The Battle For Pakistan – by Stephen Brown


In his speech at West Point last week, President Obama indicated that no amount of extra troops would offset the Afghan Taliban’s ability to retreat and regroup in their Pakistani cross-border sanctuaries. Before his young audience, the president then went on to the equally important subject of al-Qaeda. Referring to the terrorist organization’s presence in Pakistan’s rugged tribal areas, the American Commander-in-Chief told the military cadets “we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear.”

On Monday, the New York Times reported what the United States intends to do about those terrorist safe havens. While the American surge in Afghanistan involves building a security environment that will allow American and NATO forces to disengage in 18 months, leaving behind an Afghan government the Taliban cannot overthrow, America’s strategy in Pakistan calls for the defeat and elimination of al Qaeda.

To this end, the Times reports that already a month before the West Point speech General James R. Jones, Obama’s national security advisor, delivered the Pakistanis “a blunt message,” telling them to become more aggressive in going after the Taliban and al Qaeda or the Americans would do it themselves.

“I think they read our intentions accurately,” a senior administration official told The Times.

America’s NATO allies also share her frustration concerning Pakistan’s continuing inability to deal with the Taliban/al Qaeda menace based on its territory. Almost all the terrorist plots directed against their countries, and against others around the world, have their roots in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Showing this frustration, British Prime Gordon Brown recently accused the Pakistani government of not doing enough to capture Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, telling the Pakistanis to “take out” the al Qaeda leaders.

“We have got to ask ourselves why, eight years after September 11, nobody has been able to spot or detain or get close to Osama bin Laden,” said Brown.

Showing his seriousness about going after al Qaeda in Pakistan, even before his appearance at West Point, Obama approved an expansion of drone attacks. It is reported drones will now, for the first time, fly over the southern part of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. This area contains Quetta, the provincial capital, where Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar is believed to be hiding with other leading Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda members.

Drones have been a very effective weapon against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Many valuable mid-level and senior commanders have been lost to the Hellfire missile, affecting the terrorist organizations’ level of operations. In the 50 drone strikes so far this year in Pakistan’s tribal areas, it is estimated about 400 enemy operatives have been killed.

Another unilateral action the administration is considering if the Pakistanis fail to measure up to expectations is a resumption of American Special Forces raids into Pakistan. These were halted after a covert cross border operation in 2008 became publicised, causing a backlash in Pakistani public opinion.

These new measures signal a new direction in the war that will most likely see the conflict shift substantially in the coming months from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Observers see this as the war’s next phase, since it makes no sense, they say, to pull out of Afghanistan, leaving al Qaeda undefeated. The objective of the 2001 Afghanistan invasion, after all, was to take away Osama bin Laden’s strategic base in the region, a mission that will only be accomplished when his Pakistani sanctuaries are eliminated.

Accordingly, American and NATO forces want the Pakistanis to launch offensives against the Taliban in North Waziristan, principally against the Haqqani network that organizes attacks against allied soldiers in Afghanistan, and against the Taliban groups around Quetta. The Western forces are dissatisfied that Pakistan has not done so already. The Pakistani government, however, is reluctant to act, since it knows such military actions would unleash even more terrorist bombings than the country is currently experiencing.

Since October, about 400 people have died in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, for which the Pakistani Taliban has mostly taken credit. Spectacular bombings of mosques, markets and government buildings, designed to scare the civilian population, show the government’s weakness and pressure the authorities to call off its military offensive in Waziristan, have become almost a common occurrence. Three such bloody attacks took place last Monday and Tuesday alone.

It also does not help Pakistan’s image as a base for world terrorism when, in response to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s accusation, Pakistani Prime Minister Youssef Gilani denied that Osama bin Laden is even in his country.

“I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don’t think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan,” said Gilani.

But one analyst believes it is only by putting such military pressure, as the Americans and NATO countries are advocating, on the Taliban that it will finally “divorce” itself from al Qaeda. In turn, this will make it much easier for both the American and Pakistani forces to destroy Osama bin Laden and his organization. If Pakistan refuses, however, to go along with this strategy, then one can expect some of the 30,000 American troops involved in the surge to be put to use not only in Afghanistan, but also against al Qaeda forces inside Pakistan, Pakistani sovereignty be damned.

President Obama said in his West Point speech the United States “must deny al Qaeda a safe haven.” To the president’s credit, it appears he firmly intends to carry out this resolution since he knows withdrawing from Afghanistan without having done so would constitute defeat.

  • ratee

    No matter what will be done if you enter the war in Pakistan then you would need more troops as Pakistan is the sixth largest country of the world.

    USA will occupy all countries of the world while nobody knows if Al-Qaida is anywhere.

    Further occupation will never win the war that is already lost as for 8 years you havent done anything and whole of Afghanistan is a safe heaven now what you speak of Pakistan!!!

    How can these forces can win a war in another country when you cant defeat them in Afghanistan. Come down to earth man!!!!

  • ratee

    Obama has proved he is no better than Bush maybe worst. He is taking USA deep into the quigmire.

    Just imagine if he expands the war and the situation is getting so bad by putting this pressure the pro-American Government collapses in Pakistan what can USA do. Nothing at all its even more risky policy than Bush as things are bad in Pakistan.

    USA better be cautious about Pakistan because nobody likes occupiers!!!

  • bushlikesdick12

    'Pakistan is the fifth largest?RussiaChinaU.S.BrazilIndiaAustrailiaArgentinaI'm fucking tired and discouraged already by your ignoranceOh maybe it is #5 in the most dumbass people in the world — right after the country you're from.

  • jackol

    wow this could be the great war..

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  • Proxywar

    Kill Bin laden, his number 2, and Mullah Omar then leave in 18 months.

  • Robert Bernier

    Wow! Read this one. It is really good. And this gentleman says it just like it is.

    This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii
    for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president. Consult :

  • bushlikesdick12

    ~~USA will occupy all countries of the world while nobody knows if Al-Qaida is anywhere~~


  • bushlikesdick12

    You need to go back and study some more FOX news before you attempt to parrot anymore.

    Buy a tape recorder and repeat everything Glen Beck says untill you get it right.

    You need a lot of practice.

  • USMCSniper

    He who wishes to fight must first count the cost. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor dampened, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue… In war, then, let your great object be a quick victory above all, not lengthy campaigns.

    -Sun Tzu, the Art of War

  • tlwinslow

    While it would be nice if drones were like Superman and could fly in and take out Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, realistically the entire country of Afghanistan is mired in backward Sharia-loving losers who will never be able to sustain a secular pro-West govt. no matter how much blood and treasure the U.S. pours into it. Instead, we should try working to widen the split between Mullah Omar and al-Qaida by negotiating with him to hand bin laden and his men over in exchange for a complete pullout. At least the Taliban has no designs on the U.S., and while we will be abandoning Afghan women to subjection we don't have the power to play Superman and might as well cut our losses and get what we came for, if at all possible. I know we will lose the big natural gas pipeline and the strategic base for Caspian Sea oil, but how long can we keep the Afghan govt. going anyway?

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