The PJ Tatler

Yup, we're in a cold war with Pakistan

As you’ve probably heard, Pakistan’s sinister and largely unaccountable ISI took action against five of the informants who led the CIA to Osama bin Laden. That’s an unmistakable shot across our bow.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Three,” Mr. Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.

The Onion, of all places, pretty much nailed our relationship with Pakistan with this headline the other day:

Pakistani Intelligence Announces Its Full Cooperation With U.S. Forces During Upcoming Top Secret June 12 Drone Strike On Al-Qaeda At 5:23 A.M. Near Small Town Of Razmani In North Waziristan

They’re not our friends. Or at least, some of the various cats in the fractured herd over there are not our friends, and never really were. They’re happy to take our money, and just as happy to use any excuse to thwart the war against al Qaeda. We had something like a friend in Musharraf, but we kicked him to the curb. He was never much in control of the ISI; the current government exercises even less control over it than he did. The entire situation is rife with duplicitous actors. The fallout from the new cold war goes much farther than the fate of five who helped us.

It is the future of the drone program that is a particular worry for the C.I.A. American officials said that during his meetings in Pakistan last week, Mr. Panetta was particularly forceful about trying to get Pakistani officials to allow armed drones to fly over even wider areas in the northwest tribal regions. But the C.I.A. is already preparing for the worst: relocating some of the drones from Pakistan to a base in Afghanistan, where they can take off and fly east across the mountains and into the tribal areas, where terrorist groups find safe haven.

Another casualty of the recent tension is an ambitious Pentagon program to train Pakistani paramilitary troops to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban in those same tribal areas. That program has ended, both American and Pakistani officials acknowledge, and the last of about 120 American military advisers have left the country.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is still breaking in the new fighter jets that were recently given to it as gifts — by Beijing.