Pakistan: our not-so-willing partner

September 22, 2006 at 9:15 pm (Afghanistan, International community, Islamism, Pakistan, The United States, The West, US Government)

Richard Armitage threatened that The United States would bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate with The United States against al-Qā’idah. This is to be expected. Pakistan had many reasons to cooperate with The United States, but it also had many reasons not to. One, of course, was Pakistan’s active support for the Tālibān, whom they would then have to essentially destroy. It is not easy for anyone to destroy one’s own creation.

Pakistan has been a crucial partner in The West’s War on Terrorism. Without Pakistan’s assistance, for example, The United Kingdom would not have been able to break the terrorist ring to bring down American airplanes. But there is a shadowy side to this relationship as well, and we had better pay close attention to this aspect as well.

There is a very good reason why the Tālibān were not completely wiped out, why they sought and found refuge in the Wazīristan area of Pakistan, why they were able to experience a resurgence, and why, above all, Usāma has not been found (if he’s alive).

The Pakistani government, to a large degree, simply cannot control or exert authority in the Wazīristan area. No government – whether Mughal or British or Indian or Pakistani – has ever had any control of those tribal areas. As Wazīristan’s people have chosen to harbor and support the Tālibān, there’s little Pakistani authorities can do, unless it wants to become embroiled in a bloody civil war in that region.

But there is, of course, more to it than that. In addition to not being able to do it, Pakistani authorities don’t want to do it. Some of the Pakistani authorities are sympathetic to the Tālibān. Others support the Tālibān as they have in the past. But more importantly, Pakistani authorities see the Tālibān as a useful tool. Through the Tālibān, Pakistan has the ability to exert influence on Afghanistan. Consider for a second that until the invasion that overthrew the Tālibān regime, Pakistani elements essentially called the shots. Afghanistan was an extension of Pakistan’s sphere of influence, somewhat like India’s influence on Nepal and Bhutan. Furthermore, if the Tālibān continues to annoy Afghani leaders and pose as a challenge to The United States’ Armed Forces, the governments and militaries of Afghanistan and The United States will have to depend on currying Pakistan’s favor. The Tālibān – not so much the entity as much as the problem they pose – can be used to serve Pakistan’s interests. Even more, this way Pakistan will not become irrelevant again (as they feel they had after The Cold War).

The United States said that it will send in its troops if it locates Usāma. This sends a very, very strong message to Pakistan. Essentially: stop fooling around with us, and don’t think you can get away with this game for long. The United States is essentially saying that it will no longer depend on Pakistan to eliminate Usāma. Pakistan was counting on The United States depending on Pakistan for this mission. Now that their bluff just may be called, Pakistan is placed in a precarious situation. On the one hand, if they do not cooperate with Coalition forces, Pakistan’s role and standing in the Coalition of the Willing will suffer a major drawback. It may even find itself under intense international pressure – open or not so open – to conform or face the consequences. Considering how Pakistan remains a hotbed of terrorist activity, Pakistan has a lot to loose. On the other hand, if Pakistan cooperates with Coalition forces, internal elements will be severely displeased, even to the point of reprisal.

But one things remains clear, as painful as it may be for all involved: terrorism is no one’s friend. All it does is hurt. And so Pakistan will be far better off eliminating terrorism, whatever the costs may be, or be faced with being ruled by another Tālibān-like regime. This will, of course, bring the full brunt of international displeasure upon Pakistan’s head – which is a significant issue considering one of the most active and vocal in this opposition will be Pakistan’s nuclear-armed neighbor, India.



  1. J said,

    I tend to agree with you, though I’m much more suspicious of Pakistan. You might be ineterested in this column on the subject.

  2. Wickedpinto said,

    I doubt we ever used the words “bomb you into the stone age.” I think that was how it was TAKEN!

    I think that the discussion was more along the lines of this.

    “The President of The United States on this day of singular modern horror requests your assistance in it’s desire, and will to destroy the protectors of the terrorists who perpetrated this vile act, before it is seen as weakness on the part of the United States, and the indifference of their allies. I know that prior to now you have been the only nation to acknowledge the Taliban, and we respected that in the past, though we disagree’d with it, but let me say now, and let me say clear, we WILL enter all nations that house and support Al Queda, and the Taliban, we were wondering if we could count on your support?”

    See? thats called diplomacy, something that dick armitage had BETTER practiced. What I just said within that quote was “I don’t really need your help, but you REALLY don’t need me to think that you are working against me, you dig?”

    To which Musharaff should have soiled himself. We don’t need to bomb pakistan into the stone age, we only need to weaken musharaff’s military at which point the lunatic tribalism of the nation would have driven themselves into the stone age without our assistance, and as soon as pakistan became an anarchic “failed state” as though it isn’t already, india would have had the free and clear to do as they please as long as they didn’t hinder us.

    Thats a small complication that exists in diplomatic strategy, real strategy is much more complicated than that.

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