Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pakistan to US - Don't Do That Again

Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is an unhappy man. According to AP and CBS News, Musharraf told US Undersecretary of State, Nicholas Burns:

"...what happened in Bajur must not be repeated"

Really?! Is there some false illusion here? Pakistan is supposed to be an intelligence and military ally of the US, particularly where the hunting-down of Al Qaeda is concerned. Surely Musharraf knew the expected scope of damage from the proposed strike. A quick briefing would have spelled-out the maximum effect of the strike and the corollary damage estimate.

"While reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to counterterrorism, the foreign minister underlined the need for the two countries to work in a manner that precludes recent incidents like Bajur," the [Foreign] ministry said in a statement.

Right. And there lies the problem. The US is operating inside Pakistan, bombing villages with dubious results, and apparently not informing its host ally before the operation. All reports out of Pakistan indicate no prior knowledge of the event. The Pakistani government had filed a protest earlier complaining of US military air strikes against North Waziristan in which eight people were reportedly killed. Again, the Pakistani government claims to have had no prior knowledge of the strike.

Of course, this all goes back to the Battle for Tora Bora and a strategy issued by the Pentagon. Had Tora Bora been cordoned, assaulted and secured as recommended by the commanders on the ground, the eastern escape routes of Garikhil and Mileva, leading to the Khyber Pass, would have been closed by high-grade allied ground forces. Instead the Pentagon issued instructions to use the local Afghan war-lords, which caused a delay, and forced a frontal assault while leaving access to the Khyber Pass wide open. Osama and his entourage had a no-resistance road to freedom.

As much as that's hindsight, it was also being expressed at the time, on the ground, in Afghanistan and it's the reason the Bush administration is in the business of bombing Pakistani villages.

While they missed their target, again, they did accomplish something. The Muslim world is now a few steps closer to a Caliphate.

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