Today Pakistan closed the U.S. and NATO supply line from Pakistan into Afghanistan in a move it said allowed Pakistan to chase down and kill anti-U.S. Taliban members in the tribal areas.
The fact is that the U.S. and NATO needs those supplies from Pakistan into Afghanistan and they also need the Pakistani army to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda. One without the other is a fool’s errand.
For some months now, Pakistan resisted U.S. pleas for the Pakistani army to take a greater role in fighting the Taliban in the tribal areas. When Pakistan ignored U.S. requests, the U.S. targeted key Taliban men and positions using drone aircraft armed with missiles.
An unmanned but missile-armed U.S. Predator drone.(AFP/USAF/File/US Air Force)
But Pakistan is trapped by conflicting loyalties: to allow the U.S. drone overflights and attacks caused militants inside Pakistan to revolt.
Pakistan again wrestled with a long standing dilemma: to appease the U.S. and continue to suck up U.S. money and supplies or to suffer the consequences of further internal and border violence from Islamic militants.
Pakistan is using the unsettled situation with India over the Mumbai massacre as a ruse to move troops away from the tribal areas and the border with Afghanistan and toward India. This allowed rebels to attack the NATO supply system for Afghanistan inside Pakistan.
Pakistan is playing an ugly and dangerous game. The Islamic militants inside Pakistan have no real love for the government of President Zardari — nor did they for his predecessor General Musharraf.
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari.REUTERS/Nadeem Soomro (PAKISTAN)
In Pakistan, the government leadership reaps most of the wealth from U.S. assistance and little trickles down.
So Pakistan’s gamesmanship only further annoys the militants.
India has lost all regard for Pakistan and its games, too. India wants answers and action from Pakistan following Mumbai: not war. And Pakistan seems to be stonewalling while saying all the right things, as usual.
And the U.S. should be weary too by now of Pakistan’s clumsy chicanery…..
This now is the challenge for Barack Obama and India. The militants in Pakistan have already decided they can’t tolerate the Zardari regime. Obama’s play is not known. But in India, patience is wearing thin.
By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia