Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan


Washington’s Phantom War The Effects of the U.S. Drone Program in Pakistan

By Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann
Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90 Iss. 4, Jul/Aug 2011

Drone strikes were successful in killing high-level leaders of the Taliban and al Qaeda. But few are. On average, only one out of every seven US drone attacks in Pakistan kills a militant leader. The majority of those killed in such strikes are not important insurgent commanders but rather low-level fighters, together with a small number of civilians. As the pace of the drone strikes has increased, so, too, has their accuracy. So far, the US has paid too little attention to how the strikes are seen in Pakistan. There are a number of steps Washington could take to make the drone strikes more palatable to Pakistanis concerned about civilian casualties and violations of their country’s sovereignty. To begin with, the US should make the program more of an operational partnership with Pakistan. Additionally, US and Pakistani officials should be more forthcoming about the program’s existence. A more transparent drone-strike program would increase accountability, in particular regarding civilian casualties.
Continue reading ‘Washington’s Phantom War The Effects of the U.S. Drone Program in Pakistan’





By Peter Bergen, Biran Fishman, and Katherine Tiedemann

After a summer ot souring reports on Ihe state of the war in Afghanistan, the “surge” of 30,000 additonal U.S. troops now in place. And not a moment to soon: U.S. President Barack Obama has already pledged to make a decision in July 2011 about how many trops bring home. So the window of time in which to contain or sufficiently weaken the taliban is rapidly closing. The problem is, the “Taliban” doesn’t really exist-or least, not in the way the term is normally used.

The original movement was a pakistan-supported militia built around a core of well-armed Afghan religious students (“Taliban” means “students” in Pashtun) that took power in the mid-1990s. But today the term has become meaningless, used to describe virtually any militant organization in Afghanistan and many in Pakistan-though they sometimes diverge widely in their allegiances, targets, and strategies.

Here’s a guide to understanding one’s enemies: not the Taliban, but the Talibans.
Continue reading ‘INSIDE TALIBANISTAN’


Obama’s Wars

Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010


Defending the Arsenal

In an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe
By Seymour M. Hersh
New Yorker, 16/11/09

In the tumultuous days leading up to the Pakistan Army’s ground offensive in the tribal area of South Waziristan, which began on October 17th, the Pakistani Taliban attacked what should have been some of the country’s best-guarded targets. In the most brazen strike, ten gunmen penetrated the Army’s main headquarters, in Rawalpindi, instigating a twenty-two-hour standoff that left twenty-three dead and the military thoroughly embarrassed. The terrorists had been dressed in Army uniforms. There were also attacks on police installations in Peshawar and Lahore, and, once the offensive began, an Army general was shot dead by gunmen on motorcycles on the streets of Islamabad, the capital. The assassins clearly had advance knowledge of the general’s route, indicating that they had contacts and allies inside the security forces.
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Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (5)

5. Conclusion: Expanded, Long-Term U.S. Commitment Needed

The security challenges of Pakistan’s tribal areas lie at the center of broader regional and global threats to stability. The best way to meet these challenges is through enhanced partnership with the political and security institutions of the Pakistani state, and the best way to improve this cooperation is by planning, organizing, and budgeting for a decades-long U.S. commitment to the region. Pakistan’s recent history of turbulence and the threat of another 9/11-type attack provide a political impetus for significantly expanded action by the next White House.

The precise scale-in dollar terms-of U.S. assistance in Pakistan is not addressed in this report because the next administration should first undertake its own review of Pakistan’s civilian and security requirements. This sort of review would represent a healthy corrective from recent practice. Washington’s commitments to Pakistan after 9/11-President Bush’s five-year $3 billion package and the recent five-year $750 million pledge for the FATA-were driven by political and diplomatic concerns, not prior U.S. needs-based assessments. That said, in the context of building a stronger bilateral partnership, the next administration must also bear in mind the symbolic and political significance of fulfilling prior commitments to Islamabad. This report therefore recommends that the Bush administration’s pledges of $600 million per year (half civilian, half military) should serve as a baseline for new commitments. Additional funding may be needed to support the short- and long-term goals outlined throughout this report, from strengthening governance to building security institutions that are capable of a full range of counterinsurgency and counterter ror missions.
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Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (4)

4. A Long-Term, Phased Approach

Given the challenges and assumptions above, the United States should address the tribal areas through a phased approach, with immediate, short-term, and long-term components. These phases suggest a policy roadmap but are not strictly intended to prioritize resources since long-term projects will require up-front attention and funding, and urgent security threats may crop up over an extended timeframe.

A. Immediate: Manage The Most Urgent Security Crises In The Tribal Areas

For the United States, al-Qaeda is the single most urgent threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas because it is the only group with the demonstrated desire and capacity to strike the U.S. homeland. Taliban leadership and foot soldiers engaged in organizing and conducting attacks on U.S. and ISAF/NATO forces in Afghanistan represent the second-most-immediate threat. Pakistani militants (such as TTP and TNSM) are an immediate but primarily indirect threat, since they offer safe haven and support to other dangerous groups while simultaneously undermining the stability of the Pakistani state.
Continue reading ‘Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (4)’


Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (3)

3. A Comprehensive Strategy

A. Facing Up To The Immensity Of The Challenge

The years since 9/11 have validated the fact that the pacification of Pakistan’s tribal belt represents a necessary (if insufficient) condition for eliminating al-Qaeda, enabling reconstruction in Afghanistan, and maintaining domestic stability in Pakistan. But the immense scale and complexity of this challenge is currently underappreciated in both Washington and Islamabad.

The Pakistani government lacks the political, military, or bureaucratic capacity to fix the tribal areas on its own. Islamabad’s civilian political leaders have little recent experience in dealing with a development and security initiative of this scale; at present, they appear far more concerned with skirmishing over power than developing an effective policy for the tribal areas. The pathological imbalance between civilian and military power at the national level continues to hinder stable, efficient governance, and, particularly over the past eighteen months, has prov ided a formula mainly for lurching from crisis to crisis.
Continue reading ‘Securing Pakistan’s Tribal Belt (3)’

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