Pakistan news

The US announced that it is placing financial sanctions on the Haqqani network in order to isolate them and force some kind of endgame.  That this has taken so long should be some index of Pakistan’s reluctance to go after the Haqqani group, which it sees as an ally in the regional game.

The New York Times reports about the persistent double-bind that the American strategy has produced, they have to rely on Pakistan for intelligence and ground support but cannot compel Pakistan to give up on its long-term objectives about regional priorities (which induces the Pakistani state to rely on groups like the Haqqani network).  Hence, the American military establishment is ambivalent about Kayani’s tenure:

General Kayani has led the Pakistani military since November 2007, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf stepped aside. He has been a focal point for the Obama administration, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who has paid regular visits to General Kayani to encourage him to stop the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban from crossing into Afghanistan and fighting American forces.

The Americans have praised General Kayani for his army’s campaigns against the Pakistani Taliban but, behind the scenes, the Americans have been disappointed with the general’s failure to disown the Afghan Taliban, who benefit from sanctuaries in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The United States pays the Pakistani military an estimated $1 billion a year to fight the militants. The American military has also depended on General Kayani’s quiet permission for the C.I.A. drones striking at Qaeda and Taliban operatives in the tribal areas, and has been appreciative of his efforts to ensure transit on the supply route to American and NATO troops in Afghanistan that runs through Pakistan.

Count on Pakistan’s civilian bureaucracy to mess this up again (giving a military leader a green light has always meant that military rule is around the corner).

Pakistani jets are pounding other parts of the country, though there seem to be a variety of figures for the consequences:

ایک اعلی سکیورٹی فورسز کے اہلکار نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ جمعہ کو اورکزئی ایجنسی کی تحصیل غلجو کے علاقے قمر گھٹ میں سکیورٹی فورسز کی بھر پور کارروائی کے بعد طالبان جنگجوں بھاگنے پر مجبور ہو رہے ہیں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ سخت مزاحمت کے بعد سکیورٹی فورسز کے اہلکاروں نے افغان ٹاپ نامی پہاڑی سلسلے پر قبضہ کر لیا ہے۔ جس کے بعد سے غلجو جانے والی شاہراہ پر طالبان جنگجوں کا قبضہ ختم ہوگیا ہے اور شاہراہ کو ہرقسم کے ٹریفک کے لئے کھول دیاگیا ہے۔

Still, the US is looking at alternatives and hedging its bets.  There is a section of the establishment that is pursuing the course of brokering a deal between Karzai and the Taliban in order to start getting out of the country by 2011.  Richard Holbrooke went so far as to say that the war was unwinnable without Pakistan.  This also seems to be the message coming out of the Kabul conference.  Karzai has been moving closer to Pakistan in recent months, and this will have the effect of isolating him from his regional allies in the Northern Alliance.

Incidentally, the US is worried about militant attacks against India derailing the negotiations that are currently underway.  This will only happen if it is in the interests of the Pakistani establishment – it’s unlikely that LeT does anything that the ISI doesn’t know about.  So, American foreign policy leaders play this hot-and-cold game, praising Pakistan in one sentence and denouncing them in the next.  This of course ends up encouraging the Hindu right in India to a lot of chest thumping about talking to terrorists (which might indicate that the US is worried about the wrong kind of militants derailing the peace process).  The talks, by all accounts, are going very badly.

Meanwhile, the new JF-17 aircrafts co-produced by China and Pakistan FOR EXPORT ONLY are hot off the assembly line.  (Be sure to check out the graphic on the Aviation Week page).   Pakistan hopes to use the sale of these jets to modernize its own air force (rendering the purchase of these jets obsolete).

In Faisalabad, almost the entirety of the textile industry has been shut down by a coordinated strike in the factories.  Some 100,000 workers are out on strike, which has prompted the bosses to shut down operations (and laughably accuse the workers of terrorism).  At least part of the reason for the new wave of labor militancy in Pakistan is the rising cost of living, with basic goods like sugar becoming outside of the reach of ordinary workers.

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