Pakistan is Lost — We better Get Used to That Fact
By: Warner Todd Huston
It was a nice dream. That we would have Pakistan on our side as a stalwart ally in this war on terror was such a wonderful happenstance. It would have gone a long way toward proving that not all Muslim states want to be our enemy.
You have to give President Pervez Musharraf credit. Yes, he has done some iffy things as president by oppressing certain extremists. But he has lent the USA able assistance when he could since 9/11. And, in so doing, he has made himself a repeated target of assassins, one attempt killing 14 and wounding 46.
We must not stop being grateful for what Musharraf has done for us and we should not abandon him too quickly. But the fact is, he was always on the edge of being eliminated as an ally, and by his own people at that.
He has never fully controlled his military, for one thing. He quickly found that, after he led a bloodless coup against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999, he never had the unquestioning support of those military officers who supported the Kashmiri separatists. And, after 9/11 and Musharraf’s vocal and active support of the US, he found that Al Qaeda and Taleban supporters filled his ranks, as well.
Further, Pakistan’s Waziristan region was never really in Musharraf’s control and is teeming with terrorist training camps and Al Qaeda supporters despite Musharraf’s efforts to stop them.
Now, on the eve of president Musharraf’s visit to Washington came word that his government has formally retreated and ceded all control of the Waziristan region to terrorists and their supporters.
Musharraf is cloaking this weakness as a “treaty with tribal leaders”, but the calamity is unmistakable to the detriment of both Musharraf’s safety and ours.
As the Weekly Standard reportedlast week, “…even in the wake of Pakistan’s earlier surrender of South Waziristan, this new agreement, known as the Waziristan Accord, is surprising. It entails a virtually unconditional surrender of Waziristan.”
No one who knows even a tiny bit about the situation could disagree with the fact that this is a disaster for all of us.
We are now facing a region that already supported Al Qaeda and other terrorists being assured by the only power in the region with any ability at all to keep them in check that they will have full and unimpeded control in their region.
Sensibly, President Bush is trying to put a calm face on this problem. “We agreed on the need to support tribal leaders on both sides of the border. By helping these local leaders build schools and roads and health clinics, we will help them build a better life for their communities, and strengthen their hand against — to fight against — the extremists”, Bush said this week during the visit to the capitol by Musharraf and Afghanistan’s president, Karzai.
And who can blame President Bush? It would be a dangerous thing to have the president of the United States nay-saying Musharraf at this point and it wouldn’t do anyone any good for Bush to seem alarmist.
But this loss of the entire Waziristan region will leave the rebuilding of Afghanistan in more danger than it has yet been in. It is hoped that the US military has taken this loss into account and is making contingency plans. They should be expecting a large amount, even more than we have seen to date, of foreign fighters entering Afghanistan from Pakistan.
It is time to plan strikes inside Pakistani borders, something we have yet to really consider with the precarious position Musharraf, our ostensible ally, has been in. Until now, we had to respect his sovereignty and keep our forces out. But, when he falls — and who can imagine he will be able to keep control much longer — We must be ready to act.
We must get the blessing of both president Karzai and India’s president, Abdul Kalam so that they understand our goals and acquire their assistance when the time comes.
If we do not, we will be allowing a nest of viper’s to grow next to the schools and public works we are spearheading in Afghanistan and that fledgling state will be overrun with Taliban, Al Qaeda and the like.
I hope we are prepared for the near future in trouble from Pakistan.