America's New War With Pakistan

At the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf tells Atlantic Media Chairman David Bradley that he was 500 percent sure that at least he did not know about bin Laden residing inside Pakistan.  If true, that's very bad news.

This means that Pakistan, which has been behaving like a badly wounded, now unpredictable, tiger since the US killing of Osama bin Laden, may have more highly developed, compartmentalized command and control national security operations completely siloed from each other.  This has long been thought about the ISI, but that agency may be just the beginning of a very fragmented set of operations -- cocooned from each other -- that neither the President nor the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani, have full command of.

The information that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Commander Mike Mullen have revealed on Pakistan's direct hand in the inner-Kabul terror attacks that are taking place with greater frequency, including an attack on the US Embassy compound in Kabul but starting in part with the bombing of the British Council offices which I blogged about that morning, means that the US government is clearly now in conflict with at least part, if not all, of Pakistan's national security forces. 

This report, "The Failing US Strategy in Afghanistan," by Tufail Ahmad and Y. Carmon and published by the Middle East Media Research Institute, deserves a careful read.

The authors carefully demarcate what is credible effort to deal with the Taliban from what is fantasy and delusion.  It's clear to most now that the Taliban, while still distinct in fundamental goals and objectives from Pakistan's ISI, nonetheless are fundamentally so dependent on direction and resourcing from the ISI that there theoretical independence is meaningless.  The Taliban for all real purposes are not an outgrowth or even a real affiliate of al Qaeda; the Taliban are an appendage of the ISI.

What is particularly disturbing about the MEMRI report is the cataloguing of events sponsored by Pakistan forces directly rather than through their proxy Taliban agents.

Here is a clip:

The Pakistani Military Invasion of Afghanistan

Separately from the Taliban, Pakistan too launched a series of military attacks on Afghanistan this year.

In February 2011, Pakistani planes also bombarded Afghan Border Police posts and civilians' homes in Afghanistan's Nangarhar and Khost provinces. According to the website, the Pakistani attacks were timed to convey a warning to President Karzai against visiting India that month.

In June 2011, Pakistan launched a series of missile and artillery attacks on the Afghan provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia, killing dozens of civilians which were described by the Afghan government in a resolution as an "act of invasion" by Pakistan. On June 26, 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Pakistan of firing 470 missiles into the eastern Afghan provinces.

In a July 2, 2011 testimony before the parliament, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak confirmed that two Pakistani helicopters entered the Afghan territory sometime in the summer of 2011. On July 5, 2011, Afghan border police commander Aminullah Amarkhel reported that hundreds of fighters from the Pakistani Taliban crossed the border into Afghanistan's Nuristan province, where they attacked police outposts and torched homes.

In August 2011, General Aminullah Amarkhel, expressed concern that Pakistani forces have established 16 checkpoints inside the territory of Afghanistan, violating the border with Pakistan. General Amarkhel noted that there have been 50 incidents of border violation by the Pakistani forces on the eastern borders of Afghanistan with Pakistan, and that Pakistan has established 16 security checkposts inside Afghanistan's territory; 31 Pakistani security checkposts on the border with eastern Afghanistan were also seen as a threat to Afghanistan.

It also emerged that Pakistan has established control on some areas inside Afghanistan and offered citizenship to the local tribes. General Amarkhel made startling revelations that Pakistan has offered citizenship to the Afghan tribes, noting that there is proof that Pakistan provided Pakistani citizenship cards to Afghans in the eastern border towns, particularly in Kunar and Nuristan provinces.

In September 2011, Pakistan fired hundreds of rockets into eastern Afghan province of Kunar, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes. Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sidiq Sidiqi said: "We call on Pakistan [regarding] whoever is behind the attacks, to prevent them immediately."

On September 26, 2011, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Pakistani Ambassador to Kabul, Mohammad Sadiq, and told him to ask his government to immediately stop the shelling, a report by Pajhwok News Service said, noting that he Pakistani Army fired more than 340 rockets into Kunar and Nuristan provinces, causing loss of life and property and displacing hundreds of families.

Hoping that Pakistan will all of a sudden become a more dependable and trustworthy ally after what we have recently seen Pakistan authorities unleash inside Afghanistan would be naive.

America's war in Afghanistan in part depends on Pakistan's support and the provision of supplies and supply routes; it also depends on the Pakistan military working simultaneously to keep pressure on the Taliban and Islamic militants in the tribal areas while supporting trust-building measures between India and Pakistan, which many have argued is the only long run solution to stopping the crisis and instability in Pakistan.

As long as the US is dependent on Pakistan's support, and fears that a nuclear-armed Pakistan that is untethered, would be disastrous for US and global interests, then Pakistan has license to continue to misbehave and taunt the US political and military operations inside Afghanistan.

America has got to shrink its footprint in Afghanistan, become less dependent on Pakistan with which it is already in low level hot conflict, and begin a new strategy in the region that helps contain Pakistan and the danger it represents.  That can't be done mired in an Afghanistan quagmire.