For years, Pakistan has ignored the Obama administration’s pleas to crack down on militants who cross from Pakistan to attack American forces in Afghanistan. Recent cross-border raids by Taliban militants who kill Pakistani soldiers should give Islamabad a reason to take that complaint more seriously.
Recently, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, raised the issue in a meeting with Gen. John Allen, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He demanded that NATO go after the militants on the Afghan side of the border, according to Pakistani news reports. General Allen demanded that Pakistan act against Afghan militants given safe haven by its security services, especially the Haqqani network, which is responsible for some of the worst attacks in Kabul.
Fighting extremists should be grounds for common cause, but there is no sign that Pakistan’s military leaders get it.
Some in Congress want to designate the Haqqanis as a terrorist organization. That would be unwise because such a move could lead to Pakistan’s being designated a terrorist state subject to sanctions and make cooperation even harder. The United States has no choice but to try to work with Pakistan, including the army, when it can.
Officials hope the crisis in relations caused by the killing of Osama bin Laden and other events will pass. Meanwhile, they are holding the Pakistanis more at arm’s length and setting narrower goals; President Obama declined to hold an official meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari at the NATO summit meeting in Chicago in May.
The United States has little choice but to continue drone attacks on militants in Pakistan. It has urged India to become more involved in Afghanistan and on Thursday, a conference was held in New Delhi to urge companies to invest there. That makes sense as long as India’s activities are transparent. Pakistan is paranoid about India, which it sees as a mortal adversary.
After 2001, Pakistan had a chance to develop into a more stable country. It had strong leverage with the United States, which needed help to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan received billions of dollars in aid and the promise of billions more, which Washington has begun to suspend or cancel. But the army continues its double game — accepting money from the Americans while enabling the Afghan Taliban — and the politicians remain paralyzed. Soon, most American troops will be gone from Afghanistan. And Pakistan will find it harder to fend off its enemies, real and perceived.
The New York Times (July 2)