What’s behind the U.S.-Pakistan rift
Ignatius, Washington Post,
Beyond the recent
verbal confrontation between U.S. and Pakistani officials about the Haqqani
network lies a delicate political-military effort to draw the Haqqanis into an
end-game strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the departing
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rebuked the Pakistani spy service,
the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, for using the Haqqani network as
its “veritable arm” in Afghanistan. But U.S. officials know the ISI also
facilitated a secret meeting during the last several months between the United
States and a representative of the Haqqani clan. This is the double game that’s
always operating in U.S.-Pakistani relations.
Some U.S. officials believe that the
recent wave of attacks by the Haqqanis on U.S. targets in Afghanistan may,
in fact, reflect the determination of hard-line members of the clan to derail
any move toward negotiation. The United States wants the Pakistani military’s
help in isolating and destroying these “unreconcilable” elements of the network.
The sparring with Pakistan illustrates the wider dilemma of the Afghan war.
How does the United States bring pressure on the Haqqanis and other Taliban
factions, even as it withdraws troops with a 2014 deadline for completing its
mission? As Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, has
said: “The more the U.S. says it wants to leave Afghanistan, the harder it will
be to leave.”
What angered Mullen and other U.S. officials was Pakistan’s failure to act on
intelligence reports about planned Haqqani attacks. A timeline helps untangle
the threads of the dispute:
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