High Noon in Pakistan

Matt Gurney is a columnist and editor at Canada’s National Post. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney


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The military and civilian government is generally considered to be pro-Western and willing to cooperate with the Allies (while there is plenty of evidence suggesting that the government is involved with the Taliban, it is fearful enough of the Allies military and economic might to remain at least nominally cooperative). The intelligence agency, the ISI, however, is considered to be thoroughly Islamist in its ideology and goals, and Pakistan is of course home to numerous terror cells and anti-government Islamist groups.

In short, the thought of dealing with Pakistan on a government level, as one might with Australia or Norway, is naïve. Loyalties shift so frequently in Pakistan, and so many competing interests are being balanced, that it is perhaps safest to simply consider them a deeply unstable, fundamentally conflicted country that it is best to feign friendship with rather than wage war upon. For now. Given the very real prospect that Pakistan might collapse into nuclear-armed Islamist anarchy, it is best to be prepared for any eventuality.

In the meantime, however, Pakistan and the West need each other, however uncomfortable both might find the arrangement. Expect to see a flurry of diplomatic activity over the next several days (indeed, it has already begun) and the border crossing to be reopened to NATO convoys soon. Pakistan simply cannot risk antagonizing NATO blatantly and publicly for too long, not when they are dealing with critical internal problems and are dependent upon Western monies and support to keep the Islamists — who’d hang them all — at bay.

That last issue is the one most worrisome. Having shut the border and announced that NATO’s drone and helicopter attacks into Pakistani territory are unacceptable, Pakistan might well have overplayed its hand. It cannot indefinitely hold back NATO’s convoys, and it has proven either unwilling or unable to police its borders to NATO’s satisfaction. In other words, the Pakistani government has painted itself into a corner. It will back down, and NATO will not stop its increasingly muscular air activity over Pakistan’s essentially lawless northern tribal regions. Such blatant weakness will discredit the government in the eyes of Pakistan’s proud military, and will serve as pitch-perfect propaganda fodder for the Islamists and Taliban militants already at work inside Pakistan. How can they not claim that the weak infidel government caved to Crusader pressure? In effect, that is exactly what will happen.

One can be justly critical of the Pakistani government. And its situation now perfectly reflects  the reality of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. In the end, its own bluster will serve as its undoing. It has already handed the worst elements of Pakistani society a tremendous propaganda victory, and yet, it has alienated its NATO allies upon whom its tenuous grip on power is dependent.

After announcing the closure of the border crossing, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters, “We will have to see whether we are allies or enemies” with NATO. The Minister should bear in mind that Pakistan already has internal enemies enough, and given his own country’s role in supporting the Taliban, the question he poses might be one his government would prefer NATO not to ponder too closely.

Matt Gurney is an editor at the National Post, a Canadian national newspaper, and writes and speaks on military and geopolitical issues. He can be reached at matt@mattgurney.ca. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    Pakistan has been playing a double-game for years…cooperating with high-profile arrests, while secretly facilitating Jihad in Afghanistan, India, and elsewhere. We should make it abundantly clear that if the Pakistanis interfere with our supply routes into Afghanistan, we will terminate the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid that we give them.

    Something tells me they'll reconsider. One thing is certain: Our drone attacks on Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan have been invaluable in disrupting and degrading their leadership. Terminating these attacks to mollify the Pakistanis is out of the question.

    • John Beatty

      Something tells me that an ultimatum like that, which the Bobblehead Emperor lacks the spine to make, will cause the collapse of the current regime into an unmanagable chaos. Into such a vacuum would be…wait for it…the Taliban.

      Think that'll help anyone if Afghanistan or anywhere else?

      • Chezwick_Mac

        I understand your concerns, John. They are legitimate. But if Pakistan continues to support the Afghan Taliban, the war is as good as lost anyway. From sanctuaries across the border, the Taliban can fight on endlessly.

        I'm not asking for the moon…but Pakistan's obstruction of our supply convoys makes them active abettors in the fight against us. Our large aid package to them actually gives us a little leverage. Why not use it? Wouldn't doing so make more sense than to continue to lavish large sums of assistance on the Pakistanis while they overtly and deliberately frustrate our efforts to pacify Afghanistan?

