FROM THE ARCHIVES: Why Obama couldn’t trust Pakistan

The following two articles were posted at The Slog eleven months ago. They correctly pinpoint Bin Laden’s location in Northern Pakistan, and accurately describe US fear that their Pakistani ‘allies’ could not be trusted.

June 13, 2010 · 11:00 am

Pakistan & the Taliban: evidence of complicity mounts as terrorists raid NATO base with impunity

There are growing signs of duplicity and naivety between the US and Pakistani Governments

Islamist militants armed with weapons stormed a NATO depot outside the Pakistan capital city of Islamabad yesterday. Unopposed, they torched 50 trucks carrying fuel and supplies for Afghanistan-based Nato forces. A dozen people died in the attack

Sources in the region this morning described the incident as representing more evidence that Pakistan security forces are not only soft on Islamist terrorism, but positively cooperating with it

This follows hot on the heels of the LSE report by Harvard Scholar and journalist Matt Waldman, reported in various press titles worldwide overnight, claiming strong evidence that the pro-Islamist sentiment includes Pakistan Prresident Zardari.

“Pakistan appears to be playing a double-game of astonishing magnitude” Waldman said. He cannot be dismissed as some kind of Bush Hawk, for the simple reason that Matt Waldman has a long pedigree of writing accurate stories about Third World hardship rather than simplistic stuff about axes of evil.

As long ago as 2005, The Atlantic magazine noted that ‘many areas of northwest Pakistan now resemble the Taleban-ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s. The world should be alarmed by the way living conditions have deteriorated under the increasingly brutal control of the Pakistani Taleban and its allied insurgent groups; instead, the suffering of the people of this area has been largely ignored, sacrificed in the name of geopolitical interests…’

Scared of the Taliban, locals – and many Pakistani liberals generally – feel let down by the US in particular. Noted writerZahid Malik said, “After 9/11 Pakistan has emerged as a trusted and responsible ally of the West. Pakistan has adopted a principled position, you see, of working against terrorism, extremism, al-Qaeda, and all that.”

Pakistani doubts about the US are threefold: the US has a poor track record of protecting former allies when it leaves a region; little or no promised aid cash has turned up as yet; and the US military has publicly accused the Pakistan Government of being in league with Islamists.

Waldman’s report isn’t going to do that Government’s protestations of innocence any good. In March 2009, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, said they ‘were sure’ that elements in the Pakistan’s secret service [the ISI] supported both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Reports in the Gulf region are now suggesting that the US has even conducted war games and exercises as a preparation for (if necessary) invading Pakistan itself if the country looks like succumbing to Islamist rebels. The chances are, the Slog understands, these are the products of more Islamist propaganda – but they find a ready audience these days in Pakistan. The Pakistan Observer opined today that ‘supporters of America are unhappy because the US is letting them down. They are at a loss to understand how an ally could attack its partner. Pakistan has sacrificed thousands of its citizens to fulfill the desire of United States and expected something better than a blood bath at the end game.’

If the forces of Islamism seem to be winning the global war for hearts and minds, it would do us all well to remember that we in the West are also losing it. Why they’re winning and we’re losing needs closer examination than Sky’s ‘Pakistan on Taliban’s side’ website piece this morning.

As always with the West, there is this curious mixture of naivety and duplicity. Naivety about the mere separation of the words ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’ suddenly meaning one can trust the former and not the latter. And duplicity about promising money and support and ‘in this for the long game’ and so forth…but then putting America first.

There is clearly great perfidy on both sides; but more importantly, there is also a shared weakness between the allies that Al Qeada, Iran and others put to great use in the battle against what they see as The Great Satan. All this encourages over-confidence among terrorists who, before too long, can be relied upon to do something horrific on a huge (perhaps even nuclear) scale. The backlash then would be appalling for everyone.

Even with honesty, real regional understanding and gritty determination, winning out against religious fundamentalism looks like an increasingly difficult task for the West. Obaman naivety and military trigger-happiness aren’t helping. And Pakistan’s real desire to avoid becoming the next Islamic domino to fall must now be in very serious doubt.

June 25, 2010 · 7:00 am | Edit


Jalaluddin Haqqani (l)

Pakistan aims to oust American influence from Afghanistan for its own strategic ends

Vindicating the Slog’s piece of June 13th about Pakistan’s unreliability as an ally, news has broken overnight that Pakistan is presenting itself as the new viable partner for Afghanistan to President Karzai, who has gone off the Americans – and their annoying habit of complaining about his bent elections.

The Slog can now confirm that Pakistani security officials and senior diplomats have been engaged in intense discussions with Karzai, the not entirely trustworthy Afghan leader, whose perfidy will be compounded with that of the Pakistani Government, which wants a foothold in his country via their very own Taliban-allied Haqqani Network.

Named after its leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Haqqani Network is a group within the insurgency in Afghanistan that is based in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)….where Osama Bin Laden is thought to be hiding.

Senior US sources confirmed that Pakistan aims to capitalise on the USA’s military muddle in Afghanistan, in order to achieve a deal with Afghanistan offering Pakistan important influence there. From the Pakistani viewpoint, Karzai’s anarchic country is of vital strategic importance –
which is why it has played for all sides in the conflict.

The desire of Muslim Pakistan to get one over its largely Hindu enemy India has always been – and will always be – the priority. The Slog has argued this for nearly two years now. We argued that Afghanistan should be a line in the sand against Islamism – but only if the Allies were prepared to pull out all the stops. To that we would now add a further rider: don’t trust a Muslim ally not to emerge as an Islamist fellow-traveller.

In the light of regional duplicity on a grand scale – and constant media chatter about withdrawal of troops – surely everyone in the UK should now ask: why are British soldiers dying there?