Pressuring Pakistan

The U.S. confronts Pakistan on the Taliban and al Qaeda camps

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The Afghan-Pakistan border regions.

The Pakistani government can no longer hide the the Taliban and al Qaeda safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan. After a year of praising Pakistan as a partner in the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, the Bush Administration has recognized the western and southern regions of Pakistan have become a base of operations for the terrorist groups.

The administration kicked off the pressure campaign with a series of leaks published in the New York Times, which was published on February 26. Unnamed administration sources “[Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf] made a number of assurances over the past few months, but the bottom line is that what they are doing now is not working,” said one official. “The message we’re sending to him now is that the only thing that matters is results.” The threat of cutting over $785 million in aid, including $300 million in military aid, was made.

Next, Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Stephen R. Kappes flew to Pakistan and, according to ABC News’ The Blotter presented direct evidence of Taliban and al Qaeda camps inside Pakistan. Cheney and Kappes are also said to have demanded Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, and Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban’s military commander, be handed over. “The Americans claim that both Zawahiri, and Dadullah keep shuttling between Pakistan and Afghanistan and have masterminded a major offensive against the allied forces starting in spring,” The Nation reports. “Sources claimed Pakistan has also been told that the US-NATO forces do not like to take any action by themselves inside Pakistani territory but if the movement of ‘people’ did not stop, there would be no other option left.”

The Administration leak and Cheney/Kappes visit to Pakistan were followed by the testimony of Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence , before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “To the best of our knowledge that the senior leadership, No. 1 and No. 2, are there, and they are attempting to re-establish and rebuild and to establish training camps” in the tribal areas, said McConnell. It is rumored the CIA may have photos of Osama bin Laden or Zawahiri inside Pakistan, and presented these to Musharraf.

Pakistan, for its part, denies the presence of al Qaeda camps or that bin Laden or Zawahiri were inside Pakistan.

But statements from the Pakistani government on this subject cannot be trusted. The Pakistani government has targeted al Qaeda camps in Bajaur and North and South Waziristan. Over the past year, four camps: Zamazola, Chingai, Danda Saidgai, and Damadola have been hit by U.S. and Pakistani air strikes. Government spokesmen, minister and even President Musharraf have repeatedly changed their tune on the issue of the presence of Taliban and al Qaeda inside their borders.

The Musharraf government now has a difficult choice: take meaningful action against the Taliban and al Qaeda and risk losing the support of the military and decending into a full scale civil war , or conducting business as usual and risk losing U.S. political and financial support.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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12 Comments

  • Musharraf can’t take meaningful action against the Taliban and al Qaeda because he has too many Pashtuns and Islamic fundamentalists at all levels of his military, intelligence and Frontier Corps.
    He can close the road from Karachi to Spin Boldak, though, so how much hardball can Cheney really play?

  • RJ says:

    Tin Horn Dictators: Musharraf, being a military guy, understands power at the end of a gun. He has more than one gun pointed at him. The question for him is where to duck when this new shooting begins. Americans want to shoot at/capture/neutralize its enemies– in Pakistan’s western region, while we demand Musharraf supply intelligence and additional access to those who are on our “bad guys” list. Thus, the only question for Musharraf is whether or not he can stay alive while we do this. How long we wait for his answer is the real question. How soon his enemies send him their response to our demands is also of great concern for him. Dictators thrive on/live for this kind of dynamic. We’re just probing for weaknesses while we assemble our fighters. Time for us to win, the sooner the better.

  • Drazen Gemic says:

    Is there ant assesment about the size of terrorist forces in Pakistan ?
    I’ve read that there are about 15 milions of ethnic Pushtuns in Pakistan. Balochis seem to be active, too. I don’t say that they are all involved in terrorism, but, even a very small share of them is a lot of people.
    DG

  • Chuck says:

    Small correction: Kappes is the Deputy Director of CIA. Gen Hayden is the Director.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 03/01/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • robertb says:

    I certainly hope “ethnic Pashtuns” is not a deciding factor here. It shouldn’t because Afghanistan’s Prez. Karzai is ethnic Pashtun, supported by Pashtuns among other tribal factions.

  • cjr says:

    “Musharraf can’t take meaningful action against the Taliban and al Qaeda because he has too many Pashtuns and Islamic fundamentalists at all levels of his military, intelligence and Frontier Corps.”
    The solution is to get Muisharraf to agree to turn the situaltion around 180 degree. Let US start extensive covert military actions in Pakistan. When the Pashtuns and Islamic fundamentalists start complaining, Musharraf just denies any knowledge. “As far as I know the US is not operating in Pakistan.”

  • ACER says:

    If the rumor is true regarding the CIA having photos of Osama bin Laden and/or Zawahirri, then is it also true that we have failed to eliminte them during the photo-op?

  • steve-o says:

    “If the rumor is true regarding the CIA having photos of Osama bin Laden and/or Zawahirri, then is it also true that we have failed to eliminte them during the photo-op?”
    Proably just BS, however, if true:
    The pics were probably not taken by our people, but by double agents working with us. These types don’t do targeted killings.
    I noticed something else above. McConnell referred to “Number 1 and Number 2.” Perhaps the Z-Man is now Number 1, and Dadullah is Number 2. I note this because Cheney and Kappes demanded that these two be turned over. They didn’t ask for Binny, which may mean they know Binny Bin Deaden.

  • Tommy says:

    No, im confident he is talking about Bin Laden and Zawahiri. Number 1 and number 2….
    Dadullah is the second in command of the Taliban and Omar is the leader.
    The CIA probably doesnt have solid info on Bin Laden and Omar because they’re deep in hiding. But I believe they do have strong intel on Dadullah and Zawahiri because of their frequent movement. That is why Cheney wants those 2 turned over. They’re the easiest to get right now.

  • steve-o says:

    Sounds sensible. Darn it.

  • Thanos says:

    I agree that the Taliban is infiltrated, their ineffectiveness on the battlefield last summer is testimony to that. The open engagement battles and massing of forces witnessed last summer just isn’t UBL style either.
    They are also down to D-teamers and the benchwarmers, green recruits. If Zawahiri and Bin Laden were still there, I don’t think they would let the farm teams go downhill this far, and if they were there, then the infiltrators would have them by now if they were even half-openly leading in the area.
    I think they are sitting in the Sudan, Oman, or somewhere afar. No facts to back that up, just general feel from the data from two years ago to present.

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