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Analysis: Gap in Pakistan Predator strikes not unusual


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For over three weeks, the CIA's controversial covert air campaign that targets al Qaeda, Taliban, and allied terror groups' leaders and operatives in Pakistan's lawless and Taliban-controlled tribal areas has been silent. There has not been an airstrike by the armed, unmanned Predators and Reapers, or drones as they are more commonly called, for 25 days. This pause has sparked speculation that the US has halted the strikes for political reasons, but a look at the pace of the strikes over time shows that long pauses are not uncommon.

The current 23-day lull in strikes in Pakistan is the second-longest period of inactivity since the US ramped up the program in August 2008, according to data on the strikes compiled by The Long War Journal [a list of operational pauses that have been longer than eight days appears below].

The most recent strikes took place on Jan. 23, when the Predators and Reapers pounded al Qaeda and Taliban targets in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan.

The most extended period of operational inactivity so far has occurred in 2009. The longest recorded pause was 28 days, from May 16 to June 14, 2009.

Also, there have been two other periods of time in which 20 or more days went by without a strike. Again, both operational pauses occurred in 2009: from Jan. 23 to Feb. 14 (21 days); and from Jan. 2 to Jan. 23 (20 days).

In 2010, there were two periods exceeding 15 days' time in which no Predator strikes occurred in Pakistan: from July 25 to Aug. 14 (19 days) ; and from June 29 to July 15 (15 days). There was another 19 day period in 2009, from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8, without a strike.

Since August 2008, there have been 24 periods of eight days or longer with no Predator strikes.

Most US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal were unwilling to discuss the reasons for the current pause in strikes, or previous strikes, citing operational security concerns. But weather in the region is known to be the primary reason for slowdowns in the strikes.

Pakistani news outlets have speculated that the pause in strikes is related to the arrest of Raymond Davis, the US consular official who shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore. Davis believed the men were trying to kill him, but Pakistani courts refuse to recognize his diplomatic status and release him. One theory is that the US is not launching Predator strikes while Davis is in custody lest an attack inflame Pakistani sentiments.

But US officials contacted by The Long War Journal would not link Davis' detention to the pause in strikes.

Number of days between Predator/Reaper strikes in Pakistan since August 2008, eight days or greater

2011:

  • 23 days, Jan. 23 to Feb. 16

2010:

  • 9 days, Dec. 17 to Dec. 27
  • 19 days, July 25 to Aug. 14
  • 15 days, June 29 to July 15
  • 12 days, May 28 to June 10
  • 12 days, March 30 to April 12
  • 10 days, Feb. 24 to March 8
  • 11 days, Feb. 2 to Feb. 14

2009:

  • 19 days, Nov. 18 to Dec. 8
  • 13 days, Sept. 30 to Oct. 14
  • 9 days, Sept. 14 to Sept. 24
  • 10 days, Aug. 27 to Sept. 7
  • 8 days, Aug. 11 to Aug. 20
  • 9 days, June 23 to July 3
  • 28 days, May 16 to June 14
  • 9 days, April 19 to April 29
  • 10 days, April 8 to April 19
  • 9 days, March 15 to March 25
  • 10 days, March 1 to March 12
  • 12 days, Feb. 16 to March 1
  • 21 days, Jan. 23 to Feb. 14
  • 20 days, Jan. 2 to Jan. 23

2008:

  • 11 days, Nov. 29 to Dec. 11
  • 13 days, Sept. 17 to Oct. 1


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READER COMMENTS: "Analysis: Gap in Pakistan Predator strikes not unusual"

Posted by JRP at February 16, 2011 4:15 PM ET:

There's no doubt whatsoever that the drone lull is tied to the Raymond Davis affair. The Davis detention is just another humiliating slap in the U.S. face. We should pull a Nixon and actually ramp things up so this treacherous so-called ally of ours gets the message loud & clear that the people of the United States of America have absolutely had it with their antics.

Posted by JT at February 16, 2011 5:20 PM ET:

The third longest gap of 25 days over a period of over 800 total days is significant. Whether it is a statistical clump or due to things such as the Davis situation cannot be proven by these numbers alone.

