More on Pakistan’s jihad

At the end of this Washington Post article on the strained ties between the US and Pakistan after al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden was killed in a US raid in Abbottabad, is this nugget that highlights how the Pakistanis have for years resisted US pressure to take on terror groups:

A July 29, 2008, Washington meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and his national security adviser, Mahmud Ali Durrani, and then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, his deputy Stephen R. Kappes and Anne W. Patterson, then the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, illustrates the wariness on both sides.

The previous day, a U.S. drone-launched missile had killed Abu Khabab al-Masri, described as al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker and chemical weapons expert, in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghanistan border.

Hayden apologized for collateral damage (news reports said three civilians were killed), and the strike had occurred during Gillani’s visit to the United States. The CIA director noted that the ISI had not contributed any targeting information.

Both sides referred to repeated Pakistani requests that the United States place Baitullah Mehsud, a leader of Pakistan’s increasingly lethal domestic insurgency, at the top of the hit list.

Kappes agreed that Mehsud was a legitimate target, but said that Sirajuddin Haqqani, a North Waziristan-based Afghan whose insurgent network regularly attacked U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, was a far higher U.S. priority.

Pakistan’s insistence that it had no intelligence on Haqqani’s whereabouts was disingenuous, Patterson said during the meeting. The ISI was in “constant touch” with him, and the madrassa where he conducted business was clearly visible from the Pakistani army garrison in North Waziristan. (Mehsud was killed in an August 2009 drone strike. Haqqani remains high on the U.S. target list.)

In a series of December 2008 meetings following the terrorist attack in Mumbai that left nearly 200 people dead — including six Americans — top Bush administration officials told Pakistan there was “irrefutable” intelligence proof that the Pakistani group Lashkar-i-Taiba was responsible.

A written communication delivered to Pakistan said that “it is clear to us that [Lashkar-i-Taiba] is responsible .?.?. we know that it continues to receive support, including operational support, from the Pakistani military intelligence service.”

As the Obama administration continued efforts to persuade Pakistan — while escalating the number of drone strikes — Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, as well as Durrani and other officials, were repeatedly told that the United States would reach a breaking point.

In a November 2009 letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, Obama offered a new level of partnership — later buttressed with increased military and economic assistance. But he warned that the existing state of affairs, with Pakistan seeing insurgent groups as proxies for influence in Afghanistan, could not continue.

The following May, a Pakistani immigrant, the son of an army officer, allegedly tried to explode a car bomb in New York’s Times Square. Subsequent investigations traced his training to Pakistani insurgent camps.

It should be noted that the Haqqani Network isn’t just a local Taliban group focused on fighting in Afghanistan. The Haqqanis are linked into the global jihad and are closely tied to al Qaeda.

The Washington Post article merely scratches the surface of Pakistan’s complicity in aiding terror groups in South and Central Asia [see LWJ report, Pakistan’s Jihad, for details up to December 2009]. Yet, as the article notes at the beginning, there is little political will in Washington to do anything more than complain about Pakistan’s ties to terror groups:

But few officials are eager to contemplate the alternatives if Pakistan makes the wrong choice. No one inside the administration, the official said, “wants to make a fast, wrong decision.”

Despite heated comments from Obama administration officials, the likelihood is that little will change in the US’ policy toward Pakistan. The billions in US aid will likely continue to flow to Pakistan, for two reasons: 1) the probable threat to US supply lines into Afghanistan through Pakistan (Pakistan has closed them before in protest against US actions); and 2) the arguable threat to the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal (the theory being that the US’ billions will strengthen the Pakistani military establishment and not any of the terror groups it supports, and that accordingly the terror groups won’t get access to the weapons).

The Bush administration showed no desire to radically change US policy towards Pakistan, and the Obama administration will likely follow suit. And Pakistan will continue to serve as an engine of jihad.

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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18 Comments

  • M. Muthuswamy says:

    At a fundamental level, the question is why Pakistan serves

  • Villiger says:

    Thank you Bill for highlighting this. It is a realistic assessment of the state of the union between Pakistan and the U.S.
    The U.S.is being frank with Pakistan on its ties to Haqqani and the LeT. While the ISI continues to play in the dirt, i am deeply struck by the U.S.’s patience.
    I think Obama isn’t quite ready yet to go to Plan B (but its there in his desk-drawer). Second term?Meantime he’s not ready to go on a date with Zardari either, whether in Islamabad or DC.
    The day will come when the ISI gets a damn-good whacking.

    Comment inspired by The Beatles song called ‘Piggies” from the White Album (lyrics included in description). I’d like to dedicate this ode to the ISI. Enjoy!


  • Villiger says:

    M. Muthuswamy
    The link doesn’t work….
    I hope the link i posted in my comment above does!

  • M. Muthuswamy says:

    This link should work, if Bill can’t fix the previous one:
    //papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1817784

  • Johno says:

    The threat from India is now virtually zero – the Paks know it & the Indians as well. It is about time everyone else took this on board when they attempt to understand the underlying reasons for the conflict
    The very real possibility that India would lose Delhi, Mumbai, Armistsar & a few other cities and Pakistan would lose all of its cities in the first few hours of a nuclear exchange has put paid to that.
    Having a few wackos running around murdering hundreds of innocent people on both sides of the border acts like a safety valve. It may seem barbaric but the possibility of vaporising 150 million people makes these ‘exchanges’ seem ‘inspired’ acts of peacekeeping & brotherly love.
    Eventually sanity will prevail and the few psychotics in government office who are able to facilitate these attacks will be forced out and attrition will take care of the suicidal.
    The gremlin in the equation is Afghanistan. Despite a truly feeble opponent the armed might of the West is struggling to defeat the ‘insurgency’. This the Pak army finds very disturbing.
    The Paks feel rightly or wrongly that the West will abandon the region and the ‘banditry’ along the Afghan border region will spill over into Pakistan and consume them dressed as an Islamic Revolution.
    As a result the Paks believe they need to curry favour with the more dominant terrorist groups as long as they stick to what is a fairly light-weight conflict with their own security forces and ISAF.
    In terms of what has occurred in the region over the past 30 years and the grim possibilities for nuclear exchange this approach seems a reasonable policy.
    The solution is for the ISAF to defeat the ‘insurgency’ in Afghanistan and the Paks will no longer have to defend two fronts.

  • bard207 says:

    Johno,
    Eventually sanity will prevail and the few psychotics in government office who are able to facilitate these attacks will be forced out and attrition will take care of the suicidal.
    What is going to spark this move to sanity in Pakistan? What group – entity in Pakistan is powerful enough to bring the ISI – Pakistani Army under control?
    ———————————————–
    The gremlin in the equation is Afghanistan. Despite a truly feeble opponent the armed might of the West is struggling to defeat the ‘insurgency’. This the Pak army finds very disturbing.
    The solution is for the ISAF to defeat the ‘insurgency’ in Afghanistan and the Paks will no longer have to defend two fronts.
    The ISAF is fully capable of defeating the insurgents in Afghanistan. The problem is the insurgents that keep spilling over from Pakistan.
    If Pakistan moved to just a Neutral position by sealing the Afghanistan – Pakistan border and stopped providing sanctuary for the Taliban, that would be a big improvement from what they are currently doing.
    ———————————————–
    The Paks feel rightly or wrongly that the West will abandon the region and the ‘banditry’ along the Afghan border region will spill over into Pakistan and consume them dressed as an Islamic Revolution.
    As a result the Paks believe they need to curry favour with the more dominant terrorist groups as long as they stick to what is a fairly light-weight conflict with their own security forces and ISAF.
    Newsflash
    There is already an Islamic Revolution in Pakistan that is embraced by the Pakistani population.
    The ISI & Pakistan Army are trying to force a more sterile – conservative version of the Islamic Revolution in Afghanistan, but we are just debating the differences between shades of Green.
    ———————————————–
    As a result the Paks believe they need to curry favour with the more dominant terrorist groups as long as they stick to what is a fairly light-weight conflict with their own security forces and ISAF.
    In terms of what has occurred in the region over the past 30 years and the grim possibilities for nuclear exchange this approach seems a reasonable policy.
    If Musharraf and Pakistan had decided in Fall 2001 to join the Modern World and encourage the development of a secular environment in both Afghanistan Pakistan, things would be much different than they currently are.
    The U.S. would be happy to support Pakistan having a secular influence in Afghanistan and the development of both countries would be much further along than currently.
    Pakistan helping Afghanistan develop would eliminate the mindspace that India currently has in Afghanistan.
    Prime minister of India addresses Afghan parliament

