The Wall Street Journal has the story on a White House report on Pakistan’s counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban and al Qaeda. It seems the Obama administration has tired of Pakistan’s tepid operations in the tribal areas:
“The Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al Qaeda forces in North Waziristan,” the White House concludes, referring to the Pakistani tribal region that U.S. officials say is being used as a staging ground for attacks on troops in Afghanistan, as well as to plot attacks on targets in Europe.
U.S. officials say they are increasingly frustrated by Pakistan’s decision not to send large numbers of ground forces into North Waziristan. “This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets,” the unclassified, 27-page report finds.
One would guess that the report does not include the events of the last week plus, which include Pakistan’s hotly protesting the US military cross-border pursuit of Haqqani Network fighters fleeing Afghanistan into North Waziristan, Pakistan’s closing down of NATO’s supply lines through the vital Khyber Pass in response, and the destruction of more than 70 NATO fuel and container trucks in the aftermath.
Also, this assessment of the Pakistani military’s operation in South Waziristan matches our reporting here at The Long War Journal:
In the neighboring tribal region of South Waziristan, “Pakistani military operations advanced slowly” because they haven’t been able to stabilize areas after they clear them of militants, the White House found.
There, “the military largely stayed close to the roads and did not engage against those [Pakistani Taliban] militants who returned after fleeing into North Waziristan.”
While the Pakistani military has dedicated 140,000 forces to the tribal areas, “the Pakistan military was nonetheless constrained to disrupting and displacing extremists groups without making lasting gains against the insurgency.”
If you want to see what The Long War Journal‘s assessment of Pakistan’s military operation in South Waziristan was 10 months ago, see Taliban escape South Waziristan operation, from Nov. 26, 2009.
Read the entire WSJ report for a sense of the frustration over Pakistan that is emanating from Washington these days. Also, if you want another sample of the mood in Washington, read Anthony Cordesman’s conclusion to an article that discusses Predator strikes in Pakistan.
But, we need to be realistic. Pakistan is at best a tenuous and divided ally. Islamabad was unwilling to attack Afghan Taliban targets and conduct a major campaign against al-Qaeda before the flood; elements of the ISI remain tied to the Taliban and al-Qaeda; and its civilian government has far too many elements that are corrupt, incompetent and unwilling to act. Fighting a war in Afghanistan that has given the enemy a sanctuary in Pakistan, and al-Qaeda immunity in Pakistan, has little point. More bluntly, if Pakistan cannot provide at least enough cooperation to passively allow such strikes, it is not an ally, it is a major strategic liability.
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