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09 May 2011


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Only comment is if the US would withdraw from Afghanistan, it wouldn't have to pay Pakistan any money. Until then, it's going to have to pony up. Huffing and puffing is only going to raise the price.

Will Reks

Zardari seems to be trying to focus the populace's ire onto the US and deflect from Pakistan's poor domestic situation. They do not want to be held accountable for their role in all of this.

Many Pakistanis believe in conspiracies like OBL being a CIA agent and Al Qaeda being a creation of the US govt. In fact, many thought we were responsible for the spate of suicide bombings across Pakistan in recent years.


Col, putting yourself in the shoes of the administration, what do you think their rationale has been in supporting a COIN strategy vs CT? Sorry if I sound naive, but are there considerations other than military driving COIN? economic? political?


Why should any American or American company invest in Pakistan?


An Indian friend of mine believes its all great theater now. That Paki government couldn't be involved in turning OBL over to Americans so a unilateral operation that killed him prevents a Paki civil war with the Taliban and gets rid of a problem. It is conveniently timed with an overture from Pak to Karzai and foreshadows an imminent US downsizing from Afghanistan. It also makes the president look good and will allow him to grant Pakistan continued aid in a gesture of statesmanship after much congressional debate. I'm not sure I subscribe to this script but it does fit the needs of the third section of a classic 3 part play.


Here is a very important quote ""Any attack against Pakistan’s strategic assets whether overt or covert will find a matching response," he added. "Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability.""

It's interesting because he only says this about Pakistan's own strategic assets. Frankly, the rest of his speech appears to try to mollify his domestic critics, but at the same time reduce the temperature with the U.S.. Letting this blow-up isn't in their interest, and until we exit Afghanistan it isn't in our interest either. It baffles me why Obama openly accused Pakistan of hiding Bin Laden. After the raid, doing that publicly just added further unnecessary insult to an already embarrassing situation. Does he want even more political turmoil in Pakistan?


Two words: first strike.


The Pakistani PM is merely regurgitating what the Army chief told him to say.

As I noted in the comments to another post, the Pakistan army's primary concern in the Abbotabad aftermath is NOT how to explain Bin Laden's lengthy stay there. Rather, the Pakistan army leadership is worried about an internal revolt because the raid caused a catclysmic loss of face for GEn. Kayani and his team.

It is an open secret that the right wing Zia-ist elements of the Pak army felt that GEn. Musharraf had bumbled away too much of the army's carefully built image after the 1971 humiliation by India. Plus they felt that the US was given too much space and essentially believed that the US has no option but to cut and run.

Kayani's first effort was to drop the kibosh on the bonhomie with India, via the Mumbai attacks. He has then sought to wriggle his proxies out from the surveillance envelope of the CIA thanks to the creeping US inroads into Pakistan's heartland. All of this reached a peak with the Raymond Davis fiasco. The Abbottabad raid basically represents a US slap in the face and the CIA essentially has made a statement that with or without the ISI America will take out even the most carefully hidden assets wherever they live.

Now, Kayani's Corps Commanders are asking him how they can be sure that the same won't happen to Mullah Omar or even the nukes!

Kayani clearly believes that the wrath of his juniors and enraged jihadi proxies is more fearsome than the anger of Americans.

I expect immense push-back in the near term, especially if Kayani can let the civilian frontmen take the heat.

The beaver

Two-faced Mush:
The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week's raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.

and then we get this:
Days earlier, Musharraf, now running an opposition party from exile in London, emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the raid, terming it a "violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan".

$10B trying to upstage Mr 10% :-)


Quote: The US and Pakistan struck a secret deal almost a decade ago permitting a US operation against Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil similar to last week's raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, the Guardian has learned.

The deal was struck between the military leader General Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, according to serving and retired Pakistani and US officials.

Under its terms, Pakistan would allow US forces to conduct a unilateral raid inside Pakistan in search of Bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the al-Qaida No3. Afterwards, both sides agreed, Pakistan would vociferously protest the incursion.

