Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert W. Jordan called today for more U.S. action to support the government of Pakistan as it battles the Taliban.
Jordan said Pakistan has put too much effort into guarding against attack from India and made a “deal with the devil” when it ceded control of parts of Pakistan to the Taliban. He suggested the U.S. military be positioned to put U.S. advisors with the Pakistani military in the event that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons come under threat from militants.
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said after visiting Pakistan that he was confident “at the present time” that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were secure.
Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said, “The fact that the Taliban has gotten so close to the capitol of Pakistan (Islamabad) means the U.S. needs to pay a lot more attention. Pakistan is strategically more important than Afghanistan.”
Bolton also said, “Securing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is absolutely critical.”
Ambassador Jordan also said the U.S. needed to rapidly choke off the Taliban in Afghanistan — which is President Obama’s stated goal….
Commentator Charles Krauthammer speculated on the Fox News Channel on Thursday that the head of Pakistan’s military, General Kayani was “waiting in the wings and will not allow Pakistan to fall to the Taliban.”
President Obama has suggested that the U.S. negotiate with the “moderate Taliban” but many regional eperts have rejected the idea…..
By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
Mullen (L) with Kayani
In early February, 2008, we joined with our friend in Pakistan Muhammad Khurshid to write the essay below for the Washington Times. The situation since then has deteriorated — President Musharraf is out and the government of Pakistan has “made a deal with the devil” to allow the Taliban free rein in some areas. The basic points we made in 2008 still apply: the Pakistani military needs to be prepared to take appropriate action and they should be supported at the earliest opportunity by U.S. advisors….
President Musharraf, himself imperfect and perhaps with some corruption and certainly self-serving motivations, is the only man available and capable of holding together the diverse and conflicted society that is today’s Pakistan. The Pakistan army and security services remain loyal to Mr. Musharraf and some segment of the people even see the necessity of his “emergency” suspension of democratic institutions and human rights.
Under Mr. Musharraf today we see three peoples of Pakistan: those violently opposed to any restrictions on democracy; those somewhat understanding and tolerant of Mr. Musharraf’s limitations and “emergency” measures; and the terrorism-inclined fundamentalists.
Meanwhile, Mr. Musharraf and his government must be encouraged, persuaded and perhaps somewhat coerced (by selective and targeted withholding of U.S. funds) to eliminate corruption and restore more trustworthy, open and honest media, judiciary, voting and other values.
On the issue of corruption we believe, despicable as it is in Pakistan, it is not better or worse than in Iraq today or in past U.S. involvements like Vietnam.
On the issue of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, Americans need be aware that the United States has been and remains a strong supporter of Mr. Musharraf’s and all Pakistan’s government in the committed efforts to ensure the safety and security of these national assets at all times and in all circumstances. This assistance needs to remain and may even be bolstered in any eventuality in which that may be required (though there is no foreseen likelihood of such a need to increase this already robust program).
Therefore, we return to our stated purpose: America should support President Musharraf but with some reservations. To deal with these reservations, Mr. Musharraf should continue to be persuaded and even somewhat pressured and coerced toward reforms more in line with American democratic beliefs.
The U.S. has already acknowledged that the Feb. 18 election will be imperfect. Our goal now must be to pressure Mr. Musharraf to make changes in course toward the next elections by opening freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.
We believe the tribal areas are hotbeds of dangerous people and situations that may even harbor Osama bin Laden, his followers and believers. The tribal areas are the current nexus of the worst form of anti-Western terrorism. The army of Pakistan continues to be engaged here and its success varies. Mr. Musharraf maintains that U.S. troops are unneeded and unwelcome. Yet there are many other U.S. support operations such as that which eliminated Afghan al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan at the end of January.
And in late January, Pakistan’s government troops clashed mightily with terrorist troops headed by Waziristan insurgent commander Baitullah Mehsud. After that fighting, Pakistan has taken control of Darra Adam Khel, a town that has served as an illicit arms bazaar for about 100 years.
But we still see an eventual possible future need for U.S. troops in the tribal areas. The U.S. needs to be ready to enter if summoned by Pakistan.
Finally, the entire international community seems united in persuading President Musharraf to restore and enlarge democratic institutions and principles. His control of the press and judiciary stifles not only terrorists but also needed democratic discourse.
There is great hope in and for Pakistan. Without continued U.S. assistance and support, that hope would be diminished or lost. An imperiled Pakistan is not in the best interests of most Pakistanis, the American people or the rest of the Western world.
Muhammad Khurshid reports and writes through the Bajaur Agency in the tribal areas of Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. John E. Carey is a former senior U.S. military officer, president of International Defense Consultants, Inc. and a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.