I suspect that there are geo political reasons for this gap and that Davis is not simply a coincidence. When would an argument based on the numbers alone concede that Davis or political reasons are the cause? When it happens to reach the max gap? There is no magic number. As the gap grows and Davis remains in Pakistan, the probability simply increases.

Posted by INC at February 16, 2011 6:24 PM ET:

Why is the US so soft on the Paks? We should tell them, again, that they are with us or against us. It is obvious that they are against us so we should not give them money to bloody our nose at their whim. I'm tired of the soft stick that we use with them, because they only respect the stick with nails sticking out. It is time to invade the sanctuary and finish this thing once and for all.

Posted by blert at February 16, 2011 8:16 PM ET:

I'd suspect that there is SOME linkage to Davis. I just don't know what it is and do not care to speculate.

From what little I've read it appears that Davis was the target of a hit squad -- that he destroyed at close quarters.

If that's true -- someone fingered him, somehow.

All of the antics of the islamist politicians are telling me that it's phase II of the assassination attempt.

The accepted diplomatic counter-move going back centuries is to seize an equal ranked diplomat from their embassy, too. Whatever fate befalls Davis befalls the Pakistani diplomat.

Leave the UN out of it. Those diplomats are here under an entirely different set of rules and cannot be touched.

If Carter had seized hostages 1:1 our boys would have been back 442 days earlier and the Iraq-Iran war would not have occurred.

Never forget that that conflict was DIRECTLY consequential to the embassy fiasco. The Iranians still blame Washington for their own blow-back.

Naturally.

Posted by David at February 16, 2011 10:15 PM ET:

Stratfor has some interesting analysis that lends further credence to the notion that the situation with Davis could very well be contributing to the lull. The Predator strikes have angered the same portions of the population who are raising hell over Davis.

Posted by James at February 17, 2011 12:04 AM ET:

Once again and at a minimum, I will highly recommend and strongly suggest that we "merge" our intelligence assets with India's.

This can be done incognito and behind the scenes, at least initially.

Our friend and ally in that region has been none other than India right from the get go.

It is clear to me that we have been on the wrong side of the Durand Line. These Mussolini Pakistanis have been stabbing US in the back since day one in this thing.

Posted by JT at February 17, 2011 2:13 AM ET:

According to Pakistani news, Davis will be held until at least mid March. (see link below). If that holds true and there are no more drone strikes until mid March, it will much more difficult than it is now not to see the Davis situation as the cause for the lull.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/17/lhc-to-hear-davis%e2%80%99-immunity-claim.html

Posted by captainjohann at February 17, 2011 3:27 AM ET:

Obama knows that his re election is connected to Raymond davies coming out alive and safe and Pakistan knows it too.I am sure US will give some more $s or exchange Dr.Afisa to sweeten the deal with Pakistan.Pakistan is now intircately connected to Obama re election and now India is asked to pay the price in the guise of Siachen withdrawal.

Posted by Charu at February 17, 2011 4:07 AM ET:

@blert, you are onto something in suggesting that we hold one of the Pakistani diplomats as a measure to release Davis. The Pakistanis would routinely seize and beat up Indian diplomats in their country; until India began to retaliate in the same manner on their diplomats in India. The Pakistanis quickly got the message and toned down their belligerent behavior - although this leopard can never entirely change its spots. However, I suspect that the Pakistanis could be holding Davis in order to get their daughter-of-the-nation, Aafiya Siddiqui released.

The Stratfor report was disheartening in that it highlights how far removed Pakistan is from ever being considered our ally. It is hard to imagine another country that is quite as hostile towards Americans as Pakistan has been for some time now. Not even Iran, North Korea or China has this level of state-instigated violence on our diplomatic personnel. The lull in the drone attacks only shows how tightly the ISI has us by the cojones. John Kerry is exactly the wrong person to send to Pakistan to negotiate; he has consistently misread the Pakistanis and lavished aid on them each time they behaved badly. Richard Armitage would have been a better choice to lay the line down.

Posted by villiger at February 17, 2011 11:44 AM ET:

Every once in a while some uncontrollable thing happens that reminds one that life is what happens while you're busy making other plans and has the potential to fundamentally force a change of strategy.

When 'Davis' pulled the trigger, little did he know he was changing the dynamics of the charade that is the US-Pak relationship. But that is the risk when you are playing charades, life calls your bluff. In the short-term, this looks like a no-win situation.

The real strategic review which should've happened 3 months ago will happen now. It will have to factor in that the relationship between the CIA and the ISI will never be the same.

Posted by Jim at February 17, 2011 12:09 PM ET:

Might the lull in missions be related to the protests and demonstrations in the Muslim world?

Posted by ArneFufkin at February 17, 2011 12:12 PM ET:

Bad weather is a very plausible explanation.

Posted by Raven at February 17, 2011 1:21 PM ET:

Villager:

You got it. I think, Mr. Davis knew he had seconds to live and had to act. I don't believe in attempted burglary angle. This was deeper and more complex. ISI known to hire common criminals as their eyes and ears to track foreigners. Someone here mentioned Indians get it all the time and had to retaliate..

Our CIA man leaving Pakistan in a hurry and subsequent Davis capture are connected, I guess. But would they use this to blackmail us to stop drones (if not, this will anger the crowd and put Mr. Davis in danger?) or delay them till they cover up something else.

Also sending Senator Kerry is a signal that we are dealing with a weak hand. Hope I am wrong...

Posted by JRP at February 17, 2011 3:53 PM ET:

Reuters News Agency now reporting that Pakistani Court is delaying resolution of Davis' Diplomatic Immunity question till March 14th. Anyone can see that Pakistan is using the Davis Affair to disarm our drone program. It may very well be true that fear of civil unrest is a component here, but opportunistically the Davis Affair is playing right into the hands of those in the Pakistani Gov't who want to end the drone program. Since the drone program is at least stymieing AQ/Taliban, the longer we go without it, the more time for the enemy to recuperate from its losses. We are in a lousy fix here. We absolutely must stick by Davis. However, ultimately his repatriation will be at the expense of numerous KIAs in the field cut down by an enemy resuscitated during the drone lull. The U.S. simply can't go on like this forever. In terms of National prestige, it's beginning to feel like the Jimmy Carter days when the Iranian revolutionaries were making a World joke out of the U.S. till Ronald Reagan sent them a message. Hopefully, the Obama Administration is reaching out for those Reagan advisors who went through that experience and getting the benefit of their hard-earned wisdom.

Posted by JRP at February 17, 2011 4:28 PM ET:

A further thought . . . Our Ambassador in Pakistan should suggest to the authorities there, with respect to their fears about civil unrest should Davis be released, that they approach their people on the subject of a Davis release as a kind of honorable Islamic thing to do since Scotland, a U.S. ally, let the Lockerbie Bomber go back to Lybia in spite of what he had done. The idea just might make some sense to even the most frenzied in the maddening crowd calling for Davis' scalp. It's worth a try.

Posted by Mr. Wolf at February 17, 2011 5:10 PM ET:

When playing cards or another game, the only thing to remember is that there is another hand. When dealing with geopolitics, there is always another election that changes the dynamics of a situation. Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, & others will see some of these fighters return home (maybe to settle down and use the chance to raise a family that can do this again). The fighting will continue for Central republics, but for most of the "arab" fighters, there is a new home to go to this summer. Time to live and take their wives home.

Posted by kp at February 17, 2011 8:00 PM ET:

One other possibility is we do use the ISI for significant intel in the Waziristans and they've stopped feeding us that data from their network. One can imagine this to be true if we just blew away two of their operatives.

Pakistan is well out of line for not recognizing a diplomatic situation especially as they are supposed to be an ally. The solution here is not to retaliate in kind (as we respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. 1961) but to place significant other pressure on Pakistan which seems to have already happened. Ultimately this could be escalated to delaying or turning off aid. Of course we have significant supply routes through through Pakistan that we still need that is probably complicating things.

There is a pretty good summary in Wikipedia especially in the Aftermath section. It seems we have stopped talking to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Allen_Davis_diplomatic_incident

Posted by Render at February 17, 2011 8:56 PM ET:

There some other possible reasons...

All of the armed drones are essentially prototypes in testing under field conditions. Maintenance schedules are going to be accelerated and replacement parts not always going to be available on demand.

