From Whence Cometh Pakistan?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 11 months ago

The Captain’s Journal admires Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and he can consider us to be in his corner.  But we would be willing to bet that his position on Pakistan is “swing and a miss – full count now.”  So where are we?  Gates said Thursday that he has “real concern” about a sharp rise in attacks by insurgent forces in eastern Afghanistan and says it reflects infiltration of fighters from Pakistan.

Gates was asked at a Pentagon news conference what he thought of a report by a senior U.S. general in Afghanistan on Tuesday that insurgent attacks in the east have increased by 40 percent this year.

“It is a matter of concern — real concern,” Gates replied.

“It’s an issue that clearly we have to pursue with the Pakistani government,” he added.

The defense secretary said one reason for the jump in insurgent attacks in that part of Afghanistan is that fighters have been able to cross the border without facing sufficient pressure by Pakistani troops.

“It actually was not bad until a few months ago,” he said, when the Pakistani government began negotiating peace or ceasefire deals with a variety of militant groups in areas bordering Afghanistan.

“The pressure was taken off these people,” as a result of such deals, he added. And that has meant fighters are freer to cross the border and create problems for us,” Gates said.

In Truth or Consequences: Closing the Pakistan Border, TCJ is ahead of the game.  We have already acquiesced to the fact that we aren’t going to get much help from Pakistan.  We have pointed out that the Iraqi borders were problematic too, especially with Syria.  But the insurgency is defeated, or almost so, and while more difficult, it is not impossible to fight a transnational insurgency in a singular battle space.  It requires force projection, something that Gates doesn’t believe we have for Afghanistan as long as Operation Iraqi Freedom is ongoing.  Gates is in a bit of a spot.  But we have no trust in Pakistan, while Gates still places his eggs in their basket.  What do we know that he doesn’t?

It’s not what we know, it’s a matter of listening and gaining perspective.  The Asia Times gives us a glimpse into internal Pakistani politics and culture.

Washington saw the writing on the wall immediately after the February polls when former premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League won more seats than was expected. The anticipation had been that the US-friendly Pakistan People’s Party, headed by former premier Benazir Bhutto until her assassination last December, would romp home.

Amid the political uncertainty that this result caused, allied with terror attacks in the country, the military delayed operations in the tribal areas. The military’s position was hardened when on June 10 the US attacked militants in Pakistan’s Mohmand Agency but killed several Pakistani security forces.

Washington’s plan, which had been in the making for two years, is now in ruins, that is, the ideal of a compliant elected government, an accommodating military and a friendly president (Pervez Musharraf) acting in unison to further the US’s interests.

The crux is, while America was playing its game, so too was al-Qaeda. Through terror attacks, al-Qaeda was able to disrupt the economy, and by targeting the security forces, al-Qaeda created splits and fear in the armed forces, to the extent that they thought twice about dancing to the US’s tune.

Unlike Musharraf, when he wore two hats, of the president and of army chief, the new head of the military, professional soldier General Ashfaq Kiani, had to listen to the chatter of his men and the intelligence community at grand dinners.

What he heard was disturbing. Soldiers from the North-West Frontier Province region were completely in favor of the Taliban, while those from the countryside of Punjab – the decisive majority in the armed forces – felt guilty about fighting the Taliban and reckoned it was the wrong war. Therefore, Kiani decided it was necessary to support peace talks with the militants to create some breathing space for his men.

At the same time, the dynamics in the war theater have changed, providing Pakistan with more options and more room to play in its Afghan policy. Pakistan’s former ally in Afghanistan, the Taliban, are no longer irrelevant; they have emerged as the single-largest Pashtun opposition group.

The Pakistani people have rejected the U.S.-led war on terror.  The Pakistani Army doesn’t want to fight the Taliban, and it isn’t just about fear or cowardice.  They believe it’s the “wrong war.”  Military defeat of the Taliban will occur primarily in Afghanistan rather than Pakistan, and it will occur mainly at the hands of U.S. forces, or not at all.  All is not lost.  We have pointed out before based on the Taliban’s own words that “If NATO remains strong in Afghanistan, it will put pressure on Pakistan. If NATO remains weaker in Afghanistan, it will dare [encourage] Pakistan to support the Taliban.”

Afghanistan is now and will remain the central point for the fight against the Taliban, and it behooves us to deploy forces and engage the fight as quickly as possible.  TIme is of the essence.

Prior: Pashtun Rejection of the Global War on Terror

  • Warbucks

    I read the Pushtun as a noble people caught up in the vicious economics and endless recycling of power of the poppies and its attendant illicit riches. The Pushtun seek to preserve their 5,000 year old culture. They have seen economies come and go, they have seen governments come and go, they have seen armies threaten and leave.

    The depth of vast fortunes created by the opium trade, the dependable cash flow of the annual harvest, corrupts everything in its path and is as hard to manage as the flood waters of the great Mississippi River, with fingers that reach deeply into our own culture. They grow, harvest, package and ship; we consume.

