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  • Morning Bell: Going on the Offensive in Pakistan

    Earlier this week, the New York Daily News caught the Obama campaign purging their website of any evidence that Obama ever believed the surge in Iraq was not working. Obama’s new position on the surge is that there is an “improved security situation” in Iraq due to “our military’s hard work, improved counterinsurgency tactics, and enormous sacrifice by our troops and military families.” Obama is right: the security situation in Iraq has improved. Unfortunately, the situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating. Just this past week nine American soldiers were killed by Taliban militants at a U.S. base in Kunar Province bordering Pakistan. Obama recently told the Military Times his future policies in Iraq would be greatly determined “in consultation with General Petraeus and the other commanders on the ground.” In Afghanistan, as Heritage Asian Studies Senior Research Fellow Lisa Curtis reports, commanders on the ground are saying current Pakistani policy is strengthening the Taliban in Pakistan and directly undermining coalition efforts in Afghanistan.

    Taliban groups in Pakistan are uniting to fight the U.S. in Afghanistan and the Taliban is even setting up Islamic courts in Pakistan asserting sovereignty over the northwest tribal areas. According to Curtis, the advance of pro-Taliban militants in northwest Pakistan has been fueled by peace deals struck by the government three months ago. Curtis writes: “Pakistan will have to confront domestic opposition and go back on the military offensive in the tribal areas, working closely with U.S. and NATO forces to control the Afghan-Pakistani border. Although such operations may be unpopular in Pakistan in the short-term, they are necessary if Pakistan wants to limit the chances of future U.S. unilateral military strikes that could lead to long-term destabilization of the country.”

    In order to help the current Pakistan government see that is in their long-term interest to fight the Taliban now, Curtis recommends the U.S.:

    • Assume a lower public profile on Pakistani domestic political issues, carefully avoiding the perception that we favor one leader or party over another.
    • Support for the newly elected civilian government with the understanding that the democratic transition is an important part of combating extremism and terrorism in Pakistan over the long term.
    • Commit to bringing stable democracy to Afghanistan, which includes preventing the retrenchment of warlords, scaling back poppy production, and avoiding a return to the Taliban’s repressive, extremist policies in any part of the country.
    • Support the appointment of a U.S. presidential envoy dedicated to the task of promoting better relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan that will also coordinate closely with allies.
    • Support for a multilateral balance-of-payments support package that helps stabilize Pakistan’s economy in the short term but is conditioned on Pakistan taking specific steps to address longer-term economic imbalances.
    • Support for high-level strategic dialogue with Pakistan on regional security.

    Unilateral U.S. military operations in Pakistan carry strong risks of losing Pakistani partnership in the war on terror. Before Americans can succeed in Afghanistan, Pakistan must begin to control militants on its side of the border.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Morning Bell: Going on the Offensive in Pakistan

    1. Darvin Dowdy, Houst says:

      I have to disagree w/Lisa. I think we should openly snub or even insult this do-nothing Pakistani gov't. Cut off all aid immediately. Call back our ambassador. They deserve no respect. Their trying to play both sides toward the middle. We need to immediately set up meetings between us, the Indian gov't and the Afghan gov't. Mass troops on Pakistan's east and west borders and conduct aggressive practice maneuvers. If that doesn't get the attention of the Pak's then it'll be time for an ultimatum. These scoundrels are harboring a man who murdered 3000 U.S. citizens. We don't need to be playing delicate diplomatic games with them. DD

    2. Ed Smithe, Virginia says:

      Well, that's a bit of a pullback from Ms. Curtis on the issue of making Pakistan a more healthy place for Democracy…Indeed, that's what the leadership should do, continue to ignore it's people. It's functioned so well up to this point.

      By the way, I don't know if she has had a chance to take a look at the recent IRI poll (June 1-15) that measured A.Q. Khan (he of proliferating Nuclear know-how across the globe) as the second most popular person in Pakistan.

      First it was Pakistan needs to be more democratic, and now it's Pakistan should be less democratic. Which is it? Or, perhaps we try a third route and drop the religious obsession with democracy (especially how it relates to Pakistan) and instead fashion a policy that uses FACTS on the ground as its foundation. Anything less will continue to fail and continue to place the U.S. in harms way over the medium (to perhaps short) term.

      This analysis needs a lot of work.

    3. John Maszka says:

      Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Pakistan has 160 million Arabs and a nuclear arsenol. Pakistan also has the support of China. The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state's sovereignty.

    4. Matt, Bagram Air Bas says:

      Someone once wrote; “those that fail to study history, are doomed to repeat it”.

      The incidences of increase violence along the Afghan/Paki boarder should have everyone thinking back into history to the 1970s and drawing corollaries to the Laos/Cambodian boarder with Vietnam. And how having safe areas for the enemy to rest and regroup and re-equip impacted that ugly war.

      Militarily if you are not able to pursue your enemy, persecute him where he rests and punish him offensively when and how of your choosing, you are doomed to fight a defensive war. A conflict where the enemy picks the time and place he wishes to engage your forces is a losing war. The attack on that Platoon Patrol Base in the Kunar Provence of Afghanistan, that saw the loss of nine American soldiers should be a sharp reminder of this type of conflict and its costs.

      So to our political leaders it should be their priority to take whatever steps are needed to remove/deny these Safe Havens from the enemy. Barring all political means allow the military to do it political boarders be dammed.

    5. Ahmed Quraishi, Isla says:

      Washington has been double-crossing Pakistan from the start in this war. Our ideas for Afghan reconciliation have been ridiculed and ignored, all senior positions in Kabul have been given to ex-Communists who fled to India, and the Indians have been allowed to set up terrorist training camps and send saboteurs inside Pakistan to stir up ethnic, sectarian and religious terrorism. CIA and US army goons are deliberately supporting terrorists in Balochistan where China has invested in the Pakistani port city of Gwadar. If Pakistani security concerns are so cheap in Washington's eyes, then sorry, Washington will never win in Afghanistan. What will you do? Exterminate Pakistanis and Afghans altogether, minus, of course, the puppet regime of Karzai? And where is the moderator of this site on Mr. Darvin Dowdy's comment where he calls the Pakistanis 'scoundrels'? If it's all fair when it comes to Pakistan, it's all fair when it comes to American occupation of the independent and proud people of Afghanistan.

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