Which brings us to another possibility. A shortage of drone capable weapons packages (Hellfire missiles and 500lb JDAMs) in the supply chain or the on site ammo bunkers. Manned aircraft using the same weapons packages would have a priority in such a situation.

Weather is going to be a factor at times, but perhaps not for 25 straight days. We're not talking about the Aleutian or Falkland Islands.

Given how slowly the White House reacted to the Tunisian and then the Egyptian uprisings, I seriously doubt that entered into the equation 25 days ago. (anything is possible though)

The Mr. Davis situation began on Jan 27th. Two days after the lull started. But may as well be a contributing factor after the fact.

It is also possible that the Pakistani's shut down the bases that the drones operate from, or threatened to shoot the drones down.

Yet another possibility is that the Pakistani based Taliban have gotten their grubby hands on some Anza Mark III MANPADs (shoulder fired surface to air missile), which are (supposed to be) decidedly dangerous to slow flying drones.

Lastly...It could be some combination of all of the above (including other commentors points).

ALL THINGS
ALL SEASONS,
R

Posted by James at February 17, 2011 9:12 PM ET:

Mubeen Ahmed, thanks for the link.

We should now demand that the US Congress declare war on Pakistan.

As far as Raymond Davis is concerned, hopefully he won't end up being lynched by the mob like those poor US contractors in Fallujah were.

Posted by Gman at February 17, 2011 11:46 PM ET:

If Mr 'Davis' is just another in-country spook, why all the fuss?

Food for thought...
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Was-Davis-running-drone-programme-in-Pakistan/articleshow/7519475.cms

Posted by Villiger at February 18, 2011 12:18 AM ET:

Raven, you have it too.

The operative word here is 'weakness'. Sending Kerry, i'm not saying was wrong, but is a sign of weakness. The President having to jump into it personally for, what on the face of it, is a relatively minor incident is a sign of weakness. Kerry coming back empty handed and with no closure on a deal is a sign of weakness. The whole drone program coming to a grinding halt is a sign of weakness. The State Dept not having nipped it in the bud for a 'diplomat' is a sign of weakness. The debatibility of 'Davis's' status is an inherrent weakness. The level of anti-American feeling despite the billions of so-called aid underscores the weakness in the leverage that money is supposed to provide.

The US's overarching strategy in AfPak refusing to recognize and address its failure in gaining effective Pakistani cooperation is a weakness that renders the whole strategy, sorry to say, utterly futile. Its a shambles. And 'Davis's' handful of bullets is showing that up.

Its like the US has been running to stay on pretty much the same spot. But not the money, that river keeps flowing, where to? no one really knows.

Now let's talk about the weather....

Or understand that it is almost as impossible to change Pakistan, as it is to change the weather.

Still, one can change the game. Play dominos and leave the chessboard. But first the US needs to recognize that, in Pakistan, it is stalemated.

Posted by Villiger at February 18, 2011 12:27 AM ET:

Baluchistan: Pakistan's other war

http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/15/baluchistan_pakistans_other_war

Could this be a part of the US strategy?

Posted by kp at February 18, 2011 2:52 AM ET:

Render says "Weather is going to be a factor at times, but perhaps not for 25 straight days. We're not talking about the Aleutian or Falkland Islands."

This had crossed my mind too. This is the time of year previously that there have been slowdowns too.

If you are relying on the OPFOR to move around or train or generally "do stuff" to be observed that's much less likely to happen in the winter. Cloud cover (I presume but haven't checked) also increases and for aircraft flying at 12000 feet medium and low cloud can be a problem so they can't see ground targets. We could still be looking with SAR for vehicle movement (and static placement) but you aren't going to do face rec (or see IR designators) with radar. That combined with positive ID legal issues could lead to a slow down.

We'll know one way or the other with the next strike: is Davis still in custody?

Posted by Mubeen at February 18, 2011 7:37 AM ET:

James & JRP,

Davis doesnot hold diplmatic immunity, Pakistan Foreign office asked some questions regarding Raymond Davis status, but they didnt reply, Its already been cleared in a press conference by Ex-foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi that Raymond is not a diplomat.

