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New accusations of collaboration between Pakistan’s top spy agency and terrorist groups have cast fresh doubts over Pakistani resolve to quash Islamic insurgents. The allegations are the latest indication that America’s security partnership with Pakistan is deteriorating.
Pakistan’s alleged duplicity was raised in released documents detailing American concern over Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and its links to terrorist groups. The documents show that as far back as 2007, the US military considered ISI to be one of 32 “terrorist support entities,” organizations “which al-Qaeda, the al Qaeda network or the Taliban has established working, supportive or beneficiary relationship for the achievement of common goals.”
The release of the damaging documents was preceded days earlier in a stinging attack from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, in which he accused ISI of having close connections with the Haqqani terror network, an Afghan militant group based in the Pakistani province of North Waziristan.
According to Mullen, the Haggani — an organization with close ties to Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents — “is supporting, funding, training fighters that are killing Americans and killing coalition partners.”
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s loyalty in the war on terror is not the only American concern. Now, Pakistan’s counterinsurgency abilities have also been called into question. That charge came in the Obama administration’s recently released bi-annual progress report to Congress on the Afghanistan war.
The report highlighted mounting frustration with the inability of Pakistan’s military to clear insurgents from northwest Pakistan, a failure which led to the report’s grim conclusion : “As such, there remains no clear path toward defeating the insurgency in Pakistan.”
Still, despite the report’s negativity, officials defended the administration’s strategic outreach efforts with Pakistan, insisting such a policy was vital to American national security interests. As one American official stressed, “The bottom line is that joint cooperation is essential … The stakes are too high.”
That being said, a bi-partisan rejection of a continued security partnership with Pakistan may be emerging on Capitol Hill. As Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) opined, “I doubt the (Pakistani) leaders are going to do anything except pursue their own narrow, venal self interests. I doubt the ISI will ever stop working with us during the day and going to see their not-so-secret friends in the terrorist groups at night.” For his part, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said the current relationship between the two countries was based on “wishful thinking and what I call irrational optimism.”
An example of such irrational optimism surfaced recently when Pakistan’s army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, claimed his forces had effectively “broken the backbone” of Islamic militants in Pakistan.
The truth is the Afghan-Pakistan border remains a leaking vessel by which Islamic insurgents continue to flow through. In fact, the cascade of militants has heavily increased in recent months as NATO forces in Afghanistan contend with a newly launched Taliban and al-Qaeda spring offensive.
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