The “end game” is in Pakistan

September 23, 2011

The United States has turned on Pakistan with such dizzying speed over the past few weeks that it is difficult to keep pace. Yet what is clear after Admiral Mike Mullen’s extraordinarily blunt statement that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is that it now has the Pakistan army very firmly in its sights.

Mullen accused the ISI, which is effectively a wing of the Pakistan army, of supporting the Haqqani network in a truck bomb attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan and an assault on the U.S. embassy in Kabul which led to a 20-hour siege. “We also have credible intelligence that they (the Haqqani network) were behind the June 28 attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations,” he said.

It was the most forthright assertion yet by the Americans that the Pakistani military is not merely turning a blind eye to militant groups based on its border with Afghanistan but actively encouraging them to attack American interests.  The Pakistan army says it is overstretched as it is tackling militant groups which target Pakistan without creating new enemies by attacking Afghan militants and denies it retains links with the Haqqani network.

Just one month ago in a report titled “Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan”  a group describing themselves as “the foreign policy elite” laid out what Pakistan wanted to happen in Afghanistan.  Among their suggestions were that both the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Haqqani network be included in talks on a political settlement in Afghanistan.  The report was heavily criticised by those who saw it as  an attempt by Pakistan to maintain its old policy of “strategic depth” – using militant proxies to stamp its influence on Afghanistan and counter India.

It looks like the United States is having none of it. I dislike the expression “end-game” applied to either Afghanistan or Pakistan (or Britain for that matter) with its implication that the people living in those countries come to an end when outside powers lose interest.  But it is worth considering the expression just to show how much has changed. The so-called “end-game” is  now in Pakistan.

That is not to say there are not worsening problems in Afghanistan itself, especially with the assassination of peace council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani “laying open again the fracture lines” of civil war, as Kate Clark wrote at the Afghanistan Analysts Network. Nor is to suggest that anyone disputes the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan. Nor indeed that American tactics and strategy in Afghanistan are not open to criticism – Pakistan repeatedly says it is being used as a scapegoat for U.S. failures in Afghanistan. And nor would it be fair to dismiss Pakistan’s own concerns that by going after the Haqqani network – with its links to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other militant groups – it would face even greater violence on its own soil. Those  are all subjects which merit separate and serious discussion.

But it is to say that the particular end-game going on now is between the United States and the Pakistan army.  Look closely at the proposition being made by Washington.  According to Mullen’s testimony  Pakistan – and specifically its army – must give up support for the Afghan Taliban (the so-called Quetta shura Taliban) and the Haqqani network.  In return the United States will help Pakistan find “an increasing role for democratic, civilian institutions and civil society in determining Pakistan’s fate.”

Whatever language you couch that in, that is quite a difficult proposition for the Pakistan army. First it is being asked to turn on old militant proxies which for decades it saw as its main leverage against both India and a hostile Afghanistan and which for the ISI in particular were a considerable source of power. Second the army – an institution which is used to being the most powerful in Pakistan – is being asked to relinquish its dominance and cede its place to a civilian democracy.  Third, even if it were willing to give up some of its power – and the considerable economic advantages  that go with it – it would need to make a leap of faith that Pakistan’s warring and often corrupt politicians could get their act together to govern the country effectively.

Yet the message that appears to be being delivered by the Americans with increasing force is that if it resists, it will lose.  Unlike during the Cold War when Pakistan was able to exploit U.S.-Soviet rivalry to maintain its position against India, Pakistan is looking very isolated right now.  In the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s it had American and Saudi support.  This time around it is hard to find any country which will help it.

In Afghanistan ordinary people are opening blaming the ISI for the country’s troubles. Russia is worried about instability in Afghanistan spilling over into the former Soviet Central Asia and about drug smuggling pushing up the numbers of heroin addicts whose growth is already gnawing away at its economy. Moscow has been more resistant even than the United States to the idea of taking former Taliban off a UN sanctions list to create a better climate for talks.  Relations with neighbouring Iran tend to go up and down, but are not helped by a spate of  killings of Shi’ites by Sunni extremists in Pakistan. China is interested only in stability and securing its access through Pakistan to oil supplies and raw materials. For all Pakistan’s “deeper than the oceans”  faith in Chinese friendship, it is unlikely to ride to its rescue in a confrontation with the United States over Afghanistan.

Ironically, India is being projected as a way out of the quagmire with the prospect of regional trade offered as a solution to Pakistan’s deepening economic gloom. But India – indeed far more than the United States – has tended to be more suspicious of the Pakistan military and the government has justified to its domestic critics the  current peace process as a way of supporting civilian democracy in Pakistan.

So the question we need to ask is this. Will the Pakistan army fold? Institutions do not give up power easily and arguably the Pakistan army as an institution is more powerful than the individuals who lead it.

In many ways this is like a rerun of the Kargil war writ large. In 1999, the Pakistan army occupied mountain positions in the Kargil region on the Line of Control separating the Indian and Pakistani parts of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir – its troops encroaching on part of the territory that was supposed to be under Indian control.  In doing so, it breached a 1972  agreement with India that neither side would attempt to change the Line of Control, or ceasefire line, by force. 

There was in fact an underlying – though heavily contested – logic to Pakistan’s actions in Kargil. Pakistan considered India’s occupation of Siachen (in the Karakoram mountains beyond the Line of Control) in 1984 as a similar breach of the 1972 Simla agreement. Since the late 1980s – or so I have been told by one of the generals involved – it had thought about occupying the heights above Kargil as a way of training its artillery on the main road from Kashmir towards Siachen, thereby cutting off the Indian army’s supply route.

Yet the Pakistan army had over-reached. It first denied that it had any troops in Kargil at all, saying that mujahideen and irregulars had moved into positions in the mountains as part of their campaign to free Indian Kashmir from what it calls Indian occupation. In an odd foreshadowing of the current situation in Afghanistan, it chose to launch its Kargil war at a time when India and Pakistan were engaged in peace talks. After a brief and bitter war with India, the Pakistan army was forced by international pressure — especially from the United States but more discreetly from China  — into a humiliating retreat.

