Pakistan overplays its hand

By Lisa Curtis
April 15, 2011

A Pakistani soldier poses for a photo under Pakistan's national flag planted atop the Baine Baba Ziarat mountain in Swat district, during a trip organized by the army May 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed/Files

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Pakistan is reportedly calling for a reduction in U.S. drone missile strikes against terrorists sheltering in its tribal border areas, greater transparency from the CIA regarding its counterterrorism activities inside Pakistan, and a reduction in U.S. military trainers in the country.

Following a meeting in Washington between the director of Pakistan’s intelligence service, Shuja Pasha, and CIA Director Panetta on Monday, a Pakistani official told The Washington Post that the CIA must share more information about what it “wants and is doing” inside Pakistan, adding, “They have to stop mistrusting [Pakistani intelligence] so much.”

The problem is that Pakistan’s handling of recent terrorism cases and its dealings with the Afghan Taliban have done little to inspire the trust Pakistani officials seek. Pakistan maintains links with the Afghan Taliban as well as deadly militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, that are responsible for some of the fiercest attacks against coalition soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan.

Moreover, Pakistan has failed to take substantive action against the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) terrorist group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed nearly 166, including six Americans. Pakistan has dragged its feet on trying and prosecuting seven LeT members who are widely believed to be behind the Mumbai carnage that it took into custody over two years ago. In fact, one of the alleged ringleaders of the attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, had been instructing LeT operatives while in Pakistani custody, raising questions over whether the Pakistanis were “protecting” rather than “prosecuting” him. In congressional testimony, U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Robert Willard expressed concern about the expanding international reach of the LeT.

Pakistani intelligence officials are seeking to take advantage of the Ray Davis episode to gain leverage in their dealings with the U.S. But the Obama Administration must remain committed to U.S. counterterrorism goals in the region and continue to pursue policies in Pakistan that prioritize protecting the U.S. homeland from additional terrorist strikes. Rather than seeking to change U.S. counterterrorism objectives in the region, Pakistan should propose strategies for jointly tackling the threat.

The trial of David Headley, the Pakistani-American arrested in Chicago in 2009 for involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, is set to resume in the middle of next month. The disclosures that come to light during that trial are sure to raise more questions about Pakistan’s relationship with the LeT. To avoid further international embarrassment over the issue, Pakistan must take action against the perpetrators of the attacks. Punishing the perpetrators would be the best way to quell accusations of official Pakistani involvement in the attacks.

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[...] = "0000FF"; google_color_text = "999999"; google_color_url = "191919"; Looking to buy Climbing Hand [...]

[...] Reuters Blogs (blog) [...]

[...] Reuters Blogs (blog) [...]

Hello Lisa, Since gaining independence in 1947 Pakistan has always overplayed its hand because U.S was always supportive of its anti-status quo policies be it against Iran, Afghanistan or India.Despite its small footprint as a political,economical and geographical entity Pakistan always played a bigger role riding piggyback on U.S arms and other financial support.The difference now is that Cold war has ended and U.S finds itself weakening and its cold war ally is now working cross-purposes to U.S Policy in the region.

Historically Pakistan was part of the alleged khorasan region(Iran + Afghanistan + Pakistan) which has been of no productive value much before islam arrived in this area and since 1000 year ago after islam arrived here pushing the whole region into turmoil and devastation and since then this area has been unstable and a danger to the main indian mainland if i may call it only providing foot soldiers of tryanny and loot. The only exception being Iran which found oil as a commodity to run its economy.

There is no agricuture and industry and intellectual capacity developed since hundreds of years and they want that history be repeated and they are again bent upon creating disturbances and mayhem again in the sub-continent.The stimulus for that has been provided by the U.S with its sightless policy of supporting the afghan jihad which Pakistan now feels and thinks can be replicated worldwide under its Nuclear Umbrella .This is their world view and for which U.S must blame itself fully.The U.S may think that it is immune because of being far away but i think it will a mistake to think like that because to secure political power under banner of Islamic jihad the Jihadists will not take physical control of the Government but create condition of anarchy and chaos and enable the Military officers sympathetic to the jihad cause which have the same mindset.They are not going to come from outside but from inside as they are already in control.

Please note Islamic thought abhors economic and intellectual upliftment and this has been the history. You cannot fight a politico-military islamic movement with economics or appeasement. you have to defeat them first.I am sure that you have read the book the Koranic concept of war by Brig. S.K Malik whose foreword was written by Gen. Zia ul Haq.


Posted by shikum | Report as abusive