"There was an agreement between Bush and Musharraf that if we knew where Osama was, we were going to come and get him," said a former senior US official with knowledge of counterterrorism operations. "The Pakistanis would put up a hue and cry, but they wouldn't stop us."



Lord Curzon

To Pakistan's PM:

Pull the other one, it's got bells on!

Patrick Lang


i know for a fact that the USG did not inform the Pakistan government of this operation before the raid. A ten year old agreement in principle means nothing. make sure your aluminum foil hats are snug. pl

Lars Moller-Rasmussen

With the White House version of Bin Laden's death having changed several times, it's perhaps too early to comment, but some questions stand out. Why was Bin Laden, a notorious gun fetishist who had every reason to fear attack, unarmed? For how long had he been in the house in Abbottabad? Did he choose to go there himself, or was he lured there and if so by whom?

Col. Lang, couldn't what you know for a fact fit the following sequence of events: Pakistan informs the U.S. of Bin Laden's whereabouts, but asks that it be kept out of any operation against him. This of course to avoid arousing the anger of pro-Bin Laden elements in Pakistan.

However, the angry reactions in the U.S. were not foreseen, and the result is the spat we now see between Pakistan and the U.S.

Patrick Lang

"Col. Lang, couldn't what you know for a fact fit the following sequence of events: Pakistan informs the U.S. of Bin Laden's whereabouts, but asks that it be kept out of any operation against him" Yes. You can create any scenario that pleases you. The truth is that the targeting data had nothing to do with the Pakistn government. Is it so hard to admit that the US IC and armed forces are competent? pl


The speech by Prime Minister Gilani is understandable since he is playing to his gallery. Naturally he needs to deflect the fact that the US strike team accomplished its mission without the much revered Pakistani military knowing that the CIA tracked OBL down and a SEAL team killed him until it was all over. There is a loss of face domestically that needs to be covered. There must now be questions raised in the minds of Pakistanis that with all that spending on the defense establishment can they really protect strategic assets. Of course the worry must be that India may get ideas about air defense vulnerabilities and attempt to get the kingpin behind the Mumbai terrorist attack. It would seem though that India would highly likely not have the capability to achieve such a feat.

I was traveling overseas over the last couple weeks and when I returned the immigration officer was quite excited to inform me about the latest news as he welcomed me back home. As far as my "naive" neighbors are concerned it defies common sense that the Pakistani tax, military and intelligence officials did not know about OBLs whereabouts. They now are convinced that Pakistan is harboring known terrorists and jihadi elements. If their perception is correct then the Pakistani military chiefs are playing a dangerous game. Blowback is a bitch if it unravels.

In my opinion it should now be crystal clear to our leadership that we need to get out of Afghanistan pronto and lessen our dependence on Pakistani territory for the re-supply of our soldiers. Taking out the terrorists requires more of this excellent intelligence and strike approach. I wonder what Zawahiri and other AQ guys are doing now? And would we find out who helped OBL build his mansion and hide?


i know for a fact that the USG did not inform the Pakistan government of this operation before the raid. A ten year old agreement in principle means nothing. make sure your aluminum foil hats are snug.

a. The USG merely had an agreement with the Pakistan government - so whatever raid was done without informing Pakistan, as long as it was to get al Qaeda #1, #2, or #3 - it would not be a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

As the article says: "But under the terms of the secret deal, while Pakistanis may not have been informed of the assault, they had agreed to it in principle."

b. If you follow the link, you will see that the deal is just 3 years old, and not 10.

"A senior Pakistani official said it had been struck under Musharraf and renewed by the army during the "transition to democracy" – a six-month period from February 2008 when Musharraf was still president but a civilian government had been elected."

I don't see any need for aluminum foil. The article is quite plausible.