    By summer of the first year of the next administration, the Pashtun will likely be faced with new choices regardless of who wins the US Presidential election. If the Pashtun can not resolve a cooperative anti-terrorist posture with its hosting governments, or with this administration, the next administration, Democratic or Republican, will likely unleash a war on the scale they can not yet comprehend.

    President Bush is their path of least resistance, but the Pashtun fail to understand him. McCain and Obama , either, will likely bring a General Sherman’s march to the sea upon them, if they can not find the wisdom to cooperate now. McCain will work to win, Obama has said he would act in the Frontier if Pakistan fails to act on good intelligence, and Obama will want to get the job done and done fast so he will use the level of power needed to do it.

    When you are rolling in money and control the golden goose, new wisdom is hard to receive.

  • Herschel Smith

    I agree concerning the endless rearrangement of powers in this region and the necessity to stay alive in all of these situations. I take a different view concerning the Pashtun, though. I don’t call noble a people who can send their elders out to rape young women in front of their tribe when they committed the horror of actually walking with a male to their garden or somewhere else. Honor rapes and honor killings don’t signify a noble people.

    That’s okay. We can work with ignoble people, and have done so before. Either way, I don’t think it’s up to us. As the article points out, the Pashtun have rejected the GWOT.

You are currently reading "From Whence Cometh Pakistan?", entry #1172 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Pakistan,Taliban and was published June 26th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

If you're interested in what else the The Captain's Journal has to say, you might try thumbing through the archives and visiting the main index, or; perhaps you would like to learn more about TCJ.

