Supping with the Devil
Image Credit: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Supping with the Devil

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Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's foreign minister, went into hyperdrive in her meetings with the press during her visit to the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. She lost little opportunity to berate the United States for its recent, blunt statements about Pakistan’s continuing dalliance with the Haqqani network and its attacks on US and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan. Quite predictably, she denied that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate was involved with the network. She did concede, however, that the ISI had had some contact with the Haqqani clan. However, virtually in the next sentence she went on to accuse the United States of having supported the organization in an earlier era to help oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

In an otherwise deft but disingenuous interview, this was the only accurate statement. The United States did indeed sup with the devil during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The exigencies of inducing the Soviets to leave Afghanistan had led its policymakers to overlook the antecedents of many it supported. That tragic choice, however, is now returning to haunt the present generation of US policymakers.

That said, Rabbani can’t allude to the past misjudgements of the United States to justify Pakistan’s support for and ties to the Haqqanis. If Pakistan deems itself to be an ally of the United States, it can’t actively support an organization that is fundamentally inimical to American interests and is actively involved in attacks on US military and civilian personnel. Repeating the well-worn formula that Pakistan itself is a victim of terror and has paid dearly in blood and treasure will no longer pass muster in Washington.

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