Is this logical that if a person who is claiming that he is working as a consultant in US consulate in lahore. and for his acts 4 innocent lives has gone, just imagine about thier famillies. They were earning bread and butter for their loved ones. From the humanity point of view does he deserve any sort of immunity. Lets say if your brother killed by such an act what will you do.

We are already in war what will happen more miseries we are already suffering.
but dont forget the Pakistan is the only possible route to transfer the goods for US and NATO forces.

We need to stop this so called war of terrorism, imposed by Zionists on Americans, and whole world. We need to create pressure groups on our governments to stop this non-sense.

Mubeen

Posted by tunde at February 18, 2011 7:50 AM ET:

some interesting points all round.
i'm beginning to think davis is part of some 'out-sourced' intel effort. was he one of dewey's boyz ? his legend is shoddy, and tradecraft appalling; this combined with the QRF knocking over a pedestrian.
incriminating photos on his camera help fuel pakistani public rumours that the recent string of bombings are part of a wider indo-US-israeli effort to destabilise the country. the damage he's wrought will take some time to repair.

Posted by JRP at February 18, 2011 11:30 AM ET:

As we have seen over the past couple of years, assassination is very easy to accomplish in Pakistan. It would not surprise me at all, if Davis turned up dead and the Pakistan Gov't, with the straightest of faces, told our Ambassador that he was shot while trying to escape, or committed suicide by "hanging himself in his cell", or suffered a heart attack. I'm suspicious about the lack of news concerning visitation privileges accorded to him. Our Ambassador should be demanding that someone from the Embassy be permitted to visit with Davis not less than once a day. Also, we should be demanding that a U.S. physician be permitted to give Davis a comprehensive physical and psychological exam. Also, where are all those investigative journalists, those writers for The New Yorker, The NYT, etc. who never tire of exposing alleged U.S. mistreatment of every scum of the Earth who falls into our hands, but seem silent on a story that is Patently one of total abuse of international law? You spit on the sidewalk in front of a Mosque these days and some journalist will write a screed calling for your indictment. It's funny how all the self-righteous media people jumped all over the Lara Logan story, but can't find 15 seconds of air time to get to the truth behind what is morphing into Davis' abduction vice detention.

Posted by blert at February 18, 2011 1:00 PM ET:

Pakistan is in the middle of a slow burning civil war -- that's all.

With ages of twenty-something the duo don't fit as ISI agents. They sound more like stringers -- expendable playahs.

By acting exactly like criminals and packing heat they profiled as threats.

ISI ran our top spy out of their country just recently.

This pursuit against Davis is of the same nature.

The very top leadership of Pakistan realizes that Davis is deal breaker. Further, should America cut the money off Islamabad would be broke the next day.

At which point Pakistan would implode.

And in the backround Pakistan is ramping up fissile production like atomic war is straight ahead.

Posted by Charu at February 18, 2011 3:06 PM ET:

C Christine Fair's take on the Raymond Davis affair:
http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/18/diplomatic_duplicity

My take is that she's gone native, because she seems to give credence to Pakistan's rampant conspiratorial theories; this in a country that has already kidnapped and beheaded Americans and has repeatedly shown to be duplicitous and untrustworthy as an ally. And she's tagging us with diplomatic duplicity? If anything, the US has been exceedingly naive and willfully ignorant in its dealings with Pakistan - as often indicated by CC Fair's commentary on NPR. Davis had every reason to fear for his life, going by well-established precedence. Being an American diplomat in Pakistan is a hardship post like few other.

Posted by Charu at February 18, 2011 3:30 PM ET:

Let's not forget that the friction between the CIA and the ISI came to a head when private citizens in the US sued the ISI in court for masterminding the murder of Americans in Mumbai. The Pakistani's retaliated by outing our CIA station chief, and now they are twisting the knife deeper over Raymond Davis. Given how we have previously responded to Pakistani blackmail, I have little doubt that we will once again cravenly fold and let the ISI walk over us; with them ending up being richer by a few additional billions of dollars for their trouble.

Posted by Villiger at February 18, 2011 8:30 PM ET:

Interesting read on the subject from the WSJ

"Spy Feud Hampers Antiterror Efforts"

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703561604576150700376521050.html
--------
The Saudis could help intervene, particularly in adding moral/religious weight behind a blood-money settlement. And help save face all round.