This time around the Pakistan army appears to have over-reached in a way which could prove to be its undoing. It has taken on the United States – a declining but still superpower – in Afghanistan. The issue here is not really who is right or wrong but rather which country can bring the greater force to bear and the greater international leverage. 

The other possibility is that the confrontation between the Pakistan army and the United States could become more and more dangerous.  But with its very public comments on the Haqqanis and the ISI, the United States has just rolled a dice that it hopes and believes is weighted in its favour.


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Very well written article. However, I think it downplays the China factor.

Pakistan army has an excellent track record of exploiting others’ rivalries to its own advantage. Whether US-Soviet rivalry during pre-Afghanistan cold war, or Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or post cold war US-Al Qaida / Taliban conflicts, Pakistan army has used them all to get all kinds of benefits for itself.

Now, with a US-China rivalry in making and an increasingly aggressive Chines policy (especially towards India), Pakistan army believes it can use the threat of going into “Chinese camp” to milk more support from the US, without delivering anything except titbits in return.

And the US establishment seems eager to oblige, after making the appropriate sounds.

Posted by AnupJ | Report as abusive

I think the US is giving a fitting reply to Pakistan’s recent advertisement about which country has sacrificed the most in TWOT.

The silly Americans are now asking them to sacrifice even more! What kind of allies are these? What is even more surprising is that the majority of the international community, other those in deep oceans, is actually on the side of the US on this. Ungrateful world.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Reading between the lines, one can discern that America has decided to let go of Southern Afghanistan and continue their nation building exercise only in north. This can be seen in position taken by old Northern Alliance against any talks with Taliban and also lukewarm attitude of NATO and India towards reconciliation. American efforts at private talks with Taliban also point in same direction. The American effort to sign a status of force agreement is sure fire poison for reconciliation. Also notice the effort to establish a route through Uzbekistan to north of Afghanistan
This is essentially Robert Blackwell plan. The idea is to dump Afghan south and let it become a problem for Pakistan. When Hillary Clinton talks about Silk Road, she is talking about a road from India to Kabul, then north to Uzbekistan and Georgia. There are two problems with this plan. Internally, Taliban do not buy this division and Karzai has no use in such a setup. I see more focused attacks on Kabul to derail this plan from Taliban and pro division forces work on elimination of those personalities who want to see a unified Afghanistan. There is also Haqqani tribe sitting on top of Peshawar – Kabul axis, hence the focus on Haqqani network. Then there is the question of buy in from neighboring countries. If you put the event in this frame work then you will see lot of coherence and save yourself grief of blame games.

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

India should urge restraint, ask US to not jump to conclusions and offer to play the part of a intermediary where we can talk to Pakistan and arrange some sort of a joint Pakistan-US investigation to establish who the culprits were. US should also hand over any evidence it has to Pakistan so that Pakistani courts can prosecute the culprits. Ultimately US should realize that it is making the Af-Pak border a nuclear flashpoint.

Posted by basanti | Report as abusive

Pakistan must solve its problems with India. The only solution possible is to convert Line of Controls into international border. Only Pakistan army has the strength to do so. The present civilian government lacks credibility in Pakistan to push this agreement.
Peace with India will give Pakistan greater military resources to fight the extremists .
The bilateral peace process will move forward if only pakistan changes its attitude towards India. Recently when Pakistan Foreign minister came to India ,the first thing she did was to meet seperatist leaders in Delhi. Also if India showed flexibility in Sharm al sheikh summit in Egypt it was taken as a sign of weakness. Pragmatism and maturity as shown by the Indian P.M is the only way forward.

Posted by mantra1982 | Report as abusive

If NATO forces knew so much about the truck bomb, then why they did not arrest the truck and the bomber when it was travelling in Afghanistan? I do not understand why NATO fails to arrest these attackers once they are in Afghanistan?

Posted by Tonychu | Report as abusive

As an Indian, I see an opportunistic moment here. I’d like Pakistan to realize that they have no more allies left. It would suit their interests to warm up to India. Both countries need peaceful coexistence. It is the most important thing that needs to happen. Here is a moment that gives that opportunity. After all we are all the same people, just separated by an artificial divide set up a past colonial power and its agents. We all accept Pakistan as a sovereign nation. There is no thought in us about merging with Pakistan ever. There is no need to fear India whatsoever. We all want to move on. And by becoming friendly neighbors, we can resolve a lot of issues faster than by being enemies. We don’t have to turn against any other country in order to stay as a united friends. We can just be friends with understanding of our mutual needs. It can tremendously help change a lot of things in South Asia. Ultimately we in South Asia have to worry about our own well being. It is not going to be the job of the Americans, Chinese or anyone else to sit and spoon feed us. They have their own interests. We need to act on ours. Let us see if Pakistan realizes this fact and changes its attitude towards India.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

“End Game Pakistan” is right choice to end this war on terror. ISI and Pak Army needs a change in management as they consider them to serve democratically elected government of pakistan. They have the power which they do not use for welfare of their own people these seeds were sowed into pakistani army culture way back when it become indepent from british. These seeds of hating neighour and unstabilizing neighouring country was expert advise from saudi amry and royal family. They only way This axis of terror by ISI and Pak Army can be broken is to send Indian Army to help NATO and US amry to clean south aghan and north pak tribal areas. This will shake Pak Army and ISI from both sides to east India and to North NATA, US and Indian Army. This region has being infected for long time history goes back to when Alexander was invading India and was stoped there for a while before he could get inside india. World has paid dearly for decades of terror from this region and End Game Pakistan is only solution, Cancer cannot be treated without killing the root cause of the cancer and this case cancer is ISI and Pak Army with hidden support from Saudi. Pakistani people are paying dearly to this Axis of Evil they should wake up and invite india army to root out this cancer from pak tribal area and south afghan.

Posted by Ashishnfl | Report as abusive

KP Singh said:

> After all we are all the same people, just separated by an artificial divide set up a past colonial power and its agents.

Spoken like a true Punjabi. But just read Matrixx’s comments above and you realise that “our own people” just across the border have a very different take on the situation. This is not a reconcilable difference.

