Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Playing With Fire in Pakistan

Barack Obama avoided going there and John McCain has trouble remembering where it is, but Pakistan is the hottest spot in the Mideast with today's news that Islamabad's intelligence agency, the ISI, helped plan last month's bombing of the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

A senior US official tells the Washington Post about "significant" evidence that ISI members provided logistical support to the bombers as well as in an attempted assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In this CIA leakfest, the New York Times gets "new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas."

These revelations, called "hellacious" by the ISI chief, come right after the new Prime Minister's trip to Washington offering assurances that his intelligence agency is above suspicion and asking for more technical aid to help them keep doing their work.

In a sane world, Pakistan with all this duplicity as well as its who-knows-where nuclear stockpile, would be seen as a threat to national security calling for an immediate, bipartisan, continuing response, but sanity is in short supply.

Our current president greets their prime minister burbling about "our common desire to protect ourselves and others from those who would do harm" while the presidents-in-waiting bash each other about failing to understand the problem and then studiously avoid addressing it.

It would be reassuring to believe that, behind the scenes in Washington, some real thinking and planning about how to deal with Pakistan is going on but, from the evidence, there is only political posturing and CYA leaking from the CIA.


Anonymous said...

And the US Congress still debates whether to pursue close ties with India OR continue to give billions in aid to Pakistan in the hope that they will fight terrorism (when in fact, they are doing the exact opposite by helping the terrorists).

One one hand you have the largest democracy in the world which has relentless pursued open market policies for the past 10+ years; is one of the fastest growing economies in the word; has a secular and strong constitution in support of peace and non-violence. On the other hand you have a backward country full of religious bigots and hate-mongers; is the cradle of modern-day terrorism and the supplier of arms to most terrorist activities in Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq; has done nothing to improve its social or economic status in the world; has had more years of military rule than a democratically elected government; has a population that largely is uneducated and ignorant.

The Bush administration's foreign policy (or more appropriately lack thereof) has been built on a complete lack of understanding of the situation in Pakistan and the middle east. It is one thing to be un-informed but take the advice of those who are Subject Matter Experts but it's plain stupidity and bone-headedness to think that you know it all and keep repeating your mistakes over and over again. It's like ramming your head against a concrete wall expecting a different result each time.

Anonymous said...

As a resident of US, I am embarrassed by the extent to which CNN leans towards Pakistan. For the last few days, stories on the rogue ISI involvement on attacks on American soldiers as well as Kabul embassy bombings were doing the rounds of all news websites - save CNN. The fact that the Bush administration delivered a stern message to the visiting Pakistani PM was also not given front page coverage. No coverage also for the news of US commanders visiting Pakistan repeatedly to confront the administration with evidence of ISI support to Taliban. It is only when Pakistani's themselves - led by discredit A Q Khan club figures like Hamid Gul - start disputing these facts that CNN carries them.