiltrate it, destroy the country, make every province independent if you need to. Be sure India is at your side don't matter what. Leave a mensage to China: "you have no area of influence to your South, North or West". If needed, lose Taiwan peacefully.

4) Cointain Bolivarianism in Latin America. Support right wing states even if it is Hitler down there. Give tones of money to Argentina, Uruguay, and even Chile and Mexico. Be ready to inject billions to buy the Brazilian elite to stop Bolivarianism in Brazil. However, the North is already lost, just be sure that South and Southeastern Brazil is not (even more) "brownified" and that the right wing elites have a steady controle over that area.

-----------------------------------

Of course, nothing of this will happen. In my view, if you were able to control Afghanistan, stop attacking Russia, stop playing "The Cold War is Back" at the expense of the fears of Eastern Europeans and if you could show the world you would not let Bolivarianists take power in Colombia by non democratic means, it would be great.

If you stopped Mexican immigration and reverted immigration to the United States to be mainly European; and if you would stop siding against Europeans in every single conflict, it would be even better.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Will Pakistan fall apart? Perhaps, but will undoubtedly happen is a strenghtening of islam in Pakistan, especially among the youth.

I believe that having Pakistan fall apart along ethnic lines is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Then ethnicity, not Islam, would be more important, and the strife between ethnic groups will demonstrate that having the same 'religion' isn't worth shit.

Yes, there are nukes to worry about. Even with that considered, having ten smaller countries at war with each other is preferable to having a big one at war with everyone around them.

Robin Shadowes said...

Shouldn't be too hard to get India as an ally. One thing is for sure, they're not too happy about the pakistani nukes and would probably see them gone entirely if possible.

Afonso Henriques said...

Spot on Henrik, indeed.