The Worst Kept Secret

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In the end, the treaties blew up in Musharraf’s face. The Taliban increased their incursions into Afghanistan while setting up networks and bases in “no-go” areas for the Pakistani military. It also made the US very unhappy, as the Bush administration threatened to cut off aid to his government. When free elections were held in 2008, Musharaff’s coalition suffered badly at the polls and the husband of slain Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto, Asif Zardari, rolled to victory.

None of these internal political squabbles affected Pakistan’s continuing support for the Taliban. This from the TimesOnline last month:

Pakistani support for the Taliban in Afghanistan runs far deeper than a few corrupt police officers, however. The Sunday Times can reveal that it is officially sanctioned at the highest levels of Pakistan’s government.

Pakistan’s own intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), is said to be represented on the Taliban’s war council — the Quetta shura. Up to seven of the 15-man shura are believed to be ISI agents.

The London School of Economics issued a report stating, ““Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude” in Afghanistan. The report’s author, Matt Waldman, continued:

As the provider of sanctuary and substantial financial, military and logistical support to the insurgency, the ISI appears to have strong strategic and operational influence — reinforced by coercion. There is thus a strong case that the ISI orchestrates, sustains and shapes the overall insurgent campaign.

Forget the Wikileaks. ISI support for the Taliban has been the worst kept secret in international affairs. Spengler, writing at the Asia Times, explains why grown-ups in the international community are playing “Let’s Pretend” when it comes to Pakistan’s double crossing government:

This raises the question: Who covered up a scandalous arrangement known to everyone with a casual acquaintance of the situation? The answer is the same as in Agatha Christie’s 1934 mystery about murder on the Orient Express, that is, everybody: former United States president George W Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, current US President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, India, China and Iran. They are all terrified of facing a failed state with nuclear weapons, and prefer a functioning but treacherous one.

The bottom line is that it serves US interests to make believe that Pakistan is a help and not a hindrance in Afghanistan. It is real politik on steroids. Indeed, prosecuting the war in Afghanistan would be immensely more complicated if we were to switch gears and start treating Pakistan as less than a valuable ally. Nearly 80% of the supplies destined for the Afghan theater pass through Pakistan and finding an alternative would be extremely difficult. If you add the complicating factor of Pakistan’s less than secure nuclear stockpile, it is clearly better for the US to maintain as close relations with Pakistan as possible – even if that means sacrificing their total cooperation in fighting the Taliban.

But the Wikileak revelations might change that calculation. Congress may have second thoughts about the huge. $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan passed last year. At the time, there was a huge row in Pakistan over strings attached to the aid by Congress, with the military going so far as appearing to threaten a coup if the government accepted the package with all the stipulations.

The argument was eventually smoothed over but it has engendered distrust between the two governments. Any additional friction may give President Zardari no choice but to cut back on his cooperation with our military regarding supplies destined for Afghanistan while refusing to share valuable intelligence that has been vital in the prosecution of our drone warfare.

There were ominous rumblings from the ISI that seemed to indicate that just such a scenario might become reality:

The official acknowledged, however, that some of the allegations sound “very damning” and could erode support in the United States for the alliance with Pakistan. If the CIA does not denounce the suggestions, the official said the ISI might need to reexamine its cooperation.

The answer to the question of what can we do about Pakistan is not very much if we expect to continue prosecuting the war in Afghanistan at the same level we are now. For the present, we must accept that the Pakistani government has their own fish to fry in Afghanistan, while hoping that the nominally pro-Western government of President Zardari can successfully overcome challenges posed by Islamic extremists and safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile.

As with Afghanistan itself, there simply are no good options in dealing with the two-faced nature of Pakistan’s attitudes toward our efforts in the War on Terror.

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  • jemc50

    All those involved in this leak of classified information need to be prosecuted. If it is military personnel, let the court martial make an example of them.

    "TITLE 18 USC, Section 798

    § 798. Disclosure of classified information

    (a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—
    (1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or
    (2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or
    (3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or
    (4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—
    Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."

    Throw the book at them.

  • Use your head

    What's that jemc50? They should be prosecuted? What is wrong with you? What about the truth coming out huh?

    These documents show the clear frustration of US soldiers ON THE GROUND who have to put up with Pakistan's double dealing. These soldiers know that Pakistan is supporting the very insurgents who are killing them even while the US government gives Pakistan billions of dollars. Other reporters embedded with US troops on the ground in the past 7 years have heard the same thing from these soldiers. Pakistan still supports terrorists.

    Don't you see the irony? US tax payer dollars are being used to help terrorists to kill US soliders. What do you have to say to these troops putting their lives on the line? Grow some sense. The US needs to cut off ALL aid to Pakistan.