        • Marky

          Correct. Despite Billions in cost and 250,000 casualties, Vietnam was not ending until The U.S. started bombing the crap out of the sanctuary countries. Then suddenly the Communists who had ignored American calls for a peace negotiation called us and begged for negotiations.

  • jacob

    An Israeli comedian once said in one of his sticks, that American politicians are so smart, so shrewd, it is impossible to tell where does the sage end and the fool begins…
    It doesn't call for an EINSTEIN or NASA scientist to see the kind of game PAKISTAN is playing and time is already passee to read to it the riot act, nuclear power as it is or else, hitting them where it hurts the most, that is, the pocket… or coming to think about, the billions given PAKISTAN are some bribe as with the N. KOREAN despot ????
    Cut off the subsidies and you will see the Taliban and al Quaida terminated and even bin Laden will be handed over

    • Nick Shaw

      Actually the US did send a NASA scientist and look what good it's done ;-) I agree jacob, cut them off now and, by the way, hand over the keys to your nuclear storage facilities or, at least, have a detachment of Marines guard them TODAY. That will get their attention.

    • aspacia

      Okay, we cut off funding, and they permanently cut of our route into Afghanistan; then what?

      • Nick Shaw

        Okay, I'll take the bait aspacia. I think The One, basically, says the US is out of Afghanistan by mid next year. Well, let's do it now. Cut our losses If we are not going to go full tilt stop wasting men and treasure. Salt the opium fields on the way out as noted by someone else here (credit where it's due) and cut both countries off from any US funding, including indirect funding through the world bank or UN. You think other Muslim countries will come to their rescue? Hah! Just look at the outpouring from them for the floods in Pakistan. The Russians or Chinese? Sorry but, they have come to realize they have an Islamic problem right on their doorstep despite the MSM always refering to Islamic terrorists in those lands as something else. If the US wasn't there to kick around Russian and Chinese help would dry up. The only problem is those nukes in Pakistan. Field tactical nukes should do the trick or just go in and take them. I like the former. Then sit back and enjoy the show as they kill each other off. As an aside, I wouldn't doubt the Russians sabotaged the Iranian computer net with that virus. As good a theory as any.

        • aspacia

          Should we cut and run which will allow the Taliban and Al Quada to regroup?

          • Nick Shaw

            If the US follows through and extends absolutely no aid to Pakistan or Afghanistan, and I'm talking charitable too, who cares if a bunch of people with not enough money to pay the cable bill get together. All it takes is the will to recognize and confront the problem. Sadly, what we say here is academic, a wish list, the West doesn't have the guts anymore to make the first (though in reality, it's not) move. It will take a mushroom cloud over a Western city and, even then there will be enough apologists to hold up retaliation for a while. More dithering while the world burns.

          • aspacia

            Don't be so sure regarding the West. The Burka has been banned in France, the BND is protesting and their numbers are growing, Wilders party has made great strides, and Obama will probably be gone in 2012 unless he changes course.

          • Nick Shaw

            True, the burka has been banned, the law in effect for a very short time. More time is required to see if Muslims adhere to the law. I expect more bomb threats at the Eiffel Tower maybe a real bomb but, we'll see. Geert and his party I wish all the luck in the world. Again, we'll see what the insane judicial system in his country does to him before I start flashing the V sign. Of course, sending him to jail will make a martyr of him so, that could be a good thing. Last, I wish you hadn't qualified that last thing about The One "Obama will be gone in 2012" has a better ring to it. Excellent discussion aspacia, thank you!

  • Wordcrunch991

    Jacob, guys, you seem to forget that Pakistan's duplicity is already financed by another true friend of the U.S., the Saudi's. It was the Saudi petro bucks that have been fomenting instability in the region since 1970's. It doesn't take an EINSTEIN but someone who is bright and has guts to do the only smart thing there is. Forget Ahmadinejad for the moment. He is a clown like Ghadaffi to be dealt with later ! Deal with the problem number one: OCCUPY SAUDI ARABIA ; DEPOSE THE DUPLICITOUS SAUDI ROYALS ! CONFISCATE THEIR MONEY ! Install secular democracy in Riyadh a la McArthur's Japan 1945 !

