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It gets worse. The Pakistani government has ceded vast stretches of the country’s laughably misnamed Federally Administered Tribal Areas to enemy forces. And after SEAL Team 6 found Osama bin Laden hiding in plain sight just outside Islamabad, Pakistan expelled two-thirds of the U.S. military personnel assigned to training the Pakistani army in counterinsurgency. If Islamabad truly were on America’s side in the war on terror, then that action is akin to firing your surgeon and oncologist after they have excised a brain tumor.
That brings us to the most damning piece of evidence against the Pakistani security, military and intelligence apparatus: Osama bin Laden was permitted to live—for years—in a mansion just miles outside Pakistan’s capital, in a city that serves as a garrison for Pakistani troops, a host to the Pakistani military academy and a retirement destination for Pakistani military brass. It’s impossible to believe that Pakistani military and intelligence personnel in the area—or government officials in nearby Islamabad—were unaware that the most wanted man on earth was living next door.
Some say that all of this is a function of an intense power struggle between the Pakistani military and civilian government—and within the military itself. That may be true, but excuses and motives and root causes don’t change the reality of what is happening in Pakistan and/or what Pakistan is allowing to happen.
In fact, if Pakistan’s civilian government is unable to prevent its U.S.-equipped security, military and intelligence apparatus from firing on U.S. helicopters and unable to order its U.S.-equipped security, military and intelligence apparatus to apprehend America’s enemies, then that means Pakistan’s civilian government is not really in charge of its security, military and intelligence apparatus. If, on the other hand, Pakistan’s civilian government is ordering its security, military and intelligence apparatus to fire on American choppers, fund Haqqani terrorists and hide al Qaeda’s founding fathers, then it is an enemy regime. Neither alternative is particularly comforting.
The point of this recap is simple: Perhaps someone down in the NATO chain of command—or somewhere higher up in the U.S. chain of command—has had enough with Pakistan’s duplicity and sent a message last weekend. If so, that someone has brought Americans and their government closer to understanding that Pakistan is part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
Alan W. Dowd writes on defense and security issues.
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