    In a move that doubtless has Pakistan fuming, Indian
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed a joint session of the Afghan Parliament today, a rare honor for a foreign dignitary, doubly so since it occurred on Friday, the traditional holy day.
    …Afghanistan has long insisted that Pakistan was the center of terrorism in the region, a view that many in the United States are coming to share, following the discovery of Osama bin Laden living in peace and relative comfort in the shadow of Pakistan

  • JRP says:

    The logical analytical extension of all of this is Nuclear Proliferation to any and all nations that are antagonistic to the U.S.A. In other words, N.Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, etc. etc. . . . Just somehow acquire Nuclear Weapons and then blackmail money out of the U.S. on the pretext that we have to pay them to secure the weapons they don’t even need lest those weapons fall into terrorist hands due to financial inability to secure them. I’m not a big fan of the “Horrible Hypothetical”. Most logical extensions really never come to pass. But this business of having to fork over millions of dollars to Pakistan as an insurance policy to secure Pak’s nuclear arsenal is a global protection racket too good to pass up. We really should make a JFK-type announcement that we will view any detonation of an atomic device on U.S. soil as if it came from Pakistan, regardless of absolute proof. Pakistan’s conduct ever since 9/11 has been such that it deserves being painted with the “round up the usual suspects” brush. In other words, tell them flat out that they are dead meat if we are hit. Maybe that is the incentive they need to take care of their nukes. I’m sick & tired of seeing my tax dollars used to pay off every disfunctional 3rd World country that thinks of the U.S. as a soft target for nuclear proliferation extortion.

  • Johno says:

    @bard207
    I wasn’t aware the Pakistan Army & the ISI were manned by the insane. You need to contact the White House quickly & let them know.
    Ditto for the Islamic Revolution. I must say the ruling clergy wear some very strange traditional ‘robes’.
    Anyway back to what I do know. As you rightly point out the ‘insurgency’ “spills” over from Pak into Afg. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is a trickle (ie the results of a spillage) of munitions & men coming in from Pak. It is a hollow boast to declare the ISAF fully capable of defeating the insurgency and not doing it.
    Some would question the sanity of that position.
    The amount of material coming across the border each month probably wouldn’t run a single aircraft carrier out in the Arabian Sea for an hour. But here we are ten years down the track and the insurgency drags on.
    Throwing your arms up and declaring it Pakistan’s fault isn’t going to change anything unless you want to attack Pakistan and turn a ‘bush’ war into a nuclear one – all because we can’t defeat daily attacks of fertilizer bombs, a few 107mm, a dozen or so RPGs and some wild small arms fire.
    Now wouldn’t the wahabis love that.

  • bard207 says:

    Johno,
    I wasn’t aware the Pakistan Army & the ISI were manned by the insane. You need to contact the White House quickly & let them know.
    Psychosis
    Psychosis (from the Greek ???? “psyche”, for mind/soul, and -???? “-osis”, for abnormal condition) means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. People suffering from psychosis are described as psychotic. Psychosis is given to the more severe forms of psychiatric disorder, during which hallucinations and delusions and impaired insight may occur.
    Based on what I have read in regards to the sentiments by those in the ISI and Pakistani Army over the past two weeks, there does appear to be a loss of contact with reality.
    Even though Nawaz Sharif is not part of the Pakistani Army or the ISI, he does sum things quite nicely in regards to the dominant POV in Pakistan.
    Pakistani Is Seeking Inquiry on U.S. Raid
    Mr. Sharif, who has annoyed American officials with his seeming tolerance of militant groups that have gained strength in his political base, Punjab Province, said he wanted the judicial commission to also address the American drone campaign against militants in Pakistan