    • New Yorker

      Sounds great – no less. Only Saudi Arabia is no Japan. Saudi Arabia is a backward, primitive, tribal land, where a savage, unreformed, outdated cult-cum-ideology is at the center of EVERYTHING. Being awash with money does not help either. There can't be a western style democracy in a place like this. Take away their only source of revenue – oil, and this huge desert of a country will become reduced to a mesh-mash of warring, treacherous tribes devoid of any civilizational trappings.

      • Nick Shaw

        At the very least, have a worm or fault of some kind in all of the military hardware sold to the SA that will cause it to mis-function or blow up on command from someone, not this president, of course, in the US. I wonder if somebody already thought of that? Where's Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler when you need them? Oh, wait a minute, here I am!

    • ObamaYoMoma

      I support most of what you said. Eventually the House of Saud will have to be obliterated and their oil wealth and oil assets will have to be confiscated. Otherwise, they will continue to use those resources on a massive basis permanently to finance and fund jihad against the West. However, with the exception of those areas where their oil assets are located, the last thing I want to do is occupy another Islamic country. Moreover, I could care less what kind of government eventually replaces the House of Saud. As long as it is broke and penniless I could care less.

    • art

      So right!!!!The Saudis…the crux of the biscuit.

    • aspacia

      Right, open another front, and what. It will bankrupt us. Be realistic especially is Obamanation in charge and our taxes increasing this January.

    • davarino

      One day SA will look back and think about all the good they could have done for their country with all that petro money, and all they did was piss it away on a global jihad/world take over. They will be dreaming of the good ol days as they go back to riding camels and living in tents. Its true for all despotic regimes, they never win.

    • aspacia

      We already have two fronts; your idea is madness at this time.

  • S R Wakankar

    Pakistan is not any nation in the normal sense of the term;it is medieval anti-Indian anti-Hindu Arab/Muslim Imperialism incarnate.It is born out of an imaginary unfounded fear of the Hindu raj in India, which has never happened;India is a highly successful and thriving democracy today.Pakistan came into being on the wrong philosophy of Islamic radicalism and faulty notion of "Muslim/non-Muslim cannot live together" ideology.Today Hindus and Muslims are living quite peacefully in India.On the contrary,by Bangladesh ceding away, it has been proved that Muslims and Muslims cannot live together.The whole theory and logic of Pakistan has been blasted with B'desh falling apart.Pakistan has become an extremely dangerous for civilization and a terrorist hub by sheltering al Qaeda people.If not stopped,they are going to destroy the world for so-called Islam.Pakistan will have to change, the way B'desh has changed.B'desh renounced the very word 'Pakistan' which is sheer nonsense and an absurdity.Pakisan should become "Muslim India" or "Islamic Republic of India" and live peacefully with neighbours.Why it wants to become the flag-bearer of world Islam?It wants to go ahead of S.Arabia also in becoming leader of world Islam.Don't you see,it calls its bomb as "Islamic Bomb".It wants to annex Kashmir and Kabul by force and always uses/misuses the Pashtun tribal people as trump card by invoking Islam and Jihad.It has never been able to control effectively these people and has always behaved un-government-like with them.In fact, Pakistan uses them to launch aggression upon neighbouring countries.The idea to found an Islamic 7th century Caliphate in the wilds of Hindukush was not an Arab idea but an ISI idea.The real force and inspiration has been Pakistan for this terrorist colony in the border region of AfPak.From Chechnya to Kashmir, they wanted to establish an Islamic paradise governed by Osama and Mulla Umer.If this had happened, it would have become the most dangerous part of the world.Thanks to US and NATO forces, the situation is changing and world is safe.

    • Nick Shaw

      Mostly right SR but, Muslims and Hindus living peacefully in India? I beg to differ. One group is out to extend the Calphate the other is out for revenge in numerous examples within India. Further, I don't know that the US and Nato are responsible, just yet, for making the world safe. Remember, The One wants the troops coming home by August next year. Once that starts NATO forces will scurry like rats from a sinking ship. Well, they are now.