Posted by bard207 at February 18, 2011 10:12 PM ET:

Mubeen Ahmed,

Releasing or taking raymond out of pakistan might have
-ive impact for Pakistan's Current Govt. US and Americans, and that will be irrepairable.

Why is always for the U.S. to bend to what Pakistan wants while Pakistan does little or nothing on what the U.S. wants?

Pakistan had military embedded with the Taliban in Fall 2001 after the U.S. started to move the Taliban out of Afghanistan. The U.S. was kind of enough to let those Pakistanis be evacuated rather than captured, yet Pakistan has shown no gratitude for that.

The U.S. would like for there to be protection on the supply convoys that transit Pakistan, yet none is furnished by the Pakistani Army.

The U.S. would like for Pakistan to demonstrate its sovereignty and eliminate the Haqqani network - group, and other militants in the NWFP and FATA areas. Pakistan won't do that. Yet I have read on many Pro Pakistan web sites the anguish of how the U.S. is violating the sovereignty of Pakistan and how the Pakistani Army & Pakistani Government should do something about it. Why am I unable to find the same amount of anguish on the Pro Pakistani web sites about the failures of the Pakistani Army & Pakistani Government in reclaiming the sovereignty that has been surrendered to the Haqqani network - group, and other militants?

The U.S. (and the IMF) would like for Pakistan to implement massive changes and do something about the limited tax collection. Pakistan won't do that.

The most noted things Pakistan has done in recent years are:

1. Continued spending on nuclear weapons and thus depriving other areas of the economy - infrastructure of needed funds.

2. The Pakistani Army still devoting most of its resources to its Eastern Border, yet the vast majority of Pakistani deaths in recent years has been caused by Pakistani militants and not the Indian Army.

3. Continue to run around the world with the Begging Bowl and then act insulted when the donors question if the funds are being used properly (see #1 above).


In closing, Pakistan has been doing many negative things in regards to its relationship with the U.S. and Pakistan doesn't care.

If Pakistan wants to have high expectations of the U.S. and followthrough - completion, then Pakistan should have been demonstrating through the years that it was living up to the expectations of the U.S. As illustrated above, Pakistan has difficulty in meeting any expectations, much less high expectations.



Posted by bard207 at February 18, 2011 10:29 PM ET:

Mubeen,

We are already in war what will happen more miseries we are already suffering.
but dont forget the Pakistan is the only possible route to transfer the goods for US and NATO forces.

We need to stop this so called war of terrorism, imposed by Zionists on Americans, and whole world. We need to create pressure groups on our governments to stop this non-sense.

Things would be far different for Pakistan and Afghanistan if Pakistan would have lived up to its promises in the War on Terror. Ousting the Taliban leadership from their hiding places in Pakistan and eliminating the ability of the Taliban to do their R&R in Pakistan would have been tremendous boosts to the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

In summary, the War on Terror still exists because Pakistan wants it to exist.

Posted by JRP at February 19, 2011 1:34 PM ET:

Much as I despise doing so, I must credit Pakistan with one thing: Pakistan consistently acts in what it perceives to be its own best interest. It may be in error as to what it perceives, but it nonetheless so acts. This kind of national policy is not unique to Pakistan. I think Red China acts similarly as does Israel. Western Democracies very often do not so act. They may let humanitarian concerns, political correctness, domestic politics, a host of other factors, override national self-interest.

The Pakistanis understand that the set-up of the U.S. Gov't is such that no President can guarantee policy continuity beyond his or her term in office. And, of course, our Congress is subject to change every 2 years.

One of the few ways of getting consistency in U.S. policy is by way of Treaties. It's a gamble, but I believe that behind the scenes we should inform the powers that be in Pakistan that if they don't come 'round to helping us out a bit here in this War on Terror, such as by handing up not just Davis, but also the AQ bigshots they are protecting, then we are going to negotiate a mutual defense treaty with Pakistan's arch-rival India.

It's a bit of brinksmanship, but conventional diplomacy is having no effect upon Pakistan, so let's try some unconventional diplomacy.

Posted by Raven at February 19, 2011 3:41 PM ET:

Another guess from me is...

