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Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category

US-Pakistani Relations Deteriorating

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 15, 2012

The United States and Pakistan have had a tenuous relationship over the years.  While at times acting like an ally, Pakistan often has played a two-sided game that included supporting terrorists.  Such double-dealing in diplomatic affairs unfortunately occurs, especially when dealing with dysfunctional countries like Pakistan.

US-Pakistani relations deteriorated significantly in recent years.  This degrading relationship came to a head in 2011 when America’s Seal team assassinated Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil without involvement or permission by Pakistan.  The relationship has since gotten worse with America’s ongoing and uninvited drone attacks on suspected terrorists on Pakistani soil.  In addition, a Pakistani doctor, Shafiq Alfridi, who assisted the US and putting it to bin Laden has been sentenced to over three decades in a Pakistani jail for these efforts.  Adding insult to injury, the Pakistanis have refused to allow the United States to use supply lines through its country for the Afghan War.

One theme Barack Obama used during successful campaign for presidency was how he was going to improve United States’ relations with other countries.  He blamed his predecessor George W. Bush’s approach to foreign policy as a reason for poor relations with some countries.  This naïve approach indicated Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience.  Countries pursue agendas and policies that are in their best interests, not because of a relationship with a foreign leader.

One of the first steps Obama took after becoming president was his well-publicized outreach to the Islamic world.  This effort has been a failure.  Iran is as belligerent is ever, Syria’s regime is killing people by the thousands, and Pakistan-America relations have never been worse.  However, disintegrating relations are not limited to Muslim countries.  America’s relations with Israel had been frayed under the Obama Administration and a Cold War is heating up between the United States and Russia.  If the president is responsible for relationships between United States and other countries as Obama proffered during the campaign, then he receives a failing grade for the current state of relations with various countries.


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Pakistani Doctor Sent to Jail for Helping US Find Bin Laden

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 23, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reported that Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi has been sentenced to 33 years in a Pakistani prison.  His crime?  Dr. Afridi helped the CIA tracked down Osama bin Laden who was killed last year in Pakistan by US special forces.

The Afridi incident shows once again that Pakistan is no friend of the United States and an unreliable partner in the war against terror.  American foreign policy for too many years has focused on appeasing this dysfunctional and rogue nation.  During this period, Pakistan has played a game of duplicity that included acting as if it was fighting terrorism, while at the same time its Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency supported terrorism and the Taliban.

On the border of Pakistan is the largest democracy in the world, India, who was also been on the receiving end of Pakistani terrorism.  The United States should have long ago played the “India card” against Pakistan.  Assuming it would still have us, the United States should immediately strengthen its relations with India and cancel all aid to Pakistan and its military.

The United States is preparing to leave Afghanistan after a long war has led to few benefits for any except the crooked warlords of Afghanistan.  Whether Washington likes it or not, Pakistan will likely dominate Afghanistan after that period.  It’s time to move on to a different strategic policy in the region.

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United States Admits it Erred in Pakistani Attack

Posted by Steve Markowitz on December 22, 2011

On November 26, American and Afghan commandos were involved in a firefight near the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.  During the combat, American air power was used in response to incoming fire being received by the commandos.  The airstrikes resulted in the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The Pakistanis immediately blamed the Americans for the deaths.  However, the Americans military blamed the Pakistanis for supposedly not informing the United States that they had troops in that area.  Today the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. military is modifying its response and now accepting blame for the killings.  According to the report, the U.S. military read a map incorrectly that directly resulted in unfortunate incident.

While serious mistakes occur during wars, the response to this error was mishandled by the United States.  It further magnified the growing rift between the U.S. and Pakistan, a serious issue given America’s dependence on Pakistan to properly prosecute the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s ownership of nuclear weapons.

Early in Barack Obama’s presidency he publicly apologized to the world for many of America’s supposed past sins.  The President, as Commander-in-Chief, has not been as precipitous in apologizing for the killing by the U.S. military of the Pakistani soldiers.  This is in keeping with the President’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for any errors that occur during his administration.

When Barack Obama was running for the presidency, he indicated that he would change the way America interacted with other countries to improve its standing throughout the world.  While the President has made changes that include the apologies and following NATO, instead of leading it, America’s standing in the world has not improved.  The deterioration in our relations with

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Obama’s Relations with Pakistan

Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 29, 2011

Barack Obama came into office promising a new kind of foreign policy from that of his predecessors, specifically George W. Bush.  He promised to use consensus with other countries prior to setting policies.  In addition, the President’s first foreign policy initiatives included a well-publicized outreach to the Muslim community worldwide.  These naïve approaches assumed that America’s foreign policy could be implemented by a committee of countries with very different strategic needs.  The failure of these policies is clearly evident in the deteriorating relationship between United States and Pakistan.

Pakistan has been playing a duopolistic role when it comes to terrorism for years.  While outwardly committing to fight terrorism, key elements in the Pakistani government including its ISI (spy agency) have used it as a tool to promote its foreign policies.  For years Pakistan has associated with terrorist in their efforts to combat India’s interest in Kashmir.

The Obama was aware of Pakistan’s waffling on terrorism with the Administration sending Predator drone strikes inside of Pakistan without permission.  In addition, when the Administration located Osama bin Laden, instead of informing the Pakistanis it took unilateral action on Pakistani soil.

The deterioration of US – Pakistani relations reached a crescendo last week when Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly accused Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani terrorist network in attacking US interests in Afghanistan.  Specifically, Mullen called the Haqqani network a ” veritable arm” of the Pakistani spy agency. Reactions from Pakistan have been swift with anti-American demonstrations occurring throughout the country.

George W. Bush was correct when he spoke in absolutes about terrorism; i.e. that countries were either with us or against us on this issue.  Such absolutes set clear foreign policy boundaries that help avoid miscalculation by potential adversaries.

Pakistan likely did not believe that President Obama would challenge its sordid association with terrorists.  They misread the President who has correctly been aggressive with Pakistan on this issue.  However, a stronger and clearer stance from day one of his administration may have avoided the public breakdown in relations between our two countries that have occurred.  President Obama’s lack of experience with international affairs has boiled to the top on this issue.

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Pakistani Accused of Improper U.S. Political Contributions

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 19, 2011

U.S. and Pakistani relations are deteriorating by the day.  Today, NBC reported that the FBI has arrested Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, accusing him of being an agent of Pakistan intelligence service, the ISI.  While not be accused of spying, Fai is charged with acting as an unregistered lobbyist of Pakistan government.  His group, the Kashmiri American Council, has made political contribution to congressional candidates and others.  In making the arrest, the FBI stated that: “The government of Pakistan has long directed and funding his lobbying and public relations efforts in the United States,” referring to an over twenty year period of time.

Given the amount of time that the ISI has been sponsoring political contributions in the United States, the timing of the arrest is telling.  It is evident that the Obama Administration is making a statement to the Pakistanis, upping the ante in the growing disputes between with the U.S. that came out of the closet after the Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in early May.

The Pakistanis have been playing shady game with for years when it comes to terrorism.  On the outside Pakistan proclaims it support for America’s war on terror while at the same time some in their goventment support the terrorists.  Still, the Obama Administration’s decision to go public with its battle with Pakistan is a risky bet with American troops still trying to fight a war in Afghanistan.  It once again raises the question as to what President Obama’s strategic goal is when it comes to Pakistan and for that matter Afghanistan.

Posted in Pakistan, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

U.S. Steps up Drone Attacks in Pakistan; 45 killed

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 12, 2011

MSNBC reported that 45 militants have been killed in Pakistan in multiple drone attacks this week alone.  The attacks occurred in the tribal areas of North Waziristan.  They come the same week Washington announced it was delaying $800 million in military aid to Pakistan.  U.S. / Pakistan relations are deteriorating as a result.

President Obama’s use of drones to assassinate bad guys is a good thing, assuming he is targeting the correct people.  But it is surely seems at odds with the kumbaya approach he preached towards foreign policy when running for the Presidency.  George W. Bush must be proud of his successor.

Obama’s targeted assassinations from the sky in countries like Pakistan raises interesting legal questions for a Progressive like the President.  Is he invading a sovereign country without permission of Congress?  Is assassinating of individuals in countries for which the U.S. is not at war legal?  Watch out Mr. President.  Should Your Attorney General Eric Holder hold you to the same standards he holds CIA agents under the Bush Administration, your next office might be quite a step down.

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U.S. Accuses Pakistan Spy Agency of Slaying Journalist

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 5, 2011

On almost a daily basis, bad news emanates out of Pakistan.  In recent months that country has been accused of offering safe-haven for the world’s number one terrorist, Osama bin Laden.  Parts of their security services have also been known to have Taliban leanings.  The country has also used terrorism to further national goals, including assisting in the attack on Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 civilians in India.  Today another black mark has been placed on Pakistan’s report card.

On May 29, journalist Saleem Shahzad, disappeared from Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.  Two days later his badly beaten body was found abandoned.  Today, the Obama administration let it be known that it believed Pakistan’s spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, ordered the killing for the reporter’s written accounts about the infiltration of militants in the country’s military and intelligence agencies.  According to the New York Times, an unnamed Administration official was quoted as saying: “Every indication is that this was a deliberate, targeted killing that was most likely meant to send shock waves through Pakistan’s journalist community and civil society.”

Shahzad is one of nearly three dozed journalist killed in Pakistan in the past ten years.  He joins American journalist Daniel Pearl who was beheaded in that country in 2002.

Pakistan is increasingly becoming a failed state turning to terrorism as a tool of its foreign and internal policies.  Their relevance in the region would be minimal if it were not for the nuclear weapons they process.  To counter-balance the growing threat to regional peace emanating from Pakistan, the United States must strengthen its relations with India, the world’s largest democracy.  No longer can U.S. foreign policy hope to balance relations between these two adversaries.  Pakistani actions of recent years have proven this to be a failed policy.

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Pakistan Tells US to Stop Drone Strikes

Posted by Steve Markowitz on July 1, 2011

Relations between Pakistan and the United States have been tenuous for years.  The Pakistanis have long played a dualistic game, publicly pronouncing their support for America’s war on terror, but behind the scenes supporting the Taliban and other terrorists.  The May 2 U.S. Navy SEALs raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden brought this duplicity out of the closet.

Pakistan was embarrassed by the United States assassination of bin Laden on their soil.  Not only did the U.S. not inform Pakistan in advance of the raid, but the Pakistan military couldn’t detect the intrusion by American forces on its soil.  Finally, proving that bin Laden was being given sanctuary close to the West Point of Pakistan showed complicity by Pakistani officials.  Now, like a child being caught in lie, Pakistan is lashing out at the United States.

Pakistan’s defense minister Ahmed Mukhtar publically called for the U.S. to stop using Shamsi Air Base for drone strikes and to vacate it immediately.  There was also a veiled threat from another Pakistani official who stated: “We have told them to leave, vacate our base.  We cannot provide security to their people.”

The Pakistan’s actions come as little surprise.  This is a dysfunctional country that would be irrelevant if it were not for the fact that it has nuclear weapons.  The country’s tribal heritage makes the central government weak and hinders the creation of a sense of national unity.  Finally, Pakistan has used terrorism for decades as a tool in its conflict with India and more in Afghanistan.

The United States cannot make Pakistan an alley.  Alliances are formed when the interests of multiple parties are in alignment.  That is not the case with the United States and Pakistan.  Since Pakistan cannot thrive in world where market competition is the judge of success, it resorts to terrorism and duplicity to further chaotic national interests.  It is time for America to enumerate a policy for the region that reflects reality and not some State Department bureaucrat’s fantasy.

America’s effort at nation building in Afghanistan is finished and failed.  We need to depart quickly and allow the Afghan people to choose who leads them irrespective of how that leadership views America.  The only caveat would be a warning that should Afghan again become a base for attacks on America or against Americans, swift retribution would follow.  Tribal-based countries understand and respect this eye-for-an-eye mentality.

There are two opposing interests and powers in the sub-continent; India and Pakistan.  Given Pakistan’s dysfunctional nature and its support of terrorists, the United States should allow the split between the US and Pakistan to march to it’s ultimately conclusion.  At the same time, America should strengthen its relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy and an up and coming economic power.

George W. Bush was by no means a perfect president.  However, when it came to terrorism he understood the need for clarity.  Barack Obama has shown no such understanding.  At the same time, his foreign policy relies heavily on the use of military.  These opposing philosophies have caused countries to misread the President’s intentions.  The growing rift with Pakistan is in part a victim of this policy.

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Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 15, 2011

The New York Times reported that Pakistan has detained five C.I.A. informants including one of its Army majors.  These informants assisted the C.I.A. in tracking down Bin Laden in Pakistan.

While the United States gives Pakistan $2 billion in annual aid, it is clear that it is playing a dualistic game.  However, instead of publically calling Pakistan on the unacceptable behavior, diplomats and bureaucrats continue to make excuses.  This week C.I.A. spokesperson Marie E. Harf said: “We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise.”  This type of diplomatic double-talk no longer justified.

Since the Clinton Administration, the dangers emanating from radical Islam have come out of the closet with bombings and other acts of terrorism worldwide.  A more realistic understanding of the source of the terrorism that has emanating from the various attacks is also disconcerting.  With knowledge that the 9/11 murderers came from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan harbors terrorists, it is clear that even Islamic countries that the U.S. calls “allies” are at best unreliable partners.

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Obama Administration Sued Over Targeted Kills

Posted by Steve Markowitz on August 8, 2010

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights have sued the Obama Administration over its use of air drones for targeted killings in Pakistan and other countries.  In targeted kills, the CIA or other intelligence agency target suspected terrorist for killing by missiles.  The civil-libertarians claim such killings violate U.S. laws against assassinations.

It is ironic that the Obama Administration, who came to office with loud protests for the terrorist prison in Guantanamo and the use of water-boarding on terrorists, has no problem assassinating suspected terrorists that they can’t catch.  Such is the logic of Liberals at war.

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