Prof. Walter Russell Mead has the following take on what to do with Pakistan:


Quoting selected portions:

"We are going to have to get tough. The Pakistani security establishment lives to a very large degree in what, to American eyes, looks like a dangerous and delusional imaginary world. As I’ve written before, Americans (and virtually everyone else in the world who looks at this question) sees Pakistan locked into a profoundly dysfunctional combination of misguided security ideas and comprehensive domestic failure. Pakistani strategists embrace these seemingly destructive policies out of some very deeply-held beliefs and in response to what they see as existential questions of national identity and cohesion. They will not be lightly diverted from this long-established and cherished course, however suicidal, and as is often the case with people whose goals are unrealistic, they are accustomed to very high risk strategies and brinkmanship.

When it comes to changing Pakistani policy, aid however generous for schools and hospitals {will not work}
To get our relationship with Pakistan on the right track, the Obama administration is going to have to assemble and develop some serious threats.



One word: MAD

"...after Bin Laden escaped US forces in the mountains of Tora Bora in late 2001, "
Someone should remind the Guardian that OBL escaped Afghan forces, America's were held out by Bush for use in the invasion of Iraq.

from wikipedia:
"In 2003, Mead argued that an Iraq war was preferable to continuing UN sanctions against Iraq, because "Each year of containment is a new Gulf War," (i.e. 60,000 Iraqi children a year were dying from sanction (according to Saddam's government) and that "The existence of al Qaeda, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are part of the price the United States has paid to contain Saddam Hussein."
The op-ed:

Mead was wrong then, he's wrong now.

Michael Brenner

There is an awful lot of testosterone circulating. That's not a bad thing when physical action is pending. It's a very bad thing when reflective thinking is in order. A few points.

1. What is the purpose of getting 'tough' with Pakistan? If it is to force them to act as our client in doing exactly what we want them to do against the Taliban et al? That is apparently the notion prevailing inside the administration who also count on the Pakistanis feeling that they owe us. It's just another pipe dream. You are dealing with a savvy, strong minded military elite with a pronounced view of their own interests. They are not going to act as our lackeys because of a threat to cut back economic aid.

2. If we make the sensible judgment that we should drastically scale back there in purpose and presence(as many sensibly have suggested) what the Pakistani leaders do is of tertiary importance.

3. If we ride the adrenalin rush to a conclusion that now's the time to press ahead doublespeed, we are doomed to more failure - regardless of how the Washington-Islamabad arm wrestle ends.

4. The greatest threat to regional security is civil war in a nuclear armed Pakistan. Everything we've done for the past several years increases that possibility. The ideas a la mr. Mead proposed for deepening our interference there will increase it further.

4. Americans, especially its political elite, are in desperate need of morale boosts for its depleted self-confidence. the most dangerous way to try and provide it is through heroic actions abroad.

5. Some of the New Guinea highland tribes have a male custom of wearing very long phallic extrusions. I suggest that we order a large supply to provided gratis at the entrance to very one of our security/intelligence agencies, the White House, and newsrooms around the country. As for the 'testosterone crazed' women in those places, it would make a suitable wall hanging behind their power desk.

Michael Brenner

FB Ali

One aspect being ignored in the comments on these developments: there is a power struggle between the Zardari government and the military that has been ongoing for several years. Despite the public pronouncements, the politicians are secretly rubbing their hands in glee at the military's predicament. There may well be another attempt by them to put the military in its place (the last two were beaten back).

Zanzibar, those questions about the military's competence are not just being raised in people's minds, they are being publicly raised in newspapers, talk shows and blogs. (Probably secretly egged on by the Presidency!).

This is another factor of instability in the current Pakistani situation.

Jim Ticehurst

It aeems to me there are several Complicated Layers in Pakistan..top Down..

The question is..who Buys thier Services..

The PM and His circle..
The military and its Cadre
The Intelligence service
The Police..
The general population and all its factions..