So this is not the time to outstretch one’s arms in an attempted embrace with eyes blissfully shut. The paranoia in evidence across the border does not bode well at all. They will take the subcontinent down with them rather than change their mindset.

Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

India, Russia, China and the United States have one goal in common for both Pakistan & Afghanistan and that is to mitigate Islamic extremism. Otherwise the U.S. has no enduring strategic interests in the region. Accordingly it is best served by leaving that unpleasant & endless task to the Asian Powers. if it isn’t done before then, I imagine the pragmatic Mitt Romney will accomplish that early in 2013, shortly after his inauguration…

Posted by NQE | Report as abusive

Dear Prasad:
It is good to hear from you again. Let me say that relations between India and Pakistan are frozen like Himalayan glaciers. The will be no war and nothing to get paranoid till global warming washes away the frozen heights.
What is wrong with my take on Afghan situation. I’m just trying to make sense of what is going on. If you have a better narrative, I’m all ears. What are those irreconcilable differences?
People of Indus valley have protected central India from invasion from west for centuries and sometimes unsuccessfully but now you are actively collaborating with new world order to subdue any local resistance. Why?

Still I’m in favor of mutually beneficial collaborative efforts in economic field. Do you see any?

Posted by Matrixx | Report as abusive

I applaud Admiral Mullen.
People can play games for as long as they are allowed. Pakistan has some illusion about it’s role and power because of a few half century old ICBMs that do play a vital role against India perhaps.
If push ever came to shove, all that atomic card would do is blow up over Pakistan itself – they don’t want to mess with state of the art firepower.
We’ve been giving money and excuses to Pakistan for far too long, giving them the illusion they can take for granted and hurt the hand that feeds.
I think it’s time to stop entertaining lies that cost our lives and tell them to sit down and be quiet.
China won’t make any moves for at least another few years – they are too busy collecting money from the west.
They aren’t ready for anything yet.
Either way, Putin is just amused.

Posted by avgprsn | Report as abusive

I think this is crazy. I don’t doubt that your analysis is correct Myra, but what I want to know is what the Americans propose either to a) control the repudiation or diminution of of the Pakistani army (good luck, by the way) or b) replace it. Because if you’re correct, and this really IS their strategy, one can only assume that their strategy is to create chaos – just as so many people now suspect their strategy in Afghanistan was to create chaos. Because chaos will be the end result, surely? The Americans don’t seriously believe that the Pakistani army is going to sever ties with these groups, do they? Or are they determined to “punish” Pakistan when that states’ military inevitably refuses to accede to that request? Why no further consideration of what Pakistan’s inevitable repudiation means?

In my view, it pays to keep many different perspectives in mind when thinking about this area of the world. One perspective that is widely derided in the West is the idea that the United States’ ultimate strategy is to deprive Pakistan of its nuclear arsenal. Creating chaos arguably works in favour of international approval for a US military intervention to neutralise that nuclear arms cache. This makes sense to me. But what do I know?

In the meantime, I personally wish more people would pay more attention to the unravelling of the Pakistani state and what that means for the Pakistani people. Because once again, by their policies, the West is storing up trouble for itself.

Posted by SueSueSue | Report as abusive

Dear Matrixx

There are no stalemates between nations until and unless they are allies. Another Mumbai style attack on India and the situation can change drastically within days.Or perhaps another attack on U.S interests in Kabul and Pakistan will be under a bigger pile of pressure from U.S. I am suprised that Pakistan needs Haqqani network or Mullah omar to feel safe on its western front.The friendship with China is overestimated .I find it humiliating for Pakistan that its President had to explain by spending Eid in China that it was not involved in Muslim Extremism in Western China.
I agree with K.P Singh that we are same people ,whenever I have travelled abroad I have felt very comfortable with Pakistanis . Being a Punjabi myself I see a lot of common cultural bonds with them .Only wish that relations between our governments were better.Ultimately I believe peace will come to both countries in 2014 by Narendra Modi and Imran Khan as Prime Ministers.

Posted by mantra1982 | Report as abusive t-press_release&id=1850#pr_link1850

“While taking note of the recent statements made by Admiral Mullen, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff United States, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, termed these as very unfortunate and not based on facts. This is especially disturbing in view of a rather constructive meeting with Admiral Mullen in Spain.

On the specific question of contacts with Haqqanis, the COAS said that Admiral Mullen knows fully well which all countries are in contact with the Haqqanis. Singling out Pakistan is neither fair nor productive.

Categorically denying the accusations of proxy war and ISI support to Haqqanis, the COAS wished that, the blame game in public statements should give way to a constructive and meaningful engagement for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, an objective to which Pakistan is fully committed.”

Pakistan needs a two prong strategy to deal with the current challenge, 10 year US misadventure has greatly destabilized the region. As the end game approaches, it will require nerves of steel on both sides, Pakistan as well as US. US cannot afford a defeat, Pakistan cannot afford another betrayal. Confrontation seems inevitable yet any engagement is increasingly becoming impossible by the day. Both nations will need to find a grey area in between or risk an ugly confrontation soon. First thing both sides need to do is to stop tit for tat see-saw relations and stop the dellusion of calling each other so-called “allies”. On the short-term, Pakistan must take immediate steps to ensure US does not resort to any type of attack, special operation etc on its soil. The Pakistan military and political leadership and general public must unite and mobilize. A more assertive stance, a little bit of offensive rhetoric should help push back some immediate pressure. On the long-term diversify the diplomatic engagement, engage Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and other key regional players including Iran. A robust diplomatic offensive should be launched by Islamabad which should reach out everyone including EU and NATO. Europe for now is dealing with a Debt crisis though, but surely it will be worthwhile to build bridges there. One thing looks clear, Pakistan’s options are very limited and only options available are either bad or worse. For now no good options, but for this nation of 180 million which was carved out of so much turmoil and survived against all odds, no challenge is impossible to overcome. I would like to live for a day when we will look back at these years, stand up as proud Pakistanis and cherish the moments we stood up and dealt with all challenges with dignity. Good luck Pakistan!