    • aspacia

      Pakistan was created because the Hindus and Muslims were slaughtering each other. Pakistan is allowing terrorist groups to form and attack India.

  • Seawolfman

    Best all around if we start by burning Saudi Arabia…. right to the ground. Out of those ashes we should then grab Pakistan by the stacking swivel. Won't happen though…..not with our present leadership, who do not have America's best interest at heart, nor do they posess one shred of what it takes to really prevail……courage.

  • tanstaafl

    Sharia government is considered so "good" that it must be imposed on the entire world. It is incompatible with democracy, human rights or capitalism and would plunge the world into savagery. But Muslims insist that they must be governed by it. The situation will never change until Islam is changed by it's adherents.

    • juice

      Islam won't be changed by its adherents. If change is to come it would have to be from outside the "box."

      • aspacia

        Similar to how we changed Shintoism in Japan after WWII. However, we must clean up our ongoing wars at the moment.

    • Nick Shaw

      LOL tansfaafl (what does your name mean, BTW?) It reminds me of another saying, "Liberal ideas are so good they have to be mandated!"

  • http://www.myspace.com/freddawes1776/ Fred Dawes

    The Muslims inside PAKISTAN Will play the game for 7 billion a year but soon the Muslims know that money will stop after that Watch-out "Pakland" Has nukes and that can make us all really sad someday, in other words Dead,Dead,really Dead.

    • Indioviejo

      So, does it mean that we can't take out the "WORLD" with our dying breath? @#@K them all. We use to have enough fire power to them all, several times over. If it comes to this, let no one walk away from this fight.

  • welldoneson

    Good to see NATO chasing these bastards until they catch them.
    Whether they're caught in Pakistan or Detroit hardly matters.

    We've got Islamist "sleepers" in our midst here in Canada,
    of course there are hundreds of thousands of those creeps in Pakistan
    ready to declare their intentions by opening fire at a mall, office building,
    mosque, wherever. That is why Pakistan has to play both sides.

    Even if Pakistan pulls out of the border areas entirely, there are plenty
    of Islamists in the country who will do ANYTHING. ANYTIME. Years later.
    Whenever it suits them.

    The only solution to this is to do what Turkey used to
    do – regular roundups of guys they KNEW were sleeper Islamists. They stopped
    doing that on the insistence of the gong-show crew running the European Union.
    Now look where Turkey is – on the verge of becoming an Islamist state.
    That would make 58. Better tell Obama so he can update his state count
    for his next speech.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Write off Afghanistan. It’s a medieval backwater and I’m sorry but a medieval backwater can’t and doesn’t represent an existential threat to a superpower. If Pakistan gives safe haven to AQ and the Taliban it means that Pakistan is the enemy. Hence, target AQ and the Taliban in Pakistan and at the same time obliterate Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons program. In other words, remove all threats from Pakistan in the event it falls into the hands of the Muhammadans. Then subsequently give our full support to India.

    As for as Afghanistan goes, we should salt the ground where the majority of the world’s poppies are grown so nothing will grow, and then get the hell out of there. Alternatively we could also fly in there on an annual basis to destroy the poppy crops, until the locals wise up and start growing legitimate crops.

    As for as Saudi Arabia goes, I agree that in the long run we should also obliterate the House of Saud and confiscate their massive oil wealth and oil assets. Otherwise, those oil resources will be used permanently on a massive basis to wage jihad against the West.

  • Jaybo

    It's time to remind Pakistan of their message to the U.S. Nixon wrote in 1980 ("The Real War"):

    "In neighboring Pakistan a high-ranking official who had been privately warning of Russia's expansionist ambitions told an an American friend, 'You see, this is what I have been telling you and now it's come true. You Americans don't seenm to understand the world anymore. Next comes the Finlandization of Pakistan, and subversion of our country by the Russians. There is a very real possibility — likelihood even–of Soviet hegemony in this whole part of the world. Don't your people in Washington care?' "

    Whether or not the Taliban or Iran are really proxies of Russia, or just part of the new wave of Islamic oil-fed greedy expansionists, the result will be the same for Pakistan. If they had any intelligence, their leaders would do everything in their power to make it easy for Nato to help them survive. Pakistan is hanging by a thread. We should tell them, "Don't your people in Islamabad care?"

