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April 7, 2009
U.S. officials meet resistance on visit to Pakistan

In Pakistan, the key U.S. diplomat for the region was joined by America’s top military man in calling for more trust between the countries as they fight al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Special envoy Richard Holbrooke and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, held talks with Pakistan’s foreign minister. They discussed the sometimes strained U.S.-Pakistani relationship and their goals.

One issue that has caused strains in relations between Pakistan and the United States is the continued and expanding use of American drones  — unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft that can track and attack suspected militants. The New York Times reports that U.S. officials want to step up the use of drones in tribal areas of Pakistan near Afghanistan and are also proposing to expand them to Baluchistan to the south — plans that have met resistance from Pakistani officials.

Meanwhile, Pakistan finds itself in the middle of a fierce debate about a video of a young woman being whipped in the Swat Valley, an area the government ceded to the Taliban as part of a peace deal.

Arif Rafiq of World Politics Review joins David Brancaccio to discuss dealings with the Taliban, Holbrooke’s trip to Pakistan and what role Pakistan can play in stabilizing Afghanistan as it deals with its own security issues.

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2 comments

#2

I am not going to comment on the 1st oomment by Mr Restos above, as he is trying to judge Pakistani behavior within the context of US policies (good, bad or in-between) in the past, however I would like to add a couple of observations regarding the actions of Pakistani Military and the ISI institution.

Both these institutions have denied Pakistan the kind of democracy, its neighbour India has enjoyed for last 60 years, and secondly, it started out and to this date, wanting to destroy India and its reasonably tolerant way of life/nvironment. Not only it has failed in doing so, but that it is now on the path of self-destruction. Feel very sorry for the people and the spiral of negativity they have to endear.

World Focus should devote a full hour in presenting the facts on the ground there (in that region) and preferably, by having the reporter to be there (Afghanistn, Pakistan, India, Nepal etc) and then present the full story. Thanks.

#1

The U.S. has been in control of Pakistani army with $250 million funding a year for military operations. And the funding has been provided with strings attached that includes U.S. approval of key army command appointments, and use of military airfields to launch U.S. Predator drones
for Taliban assassinations.

But that was not enough for the U.S. Case in point: The U.S. had demanded the replacement of the previous Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) chief, and the appointment of the current pro-U.S. commander Lt. General Ahmed Pasha. Pasha came to the U.S. for briefing repeatedly, and the U.S. expected him to provide name and maps on the whereabouts of Taliban commanders, so the U.S. could bomb them out, and finish the war in Afghanistan. And when he didn’t, the U.S. launched a mudslinging campaign against him. During the current visit to Pakistan by Admiral McMullen and Richard Hollbrook, General Pasha steadfastly refused to meet or talk to them.
Obviously hewanted to work with them, but not to
become a U.S. mercenary against his own people.

The U.S. has a bad image in the world as a rowdy superpower that wants to control the world with a remote control and avoid a repeat of the Vietnam War heavy battlefield losses. That is why it has tried cruise missile attacks in Afghanistan before, as well as in Iraq, and a cruise attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory. And when comedian Bill Maher ridiculed that style of war “as fighting a war from 2.000 miles away as the coward’s war,” his TV show went bust. Then, the critics came along and said “if the U.S. want to win a war, it has to put its troops in the ground.” But that is what the U.S. did in Vietnam, lost the war, and the joke was not on the late Chines leader Mao Tse-Tung who was calling the U.S. “a paper tiger” but on us.

And if you cannot win a war with missiles and airstrikes -as the Israelis also found out in Lebanon in 2006, then how you do it? The only option left was to follow the example of the Ottoman Empire and create vassal armies from occupied or friendly states and let them fight the war for you. And that is what the U.S. is trying to assemble in Afghanistan. A core U.S. force to control the command operations, airstrikes, and Predator drones, and vassal armies from Nato, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to do the fighting on the ground.

But the vassal forces are not fighting the way the U.S. wants, busting doors at night and throwing grenades inside, demolishing houses with missiles on tips that there were militants inside while there were not, or bombing wedding gatherings on tips that there were some Taliban attending. And the Germans are just holed up in the northwest city of Mazar El Sharif and are strictly prohibited from engaging in offensive operations, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed recently. Frustrated U.S. commanders have therefore relied on airstrikes that caused more that 2.000 civilian casualties in 2008, widespread anger among Afghan and Pakistanis, and
many suicide and car bombings in revenge. But worse yet, the Afghan and Pakistani leaders who
tolerated the U.S. bombing have been discredited as American stooges by their people, and now they
tell the U.S. that “the incessant killing of their civilians won’t win the war.”

Now the U.S. produced a video of a Pakistani girl flogged to portray the Taliban as savages and shame them all over the world. The original video secretly recorded with a hidden cellphone had no sound, but screaming was added for maximum effect. And if Taliban are savages
for flogging justice as punishment, then the nation of Singapore where lashing offenders is legal and frequent, is a nation of savages! And let’s not forget the CIA practice of rendition that transfered anti- American detainees to Egypt, Syria, ans Jordan with the understanding that they will be beaten savagely until they provided useful intelligence to the U.S.

Will the U.S. succeed in its war in Afghanistan by mudslinging Pakistan’s army, continue bombing of villages and killing civilians, begging unwilling allies for more forces to fight its war and take the casualties in order to reduce its own, and then depicting punishment allowed by religion as savage while Obama claimed on his speech in Turkey “that the U.S. is not, and it will never be in war with Islam?” The U.S. public statements, the U.S. objectives in Central Asia, the U.S. forming, training and funding a massive Afghan army -as it did in creating a 600.000 South Vietnamese army- which will eventually will collapse in an Afghan civil war as it did in Vietnam, and its effort to buy Pakistan’s government and army with $ 7.5 billion in aid will certainly fail. Wars are not won with distant missiles and bombs, are not won by unwilling drafted foreign forces, are not won by
wanton killing of civilians to deprive the resistance fighters of public support – as Israel hoped the terrorized Gazan will abandon Hamas- and as the U.S. hopes the Afghans and Pakistanis will do, and, finally, wars are not bought. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was correct when he said recently: “Afghanistan cannot be governed from abroad,” on quote. His knows better because his country learned a lesson
in Afghanistan. Obama is just a student of Afghanistan now, but so far he has shown an unwillingness to learn. But when the Afghan class is over, he will certainly get an “F” grade as the Russians did. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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