  • Charu says:

    Great commentary as always, Bill.
    @JRP, it is a mistake to consider that the billions we pay is protection money to keep Pakistan’s nukes secured. While these nukes may deter the US or India from openly attacking Pakistan, they also shackle Pakistan in that if they are ever used it will mean the end of its existence. The billions are in payment for transit of fuel and supplies and for, what we hoped was, active assistance in fighting al Qaeda, and to buy the military leadership (just as we buy the Egyptians). Instead, we have been played for suckers by some of the best hustlers in the business. Throwing more money and expecting different results this time is the definition of insanity.
    @Johno, those wackos murdering tens of thousands across the border graduate to killing thousands in the west. It is not a safety valve; it is more like chum in the waters. As for sanity to eventually prevail, it has been over 60 years and it is only getting worse.

  • villiger says:

    Johno,
    “The solution is for the ISAF to defeat the ‘insurgency’ in Afghanistan and the Paks will no longer have to defend two fronts.”
    Who exactly is Pak defending its western front from? Is there any evidence that they have been seriously threatened from the western border? Even when the Soviets were around?
    How do you propose the ‘insurgency’ is defeated in afghanistan, when the supply lines of men, materials, money and ideology are sourced from Pakistan? You’ve got the wrong end of the stick.
    Sort out Pakistan and Afghanistan will fall into place. That is a key reason why these last ten years have not been altogether effective. The chief one though is that Bush took his eye off the ball while marching into Iraq. That was a massive underestimation of what went on and goes on in Pakistan, but we don’t need to compound it. If in fact (stranger than fiction), a nuclear exchange occurs, i would trace it back to this factor.

    Bard, thank you for laying it out so eloquently. I agree with you every step of the way, including the point about their psychosis.
    Further, can you imagine how these Pak ‘leaders’ spend their daily time, in ‘managing’ the affairs of State? One sees them constantly in reaction mode and off-balance. Constantly playing politics for the sake of politics–divisive, fractious, putting out one fire after another. And then look at the line-up of so-called leaders and their limited number, qualifications and capabilities. There isn’t even a foreign minister there since Qureshi. Zardari tripping off to Russia, Gilani to Paris. Kayani the megalomaniac thinks he’s winning. Psychosis is too mild–its actually a looney bin and there are 180 million there to be led or misled, kill or be killed. Like the man said, i wouldn’t want to be a Pakistanian!

  • Johno says:

    @chard
    I don’t cut & paste as I take the time and effort to read what you are writing and reply as best i can. You mention that the ISAF has the capability to defeat the insurgency. My question is what are they waiting for? It’s been ten long years are they waiting for a yellow ribbon or something.
    Are you saying the Af insurgency can be defeated if Pak says so? Perhaps … but who knows. the Iranians would probably take up the slack. The problem is a question of scale. The Af insurgency is militarily speaking a very feeble effort. It is very much on the scale of the IRA in terms of force projection and the bastardisation of religion is very similar.
    The problem is the West is spending around $15 billion a month on this problem and there is very little sign of improvement.
    @villager The two fronts are not geographical. Nuclear deterrence has put to rest another war with India but the obsessive humiliation of past defeats will require time to reduce the tension and the sense of threat from the east.
    The Soviet threat was never going to happen. Even as early as 1985 the Soviet Politburo was saying openly the whole episode was a huge mistake. A deal was cut after a Spetsnaz
    surge in 1986 which failed and things slowly tempered out.
    The current threat from the western border to the Pakistan Army is a Iranian ‘style’ revolution funded by the Wahabis. This would require the ISAF to pull out and Afghanistan to return to anarchy. Every ‘fruitcake’ would flood into Af and the contagion phase would begin within the Tribal Areas.
    The war is in Af. ISAF soldiers are being killed and wounded on a daily basis. The enemy is spending a few cents for every thousand dollars we spend. It has been calculated AQ spent $500K on 9/11. The US spent a $trillion and it’s now $15 billion a month.
    Forget about fighting Pakistan, we can’t afford it. Some of the more moronic consider a landing on the coast as a solution. A single mushroom cloud would put an end to that and around 100,000 American lives. The destruction of the PLA naval bases at Kalmat & Ormara would bring China into a nuclear war.
    All of this because the west was unable to deal terrorists armed with fertilizer bombs?
    There appears to me a mean streak of racist bigotry in some of the comments. I dare say from people who have never lived in Af & Pak. People see the grinding poverty and ‘backwardness’ as a sign of weakness in spirit and conviction. Don’t be fooled.
    The Pakistanis are very patriotic and coupled with a fatalistic sense of life and death they will gladly exchange nuclear annihilation if they are invaded.
    Like I have said many times the problem is how to deal with the enemy a few hundred metres away in Afghanistan. Solve that and we all go home.