Pakistan telling us to go "jump in a lake" seems like a move supported by other actors like Saudis. May be Saudis are the one that comes up with face saving formula for all... Saudi grand mullah tell Pakistan mullahs to cool down, provide moral support to blood money for families and never-do-this-again warning to us.

Also, back channel diplomacy may be in the works between Pak army and Karzai, as our timetable is on the wall and this post-US engagement does not need US per se (though history says otherwise). Hope we review our strategies and re-prioritize our list.

Posted by Villiger at February 19, 2011 11:33 PM ET:

JRP, James:
Attached is a piece written by India's ex-Foreign Secy who was also the PM's chief advisor on nuclear matters and tle lead negotiator on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/bshyam-saranbdifferent-dialogue-this-time-round/425252/

Brinkmanship has been Pakistan's forte. They have defined the thresholds in their relationships both with India and the US. There is definite potential for synergy for both to explore a more cohesive approach. Both countries need to turn the tables to their advantage against this international rogue.

Posted by Villiger at February 19, 2011 11:57 PM ET:

At least one Pak paper is reporting openly that Davis is a CIA man. Surely this will make it all the more difficult for the Pak Govt to declare his diplomatic immunity. And there are murmurs about the strain on the CIA-ISI relationship.

http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/20-Feb-2011/Raymond-Davis-linked-to-CIA

I don't believe the Davis case to be a test of the US-Pak relationship as much as a test of the US's will to do something radical about it. And that doesn't mean throwing more money at them.

It is also a test of PakMil's willingness to maintain a minimum level of cooperation with the PakGov and the US.

In the long run i still think Baluchistan holds the key as it solves the logistical supply corridor problem. If handled effectively, the US could secure this militarily in relatively no time. Again it all boils down to US political will, but push may be coming to shove.

Posted by JT at February 20, 2011 6:37 PM ET:

There has been a strike:

http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/21/us-drone-kills-five-militants-in-south-waziristan.html

Posted by tunde at February 21, 2011 8:22 AM ET:

it's emerging that davis is an agency man. others go further to say he may be the acting station chief.
not knowing much about intel ttp's, i've read others who are ex-agency/ic say this has all the hallmarks of CO-unvetted agent meet gone awry, hence the availability of a backup vehicle and davis himself being armed.
davis tried for an hour to shake-off surveillance by the motorcyclist duo but failed. he obviously wanted to safeguard his 'legend'/agent/safehouse or all three hence a non-embassy car and his avoidance of the consulate etc. also the frenzied response to have davis returned speaks to his importance in the intel setup in pakistan. it's guestimated that if davis sang, they'd be a lot of red faces in DC.
from what i can gather, it is not unusual to have intel agencies act 'unilaterally' in a compliant host country.

Posted by tunde at February 21, 2011 2:38 PM ET:

drip, drip
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/world/asia/22pakistan.html

Posted by blert at February 21, 2011 3:04 PM ET:

IF the duo were tasked with over-watch duty then they were the amateur-hour.

So who selected and trained them? ISI? Doubtful.

Much more likely they were playahs for the opfor which logically concluded that America was not using its ambassador for covert ops -- but a special forces kind of guy.

The ISI is riven with intrigue as the various sub-structures have their own mission priorities. Islamabad is strategically confused. She's jihading away with the biggest powers on the planet!

This has her pursuing gambits that must blow up.

I suspect that Davis correctly ID'd the duo as non-ISI agents and realized that they were terrorist field agents. Further, that they were trying to capture him and squeeze him for intel before his inevitable murder by torture. So he eliminated their threat.

Since Davis is an 'outside man' he has been trained in all the arts of evasion and escape.

Their proximate, visible presence was a 'tell' that the moment of capture was at hand. This is confirmed by the crazed tempo of his back-up team.

The opfor is terrified of RFID chips that are openly rumored to direct smart attacks against critical leaders. One can only assume that the duo was but part of a capture squad aimed at penetrating RFID distribution. ( No doubt the ISI has told the opfor that they are not the ones doing it. )

Since the drama/ wrangling is going to be drawn out it's a pretty good bet that whatever his role he's been replaced by now.

As the Godfather would say: if something unlucky were to happen to Davis that bad luck would spread very quickly to someone near and dear to you, ISI.

