Friday, June 25, 2010

With Allies Like These?

Nice to know that some things remain consistent.  Or not.  Pakistan is apparently trying to fill the space that the Americans may be creating with their ambivalence about Afghanistan.  That the Haqqani network may be the means for this should not be surprising but is still dismaying, given its ties to Al Qaeda.  Yes, most civil wars end with negotiations with the opponents, so we should expect that the Afghans have talks with the various insurgent elements.  But to have the Pakistanis be the matchmakers raises more than a few questions. 
Pakistan has already won what it sees as an important concession in Kabul, the resignations this month of the intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, and the interior minister, Hanif Atmar. The two officials, favored by Washington, were viewed by Pakistan as major obstacles to its vision of hard-core Taliban fighters’ being part of an Afghanistan settlement, though the circumstances of their resignations did not suggest any connection to Pakistan.
So, Karzai is now seeking to negotiate from an even more weak position.  Sure, that will work out great.
But this official acknowledged that the Haqqanis and Al Qaeda were too “thick” with each other for a separation to happen. They had provided each other with fighters, money and other resources over a long period of time, he said.
One could possibly imagine the US leaving Afghanistan after ten years of combat with the Taliban sharing power.  But hard to imagine the US leaving if AQ gets to have Afghanistan as its playground again.

I am still trying to remember what the US gets out of its relationship with Pakistan, besides roads from the ports to Afghanistan.  I guess stability is better than not, with Pakistan's nuclear capability, but Pakistan makes every other ally of the US look much better.

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