  • WilliamJamesWard

    There was a big mistake in the offer of condolences to the Pakistanis,
    it should have read, "We regret to have had to destroy every living
    thing on your borders, but hey"…………………………..William

  • Indioviejo

    Why can't we recognize an enemy? Why can't we kill them before we are killed? Self defense predates civilization. It is a "Natural Law".

  • badaboo

    Helloooo , the Taliban was created by the Pakistani Intelligence agency .They were c5eated to harrass India in Kashmir .They morphed into a true reflection of what Pakistan is really all about , and always has been . Simply because they put their ambassadors in buisiness suits does not by any means change their stripes .The Mumbai attack was in part instigated by the same Pakistani Intelligence agency . This "game " didn't start yesterday , it's been going on for years , since atleast the the Ondia /pakistan war in the early 70's .

  • badaboo

    We are more likely to be hated by Pakistanis for our freindship with India , lol…even more so than Israel !!
    Ally ????? we give them money , and they stab us in te back And the absurdity here is , WE KNOW IT !

  • Bogdan of Oz

    There is no doubt that the self-debasing, degenerate and appeasing towards America's enemies political game played by Obama and his cronies is a major reason for Pakistan's insolent and increasingly blatant hostility directed at America and her allies in Afganistan.
    Things will go much worse if the Conservative forces in America take over the Congress in November.
    Although diminished in his statue, popularity and power, lame-duck Obama will continue his quest for the destruction of the US. One of the most painful aspect of that game will be his totall abandonment of the US Armed Forces.
    The situation is going to get worse in particular because Robert Gates, who is the man of a weak character anyway, but who plays his role as a de facto Commander In Chef will probably resign, and the leaderless US military will be demoralised and clueless even more.
    That will have truly devastating impact on the US performance not only in in Afganistan but also will worsen the US position in Iraq.
    On the whole it is going to get much, much worse before it will get better. If ever….

  • davarino

    Agreed, its seems the women of the republican party have more cajones than the men.

    God I hate to say that, but you know there is nothing like a pissed off woman to get things done hehehe

    • Nick Shaw

      So true Bogdan. Most in the West don't realize and, in fact, think it's ludicrous, that there are "think tanks" in countries like Pakistan. Well there are and they guage the strength and weakness of America and the West all the time. They have judged, correctly, that liberalism has sapped the will of the West and are advising their governments to make their moves now, while we are supine. Iran / Jimmy Carter anyone? While I like SP, a lot, personally I don't think she's ready and has a lot of, made up for sure, baggage for the other side to attack.

  • Wordcrunch991

    Thanks for all the comments on the Saudi question:

    Not that I am in any way a Michael Moore's fan, but for one I do believe there is some substance to his bloated charge that the Bush's response to 9/11 was circumscribed by his family's commercial ties with the Saudis. The problem then was not as much 9/11 – which was of course was a dastardly, coordinated attack on the US – but in the administration's response to it, in the unrealistic, simplistic narrative – "We are not at war with Islam; this is not what Islam is about; Islam is a religion of peace". IOW, as Robert Spencer brightly ridiculed it: Mohammed Atta and Co. were 'misunderstanders of Islam'. Not the the attacks themselves, but the US response to them were the real damage to the US. (continuing…)

  • Wordcrunch991

    The Bush and Obama administrations have not had a handle on the problem, which of course is the Saudis' world-wide Islamic campaign (to which Iran provides its own second fiddle) to destabilize the US., the West, the world. To that end, Pakistan was undermined in 1970's through Saudi financing. The mischief in the tribal North all but guarantees that the US/West's intervention in Afghanistan is not winable. Similarly in Iraq (there was no salafiya 'islamism' to speak of under Saddam) has been infiltrated to a point that no lasting political stability favourable to the West can be achieved. I realize the practical constraints that the US has in projecting itself militarily (with something like a trillion dollar trade deficit) in SA now. But what I think needs to be done now is that the strategic thinking in the US has to focus on the real center of the problem. Pressure needs to be exerted on the SA to cease and desist in undermining the New World Order. The US needs to team up with Russia and China (who have their own problems with Islam) and do some serious coordinated work on stopping the revival of the original violent Islam, which preyed on the decaying civilizations around them.

