World politics is a peculiar game. It often leaves countries with strange bedfellows. That is exactly what is playing out between the US and Pakistan. As the US prepares to lighten its footprint in Afghanistan, it is turning to its only partner to help secure its flank, Pakistan. The immediate problem is of course Pakistan’s dubious nature.
Both the Pakistani Government and its rogue, Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI), have plagued US efforts in fighting terrorist networks in Afghanistan. The ISI has withheld information, outright lent assistance to, and turned a blind-eye toward terrorists’ operations that have lead to American deaths. Their icy response to the successful killing of Osama bin Laden left little to doubt over how serious they are in helping the US conduct its war against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and securing Afghanistan.
As the New York Times reports,
Just a month after accusing Pakistan‘s spy agency of secretly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has mounted attacks on Americans, the Obama administration is now relying on the same intelligence service to help organize and kick-start reconciliation talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.
The troop surge that President Obama agreed to in 2009 is scheduled to depart Afghanistan in September 2012. Since the mission envisioned is far from accomplished, the withdrawal will inevitably lead to a vacuum. Simply stated, a decrease in US military presence in a still vulnerable Afghanistan translates to a lack of US control.
Instead of leaving Afghanistan settled, secured, and democratic, which has always been the message from President Bush to Obama, the US is busy guarding its flanks in anticipation of increased Taliban or Pakistan influence, or both, as US influence recedes. “In short, the United States is in the position of having to rely heavily on the ISI to help broker a deal with the same group of militants that leaders in Washington say the spy agency is financing and supporting.”
Call me paranoid but the ISI isn’t exactly conjuring up images of Marshall Michel Ney. If this is what’s left of our legacy in Afghanistan, if we are down to relying on the ISI to broker a deal with the Haqqanis – a network that has shown little interests in cooperating and fresh off a 20 hour long massacre on the US embassy in Kabul – than what exactly is to be the American product in Afghanistan?
If after ten years of involvement, 3,000 coalition lives lost, and $470,000,000 spent have failed to answer that question, are really supposed to believe Pakistan can?