Posted by blert at February 22, 2011 8:23 PM ET:

"Davis was CIA's deputy station chief in Pakistan..."

Is the claim made by ISI sources to the Pakistani press.


They said that after Banks left the federal capital, Davis assumed the charge of his office by carrying out all the tasks previously under the domain of his boss, including gathering information for drone attacks. The sources said that one of the main tasks of Davis was to keep CIA network intact in the tribal agencies as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Posted by Charu at February 23, 2011 12:55 PM ET:

OK, this explains nearly everything. The gap in predator attacks, the frantic US actions to release him, the twisting-in of the knife by the ISI, the mad dash by the consulate car to rescue him, and even strengthens the likelihood that the two assailants killed were low-level ISI operatives following him. It doesn't explain why Davis clumsily wasted time finishing off the operatives (he should have been expecting ISI surveillance and harrassment), and got out to take pictures of the scene instead of quickly retreating from there; but that's now water under the bridge. The main question is how far is the ISI willing to yank our chain, and how quickly we will roll over going by past precedence. The ISI is now 2 for 2; they got rid of the previous station chief and have his replacement under custody. The next acting chief is going to be a lot more circumspect and cautious, leading to lower quality intelligence for targeting the drones and on the Pakistani double-dealings going on. Quite an intelligence coup for the ISI!

Posted by blert at February 24, 2011 4:11 PM ET:

Charu...

Davis --- and the CIA generally --- have been slow to pickup on the fact that the ISI is their enemy.

There are ISI friendlies and ISI opponents. They're not handing out rosters.

By his actions it must be apparent that Davis really did take the duo to be mere bandits. They tailed him with all the sophistication of the three-stooges.

Beyond that: it's as common as dust for punks to kidnap/ capture hostages and flip them for quick cash to the opfor.

Davis also expected to receive diplomatic immunity. He was certainly following Company protocols.

His back-up would likely have made it in time but for the fact that they ran down and killed a civilian -- because they were driving the wrong way down a street!

Left unsaid was the condition of their vehicle. It may well have taken a 'critical hit.'

Davis was not carrying a diplomatic passport because to do so would compromise him WRT the ISI. ( All such holders have to present their status to the host country as part of diplomatic protocol. It is of note that their Foreign Secretary and their Diplomatic Spokesman have been canned over their statements WRT Davis. Translation: Davis' status was routed over the top of the Foreign Office because of 'leakers.')

Posted by blert at February 25, 2011 8:33 PM ET:

Now Islamabad is pressing ahead with court proceedings: Raymond Davis is slated to be hanged by an islamist court.

The ISI is demanding full access to all of our national secrets.

If the are tendered over to the ISI they will rocket over to the Taliban: the ISI shadow army.

This is much worse than the embassy fiasco in Tehran. This is a nation state, notionally our ally, putting the bite on an immunized diplomat.

We need to use realpolitik and sweep up trading material.

Posted by Villiger at February 26, 2011 11:14 PM ET:

blert, could you elaborate on your last sentence--i don't think i get it.

The CIA-ISI rift is not superficial. Also it pre-exists the Davis incident, which really is only magnifying the fatal flaw in the whole US-Pak dynamic. The status quo cannot be maintained. The White House isn't responding, at least not explicitly. If what we see is all what we get then we ain't goin nowhere.

The American people may not be so interested in this distant war, but they're sure sinking one hell of a whack of cash into a black hole.

Posted by Charu at February 27, 2011 4:36 PM ET:

While it is unlikely that the Pakis hang Davis; the fear is that the ISI might extract useful intelligence from him - perhaps with the assistance of the Chinese. This hapened before when the ISI provided the Chinese with an unexploded smart missile of ours to reverse engineer. At the moment the ISI are sitting pretty and likely entertaining competing bids from us and the Chinese for Davis; whose value, if he was the acting station chief, will be considerable to the Chinese intelligence. The longer he stays in captivity, the greater the chance of him being compromised; especially considering that he didn't come across as being the smartest guy on the block going by his actions leading to this mess. I can't see how the CIA could ever trust the ISI again. But then they have been eager and wiling to suspend logic and good sense vis-a-vis Pakistan for a very long time.