U.S. Pressures Pakistan to Rout Taliban, Will It Work?

President Obama has told Pakistani leadership that if they don't clear the Pakistani Taliban, he will

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Pakistan has long been reluctant to tackle head-on some of the nastier Taliban factions teeming in the country's Western border region with Afghanistan. Some Pakistan-watchers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, strongly suspect that the country tolerates or even supports some Taliban. But President Obama last month privately pressured Pakistani officials to get tough against the Pakistani Taliban plaguing the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. If they don't, said American officials, U.S. forces in Afghanistan will cross the border and do the job for them. It's no light threat and American commentators, whether they agree cheer the bullishness or find it irresponsible, are taking it seriously.

  • 'Important' 'Turning Point' Time's Joe Klein endorses the plan. "This is important. For the Obama surge to work in Afghanistan, the Taliban/Al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan have to be cleaned out." He writes, "If true, this is a turning point in the war. The Pakistanis now face the George W. Bush question: Are they with us or against us? If true, this is also a turning point in the Obama foreign policy: no more Mr. Ghandi."
  • Pakistan's Useless 'Élites' MyDD's Charles Lemos sighs that Pakistan leadership will never come around. "[T]he reality is also the Pakistani élites (one percent of the population) lack a developmentalist ethos and treat the country's 160 millions as feudal subjects on a medieval manor and more critically much of the Pakistani military and intelligence services has an India obsession and continue to perceive that the greatest threat to Pakistan as lying across the plains of the Punjab and not within its own territory. To expect this segment of the Pakistani establishment to change their deep-seeded paranoia is futile. It's hard to know who is more irrational the Pakistani leadership or us with our hopes that Pakistan's élites have turned some proverbial corner."
  • Partner With Pakistan The New York Times encourages Obama. "In a world of difficult strategic and diplomatic challenges, this may well be Mr. Obama's toughest," they write. "Mr. Obama will first have to persuade Pakistanis that the United States is in it for the long haul this time. The president sent conflicting messages in his speech, promising Pakistan a long-term partnership "built on a foundation of mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual trust," but also suggesting that there will be a quick drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan."
  • What Next? Invade Islamabad? Balkinization's Sandy Levinson fumes. "What this also reminds me of is the Nixon Administration's rationale for taking the Vietnam War into Laos and Cambodia, because they were being used as bases for attacks on US forces in Vietnam," she writes. "What will happen if the Taliban retaliates by increasing terror bombings in Pakistan and destabilizing control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Will we be sending in troops (with India?) to gain control of that arsenal, which is even more important than the Iraqi oil fields?"
  • What Pakistan Wants Huffington Post's Saad Khan explains. "General Kiyani, the all powerful military chief of Pakistan, holds the key to Afghan peace. The question remains that the Pakistani military -- or at least some elements of it -- are in cahoots with the Taliban. In any case, India remains the top priority of Pakistani military and they want to secure their interests in Afghanistan," he writes. "Pakistani military cannot be coaxed into action by sweet talking and there would be a mayhem in case of a direct offensive."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.