26th MEU (10)
Abu Muqawama (12)
ACOG (2)
ACOGs (1)
Afghan National Army (36)
Afghan National Police (17)
Afghanistan (677)
Afghanistan SOFA (4)
Agriculture in COIN (3)
AGW (1)
Air Force (29)
Air Power (9)
al Qaeda (83)
Ali al-Sistani (1)
America (7)
Ammunition (22)
Animals in War (4)
Ansar al Sunna (15)
Anthropology (3)
Antonin Scalia (1)
AR-15s (61)
Arghandab River Valley (1)
Arlington Cemetery (2)
Army (41)
Assassinations (2)
Assault Weapon Ban (26)
Australian Army (5)
Azerbaijan (4)
Backpacking (2)
Badr Organization (8)
Baitullah Mehsud (21)
Basra (17)
BATFE (49)
Battle of Bari Alai (2)
Battle of Wanat (17)
Battle Space Weight (3)
Bin Laden (7)
Blogroll (2)
Blogs (5)
Body Armor (17)
Books (2)
Border War (7)
Brady Campaign (1)
Britain (27)
British Army (35)
Camping (4)
Canada (2)
Castle Doctrine (1)
Caucasus (6)
Center For a New American Security (8)
Charity (3)
China (10)
Christmas (8)
CIA (12)
Civilian National Security Force (3)
Col. Gian Gentile (9)
Combat Outposts (3)
Combat Video (2)
Concerned Citizens (6)
Constabulary Actions (3)
Coolness Factor (2)
COP Keating (4)
Corruption in COIN (4)
Council on Foreign Relations (1)
Counterinsurgency (215)
DADT (2)
David Rohde (1)
Defense Contractors (2)
Department of Defense (122)
Department of Homeland Security (13)
Disaster Preparedness (2)
Distributed Operations (5)
Dogs (6)
Drone Campaign (3)
EFV (3)
Egypt (12)
El Salvador (1)
Embassy Security (1)
Enemy Spotters (1)
Expeditionary Warfare (17)
F-22 (2)
F-35 (1)
Fallujah (17)
Far East (3)
Fathers and Sons (1)
Favorite (1)
Fazlullah (3)
FBI (2)
Featured (176)
Federal Firearms Laws (16)
Financing the Taliban (2)
Firearms (423)
Football (1)
Force Projection (35)
Force Protection (4)
Force Transformation (1)
Foreign Policy (27)
Fukushima Reactor Accident (6)
Ganjgal (1)
Garmsir (1)
general (14)
General Amos (1)
General James Mattis (1)
General McChrystal (39)
General McKiernan (6)
General Rodriguez (3)
General Suleimani (7)
Georgia (19)
Google (1)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (1)
Gun Control (378)
Guns (903)
Guns In National Parks (3)
Haditha Roundup (10)
Haiti (2)
Haqqani Network (9)
Hate Mail (7)
Hekmatyar (1)
Heroism (4)
Hezbollah (12)
High Capacity Magazines (11)
High Value Targets (9)
Homecoming (1)
Homeland Security (1)
Horses (1)
Humor (13)
ICOS (1)
IEDs (7)
Immigration (45)
India (10)
Infantry (3)
Information Warfare (2)
Infrastructure (2)
Intelligence (22)
Intelligence Bulletin (6)
Iran (169)
Iraq (378)
Iraq SOFA (23)
Islamic Facism (38)
Islamists (55)
Israel (18)
Jaish al Mahdi (21)
Jalalabad (1)
Japan (2)
Jihadists (75)
John Nagl (5)
Joint Intelligence Centers (1)
JRTN (1)
Kabul (1)
Kajaki Dam (1)
Kamdesh (9)
Kandahar (12)
Karachi (7)
Kashmir (2)
Khost Province (1)
Khyber (11)
Knife Blogging (2)
Korea (4)
Korengal Valley (3)
Kunar Province (20)
Kurdistan (3)
Language in COIN (5)
Language in Statecraft (1)
Language Interpreters (2)
Lashkar-e-Taiba (2)
Law Enforcement (2)
Lawfare (6)
Leadership (5)
Lebanon (6)
Leon Panetta (2)
Let Them Fight (2)
Libya (14)
Lines of Effort (3)
Littoral Combat (8)
Logistics (49)
Long Guns (1)
Lt. Col. Allen West (2)
Marine Corps (239)
Marines in Bakwa (1)
Marines in Helmand (67)
Marjah (4)
Media (23)
Memorial Day (2)
Mexican Cartels (23)
Mexico (30)
Michael Yon (5)
Micromanaging the Military (7)
Middle East (1)
Military Blogging (26)
Military Contractors (3)
Military Equipment (24)
Militia (3)
Mitt Romney (3)
Monetary Policy (1)
Moqtada al Sadr (2)
Mosul (4)
Mountains (10)
MRAPs (1)
Mullah Baradar (1)
Mullah Fazlullah (1)
Mullah Omar (3)
Musa Qala (4)
Music (16)
Muslim Brotherhood (6)
Nation Building (2)
National Internet IDs (1)
National Rifle Association (17)
NATO (15)
Navy (20)
Navy Corpsman (1)
NCOs (3)
News (1)
NGOs (2)
Nicholas Schmidle (2)
Now Zad (19)
NSA (1)
NSA James L. Jones (6)
Nuclear (53)
Nuristan (8)
Obama Administration (216)
Offshore Balancing (1)
Operation Alljah (7)
Operation Khanjar (14)
Ossetia (7)
Pakistan (165)
Paktya Province (1)
Palestine (5)
Patriotism (6)
Patrolling (1)
Pech River Valley (11)
Personal (27)
Petraeus (14)
Pictures (1)
Piracy (13)
Pistol (2)
Police (194)
Police in COIN (3)
Policy (15)
Politics (232)
Poppy (2)
PPEs (1)
Prisons in Counterinsurgency (12)
Project Gunrunner (20)
PRTs (1)
Qatar (1)
Quadrennial Defense Review (2)
Quds Force (13)
Quetta Shura (1)
RAND (3)
Recommended Reading (14)
Refueling Tanker (1)
Religion (105)
Religion and Insurgency (19)
Reuters (1)
Rick Perry (4)
Rifles (1)
Roads (4)
Rolling Stone (1)
Ron Paul (1)
ROTC (1)
Rules of Engagement (74)
Rumsfeld (1)
Russia (28)
Sabbatical (1)
Sangin (1)
Saqlawiyah (1)
Satellite Patrols (2)
Saudi Arabia (4)
Scenes from Iraq (1)
Second Amendment (154)
Second Amendment Quick Hits (2)
Secretary Gates (9)
Sharia Law (3)
Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahiden (1)
SIIC (2)
Sirajuddin Haqqani (1)
Small Wars (72)
Snipers (9)
Sniveling Lackeys (2)
Soft Power (4)
Somalia (8)
Sons of Afghanistan (1)
Sons of Iraq (2)
Special Forces (24)
Squad Rushes (1)
State Department (17)
Statistics (1)
Sunni Insurgency (10)
Support to Infantry Ratio (1)
Supreme Court (1)
Survival (12)
SWAT Raids (53)
Syria (38)
Tactical Drills (1)
Tactical Gear (1)
Taliban (167)
Taliban Massing of Forces (4)
Tarmiyah (1)
TBI (1)
Technology (16)
Tehrik-i-Taliban (78)
Terrain in Combat (1)
Terrorism (92)
Thanksgiving (5)
The Anbar Narrative (23)
The Art of War (5)
The Fallen (1)
The Long War (20)
The Surge (3)
The Wounded (13)
Thomas Barnett (1)
Transnational Insurgencies (5)
Tribes (5)
TSA (12)
TSA Ineptitude (10)
TTPs (1)
U.S. Border Patrol (5)
U.S. Border Security (13)
U.S. Sovereignty (14)
UAVs (2)
UBL (4)
Ukraine (3)
Uncategorized (41)
Universal Background Check (3)
Unrestricted Warfare (4)
USS Iwo Jima (2)
USS San Antonio (1)
Uzbekistan (1)
V-22 Osprey (4)
Veterans (2)
Vietnam (1)
War & Warfare (210)
War & Warfare (40)
War Movies (3)
War Reporting (18)
Wardak Province (1)
Warriors (6)
Waziristan (1)
Weapons and Tactics (57)
West Point (1)
Winter Operations (1)
Women in Combat (17)
WTF? (1)
Yemen (1)

about · archives · contact · register

Copyright © 2006-2016 Captain's Journal. All rights reserved.