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

Yawwwn. The American government is definitely Bi-Polar. They come back to blaming Pakistan when its time to ask for funds from congress and time to cover up for their failiures. Than a few weeks later they are back to begging the Pakistan military and ISI for help and intelligence. Meanwhile, all the knaive american citizens actually think their intelligence and military is the best in the world–joke of the century.

Posted by PakNationalist | Report as abusive

For once I fully agree with the comments made by Adm. Mullen, Pakistan indeed has been allied with and supporting the terrorists who are the hub of the American war machinery. Mr Mullen at his age should be honest enough to repeat the statements of former Gen Macchrystal, that the tall handsome warriors of Afghanistan and Paistan who are the backbone of the Afghan resistance are invincible, never were in their history. Does he reckon that Gen Kyani or Gillani, Zardari-Bhutto or Sharif have the stomach to confront Waziris or Haqani, Karzai or Durranis, Afridi or Shinwaris or even mohmands to help the Americans who have just been practicing their good old game of hit and run What is his advice for the ISI to have contacts with CIA to keep the military informed about the conditions in Paistan. Must the Americans always degrade the dignity of their soldiers at the end like in Vietnam. Adm Mullen should mobilise his last rag tag seals and fight the Pashtoon warriors on the battle ground and not look for excuses. Mr Musharaf and his comrades are no longer around.

Mr Singh has a point in his latst note, no one and I say no one likes to align with the looser. Neither China nor India are going to allow USA consume twenty five percent of the world resources any longer, particularly considering massive industrialisation programs of these large countries. Pakistan must change course and open up borders with India, Iran, Afghanistan and China. This is not the time to support hegemony of any power in the ancient land of people who despite working hard have remained behind times not because of their fault but because of foreign colonisatio. I repeat her for the attention of Indians and Pakistanis what Dr Manmohan Singh said to former Gen Musharaf, we can make the borders meaningless. If Europe can achieve it why ca’nt the people iving in the foothills of Himalaya, hindukush and the Pamir mountains?

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Pakistan should learn the diplomatic art of the Nations, people like Adm Mullen who utter statements of contempt, against a sovereign country does not mean that Mr Zaradari and Mr Gillani start sulking and get emotonal, but instead declare Adm Mullen as Person-non-Grata. Pakistan Govt never did this on many occasions, but let the current leaders declare it so that the exchange remains diplomatic! The so called spring revolution, currently taking place in the arbian world, is likely to show results during the next decade. It is not easy to get rid of the dynasties who for several decades have been denying freedom to their people!

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

I think it is a very bad idea of us (Indians) to get involved militarily in Af-Pak. Remember what happened to the IPKF in Sri-Lanka.

I think our current role of providing development support to all without bringing any force to the (Af) ground is the best thing to do.

I will wish Pak all the best in its endeavors and hope one day sense will dawn but I think that is way far away in future. I think the country and its people need to die some more before they realize their path is untenable.

Posted by r_s | Report as abusive

born in pakistan and have some knowledge of pak army and its functionaries like isi, i strong believe that US is very right. what Mullen said is based on ground realities that pakistani army has been playing double (at least) game with americans at every step and at every corner in the fight against al qaida.
now US is perhaps determined to really set their feet on the ground and it also tells another story that US is not leaving afghanistan, not in the distant future, without accopmlishing its goals.
the truth is that pakistan army is not a culprit of deceiving US but one to its own country. we, the citizen of pakistan die to see a veritable end to the increasing influence of the pak army over each and every national institution like PIA, Railway, petrolium, education, etc. and has destroyed the pakistan both economically and politically for good.
we pray that Almighty save us from the evil of pak army and we know it is only possible when there is no such pakistan that exists now.

Posted by aftab78 | Report as abusive

Lets just look at just a few facts:

1. If the US had gone about its war on terror in a smart way, it would have saved itself many hundred billions of dollars – by some estimates over one and a half trillion dollars. One key reason for this was that policy was determined by trigger happy leaders.

2. The military-driven policy also helped pick a fight with Iraq and destroyed Iraq in the process – REMEMBER THE EXTREMELY SOLID EVIDENCE THAT THE US ARMY HAD RE WMDs – NOT TO MENTION THE ACCUSATIONS RE THE AL QAEDA LINKS. The US lost heavily in Iraq and created many enemies. Hundreds of thousands were killed and the country is in utter shambles – and the US paid heavily in money and lives.

3. Unfortunately, the similarities with Iraq continue in Afghanistan. If only Obama had listened to Richard Holbrooke, who was totally sidelined, there would have been a proper political settlement in Afghanistan. Sadly, the US Generals continue to drive US foreign policy in the region.

The US Generals are now facing questions about their performance – having spent $ 140 billion each year just in this country, not to mention hundreds of thousands of lives lost in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as of US soldiers.

Let me ask a simple question – How can you have people enter their best protected area (after 10 years of occupation/control) and attack targets seemingly at will. If you were winning the war, then the ‘enemy’ would be on the run, certainly not visiting your best protected areas regularly. Your argument – these guys come over the border which is a few hundred miles away – Well you have the best monitoring capabilities in the world and drones that according to you are ‘so accurate that they only kill the enemy and cause absolutely no collateral damage’ then why cant you just kill the couple of hundred people who cross this porous border? Foreign support, even if true does not answer how a handful of guys can penetrate many of your defences in an area under your total control on many an occasion.

The reality is that the US is trying to get a solution by force of the gun, which is not working and this is a crude attempt to find scapegoats – just as was done in Iraq.

The Generals have a strong history of telling monumental untruths. They are now looking for more funding from Congress at a time of cuts.

The American people are not stupid and will eventually see thru this. I blame the press for not telling the whole truth – just as they did not do so during the Iraq war.

Sadly the lessons of the Iraq war have not been learned.

Posted by 0123456789 | Report as abusive

The first American Fallacy in Afghanistan after 9/11 was that it believed it could buy pakistan out of the Afghan mess. Just as churchill said “Americans will eventually do the right thing once all the wrong ations were tried out”.
The Americans now have seen the real problem which is Pakistani deep state and not Afghanistan. Mike mullen demanding pakistan’s ISI to cut-off its ties with Haqqani assumes that given Pakistan’s complicity in Afghan affairs, Afghanistan will never be stabilised and if Pakistan were to concur American intersts then, Americans wont have any problems convicing the Afghans of their plan for reconciliation and nation building.

