May 2, 2009


Change We Can’t Believe In: Pakistan's military has lost every conventional war. It's far better at guerrilla wars. (Fareed Zakaria, May 2, 2009, Newsweek)

Finally, we are told, the Pakistani military has gotten serious about the threat that militants pose to its country. The Army is now fighting back for real, sending troops to dislodge the jihadists who had spread out of the Swat Valley. We hear this from Pakistani commanders, of course, but also from civilian leaders as well as from U.S. officials, including the secretary of defense, Robert Gates. In an interview with me for CNN, Gates said, "I think the movement of the Taliban so close to Islamabad was a real wake-up call for them."

Maybe. It was only a few years ago that Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani diplomat who recently became ambassador to Washington, wrote a brilliant book arguing that the Pakistani government—despite public and private claims to the contrary—continued "to make a distinction between 'terrorists' … and 'freedom fighters' (the officially preferred label … for Kashmiri militants)." He added: "The Musharraf government also remains tolerant of remnants of Afghanistan's Taliban regime, hoping to use them in resuscitating Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan." The Pakistani military's world view—that it is surrounded by dangers and needs to be active in destabilizing its neighbors— remains central to Pakistan's basic strategy.

While President Musharraf broke with the overt and large-scale support that the military provides to the militant groups, and there have continued to be some moves against some
jihadists, there is no evidence of a campaign to rid Pakistan of these groups. destabilizing the tribal areas to the point that the military has no choice but to engage in the war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 2, 2009 4:15 PM
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