  • Nick Shaw

    The breadth of critical thought by regular, I'm assuming, folks in this forum is amazing! I like what Wordcrunch has to say except the mention of New World Order, brrrr! True the Chinese and Russia have their own problems with Islam but I wouldn't be foolish enough to think they want to work with the West or America to combat it. As long as the Islamofacists concentrate their efforts on the West, sapping our strength and will, those countries are happy, so their assistance will be tepid at best. When necessary, they will mobilize to crush Islam if they think attacks on them are getting out of hand. In fact, any attacks are useful to keep the population in line, see 1984 (the book not the year) Until then, continuing decline of the West, whether by Islam or liberalism. is a plus.

    • Wordcrunch991

      The NWO is another big debate. I don't know if you noticed but Russia completed a segment of its Siberian pipeline and is ready to start delivering oil to China. This changes a lot of things strategically. China now holds the high cards – a fastest growing economy, solid financial footing, secure supply of energy. The Chinese can take a run on the American $ any time they want to – and they will if they figure the American economic basket case is a danger to them.
      So, something's gotta give here.

  • http://yahoo.com Robert

    We have a truly BIG mess on our hands here and our govt helped to contribute to the mess. American’s have always been pretty content to allow our govt geniuses to deal with foreign policy and take no real interest in such issues. Iraq, Sunni controlled but Shia majority populated and Iran, Shia majority, have been the linchpins upon which our govt has relied on to “stabilize” the Middle East. When Iraq was a threat we aided the Iranian’s to help the U.S. maintain its security interests in the ME and vice versa when the Iranian’s became a threat.
    By taking out Saddam Hussein and his Sunni Baathist Party, the Bush admin made a serious miscalculation that is causing realignment of not only the ME nations, but among nations around the world. We have now handed the anti-American Iranian govt the nation of Iraq, and freed them from their regional threats from their neighbor and allowed them to now turn their evil influence outwards. The Iranian influence is now seen in not only areas like Pakistan and Afghanistan, but now we see their hand in South and Central America (Venezuela and now, more and more in Nicaragua) but even in both our southern and northern neighbors, Mexico and Canada.

  • Robert

    Due to the failed policies of our govt officials we have even managed to accomplish a feat which was considered an ideological impossibility just a few short years ago – the union between Sunni and Shia Muslims working together in HAMAS! The greatest threat to Western civilization has been the rapid advance of jihadist-Islam but due to our govt’s failed policies we now face the double threat of both external (Islam) and the internal threat of the systematic destruction of our own nations laws, beliefs, and culture. The Iranian al Quds terror faction Hezbollah has spent years setting up cells right here in the USA itself. They are heavily involved in illicit drug, cigarette, and ID theft schemes as well as more overt “charity” organizations; all of which are geared towards financing this most dangerous and capable terrorist organization in the world today. If war were to break out between the U.S. and Iran they can be counted on to conduct terror attacks within the U.S. and when Iran does develop nuclear capabilities, they will be the ones directly involved in facilitating such devices into the U.S.

  • 911Infidel

    Pakistan is no friend of the US. The ISI keeps a core group of jihadis for their war in Kashmir. They keep the lion share of their military also on that border with India. While at the same time they allow us to hit certain terrorists in their restive provinces, and wage meanlingless small battles with them to get more jizya monies to line their pockets and finance their buddies in the Taliban against us. Its Islamic political gamesmanship. They say one thing in public and do another thing in private while the ISI continues their jihad in A-Stan and Kashmir, through their proxies in the Taliban. AQI, and the MMA.

  • Lakshmanan

    Taliban is a mask. Pakistan Army is slowly forced to remove it and come into open by the American operations.