Belmont Club

The Road Divides

Pakistan says that it is not in cahoots with al-Qaeda, but Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned Washington that future unilateral strikes could be met with “full force”. “Yes, there has been an intelligence failure. It is not only ours but of all the intelligence agencies of the world.” Islamabad was particularly worried that the US might try to grab the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the head of Pakistan’s armed forces, released a blistering public statement late last week condemning the U.S. assault and warning that he would order his troops to use armed force against any American troops who entered Pakistan in the future in pursuit of other wanted militants.

Kayani’s statement also made explicit reference to his country’s nuclear arsenal, which he promised to fully defend against any potential American-led efforts to take control of the weapons. …

The remarks stunned and angered many senior Obama administration officials, who had expected Pakistan to apologize for the pervasive intelligence failures that allowed bin Laden to spend five years living in an affluent Islamabad suburb under the nose of thousands of Pakistani security officials.

But a White House source said that “there was no evidence suggesting that Pakistan’s intelligence, military or political establishment knew anything about bin Laden’s secret hideout in an army garrison town 35 miles from the capital.”

But relations continued to frazzle as “Pakistani media aired the name of a man they said is the Central Intelligence Agency’s station chief, prompting questions about whether the Pakistani government tried to out a CIA operative in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

The U.S. is looking into the matter. There are no plans at this time to withdraw the station chief. If the government had attempted to publicize the name, that would be the second such outing in the past six months, a sign of how deeply U.S.-Pakistan relations have soured….

Some U.S. officials suspected the move was ISI retaliation for the naming of its chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, in a U.S. lawsuit relating to the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Since then, Pakistan and the CIA have tussled over a CIA contractor’s shooting of two armed Pakistanis under disputed circumstances.

The U.S. has given Pakistan billions of dollars in aid since 2001 and has repeatedly expressed frustration that Pakistanis are sometimes reluctant partners in counterterrorism—going after some militants and not others.

Speaking on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Sunday night, President Barack Obama said, “We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan.… [T]hat’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate.”

John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee believes America’s relationship with Pakistan could change for the better, if the Pakistanis come to Jesus — an expression which is sometimes defined as “that moment when an individual is compelled by the weight of evidence and looming penalty to admit wrong doing” — so to speak. “There’s an indication to me there is an enormous amount of introspection going on and some very deep evaluating within Pakistan. I know for a fact they are thinking of a government inquiry outside of the military. For the first time there is major criticism in Pakistani papers of the intelligence network and the military … So I see this as a time for us to be careful, to be thoughtful, to proceed deliberately but determinedly in order to lay on the table the things that we know have to change. I see opportunity in all of this to sort of punch a reset button and frankly serve our interests and theirs much more effectively,” he added.

Former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that America has to remain friends with Pakistan because it supplies the operation in Afghanistan through them. “We need to recognize, as was said, that we supply our coalition forces in Afghanistan from Pakistan,” he said.

We have damaged our relationships up with Uzbekistan on the northern border. And we need to maintain those relationships [with Pakistan] … We’ve been able to do a great many things, some with their open cooperation, some with their silent acquiescence. And it’s a complex problem they’ve got. It’s a Muslim country. They have nuclear weapons. They have problems with the tribes on both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. So we have to work with them and recognize the complexity.

Just where the line will be drawn is still an open question. The Financial Times quotes US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter as saying that the ball is now in Pakistan’s court. “The decision from Pakistan has to be can we do this together, can we work together as we should, as we are both committed to? That’s what I’m saying, I think it can happen.”

Was there a silent “or else”? Or was the ambassador just saying?

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