Secondly, Americans think this is the right time because, Pakistan Army’s loss of credibility due to recent events leading to Osama’s Assasination and attack on mehran base had a lasting effect on the pakistani citizens psyche regarding the respect Army usually enjoyed. we now don’t see statements from uber nationalistic pakistanis about the essential nature of Army as torch bearer of pakistani state (even on this forum).

Thirdly, as pakistanis say, Americans now need an alibi of their failure in case the drawdown becomes messy and ends in civil war in Afghanistan. Perhaps KPSingh01 here was right. Americans are slowly reconciling to the fact of leaving the southern Afghanistan to its fate and to pakistan’s, And trying to work on a nation building in the north of the territories.
It certainly has few advantages.
a)It could do something which is workable and practical rather than firefighting and perpeual war in Af-Pak region. This allows American establishmnt to show to its citizens that something is working and were able to put atleast some part of Afghanistan into order.
b)It has support of regional actors. Iran would support building of northern territories with infrastructure and a strong afghan army made of uzbek and tajik shia groups (with support of northern alliance) and which acts as a buffer to the talibanized southern Afghanistan.
India wouldn’t protest as this would safeguard its investment and its citizens working to build infrastructure noth of afghanistan and for India, the American strategy is similiar to what it followed prior to American involment in Afghanistan after 9/11. Russia is wary of Americans as long as neo-cons were in white house, but weakening economy (read American power) and democratic establishment were successful in convincing the Russians for its support and Russians were obliged as well, as they know Radicalism is against its interests in Central Asia. The big elephant in the room, China realizes that without a stabilized central Asia, it cannot get its interests further down the road. Chinas silence is only more conspicuous and that china without coming to assist pakistan is saying it through its actions that it would not support Pakistan it its proxy-non-conventional warfare based on radical Islamism due to possible repurcussions in its own territories. It will try to Arm Pakistan conventionally against India in order to restrict the latter’s influence to South Asia but will not back its support for radicalism.

The whole world is likely to go into the recession and this time even China may not escape the deep effects on its economy. Pakistan may need more support from rest of the world than world needs it. If bankruptcy hits pakistan again, America with its myraid institutions (IMF, World Bank)will put even more stringent conditions to act on its interests.
Saudi Arabia its only friend, had tried to radicalize pakistan in order to build a bulwark against shiite country of Iran,its foe in middle east, but if the buffer territories of North west Afghnistan were to stabilize due to American-Russian-Indian efforts(Northern Alliance dominated north west) Saudi may lose interest as well.
Well, this time around, Pakistan’s problem is that it cannot take the decision based on consensus. It had to eithr delink its policy of proxy terror and join the mainstream of interntional community or continue its policy and find itself even more isolated (not unlike North Korea, interestingly here too, China is a common friend which does little to salvage the crisis but uses it in a proxy way to bully its rivals with the help of North Korea).

Posted by sensiblepatriot | Report as abusive

Preparing to invade yet another Muslim country in the American war on Islam is just plain stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

When will we simply get out of these wars? Why don’t we ban the supporters of these endless wars from holding office or voting? They don’t respect our voting, why respect theirs?

Bring back majority rule to the USA and do it now.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive

Agreat number of ideas are being poured in this blog what the Americans should or should not do! The guy even speaks for India? india would not protest if……………1 People of the land are being ignored, the talk is about the countries!! There are few letters in the world which stir the blood of many in the British empire or now the American imperial world after ten years experience.

The letters are PASHTOONs! These people have refused to buckle under any authority other than God almighty and their own elders as long as anyone can remember. No invader has ever had words of praise for pashtoons, winston churchil called them miserable and brutal creatures, robert burton said that the brave and ferocious tribesmen cannot be eaten, therefore one would do well to co-opt them.
Many studies have been commissioned and volunteered by so called journalists about the history of this region with a view to learn about the people and to develope a strategy which would facilitate American occupation. General Macchrystal understood robert burton conclusion and tried to get closer to the tribes and win their hearts, the clintonians brought the man with Iraq experience who soon packed up and left with some more medals and thought the intelligence wor is more comfortable than becoming the casualty of the Pashtoon snipers. The new defence secretary recons to follow the old British method of using Paistni military on the front line, without realising that Pakistan military is as green as the any other military.

In a very simple slang language, the USA is in a sht. Now tell me who is the clug sh offering a proposal, which in historial terms brought two hundred years of occupation in India for the Brits but blood and tears in the Pashtoon territories. Just read the stories in thousands of personal stories about British in this part of the world, which are in the camridge libraries. Those tajiks and uzbeks who assisted USA occupation do not have any respectful place in future Pashtoon controlled Afghanistan. Those who do not agree with this prognosis should better read the strategy papers which are now in the internet domain.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Rex Minor,

USA is sht then it would make me wonder why rest of 90% wants to come to USA including Brits.
US Occupation of muslims land mindset explains your anger and hatred towards US.
If Pakistan can control these tribal areas question ” why ISI and pakistan army not do doing it?” May be US aid will stop coming and India will have larger influence on Aghan government and economic ties.
Pakistans Govt is proxy run by military and ISI who have huge power over country’s direction.
Getting India Military(UN)along with US and NATO forces it will help india getting rid of terrorist who come to India from this part of pak Afghan border area will also irritate Pak Army and ISI.
Pashtoons god Almighty is in mecca before that they were Buddhist before that tribes before that shepherds.
If theses tajiks, uzbeks almighty god is Allah then they deserve to move out of there and find their way to Mecca i hope Saudi will gladly accept their gods children and show them the direction of peace.

Posted by Ashishnfl | Report as abusive


You have too many letters in the name. I used the word IN sht and you ignored it. I also used the word Pashtuns and you ignored it. I also said one should read strategy papers which are provided to the military, you ignored it too.
Pakistan military is not a match for Pashtoons, nor were the Soviet troops and now after ten years they have proven that their guiness record still stands. They do not buckle in front of any master, they are the master of their own destiny. The USA should stop looking for excuses, ISI, pakistan military, NATO, UNO etc.

