Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan - things are getting tough

Pakistan is a weak nation, one in which the central government does not control all of its' assumed land area or all of its' internal institutions. The Pakistani Army is probably more powerful than the civilian government, and the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) agency, ostensibly an agency of the Army, is very probably more powerful than either the civilian government or the Army itself. The Obama White House has rather clearly decided that the ISI obstructionism has gone on long enough.
(Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top U.S. military and intelligence leaders delivered a tough warning to Pakistan on Thursday to cut suspected ties with militant groups which have upset relations between the uneasy allies.

Clinton led a heavyweight U.S. team at talks in Islamabad to

press Pakistani counterparts on U.S. accusations that Pakistan assists militants who launch attacks on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border and increasingly threaten U.S. interests.

"The meeting lasted for four hours. It was extremely frank, the discussion was very detailed," a senior U.S. official said after the meeting, adding that more discussions were planned for Friday.

The visit by Clinton, CIA director David Petraeus and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, was a sign that Washington is determined to get its message across amid rising tensions among three key players in the Afghanistan war.

The meeting included Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, the powerful army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who heads the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) agency which U.S. officials have singled out for its alleged support of militant groups.

Earlier on Thursday during a visit to Kabul, Clinton said it was time to send a "clear, unequivocal message" to Pakistan that it must step up efforts to broker an end to the decade-long war in Afghanistan and crack down on safe havens used by militants.

"They must be part of the solution and that means ridding their own country of terrorists who kill their own people and cross the border to kill in Afghanistan," Clinton said.
It's clear that Pakistan's cooperation is going to be necessary to resolve the US combat situation in Afghanistan, and the leaders of the ISI are aware of that. They are depending on that fact to keep the US from punishing Pakistan as a nation for the bad behavior of the ISI. The message from Secretary Clinton is clearly part of the process of ramping up the pressure on Pakistan.

All we are seeing is what each side is willing to tell the media. The US may be ramping up the pressure, but Pakistan has both India and China sitting on its borders threatening it. With those two nations as immediate threats, the US is going to have to really ramp up the pressure to even be noticed. So I do not envy Secretary Clinton in delivering the message that the US has had enough. I'm glad she is doing it, though. It is necessary.

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