  • Soccer says:

    There is no racism or bigotry, at all, on this site towards Pakistanis.
    Maybe instead of just claiming that there is, you can show us evidence, and examples that back up your statement? That would be useful.

  • Soccer says:

    How are Pakistanis ‘patriotic’ people?
    What ‘Pakistanis’ are you talking about?
    The Balochis in western Pakistan?
    The Pashtuns in northwestern Pakistan?
    The Punjabis in eastern Pakistan?
    The Shias in Southern Pakistan?
    The nomads in Northern Pakistan?
    A simple look at recent (and old) history and you will find that your statement is deeply flawed. Pakistanis have always infought with each other, despite whatever flavor of religious-nationalism is shoved down their throats. Pakistan is an artificial, crumbling state that is divided among so many lines, it is alien to westerners to even acknowledge their divisions. The central government does not even control a good portion of what is geographically known as ‘Pakistan’.
    Patriotism among Pakistanis in Pakistan is like patriotism in Nigeria amongst Nigerians. So far, it is a concept far removed from reality due to infighting amongst the populations. Empty, false statements will not change anything.

  • bard207 says:

    Johno,

    I don’t cut & paste as I take the time and effort to
    read what you are writing and reply as best i can. You mention that the ISAF has the capability to defeat the insurgency. My question is what are they waiting for? It’s been ten long years are they waiting for a yellow ribbon or something.
    How many times do I need to repeat this before you can comprehend it?
    The ISAF is fully capable of defeating the insurgents in Afghanistan. The problem is the insurgents that keep spilling over from Pakistan.
    ———————————————–
    Are you saying the Af insurgency can be defeated if Pak says so?
    If Pakistan would have decided to join the Modern World in Fall 2011 and would have made developing a secular Afghanistan and Pakistan the highest priorities. Pakistan still would have had the opportunity to have the influence – friendly neighbor that they desire.
    Instead, they (Musharraf, Pakistani Army and the ISI) chose to continue backing the religious Taliban.
    ———————————————–
    Perhaps … but who knows. the Iranians would probably take up the slack.
    The majority of the infiltration & problems in Afghanistan are along the Eastern border with Pakistan. The Taliban that are doing the infiltration are Sunni and are based in Pakistan.
    Other than the Herat area, the population density is on the low side in Eastern Afghanistan. The majority of the large population centers are in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan which aren’t near Iran.
    ———————————————–
    The problem is a question of scale. The Af insurgency is militarily speaking a very feeble effort. It is very much on the scale of the IRA in terms of force projection and the bastardisation of religion is very similar.
    The IRA and the Taliban are far different in terms of religious dogma and the desire to impose a certain lifestyle on others.
    ———————————————–
    The problem is the West is spending around $15 billion a month on this problem and there is very little sign of improvement.
    The problem is that Pakistan wants influence – control over Afghanistan’s future. Rather than aid in development – progress, Pakistan prefers to hold Afghanistan back with the Taliban.
    Who Are the Taliban?
    Their history and their resurgence

    The Taliban against the world
    The Taliban regime faced international scrutiny and condemnation for its policies. Only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the UAE cut diplomatic ties with the Taliban.
    Only Pakistan stuck with the Taliban after 9/11.
    ———————————————–