Facts are that the USA has never won a war on their own. Ok, Nicaragua and Panama were exceptions. I do not know which 90 percent you are talking about. People migrate from one country to another for their personal carrears and employment. The USA has too many hispanic, mostly illegal, says the arizona senator. The manufacturing base is now eroded, unemployment is the highest and the USA is the candidate to declare bankruptcy,Help is needed in America, the self styled leader of the west. The French and the Brits have other plans now.

Is India going to help? not a chance, they started converting their dollar reserves into Gold. Is China going to help? obviously not and therefore transfering its dollar reserves into asset buying in Europe and Africa and has offered to help bankrupt European countries by buying useless eurobonds with green dollars. Saudis and the gulf countries are in real sht too, but do not write them off as idiots, they are buying as many good assets which they can in Europe and the USA, copying the strategy which was followed by the USA in seventies. They cannot hold on to iou’s papers any longer. Did you follow what I meant now. The USA military cannot come back since there are no jobs for them, so the proposal of the admin to create jobs for the vetrens. Fllowing your line I have a thought, perhaps the USA could lend its military units to foreign countries(not on the free to UN) against a fee which would enable american military to earn their living without any burden on the USA treasurary. The French military has a unit made up of foreign soldiers. I am pretty sure this could work.

Rex Minor
I am not angry at all for USA occupation of muslim countries, not any more, since the payback process has started and the blame game with it. I do feel sad for the loss of life of innocents and the sufferings of families in the USA: The Vietnam syndrom is still there and history keeps repeating itself with new actors. Obama experience for the world was a desaster! By the way which Brits. you meant, the anglo saxons or the irish or scots?

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

The modern world is continuously changing. Once the Haqqani Network termed as “Freedom Fighters” By American Authorities has turned out to be a valid consideration to be added into the list of world wide terrorist groups. Yesterday they were fighting USSR and today USA just for the sovereignty of the Islamic territory. One very critical consideration is the fact that in the past Haqqani and many other groups like these were primarily public funded which is not the case today. how come they got the resource to be in a position where they are threatening one of the super powers of the world and forcing it to extinguish its strategic ties with one of the most important and critical alley of war against terrorism. Haqani network is for sure assisted on military and logistic grounds to fight such a disciplined war. US claim of Haqqani group’s operation through save heavens in Pakistan ( North Waziristan)is absurd and unjustifiable. The KM distance of Kabul from North Waziristan is approx more then 200. If Haqqani Network has the capabilities to cross those 200 km and attack the Kabul. Then I believe US is in better need to launch an operation against the haqqani group in their jurisdiction. Don’t let them to enter into your occupied territory. A proper sealed boundary as per the international standards is the only solution to the Pak-Afghan cross border terrorist activities. The recent shifting of responsibilities between Pakistan & US authorities will lead the relationship and the condition of the territory towards a close tunnel, with no way ahead and then end up rolling back our policies.

Posted by hasnainrazzaq | Report as abusive

Finally US is coming to its senses. For all the time it has been said that problem is, US’ ally in war, Pakistan military and not afghanistan. Leave afghans alone and let them ROT in hell of religion. Afghanis will die out burning each other’s beards. Real rogue people are Pakistan generals and their policy of strategic depth. But its too little too late. Obama is the right man at wrong time.

Can someone explain why Afghans want India and NOT Pakistan to build roads and bridges for them? Why choose a non-Islamic state for building the place of people of ALLAH?? Beats me!!

Posted by 007XXX | Report as abusive

I always said the day would come when the patience of the Yanks would run out. It just came after the rest of NATO.

Now the Pakistanis are going to have some fun testing their hubris against a real world power. They believed for the longest time that one Pakistani was worth ten Indians. I’m curious to see how many Americans they believe one Pakistani is equal to.

Here’s my prediction. The Americans will do this without ever firing a single shot. They’ll wrap up Afghanistan as quickly as they can. And they’ll start the fun after that. The sanctions that will be slapped down on Pakistan and more specifically on the Pakistan Army will make Iran look like Europe.

People keep focusing on military solutions. And Pakistanis seem particularly obsessed with that idea. However, the strength of the US isn’t based on its military might. It’s based on its economic might. And even with all the trouble the Yanks are in, they are still far and away the largest economy in the world and the only one truly willing to support Pakistan. The US government could bring Pakistan to its knees without ever firing a single shot or sending any stealth helicopters in. The guys in banker’s suits are always more dangerous than the guys in uniforms. Pakistanis should remember that.

Posted by True.North | Report as abusive

On the long-term diversify the diplomatic engagement, engage Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and other key regional players including Iran. – Umairpk

You can try that, except that all those countries aren’t far from the same opinion as the US.

You think the Russians and the Chinese and the Saudi Arabians are happy to support a country that provides a training ground for their citizens to get radicalized? Get real.

The only reason they tolerated that stuff in the past was that it let them export their most unstable citizens to a foreign war (the Brits did this during the colonial era too). But then the Afghan war ended and the crazies came home. Only now they had training and were far more radicalized and motivated to commit horrendous acts against their fellow citizens and governments.

Those countries have learned their lessons. They don’t want a second dose of what happened in the last decade.


Posted by True.North. | Report as abusive

Knowledge and experience is attainable, but human mind is not a blank slate at birth. This determines his destiny. Only the creator has the power to alter it and allow the human wisdom. Hence, muslims, christians and jews pray during their life to obtain wisdom and guidence from the creator.

Pakistan Govt. have always been hostile towards the Afghan Govt. following the colonialist policy of the Brits, fearing that the pashtoons living in Pakistan north may decide one day to join their second half in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has todate not recognised the so called durand line and had close contacts with the former congress party leaders in Pakistan Frontir region, now called Pakhtoonkhawa province and those in India.
Hence Aghanistan friendly foreign policy with India. The American administration have not understood the pashtoon psyche either and hence stregnthened unwillingly the bond between the north and south of the Pashtoon territory, bringing Karzai and Mullah Omar closer and closer to each other. Comprendo, the wise Indian blogger. This in my view has been the key factor forthe foreigners to loose against Pashtoons in Afghanistan. For Pashtoons the family and the loyalty for the tribe is very sacred. Foreigners are all those elements who do not speak pashto language or understand Pashtoon culture. Pakistan Govt elements in this category are therefore treated as foreign elements as well!

