(CNSNews.com) - Three months ahead of the Obama administration’s planned evaluation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy it launched last December, an increasingly strained and complex Washington-Islamabad relationship is threatening to throw the policy into disarray.
The December 2010 review is expected to assess whether President Obama can abide by his timetable of starting to withdraw
Delivering his latest “Af-Pak” report to the U.S. Congress last week, the president said the policy was on track and that he did “not believe further adjustments are required at this time.”
Adding to the tensions are the recent prison sentence handed down by a U.S. court to a Pakistani scientist found guilty of trying to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan – and viewed in Pakistan as a heroic figure and victim of U.S. injustice – as well as persistent reports about ongoing collusion between elements in Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence agency and terror groups including the Afghan Taliban.
The head of one of the country’s main Islamist political parties called Thursday for a “drastic change” in
The government must inform the
He also called for NATO supply lines into
A leading Pakistani analyst says the anger goes beyond the militant element.
“The new rage against
According to figures kept by the Long War Journal Web site, as of Thursday there had been 81 missile strikes launched from unmanned drones in Pakistan’s north-west since the beginning of 2010.
By comparison, 53 strikes were recorded in 2009, 35 in 2008, and only 10 in total over the four years prior to that.
One strike earlier this week has been linked to the recently uncovered plot to attack tourist targets in Europe, which prompted the
Foreign Ministry spokesman Basit urged the
The vast majority of drone strikes this year have taken place in the tribal belt’s North Waziristan agency, a haven for terrorists belonging to al-Qaeda, other jihadist groups, and the Afghan Taliban’s notorious Haqqani faction, which is actively fighting coalition forces in
The Pakistani army has long resisted
“In this quarter’s reporting period [up to June 30], the Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan,” it said. “This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets.”
Gul of the CRSS attributed this reluctance to concerns that complying with the
“Any direct escalation by Pakistan in North Waziristan would not only antagonize dozens of wily tribes in the border region but could also trigger a retaliation among Pakistan’s militant networks, who have shown a growing willingness to turn their wrath on civilians,” he said. “It is not unlikely that they will activate their cells to stage a new string of suicide attacks in major cities.”
Indeed, such attacks already are regular occurrences. A double suicide bombing at a Sufi shrine in
According to data collected by the New Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal, more than 1,400 civilians have been killed in terrorist violence across
Heritage Foundation scholar Lisa Curtis said this week that
But in an editorial Friday, the Lahore-based Daily Times urged the government not to overestimate its clout.
“It would be foolish to presume that we have pushed the