Small Wars Journal

The Latest Ugly Truth About Pakistan

The Latest Ugly Truth About Pakistan - New York Times editorial. Bluf:

… Pakistan’s spy agency - Inter-Services Intelligence - played a direct role in supporting insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul last week, killing 16 people. He also said that with ISI support, the Haqqani network of terrorists planned and conducted an earlier truck bombing on a NATO outpost that killed 5 people and wounded 77 coalition troops, and other recent attacks.

This was a calculated revelation after Admiral Mullen and other top officials made countless pleas and remonstrances to Pakistan trying to get it to sever all support and ties with the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other extremists who are killing American troops and spreading mayhem on both sides of the border.



Mon, 09/26/2011 - 9:31pm

The fact that Pakistan and the ISI are providing material support to Afghan fighters/insurgents is not new. It has been widely known, or at least suspected, for years. In the book, In the Graveyard of Empires by Seth Jones it is well documented that Pakistan and the ISI were heavily involved in the funding, training, and support of anti-Russian forces. It is also evident that the relationship of the ISI with groups such as the Haqqani network did not end with the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Many groups continued their relationships with the ISI based on financial gain and these relationships increased in scope after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan began. It appears that the Haqqani network specifically is heavily involved in smuggling drugs, illegal timber, and weapons in addition to providing training and weapons to fighters to attack coalition forces. This gives the Haqqani network strong ties to local Pakistani and Afghan civilians as the network's illegal activities provides financial support to locals who are not supportive of the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
The more important question is what do we do now that a U.S. official has openly stated the ISI is working with groups like the Haqqani and his network to attack U.S. interest? How does that change our COIN operations inside Afghanistan? How does it change our policy towards Pakistan? Will the U.S. continue to provide Pakistan millions of dollars in military aide for maintaining our lines of communication through Pakistan? How will the Pakistani leadership respond to our accusations and will they continue to provide any real intelligence support in the War on Terrorism? The short answer, in my opinion, is that the U.S. will continue to accept a certain level hostility and anti-U.S. ISI operations to maintain our supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan. We will also continue to pursue an aggressive program of drone strikes to kill suspected Haqqani members. It does not appear possible that we will be able to capture or kill the Haqqani leadership without significant intelligence support from Pakistan, which in light of current attacks on U.S. personnel, is not forthcoming. This would indicate that any U.S. desire for limited, Bin Laden type raids to kill or capture Haqqani or his subordinates are not possible, and any "boots on the ground" would likely further erode Pakistani public support for continued Pakistani government cooperation in the War on Terror.
So, where does that leave U.S. and Coalition forces? Squarely between the proverbial "rock and a hard spot". The rock includes the political constraints of the current ROE and official "no violations of Pakistani sovereignty" and the hard spot of prosecuting a successful war against insurgent forces that have none of the same limitations in ROE and enjoy broad support of both local Afghans, Pakistanis, and the ISI. Since current U.S. policies are not working perhaps it is time to consider changes in U.S. policy that include requesting the U.N. put economic and military sanctions against Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, the U.S. withdraws all military aid until the Pakistani leadership takes concrete actions to reign in the ISI, and to use the elements of national power to establish alternate lines of communication that effectively sustain our efforts in Afghanistan. The U.S. should also be prepared to assault and seize the Pakistani nuclear arsenal if it appears that nuclear weapons or materials under Pakistani government control are not secure. At the same time, U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure a more friendly Pakistan should be undertaken in an effort to ensure that Pakistani forces either support U.S. efforts or at least stay out of the way of efforts to kill or capture the Haqqani network and other insurgent groups. Diplomatic efforts and military IO campaigns will also have to work hard to erode the support of local Afghans for groups like the Haqqani network in order to deprive them of resources to continue attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. Without these measures I see little change in our ineffective relationship with Pakistan. These measures would hopefully send an international message to Pakistan that supporting terrorism will have significant consequences and is not in the best interest of Pakistan.
It is likely that some of these efforts are already underway. Certainly diplomatic efforts are being worked to persuade the Pakistani government to continue to support the U.S. and coalition partners in the War on Terror. It is also likely that other agencies are heavily involved in locating and neutralizing anti-U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These efforts should be ramped up. Either way, if the U.S. continues to need Pakistan as a partner in the War on Terror we will certainly have to expect and have plans in place to effectively neutralize ISI and insurgent group efforts to thwart U.S. efforts.

MAJ Robert Staggs
Command and General Staff School
ILE Course 11-003
Fort Goron, GA.


Sun, 09/25/2011 - 11:48am

I can understand the wide frustration in the USA and less importantly other nations at the stance taken by influential and decisive parts of the Pakistani nation. Yes, I mean the army and ISI. There is alas no alternative to dealing with them, elected politicians appear to have a limited, symbolic role - as illustrated by the failure to help with the flooding in 2010-2011.

For us (USA & some of the West) our stance is similar to: We like you, we need you for our own interests, but you ignore and play us for fools. Well we maybe fools.

What we need to say is simple: Now listen carefully NO MORE MONEY. We'll tell you when it ends, we are starting today to "turn the tap off". Oh yes, we will fund directly charities etc, not the state, because we like the Pakistani people and will be telling them too.


Sat, 09/24/2011 - 5:18pm

Public statements by senior officers and politicians should be viewed as just that, public statements for public consumption. As hard as this will be to say or accept, I personnally do not view disengagemnt as an option. An italian mafia proverb comes to mind: "keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer"

Without knowing the other dynamics involved, that is, the political back channel talks that we all know are on-going, its hard to determine what the other possible effect and intent of this means at the negotiating table. In my mind the US is framing this as a way to keep the Taliban from taking part in the negotiations and reconciliation.

Assuming that one accepts that the National Military Strategy of May 2010 still stands, then allowing the Taliban to negotiate - let alone from a potential stand of one-up and power that many percieve them to be - is a completely non-starter from the Administrations point of view.

Mullen is of the "Administration" I dont see too many more rogue statements by General Officers that will contradict policy and strategy. I think those days are long gone.