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Since the Americans keep bombing Pakistan, and assassinating people on its territory, are they really surprised if Pakistani’s turn against America? With friends like the Americans, who needs enemies?

Posted by royalcourtier | Report as abusive

And what a wisdom!, which throughout their history has led the christians, jews and muslims to slit each other’s throats at the slightest opportunity available. And even today the morons pride themselves of being violent race. A history full of pseudo prayers and real murders, all in name of ALLAH/GOD/whatever…pride or shame??

Posted by 007XXX | Report as abusive

The non believer Indians should stop their shameless attack on believers of Allah or God. No one has the right to speak in God’s name and no one has ever claimed to murder in the name of God. But those who are persecuting minorities in India including the massacre of sikhs and now of muslim kashmiris for security needs is shabby and is unlikely to please their ancient Gods made of clay and sand, which the civilised world got rid of thousands of years ago and have given them a decent place in museums.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Mr Mullen is now former Mullen who just could not aparently walk straight with infantry Generals, specificaly the collegues of foreign military establishments. This is very non-professional to say the least. What did the USA achieve with this act? One does not go about throwing insults at the intelligence of the proud ISI which has been supporting CIA for a donkey years for the money the USA paid to the guy who is ex preident and ex General now and cannot believe that an intelligent commander of the USA could take such a step. Why not give a phone call to Gen Kyani, giving him the phone number and the name of the ISI man who was giving instructions to the people who were active in Kabul? Mr Musharaf forgets that the CIA people do not understand either Pashto or dari language or the punjabi language either which the ISI people speak in their communications.
In my opinion we are watching the performance of two allies who are competing with each other in incompetence. How can you have two allies, one highly emotional and sensitive and the other demanding loyalty and unwavering obedience. So we are up against communication problems. On one hand we have a super power who have now gone into target assasinations and unlawful exjudicial murders with drones and the other one who is moving around their large troops from one place to another not accepting that they have no jurisdictions over the Pashtoon territories which is still handled in accordance with the treaty theBrits made with individual tribes. And who is having fun all the time the individual Pashtun snipers who are making life difficult and causing angst among the Kabul residents. It s a big laugh to announce that Mr Rabbani of the Northern Alliance was making peace negotiations with the talibans? His son was speaing on the cabel net work stating that he was born and educated in Peshawar and considers Peshawar as part of Afghanistan. He was of the opinion that the guy who caused his father’s death was from Pakistan? What are we to make of it?

The good news is that the count down for the departure Mr Obama and his administration has started. They realy worked ver hard, upsetting almost half of the world, not to forget the German foreign minister whose family also got a cold shower in winter, and just about managed to do nothing domesticaly. Not bad, considering that the guy is a son of a kenyan muslim with the immigration background. Not bad at all, things could have been worst under Hillary clinton!

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Ohhh I think I pressed a soft nerve there…good.
Indians by and large don’t try to please their Gods anymore. Just like so called believers the other half of Indians also seek knowledge. Most Indians regret situation in Kashmir and most Sikhs have moved on in India given the excellent financial conditions in Punjab and other states. The government has made up for its mistakes but the justice system is a bit lethargic here. Indians don’t carry grudges for generations and do not carry on hatred and vengeance for generations, which of course is unlike Taliban (not ALL Pashtoons); hence the difference between India and Afghanistan.

And there are thousands and thousands of examples of murders in name of God/Allah by believers and non-believers alike. I have been first hand witness of some of such VIOLENCE IN NAME OF ALLAH. Because one doesn’t knows or agrees with truth does not make truth as non-existent; as truth is NOT subject to opinions. When a drone kills an afghan that is unlawful but when a Pashtoon kills “kaafirs” for establishing Allah’s Qaida then it is wisdom. Why are the Taliban hell bent on spoiling the name of Islam?? May be only Allah knows, given that Koran talks of all human actions to be WILL OF ALLAH.

Posted by 007XXX | Report as abusive

Pakistan leaders could be rated in the world arena as fools, very emotional and unreliable. I would still hesitate to downgrade all of them as idiots. They are not idiots and know by now that which side is loosing the war? The foreigner in the valley of warriors, where bluffs and spins finaly loose and reliance on cash is never for eternity. The haqqani group as well as most of other groups are now very much anti-american and anti-NATO. Haqqani group is also anti India whose presnce is not seen in the interest of the majority but to support the non Pashtun people of Northern alliance. Tough luck for indian leaders; they have the possibility to align themselves with the people of Afghanistan, not only the Kabul Govt. which is equivalent to Afghanistan foreign Office.
Pakistan is certainly not going to shoot further in their feets, their ex leader Musharaf Din put them on the path of loosers already and lost them the respect and cofidence of the Paistani people which they previously had. Mr mullen should also not have made such a dramatic departure accusing its ally withwhom he shared several years of friendship. Shame on you Mr Mullen the civilian ex! No infantry general would have taen such a step.No one in the administration appreciates this act putting the state dept. in a further mess. He was certainly not an ammateur to ignore the impact of his transparent commentry admitting the failure of the USA military power. The state dept. being in a mess of their own with sun tanned ambassador making more enemies than friends in the security council. Was Haqqani group so important? What about other groups in Afghanistan? Why keep on oversretching the objective and killing mission, sacrifising more and more of own GI’s?

Do the American leaders reckon that it is a simple myth when one says that Afghanistan is the graveyard for the great empires`?

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

At the time of mumbai blasts, the research and analysis wing and the CIA were saying that lashkar e taiyaba was behind all this and now the CIA is saying HN is behind all this. What sort of intelligence is this, CIA also said that saddam had the bombs, where are they, CIA also said in 1993 that still Paksitan is not having the HEU for their atomic bombs and now they say that pakistan has it long before in 1977. CIA also failed in detecting the pearl harbor incident. I think US needs to work on it, i think they should switch the agencies, they should bring FBI for the international intelligence and should keep CIA for the internal affairs. Plz stop this blame game and come to pin point dialogue to discuss what should be done. I am fed up of watching the news that US said that Pak said that they said this. If there is a real problem then it should be sorted out. If HN is the culprit then clean them and if its just another suspicion then ask the officers that ur duty is still not over and keep on spying them.

