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18 July 2010


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Since when has reality (or even a passing semblance) ever impinged on our Paki policies? From day one, the rulers (military & feudals) have played the USG like a cheap fiddle.
Three years in-country gave me a grudging regard for those who foolishly chose "the land of the pure" at Partition, but the shots are still called by Punjabi & Sindhi forces who have nothing but fear & loathing for everything Western. Fasten your seat belts, it's gonna be a bumpy night -- dark & dangerous, too.


The Pakistani role in Afghanistan is determined by its relation with India.

The Pakistani relation with India is determined by the situation in Kashmir and Jammu.

The strife in Kashmir is a strife about water for the Indus between India and Pakistan.

A guaranteed flow of the Indus to Pakistan is a genuine question of survival for Pakistan.

If Clinton and Holbrooke want to do something about Pakistans role in Afghanistan they will have to do something about the spring of the Indus river.

If they do not start there, they will end nowhere.

At the Virginia Capes

Why would the administration take this tack on Pakistan?
Basically, one could identify two possibilities:
1. Wishful thinking that they could persuade Pakistan to change just enough to shift the balance just enough to make our situation in Afghanistan less difficult, so we can exit sooner rather than later;
2. We are pretty much out of options, and we are going through the 'smiley face' approach because we really can't think of anything else to do.

I suspect the latter.


Interesting that the focus of US policy is the same in both Pakistan and Israel: "more money please."

So you have to ask: what did the US get in return for the gigantic sums already showered on these countries? Where is the resulting leverage?

If past bribes couldn't secure loyalty, what is the purpose of these bribes?

Uri Avnery describes Israel's policy as "if force doesn't work, use more force." Besides that policy, the US adds, "if bribery doesn't work, use more bribery!"

FB Ali

Col Lang,

You are quite right. This whole project is crazy. Zardari and his government would, for this price, do whatever was asked of them, but national security policy is firmly in the military's hands.

Nor is any of this "long term commitment" going to change the widespread anti-US feeling in the country. The causes of that lie beyond US-Pakistan relations; so long as those US policies continue, this feeling will prevail.


Special Envoy Holbrooke:
"nothing could be more important to the resolution of the war in Afghanistan than a common understanding between Afghanistan and Pakistan on what their strategic purpose is."

Just what the hell is America's strategic purpose? To pay perpetual extortion since whoever takes over will claim, as Mr. Holbrooke did before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, " If we walk away from Afghanistan again, as we did 21 years ago, the consequences will be similarly catastrophic."

Just how long did those Afghan's being funded by the US expect to be on the US payroll after they earned thier 'liberation' from the Soviets? Perhaps Mr. Holbrooke believes it would have been so much better for the USA to have arived and funded a government, on the border of on of the three member states of the USSR, even though it is 6,000 miles form the USA?

BTW nice to know this, too:
"Mr. HOLBROOKE: This isn't Vietnam. This is about our national security. Vietnam was not." Right, that's not the way it played out in the House and Senate while it was being fought.

Again, what's the US national security interest? Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were from Saudi Arabia. We didn't invade them.

Phil Giraldi

Actually Mr. Holbrooke Vietnam WAS about our national security while the current wars are not. North Vietnam was a proxy for much larger players, including the Soviet Union. One can argue that the assessment was wrong and that the war was unwinnable, but the threat was substantial. Can anyone doubt that in three years' time the US will be gone from Afghanistan and Iraq, both will be in chaos, and everyone in both countries will blame it on the United States? Plus some trillions in debt for our children to pay off and thousands of dead American soldiers.

R Whitman

I have a positive take on this situation. I think it is the opening of a new strategy to get us out of Afganistan without a sense of defeat, similar to that which is happening in Iraq.

Petraeus, Clinton and Holbrooke are very aware that their precious reputations and egos are at stake and the cannot take us out of Afganistan looking like loosers. If we continue doing what we are currently doing that is exactly what will happen.

I expect that some sort of cobbled together unworkable negotiated solution will be reached. We will get out no matter what, just like Iraq and we will not be tagged as the loosers and Petraeus is a hero again.

Not a very pretty picture, but better than we have now.


@ the Virginia Capes: We are pretty much out of options, and we are going through the 'smiley face' approach because we really can't think of anything else to do.

I like this answer. I am still trying to figure out why we are even trying to do anything but disengage from the cesspool that is AFPAK. It's a snakepit that we have to watch, and take action against if the snakes head our way. But treat the Pakis as allies?

I mean, it's a rogue Muslim state with the bomb, fer Chrisakes. The country is really run by the ISI, about which I offer this (my word) "Wikiquote":

In 2010, the London School of Economics published a report containing what it claimed was concrete evidence of direct links between Pakistan's ISI and the Taliban in Afghanistan determining that the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban on a scale much larger than previously thought. They cited interviews suggesting that the ISI even attends meetings of the Taliban's supreme council. General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, refused to endorse this report in US congressional hearing and suggested that any contacts between ISI and extremists are for legitimate intelligence purposes, in his words “you have to have contact with bad guys to get intelligence on bad guys”.

I do see the benefit of maintaining a diplomatic presence in Pakistan, rather than the hostility we show Iran, but we are kidding ourselves if we think that we can really work with this regime.


"The strife in Kashmir is a strife about water for the Indus between India and Pakistan." -b

I am sure FB Ali and others who have a much more intimate knowledge of the south asian subcontinent would have more astute comments.

