Mar 30 2008
Sorry for the light posting, I am attending the funeral of one my dear aunts this weekend and so free time as been sparse.
One thing I can say from watching the give and take in Pakistan is no one knows for sure how the new government there is going to evolve, and what role it will take in the war on terror. My view is it will not change by much after the Pal government acquires some new financial aid from the US as the price for retaining consistent pressure on al-Qaeda and the extreme elements of the Taliban. This is normal government horse-trading, and I think all the calls by the Pakistanis for a ‘balanced approach’ – that includes more sticks in addition to military action – is a wise move by Pakistan to demand rebuilding and investment resources. With that in mind the news out of Pakistan doesn’t seem as conflated as it might at a casual glance:
First off is the good news that joint US, Pakistani and Afghani intelligence and border centers are being put in place to gain control over the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and provide real-time coordinated intelligence to the three governments:
U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officers opened the first of six joint military intelligence centres along the Afghan-Pakistan border on Saturday, an effort to cut down on militantsâ€™ movement in the region of rising terrorist activity.
The centres represent the latest step in American efforts to get Afghanistan and Pakistan to coordinate in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The military centres, to be staffed by about 20 personnel from the three countries, are meant to let Afghan and Pakistani officials use U.S. intelligence-gathering resources. â€” AP
That is the basic news. Of course some have to spin and hand wring and speculate on why this proactive and smart move will not work. But of course, when these folks try and find reasons to doubt, they do expose a lot of details about the new centers which show why they cannot help but improve the situation:
SLAMABAD: Pakistan Army has said that as yet it has not decided to cooperate with Afghanistan and the United States over opening of any joint military intelligence centres along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
“This proposal of opening up of joint military intelligence centres at the Pak-Afghan border has been there for quite some time now. At this time this proposal is being analysed and evaluated by the concerned officials. But Pakistan has not yet come to a decision on this matter,” Director General ISPR Athar Abbas told The News.
The report also spoke about the centres representing the next step in American efforts to get the two countries to work together to combat Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who allegedly take refuge in the region.
If these intelligence centres are set up the Afghan and Pakistani military officers will be able to watch live video feeds from US spy planes in the intelligence centres, and then relay that information back to their militaries.
I doubt Pakistan is not going to participate – that would put them at odds with the US and others. What I like is the fact the three nations are preparing to establish a network of intelligence nodes that will be quite useful when and if the spring ‘offensive’ begins to eradicate AQ from its last sanctuary on Earth. The US media is still just trying to grasp what is happening and doing their background stories, which are interesting in showing how far out of their element they truly are when it comes to covering war and fanatics:
Darra Adam Khel, a small burg in Pakistan’s tribal areas, is the quintessential frontier town. Picture Wyatt Earp sashaying down the streets of Tombstone in a turban, and you begin to get the idea. Because Pakistani laws don’t apply here, smugglers, gunsmiths and, most recently, the Taliban find Darra, as it’s locally known, an optimal place to do business.
Most stores along the main road sell firearms or drugs. In one, freshly pressed slabs of hashish are cured in goat skins, stacked up like a new line of sweaters at the Gap. Next door, customers can walk in, pull a Kalashnikov from the rack and step outside to test-fire it into the sky. On my first visit to Darra, I opened the car door just as a prospective AK-47 buyer rattled off a few rounds. Thinking that I’d stumbled into a duel, I dove into a ditch for cover.
What a buffoonic story. There is no way a religiously fascist town riddled with crime can be compared to the wild, wild west where the story of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp was a story about bringing law to a lawless town. And the fact this guy jumped into a ditch at the sound of a gun (without first checking to see if the locals were moving) just shows how naive the reporter is. This kind of kindergarten level communication is not helpful to a sophisticated nation like America.
Compare that lame tutorial type piece to what is available in regional papers and you can tell how far the US and Western media has to go before they grasp what is happening:
There is no doubt that Pakistan wants peace and progress without suicide bombings and our army engaged in a war with its own people in Fata and Swat. At the same time Pakistan has shown during the recent elections that we do not want to be dictated by a minority extremist religious elements blowing up girls schools, DVD shops and barber outlets. It is also hoped that the new parliament shall not be swayed by outside forces to tow their line.
We must emphasise that Muslim rulers had kept religion away from administration of their kingdoms. The religious scholars were placed in their niche and prevented from interfering in the running of the state. It was in recent years that in some countries religion became part of the administration and politics eventually becoming the dominant force. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan, latter when run by the Taliban, are examples of Islamic-run states established in the 20th century but each had basic and wide-ranging dissimilarities and compromises with the realties of a new world. In Pakistan the February 18th elections have demonstrated that we are a secular nation and do not want religion as the dominant force in our state apparatus while remaining pious Muslims.
I don’t agree with the author on his views, mainly because I think harboring terrorists is a deadly serious crime and you should expect heavily armed military muscle on your doorstep to take out the terrorists. But the informative value (minus the cowboy analogies) is heads and shoulders above the garbage coming out of the US media.
We will know how things are going in the coming weeks because the US will probably not relent on knocking out AQ leadership.