Posted by Abdul_Basit | Report as abusive

why the US is not accepting that they also have intelligence flaws and that the Afghanistan incident took place, and why did they released the dates of when they are retracting their troops from afghanistan, isnt that something really confidential.

Posted by Abdul_Basit | Report as abusive

Because they are dumb and do not have the ability to understand Afghan culture. They believe that the jewish people understand it and therefore one after another chief of jewish origin is on its way to deal with muslim chiefs.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@Rex Minor

Well i usually quote one thing in all the discussions among friends or on blogs, that “Pakistan is a similar threat to non-Muslim world as Israel is a threat to the Muslim world”. Frankly speaking both the countries harbour religious fundamentalist and to some extent racists. Israelis are racist because they are rich and maybe Pakistanis are racist because we are poor but still surviving. Whatever the senario is, but the things will not resolve even if West think they will extinct all the Muslims from this world. The fight for power will keep on continuing and it dates back from pre-Islam era. Why the world doesnt say that Israel is a terrorist nation, as it is occupying the Palestine and is pressurising other Middle eastern countries. I am not with the nazi approach but, somewhere someone is benefited with other persons suffering.

Its time we should let the human mind go more strong rather than these fights and clashes.

Posted by Abdul_Basit | Report as abusive

What would happen if the USA managed to expel all the Pakistan green card holders and students, and/or freeze Pakistani assets in US banks? Also if EU countries followed suit? The remittance stream to Pakistan would shrink.

There are many more small & large economic weapons against the military & civil branches that can be fine-tuned. So a measure of caution, humility and realism is warranted. Really, no kidding!!

Posted by peacelover2012 | Report as abusive

Everyone knows in Pakistan that India is flaming the insurgency in Balochistan. These tribal feudal lords who have denied their own people a decent living for decades and who are less than 1% of 1% of the Pakistan population are being actively supported by India, England, USA and Israel. One such notorious Baloch terrorist warlord has been provided shelter in England and another is in Afghanistan – perhaps on a USA base. The leader of the Swat terrorist who had their arses kicked by the Pakistan Army ran off to Afghanistan and was actively supported by India. Please stop trying to fool people. Your RAW is not that innocent. It is stained with the blood of the innocents.

Posted by Taus | Report as abusive

India is the new best friend of Israel. Since China refused to be enslaved by Israel, it is the new bad boy and target. You can almost read their (The masters) mind by watching what their controlled media is saying and showing (China Bad – India Good and Pakistan evil). This is the big game. Everyone knows that USA, England, Israel and India are running intelligence operations in Balochistan province to break up Pakistan. The Pakistan Taliban is on the CIA payroll and attack Pakistan while the Afghan Taliban only attack the USA army. The idea is to weaken Pakistan Armed forces the glue and create conditions for a civil war in Pakistan. They are playing both sides in this war to appear as friends of Pakistan. Why India is interested in Pakistan’s break up is very clear – They have never accepted Pakistan’s creation by breakup of their motherland. They want the UN resolution to grant Kashmir freedom to break free of India diminished by breaking up Pakistan (The Kashmiri’s want to unite with Pakistan). India wants the UN permanent seat but is violating the UN resolution on Kashmir. Why is the USA interested in Pakistan’s break up??? To deny China the energy corridor to Gawadar port in Balochistan and the vast mineral and oil resources of Balochistan. Why is Israel interested in Pakistan’s breakup? Because some Indian convinced a some Jew that Pakistan, Thousands of miles away, is a threat to their survival – Most Pakistanis do not even care of such a far away land. Why is England Interested in Pakistan’s break up, because they are a puddle of USA. George Soros (Rothschield’s) money investor has a foundation that published that Pakistan must be partitioned as China must be denied the Energy corridor to Gawadar port or the Dollar is doomed. The Giant Oil companies are salvating at the prospect of getting their hands on the Oil in Balochistan. In 1994 5 USA senators went to India and announced that within 15 years Pakistan will be partitioned. These plans are made decades before they are supposed to materialize. The process involves demonization over a decade followed by sanctions and then an attack. The powerful Indian Silicon valley in California is also pushing this agenda and then off course the Jewish masters of USA are also doing their part —just see their media and you will see their thoughts and motives —it reads like a book. Pakistan’s ambassador to USA Haqqani and the present Pakistani traitor government gave visas to 8000 CIA agents to come to Pakistan and get to know the terrain, make contacts, bribe the tribal leaders and flame the Insurgency. He was held by the supreme court but due to USA pressure was let go. The CIA bloke who shot 2 Pakistan ISI agents was on a mission to flame the insurgency in Balochistan. He too was let go after the killings. You must have heard of the Israeli’s caught and reported in the NY Times who were contacting extremist outfits to attack Iran—How far is Pakistan from there?? It is the border. Simple Fact is if you are a Muslim and have Oil or other natural resources, your families, life or livelihood will be taken away from you by force. It is time to wake up and see the power hungry, merciless faces behind most of the troubles in this world today. Please remember the peaceful Pakistan of 1978 where no religious party ever won the presidency or any high government positions and where people never heard of guns. How could this transformation happen – It was engineered by the vested interests spoken of above. Pakistani’s just want to live and let live – leave them alone.

Posted by Taus | Report as abusive

If USA expels all the Green Card Pakistanis, all the vacancies will be filled by the Indians and eventuially like Figi and other African nations they (Hindu Asian Indians) will come to first dominate the USA political arena and stab the Jews in their backs and then eventually enslave the former slave traders (The Local White boy in the USA). Then the reality of the Indian double game will set in that the Indians used the USA and Israel to destroy Pakistan and China to then dominate the USA and Israel. This is the Hindu Indian history.

Posted by Taus | Report as abusive

Usually when you play the double game, no side ever trusts you again and you end up alone.

Posted by desertares | Report as abusive