With all the recent pro Bin laden anti Americn Demonstartions on the Streets..One can see why there are so many Taliban forces and Camps in Pakistan..and Al Queada support..
That grassroots support appears to me to put the PM in the same Position as Mubarik was in Egypt..
The Question to me is who is the Army HC loyal too..Would it support the PEOPLE like Egypts Army did..? The Proximity of Bin ladens Compound to Military Bases suggests to me that He had some High Level Military support and protection.. The Intel Service probably sold Info to everyone at different Levels.. The Fact that we got our Covert Operative Back tells me we still can buy someone High up Off in Pakistan.. I dont blame the USA for not telling anyone about its Bin Laden operation..Previous Lessons Learned the hard way..It was the Best Covert Operation made Public I call Reall..HU-RAH.. I think we should back off all the Talk and Blame Games..Let it cool down..Give the PM and Govt time to make adjustements..keep level of co-operation..The nest question is..how close is Pakistan coming to be the Next Mubarik-Egypt scenario..What would a Military Junta in pakistan be like to deal with..Where does this Leave us in Afghanistan..? I think all further Operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan should be extremely secret and silent Covert Operations..with our Most Loyal Contacts and Operators...

Michael Brenner

One further thought on the testosterone theme. Tonight's report that Obama insisted that the OBL mission to equipped to fight its way out if apprehended by Pakistani forces is being interpreted as revealing his inner macho self. I read it differently. The overriding concern was to secure his prize head at any cost in order to secure his reelction. After all, a bloody shootout would have written finis to our strategic objectives in Afghanistan and the entire region - leaving aside second order effects. Obama was obviously prepared to sacrifice all that so as to improve the odds on getting what was most most dear to him.

Medicine Man

I don't have any elaborate theories about what will happen between the US and Pakistan in the near future, but I would like to make a comment regarding the differing stories about the raid that killed UBL.

It is entirely ordinary for every member of a group of people witnessing, or participating in, an incident to all recount the details somewhat differently. Ask any cop who has taken down statements. How many SEALs hit that compound? I bet even their dog had some unique observations. How clear a picture of an operation of this type are you expected to get?

All of this hand-wringing that the differing accounts must "mean something" is a bit precious, in my opinion.


Fred, a person can be wrong about something and right about something else. Do convince me that Kargil in 1999, the attack on Indian parliament 2001, Mumbai 2008, sheltering Mullah Omar, sheltering Osama Bin Laden, accepting US aid while also aiding the Taliban, for instance, are not "very high risk strategies and brinkmanship".

Coming to Iraq, were the UNICEF figures cited by Mead wrong? "...by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5. Each year of containment is a new Gulf War {1991}. "

The conclusion that the way to end this is another war may not be correct - maybe the way was to leave Saddam in place but relax sanctions - you tell me? but is the basic statistic cited wrong?


Elizabeth Rubin:


"..But it was more than that. I met Afghan Taliban who’d tried to make a deal with the Afghan government to get back to a life without fighting. One told me he was then arrested by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI, and blackmailed—they would release him if he would resume fighting and dispense with notions of reconciliation. He rose up the ranks of the Taliban command, traveling freely between Quetta in Pakistan and Zabul, a province in Afghanistan, where he was an intelligence commander for Afghan Taliban fighting coalition forces."

"hen he said:

I told you that we burn schools because they’re teaching Christianity, but actually, most of the Taliban don’t like this burning of schools or destroying of roads and bridges, because the Taliban, too, could use them. Those acts were being done under ISI orders. They don’t want progress in Afghanistan.

He told me about ISI orders to behead an Indian engineer who was captured (and these orders were later corroborated). “People are not telling the story, because no one can trust anyone,” he told me. “And if the ISI knew I told you, I’d be fucked.”"

In 2010, I had the chance to ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the US relationship with Pakistan. He’d just been to the country to urge its generals to go after the jihadists, the Taliban, and the Haqqani network. I asked Gates how he could possibly consider Afshaq Kayani, the chief of the Pakistani army, an ally. “It’s frustrating,” Gates told me. I waited for more, but nothing came. Your silence says a lot, I said. “Well, I was very specific in a couple of my meetings in looking at them point-blank and saying, ‘Haqqani and his people are killing my troops. I’ve got a problem with that,’” Gates responded. And what did they say, I asked. Gates is all control, but he cracked a small smile as he said: “They listened.”

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