Saturday, November 15, 2008
(CBS) Pakistan accused the U.S. this week of violating international law by launching missile strikes into its northwest tribal region. There have been about two dozen attacks since August - all carried out by unmanned drones targeting al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is a sore subject between two close allies in the war on terror. And it was the first thing CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan brought up when she spoke exclusively with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari.
Lara Logan: There's been a dramatic escalation in the number of U.S. predator strikes on Pakistani soil. Are these strikes achieving anything?
President Asif Ali Zardari: Well, obviously the people who are using the strikes are confident that they're doing something. Otherwise they wouldn't be at it. At the same time ... it's undermining my sovereignty and it's not helping win the war on the hearts and minds of people.
Logan: If you're losing the people and the strikes are undermining your credibility - why allow them?
Zardari: They do not happen with our knowledge. If there was now the technology that would tell me that their drone is coming in …
Logan: But that technology would be the U.S. informing you because it's your country.
Zardari: The U.S. yeah, of course, that would be a welcome step to inform us also.
Many believe the Pakistani government does know, but can't say so publicly because the strikes are so unpopular. Zardari told CBS News his official policy is that they'd rather have the capability to do it themselves.
Zardari: So that is ever the challenge for this new administration, will be to allow us to have the capability of doing more. We want to do more. It's our war.
But not all Pakistanis see it that way, and if Predator strikes are unpopular, ground raids by U.S. forces are even more unwelcome.
Zardari: Anybody who needs to come to Pakistan needs to have a passport and a visa. So whether it's ground forces or air forces they need a visa and if they don't have a visa they're not allowed.
The problem for President Zardari, who has only been in power for two months, is that he presides over a country which is believed to house more known terrorists than anywhere else in the world, operating mostly from the lawless tribal areas.
Logan: It's widely agreed today that if there's another 9/11 attack ... a big terrorist attack like that, its most likely going to be planned in the tribal areas or planned already. What can you do to assure American people about what you're doing?
Zardari: Well I can assure the American people that nothing like that is going to happen in my watch.
Logan: Do you believe that's a danger?
Zardari: I believe there's always a danger of them. I didn't know that they'd be successful in getting my wife. We thought we'd protect her but we couldn't. But to say we'd allow it to happen. No.
Zardari seems to be completely losing it. Such gaffes are rare even by his standards. "... a welcome step to inform us also."?. "So whether it's ground forces or air forces they need a visa"?
So, it would be Ok if US informed Zardari before sending drones and obtained a visa to attack Pakistanis. This won't go down too well with the Pakistani public.
Lara Logan was smart and caught him with his pants down when he made the technology excuse and asked "But that technology would be the U.S. informing you because it's your country.". All he had to say was it would be a welcome step.
The truth is what David Ignatious said in conclusion in the Washington Times Op-Ed of 4th November A Quiet Deal With Pakistan:
"And it's an inherently unstable arrangement: Pakistan's leaders publicly decry U.S. attacks, and the United States, with a wink and a nudge to its ally, keeps on attacking. "
But what do the drones achieve? They get 2 or 3 militants and kill a dozen innocents at the same time. Most of the time not even those 2 or 3 but completely mis-intelligence directed at the totally innocent. All that achieves is more militant recruits.
Taliban and Al-Qaida (whatever that is) is not damaged in the least by these raids, rather benefited by increased sympathy. They don't mind losing 2 or three operatives every couple of days or so. Taliban has lost more than 25,000 fighters since the war began and still gained strength. CIA Director Michael Hayden says re Bin Ladin today "In fact, he appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he nominally heads," and this 'Al Qaeda' is still blowing up stuff in Pakistan (the last one being the Danish embassy bombing responsibility claimed by Al-Zawahiri personally).
Zardari is merely running around trying to charm the Americans with that sickening always present grin, as he is used to charming bimbos, but Americans are smarter than that. They know he's losing support fast in Pakistan, and will not back him much longer. Another failed experiment.
Posted by Zeemax at 11:19 AM