    We're just BSing ourselves if we treat this "leak" as treason rather than a wakeup call. Do we really want to do a Richard Nixon response to this rather than examining the documents (and our foreign policy) critically?

    • richard

      Hussien obama knows very well what is going on . SHINE that spotlight on this TRAITOR . Do you think that obama HUSSIEN doesn.t know what is going on with pakistan ??? The islamists , including obama HUSSEIN have one goal in mind , The destruction of free choice ,and the introduction of communism,Soicialism

  • JasonPappas

    This is not news for many of us on the right, especially the anti-jihadi right. However, it is news for the general public.

    Pakistan is the enemy. They created and continue to support the Taliban, which gives training to jihadi that strike around the world. Their perfunctory effort gives us a few crumbs but insures that the problem continues for the very simple reason that we give them massive sums of financial support as long as there is a problem.

    Instead of fearing us they play us for suckers.

    • jbtrevor

      Agree, I was and still am perplexed as to why Gen McChrystal would suggest sending thousands of troops into a ground battle when what scant intel we were obtaining from Pakistan indicated drone warfare killing select targets/taliban leaders was working; esp since we must rely on Pakistan for troop support.
      I now am wondering why Gen. Petraeus would accept a failing mission; furthering my confusion is wondering what in hell the mission/goal now is? Anybody?

  • Paddyjdonovan

    I hope julian Assange and the army officer who downloaded many of the docs, if not all, are prosecuted to the fullest extent. Traitors like the NYT feel as if it's a free speech issue to reveal what is going on in our wars without regards to troops on the ground and the aid and comfort it gives our enemies knowing that it is divisive when said docs are revealed. Great propaganda for the jihadists who believe that all they need to do is outlast us, anyway.

  • USMCSniper

    The vast majority of the Muslims in Pakistan have been educated only in Wahhabi schools and reject western cultural values so it should be expected that they will side with the Muslim extremist elements against any western foreigners or against their own people who collaborate with western foreigners. Saying that is secret is like saying we just discovered water is wet. They regard Obama as weak and not really committed to victory in Afghanistan and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as some sort of out of place arrogant charwoman in way over her head.

  • jgreene

    Pakistan is an enemy of the United States. The populace of Pakistan overwhelmingly does not like the United States. The people are ignorant Islamists; their civiian and military leaders are treacherous Islamist snakes.

    We have to review our relationship with Pakistan.

    • alex

      "We" do not have relationship with Pakistan. Our degenerate, incompetent and self-serving political and bureaucratic "elites" do. Hence the result.

      The only reason for our military presence in Islamic world is a huge and growing number of muslims in the USA. Instead of preventing this enemy invasion of the Homeland, our "leadership" is pretending to fight Islam in the foreign lands – much less politically dangerous than defend the population and the country.

  • Sonne

    yeaaahhhhhh!!!! let's bomb 'em all !!!!! they gots dem nukelar weapons! and then let's go for N. Korea and Iran too!

    Hell, why not continue on the path to WW3 and bomb any country with a religion or leader we don't like!!!! That way, everyone under 30 will be off to war and us adult-diaper-wearin'- tea-baggers will be the only one's left to vote in any elections and we can make sure Obama don't get relectioned in 2012!

    Americaaa number oneeee yeaaahhh! Praise Jesus!

    • richard

      you are deranged

    • BravoBilly

      I love this. Whoever you are your portrayal of a tea-bagger is really cool. I mean you present everything that I think but do it in a really ignorant fashion. Good thing I have a degree in Communication and worked for a Government Agency looking for Bogus Traffic like yours…Otherwise I would have really fallen for it. You were good…Almost…

  • JasonPappas

    Yes, it is perplexing.

  • AntiOnan

    Actually the Pakistani Nuke situation would not be that hard to diminish.
    If they are concentrated in one or few places for security.

    Assuming that someone drops a nuke in the west as i have expected since 9/11. then a good old fashioned "dirty" nuke driven into the sites known to contain Pakistan's nukes might make them less willing to deploy them and be suitable reward for allowing one to be used.
    Ethics here? Once nukes are used there aren't any only winners.& losers & while they are at it, one or two in the Taliban area of NW Pakistan would not go amiss.

    TO NOT reply to a nuke with a nuke(s) is to surrender.

    BTW Sonne & before you reply: I said nothing about a first strike which given the current state of aggressive Islam could have some points in its favour but which I prefer to avoid
    unless attacked with/by one first

    I guess that you are one who disagrees with the use of them in Japan?.