Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pakistan Gets Worse

Pervez Musharraf and George W. Bush are gone, but the game goes on as, in the wake of $7.5 billion in new aid by the Obama Administration, the Pakistani prime minister complains of a "trust deficit" by US benefactors.

The shell game over Islamist extremists that began after 9/11 is looking even worse. In proposing increased aid, President Obama said he expected Pakistan security forces to crack down on terrorists in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

What he got was an agreement by the Islamabad regime to turn over control of the Swat Valley less than a hundred miles from the capital to a pro-Taliban group whose militants have burned schools, banned education for girls and beheaded government officials.

Sen. John Kerry, in Pakistan this week as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is greeted by a statement from the Prime Minister: "The U.S. should not attach conditionalities to the assistance package being presented to the U.S. Congress, as aid with strings attached would fail to generate the desired goodwill and results in Pakistan."

In Washington, Islamabad's ambassador complains that the new aid package is too "intrusive," while back home the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court condemns the flogging of a 17-year-old girl for refusing to marry a Taliban fighter and 200 comrades-in-arms storm terminals storing NATO supplies in Peshawar, killing a guard and torching vehicles.

With the infusion of more troops into Afghanistan, the shakiness of the government across the border is looking worse as it takes US billions and keeps telling us, as Musharraf did, to trust it and mind our own business about the extremist threat to its existence.

Obama's envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, faces a tough job in trying to break that cycle.

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