Friday, September 30, 2011

Update: Pakistani Spy Chief Responds Re: Haqqani Militants

After meeting with Pakistan's political parties yesterday concerning quickly deteriorating relations with the US, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Pakistani spy chief, was quoted as saying: "We have never paid a penny or provided even a single bullet to the Haqqani network." Pasha added by saying that uninvited US action inside Pakistan would be "unacceptable."

COMMENT: As background, I would suggest that our readers review my recent postings concerning Pakistan. It is clear that JCS chief Admiral Mike Mullen's recent public statement that Pasha's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate was linked to the September 13 attack on the US mission in Kabul was perceived as inflammatory. It would have been far more prudent to classify such comments, so as not to contribute to the deterioration of bi-lateral relations.

The problem is that too many people on both sides [Washington and Islamabad] are using the media to communicate with each other. This is never a good idea. As I said yesterday, it may be time for the US and Pakistan to meet on neutral ground, with the assistance of a facilitator they both respect, in order to head off a complete and irreversible breakdown in communications.

Unfortunately, there are far two many officials in the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government talking to the media in Washington, which sends very mixed and unvarnished signals to the Pakistanis. The recent comments by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), for example, advocating that the US consider increasing military action inside Pakistan beyond drone strikes, is only going to be perceived in Pakistan as "saber-rattling." The very mention of talking to the media about the deployment of US bombers inside Pakistan is not helpful.

As a dispassionate observer, it appears that both the US and Pakistan are facing the results of missteps and misunderstandings. Combating terrorism is too important for them to be adversaries. The fact is that if Pakistan and the US stop working together in the Global War on Terrorism only terrorists will be the beneficiaries. This is not good for either nation. It is time for them to stop using the media to communicate with one another and to start understanding each other.

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