Monday, August 2, 2010

. . .as Pakistan burns in civil war: Pakistan's America problem

Tony Karon (in The National) writes perceptively of Pakistan's "America problem," in which regard he notes a recent piece by former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer, who claims that Washington's pressuring of the Pakistani government since 2001 has exacted a heavy price, and immersed it in a civil war:

One of the few voices in Washington that seemed to “get” the Pakistani perspective last week was Michael Scheuer, who formerly headed the CIA station charged with apprehending bin Laden. “The army’s operations have sparked a civil war between Islamabad and the tribesmen,” Scheuer wrote in The Diplomat. “For several years this struggle was confined to the tribal lands, but since 2008 it has spread into Pakistan proper, bringing repeated bombings, ambushes, assassinations and commando-style raids.”

Rather than “do more” for the US on the eve of its departure, Scheuer suggests: “For [Gen Ashfaq] Kayani and [President Asif Ali] Zardari, the time clearly has come to stop being a US proxy and to focus on halting Pakistan’s drift toward becoming a failed state. Because Washington has no clue that the services rendered it by Musharraf and Zardari caused the civil war now raging in Pakistan, Kayani and Zardari can expect nothing from Obama’s administration except demands for actions that would ultimately destroy Pakistan’s stability.”

Instead, as the US prepares to depart and looks for a political solution, the Pakistani generals will see their strategy of maintaining the Taliban as a vehicle to restore Pakistani influence in Kabul as being vindicated. Even Mr Karzai has turned to Islamabad, now – to the alarm of his Northern Alliance partners and their regional backers – looking for Pakistan’s help in securing a settlement with the Taliban. Far from putting Pakistan at greater risk, that country’s security establishment will see the US withdrawal and restoration of the Taliban to at least a share of power in Afghanistan as an opportunity to begin stabilising a very dangerous situation at home

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