My comments are based on what I have gleaned from Indian IT entrepreneurs. It seems the Kashmir strife at its core is a blood feud from the partition of British India. Kashmir although a Muslim majority kingdom was ruled by a Hindu king who decided to join the Indian union. Pakistan at the time instigated tribes to attack and created a new de facto line of control and Azad Kashmir (Free Kashmir). The land that Pakistan did not get by force is now part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. No Indian national other than those born in that state can own land in Kashmir. The very essence of Pakistani nationhood is based on acquiring the remainder of Kashmir. This conflict is not about water although that may play a role but of national egos and identity. All the political parties and the Pakistani military have a singular objective to regain the rest of Kashmir and that seems to be the issue that universally unites the different Pakistani factions.

FB Ali linked to a review of a recent book by Fatima Bhutto. The reviewer notes the role that Benazir Bhutto played in organizing jihadi elements as the primary destabilization force in Kashmir instead of supporting a more secular political front that already existed. I believe that worldwide jihadi terrorism is one of the unintended consequences of using jihadis as the weapon of choice by Pakistan to influence events in Kashmir. And the role that Saudi and US financing and arms played in using Pakistan as the base for the insurgency against the Soviets in Aghanistan.

Charles I

I think they just have to say this kind of crap, so long as they maintain public positions predicated on magical thinking, even as the realization sets in that the jig is up.

We're in the "Peace With Honour" stage.

Juan Cole today cites reports in The Independent of a covert NATO agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014 by which time the Afghans will be presented as "stood up' as tall as they are going to get, and pronounced ready to defend democracy.

Since security costs $2bn a year, and the governments budget is $1bn, we shall make up the shortfall, disbursed who knows how or where.

"NATO Secretly Planning to Leave Afghanistan by 2014;

Posted on July 18, 2010 by

The Independent reports that it has seen the text of a resolution expected to be adopted at Tuesday’s conference of major donors in Kabul, which calls for NATO military forces to depart Afghanistan by 2014, turning it over to the new Afghanistan Army and the Kabul government."


FB Ali


You are right in saying that Kashmir is not primarily about water, though it does partly figure in this issue. (The equitable division of river waters that flow from India into Pakistan is a major issue on its own between the two countries).

However, your statement: "The very essence of Pakistani nationhood is based on acquiring the remainder of Kashmir.......All the political parties and the Pakistani military have a singular objective to regain the rest of Kashmir and that seems to be the issue that universally unites the different Pakistani factions" represents the situation as it was some years ago. It is no longer true; too many other problems on people’s minds have crowded this out.

Worldwide jihadi terrorism was not the unintended consequence of the use of jihadis in Kashmir but of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan sponsored by the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.


The 2010 LSE report you have quoted is not considered reliable by reputable analysts. For one critique of it, see: http://www.counterpunch.org/cloughley07082010.html


Wasn't there an election to be in Kashmir that never happened?

Gautam Das


What never happened is a plebiscite as given in the first UN Resolution on the India-Pakistan dispute, among other things which were simultaneously supposed to happen, including the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the areas of the state of J&K captured by them in the state. (Pakistani regular army troops came in later, initially it was tribal 'lashkar' groups, prior to the state acceding to India and asking for Indian military help) India was also supposed to withdraw the bulk of its forces, leaving a 'small' contingent for law-&-order purposes while the plebiscite was organised and conducted.

Pakistan, both Govt and its citizens/media, often brings up the plebisicite, but neglects to mention the other stipulation of removal of Pakistani forces. Since the other two major stipulations are not about to happen, the plebiscite has become a dead letter.

BTW, the 'tribals' that were sent in were the very same Pashtuns (aka 'Pathans' in India-Pakistan-Bangladesh) that the US/NATO are fighting in Afghanistan, includng the same Mahsuds and Wazirs whom the Pakistan Army is fighting in Waziristan, and whom the US drones are also targeting. These poor fellows now have the honour of fighting the US, NATO, and the Pakistan Army simultaneously, while the Indian security forces maintain vigil that they don't infiltrate into the state of J&K! A number of Clint Eastwood characters in his movies would be proud of them; Their 'day' ahs been well and truly 'made' .

Gautam Das

clifford kiracofe

Ah yes, those Manhattan cocktail parties at the Council on Foreign Relations' Pratt (as in George Pratt Shultz) House?

1. Here's from their leader:

"The war being waged by the United States in Afghanistan today is fundamentally different and more ambitious than anything carried out by the Bush administration. Afghanistan is very much Barack Obama’s war of choice, a point that the president underscored recently by picking Gen. David Petraeus to lead an intensified counterinsurgency effort there. After nearly nine years of war, however, continued or increased U.S. involvement in Afghanistan isn’t likely to yield lasting improvements that would be commensurate in any way with the investment of American blood and treasure. It is time to scale down our ambitions there and both reduce and redirect what we do."

Rather vague prescription after stating the obvious..."reduce and redirect"...work with Zardari for example??? Just what?

2. This is an interesting little nugget, however:

"My colleagues in the Bush administration had no interest in my proposal. The consensus was that little could be accomplished in Afghanistan given its history, culture, and composition, and that there would be little payoff beyond Afghanistan even if things there went better than expected. They had no appetite for on-the-ground nation building. The contrast with subsequent policy toward Iraq, where officials were prepared to do a great deal because they hoped to create a potential model for change throughout the Middle East, could hardly be more stark."


@FB Ali: The 2010 LSE report you have quoted is not considered reliable by reputable analysts. For one critique of it, see: http://www.counterpunch.org/cloughley07082010.html

I read it. Point taken.

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