    The two fronts are not geographical. Nuclear
    deterrence has put to rest another war with India but the obsessive humiliation of past defeats will require time to reduce the tension and the sense of threat from the east.
    Pakistan initiated the past conflicts with India and was defeated. After many decades and several losses, Pakistan learned that it will lose when facing India in direct Army vs Army battles.
    Rather than accepting things, Pakistan helps train and fund militant groups to infiltrate into India such as Mr Kasab and friends of Mumbai infamy. Then Pakistan goes into denial mode and claims that they are Non State Actors. which Pakistan has no control over.
    ———————————————–
    The Soviet threat was never going to happen. Even as early as 1985 the Soviet Politburo was saying openly the whole episode was a huge mistake.
    Since the Soviets went into Afghanistan in 1979, I don’t consider 1985 as early.
    ———————————————-
    The current threat from the western border to the Pakistan Army is a Iranian ‘style’ revolution funded by the Wahabis. This would require the ISAF to pull out and Afghanistan to return to anarchy. Every ‘fruitcake’ would flood into Af and the contagion phase would begin within the Tribal Areas.
    Newsflash
    It isn’t a threat, the Wahhabis and similar are already in the Tribal areas of Pakistan.
    Business is still booming at Afghan and Pakistani terror camps
    The Tribal areas are already in anarchy with the fruitcakes flooding in.
    ———————————————–
    All of this because the west was unable to deal ,i>terrorists armed with fertilizer bombs?,/i>
    …that keep getting reinforcements and supplies from Pakistan.
    ———————————————–
    There appears to me a mean streak of racist bigotry in some of the comments. I dare say from people who have never lived in Af & Pak. People see the grinding poverty and ‘backwardness’ as a sign of weakness in spirit and conviction. Don’t be fooled.
    The Pakistanis are very patriotic and coupled with a fatalistic sense of life and death they will gladly exchange nuclear annihilation if they are invaded.
    Bangladesh has a majority Muslim population and the per capita GDP is less than in Pakistan. Bangladesh hasn’t disappointed the world nearly as much as Pakistan has over the decades. So, your grinding poverty angle fails.
    Speaking of grinding poverty, why is a country so poor continuing to spend on nuclear weapons?
    ————————————————————–
    Like I have said many times the problem is how to deal with the enemy a few hundred metres away in Afghanistan. Solve that and we all ,i>go home.
    That is simple;
    Pakistan should realize in recent decades that more of its citizens have died by the actions of Islamic militants than the Indian Army. After that is comprehended, shift the majority of the Pakistani Army to the NWFP and FATA and tell them to eliminate those who insist on continuing Islamic militancy.
    Unfortunately, Pakistan has difficulty in comprehending that the Islamic militants are the problem.

  • V.K.Guptan says:

    Two reasons have been given for the continuation of US aid to Pakistan. 1) To have free access through its territory to the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. As long as the Afghan war is going on it is necessary unless US forcefully occupy a corridor and maintain it for safe transit. 2) To strengthen the Pak military so that it can guard its arsenal safe from the terrorist group. This does not look tenuous. It is like succumbing to outright black-mail. It is the very same people who have made it clandestinely. Now the very same people are being asked to keep it safe and for that US is paying money. As in the case of black-mail the demand for money never stops. Even if Pakistan stops giving help to AlQuaeda it is not going to do the same with LeT or Haqqani or any other who are called its strategic assets. They will be nurtured by Pakistan and there is no guarantee that they may not turn hostile. The only way what I feel is to cut losses and quit Afghanistan. Stop all aid to Pakistan. Let Pakistan and Afghanistan sort out their matters.

  • stevem says:

    vk, so what you are saying is lets go back to the way it was and forget this whole thing ever happened?

  • villiger says:

    Johno,
    “The Pakistanis are very patriotic and coupled with a fatalistic sense of life and death they will gladly exchange nuclear annihilation if they are invaded.”
    So now aren’t YOU saying they are insane?!!!
    And IF they are so patriotic, how come they don’t pay taxes? How come they are so happy to beg off America?
    Sorry Johno if you don’t see the Pak connection in this mission, you are off the wall.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis