Monday, February 26, 2007

Whither Pakistan

Darth Veep spends a couple hours talking to Musharraf:

Mr Cheney urged Pakistan to do more to combat the Taleban near the Afghan border, but also praised its role in the "war on terror", officials said.


He went straight into talks with President Musharraf on his arrival in Islamabad and made no public comment after his meeting. Pakistani officials, however, said Mr Cheney had conveyed US "apprehensions" about al-Qaeda regrouping in the tribal areas near Afghanistan. And he communicated "serious US concerns" about reports that a surge in Taleban attacks against Nato forces in Afghanistan was imminent, the officials said. But he also praised Pakistan for its "pivotal role" in fighting the militants.

His trip follows a report in the New York Times saying that US President George W Bush wants to send a tough message to Pakistan that Washington could cut its aid to the country unless President Musharraf goes after militants more aggressively.
So which is it? Either Pakistan is doing a good job with its "pivotal role" or it is causing "serious apprehensions" worthy of "tough messages". Then there's this:

Pakistani officials said border security was a joint responsibility and that Nato and Afghan forces on the other side must do more.
Short Dick:
"Our nuts are in the fire, help us. If I was physiologically capable of saying "please" I would, but since I can't I just threaten to take away the shiny new aeroplanes we promised you."

Long Musharraf:
"You put your own nuts in the fire. It's not our fault you don't have enough troops in Afghanistan to secure the borders. You withdrew them to go chase oil and phantom Iraqi WMDs, remember? If it served my interest to invade Waziristan, I would. But since, given the large number of Islamist sympathisers in my country, I would be risking my gonads to save yours. Think about it, Dick, I lead a nuclear power - you NEED us to be stable, even if it costs you in Afghanistan, lest I get forcibly replaced by some fanatic."

I suspect to some extent Cheney realises this, and it is why he didn't spend long in Islamabad or apparently press too hard. I also believe Musharraf could do more but has little incentive outside issues of Pakistan's internal stability, because he sees the the US and NATO presence next door as destabilising influences. He also reads the chicken bones and is aware that in another year or two, NATO may scale down its presence or leave entirely: Canada is thinking about 2009 should the Liberals win the next election, and heaven knows what'll happen in US after a couple more years of war, and possibly an attack on Iran.

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