Diary

Pakistan's ridiculous ambassador

Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States penned a ridiculous piece in the Wall Street Journal today, rife with strawmen, bullsh*t and whining. If you’re concerned about the Taliban’s ongoing takeover of large parts of the country, and if you’re concerned that the Taliban wants control of the country and nationwide sharia law, then you are experiencing “panicked reactions”. Straw man. Would you like a good example of bullsh*t? Here’s one, and it’s multi-layered:

Now that the Taliban have been driven out of Buner, and Pakistani forces have militarily engaged them just outside their Swat Valley stronghold, it should be clear to all that Pakistan can and will defeat the Taliban.

First, the Taliban’s military wing made a temporary tactical withdrawal, but they didn’t really withdraw.

Under the deal, officials agreed to allow strict Islamic law to be imposed in Swat and six surrounding districts, including Buner, in exchange for the Taliban fighters laying down their weapons.

What the Pakistani forces accomplished was almost nothing. They made a deal a few days ago with the Taliban–a deal that the Taliban has already broken–to have militants lay down arms but leave non-militant Islamist supremacists to administer 13th century fundamentalist law. But wait! There’s more!

In the free elections that returned Pakistan to democracy in February 2008, Pakistanis overwhelmingly rejected Taliban sympathizers and advocates of extremist Islamist ideologies.

Talibaners and related Islamists didn’t run for election in 2008, on theological principle. They don’t believe in democracy, so they sat out. An explanation:

Does this mean the end of Islamism in Pakistan? Not quite. In fact, while the defeat of Musharraf’s political allies in the PML (Q) signals a new political leadership in Islamabad, the defeat of the MMA could also signal a new political and religious leadership in the troubled areas along the border with Afghanistan. In the North West Frontier Province, where the MMA formed the provincial government last term, the Islamists’ vote bank was a combination of die-hards who desired the creation of an Islamic state and those less ideologically driven who were attracted to the MMA’s promises of justice, economic renewal, and security. This time around, the latter voted for the Awami National Party. The former, such as Iqbal Khan of the Swat Valley, joined the Taliban.

Last October, Khan invited me to his home for dinner, where he proudly displayed a bookcase full of al-Qaida paraphernalia—letters from Mullah Omar, video messages from Osama Bin Laden, and a backpack that Ayman al-Zawahiri apparently left behind after a visit. He, like all his neighbors in their remote village, voted for the MMA in 2002, hoping the Islamists in parliament would fulfill their pledge to implement sharia law. But when they not only failed to do that but were increasingly viewed as being just as corrupt as their predecessors, Khan and his cohorts withdrew their support from the politicians and shifted their allegiances to the militants.

The Taliban doesn’t have a tremendous amount of grass-roots support, but the new Zardari government isn’t helping. The BS doesn’t end there.

The model here was the successful pacification of Fallujah in Iraq, where agreements with more moderate elements broke them away from al Qaeda nihilists. The model worked so well in Fallujah that it is now being resurrected by the American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The goal in Pakistan’s Swat Valley was the same.

Mr. Haqqani is trying to compare the Swat Valley (which is embracing militant Islamists) with Fallujuah, which drove them out. Would you like some whine with that bullsh*t? Here’s this:

Meanwhile, the change of administration in the U.S. has slowed the flow of assistance to Pakistan. Unfortunately, ordinary Pakistanis have begun to wonder if our alliance with the West is bringing any benefits at all.

[…]

What does Pakistan need to contain this threat? In the short term we need the U.S. to share modern technology in antiterrorist engagement. Pakistan needs night-vision equipment, jammers that can knock out FM radio transmissions by the terrorists, and a larger, modernized fleet of helicopter gunships for ground support in the massive sweeps that are necessary to contain, repel and destroy the enemy.

Yet Washington has been reluctant to share this modern equipment, and to train our military in antiterrorism techniques, because of concerns that these systems could be used against India. Such concerns are misplaced. Pakistanis understand that the primary threat to our homeland today is not from our neighbor to the east but from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on our border with Afghanistan. To meet this threat, we must be provided the means to fight the terrorists while we work on resuming our composite dialogue with India.

Pakistan might have a better relationship with India if they did not harbor Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant Islamist group responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Pakistan might have a better relationship with the United States if its own security agency, the ISI, were not so favorably disposed to militant Islamists. Pakistan might have a better relationship with the United States if we could conduct joint operations against militant Islamists on Pakistani soil. Instead, our sole option is aerial drones, which serves to alienate Pakistanis and make them anti-American. Instead, we have an ambassador who is misrepresenting what is occurring in his country in an effort to grub some cash from a non-sprendthrift U.S. government. But that said, the Kerry-Lugar bill doesn’t sound terrible, but not terribly helpful either.

In Slate, Nicholas Schmidle has a template for saving Pakistan, but it looks more like a stopgap to me, based partly on the hope that Taliban is its own worst enemy. That may be true, but they didn’t lose their power until it was forcibly taken from them by the U.S. and Northern Alliance. Also, our military supply lines into Afghanistan are imperiled by entrenched Taliban control.

FYI, Schmidle has a pretty good Idiot’s Guide to Pakistan.