US Must Grow Up On Pakistan (Page 3 of 3)

—Major efforts to slow the growth of Islamist radicalism and violence in the country’s economic, agricultural and industrial heartland in the Sindh and Punjab. This will require a modus Vivendi with the tribes on the western border that encourages them—with subventions of (probably US) money, weaponry and other support—to stop attacking in Pakistan proper and begin aiding their Afghan brethren against Karzai.

—Pakistan’s intelligence service (ISI) will try to mend fences with Pashtuns on both sides of the border, and influence them to attack Karzai’s regime, NATO forces, and Indian targets, all in an effort to hurry NATO’s defeat and help the Islamists to retake power in Kabul. This is the only long-term result that meets Pakistan’s national security needs.

—The Army will reduce the lethality of its tribal-area operations as its contribution to ending the civil war Musharraf ignited. No doubt Kayani will keep the Army active in the tribal lands, but only with Potemkin operations meant to keep US aid flowing while not further alienating the Pashtuns. This tack also will start to ease the deep discontent in the Army over being tasked to kill Muslims for US infidels.

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—Zidari and Kayani will seek promises from Riyadh to financially assist Pakistan if Washington cuts aid to Pakistan. Since Islamabad’s goal of replacing Karzai with a Taliban-like regime is compatible with Saudi and Gulf state foreign-policy goals—indeed, much of the Taliban’s funding is from the Gulf—such a pledge from Riyadh is likely. As a sweetener, the Pakistanis will help insert young Gulf jihadis returning from Iraq or graduating from so-called reeducation camps into Afghanistan to fight US-NATO forces.  

For Kayani and Zidari, the time clearly has come to stop being a US proxy and to focus on halting Pakistan’s drift toward becoming a failed state. Because Washington has no clue that the services rendered it by Musharraf and Zidari caused the civil war now raging in Pakistan, Kayani and Zidari can expect nothing from Obama’s administration except demands for actions that would ultimately destroy Pakistan’s stability, with unforeseeable consequences for its nuclear arsenal. To do less than this—at least for Kayani and the Army—would breech not only their oath of allegiance, but of their self-interest.

Such Pakistani action might also have a bracing, reality-inducing impact on the US government. It might start to see what was obvious on 9/11—that is, annihilating al-Qaeda is Washington’s responsibility. To have help from NATO, Pakistan and others is nice, but not a substitute for depending on US military forces to extirpate as much of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their supporters as possible and then withdraw immediately. Since 9/11, this has been Washington’s only achievable Afghan task. By not accepting this reality, Bush and now Obama have fought a war that today leaves the United States farther from victory than in 2001 and which will require far more US money and blood to win than has been so far expended.

In one of the quirky opportunities history sometimes yields, there’s a chance the still- young Pakistani state, by looking to its own security, might breathe a fresh breath of adulthood into the now toothless, irresolute and increasingly adolescent 234-year-old US government and push it to the commonsense conclusion that—in the words of the Prophet Muhammad and Theodore Roosevelt—God helps only those who fear Him and take their own part.

Sadly, however, there’s little solid reason for anyone to bet on this godsend occurring. 

 Michael Scheuer is the author of ‘Imperial Hubris’ and former chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Issue Station. He writes regularly for

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