Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pakistan Expedition

Whoa! It's true bay bee -- all the cool kids knew way back before 44's AfPAK Surge that Afghanistan was about as good as it's going to get -- unless -- Great Satan stormed the sanctuaries of JaM, LeT and al Qaeda in wild wild west Pakistan.

Recent events hooked up with the Attorney General's 'Double Epiphany" could be interpreted as setting the stage for Great Satan's Land of the Pure Expeditionary Force.

"Several factors point to the fact that such an option is indeed being considered by the Obama administration and Pentagon officials. First, conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill have long been sounding alarm bells asking for a wider presence in Pakistan to accomplish the goals of the war on terror. Recent hearings held on Capitol Hill have focused on groups such as Jaish-i-Muhammad and Lashkar-i-Taiba that do not operate in the areas currently being targeted by aerial drone attacks.

"In a hearing held in March, several US congressmen noted that the Lashkar “had put the world on notice that they intend to escalate the carnage and take it worldwide”.

"Other analysts have repeatedly pointed to the necessity of expanding drone strikes into Quetta to target the Quetta shura which supposedly runs the Taliban operations. While Shahzad’s connections are not currently traced to groups other than the Taliban, the fact that he spent time in Pakistan bolsters the position of those who insist that a wider military presence in Pakistan is crucial to eliminating the threat to the American homeland.

"Second, the problems faced by the highly publicised US/Nato initiatives in Marja and Kandahar in Afghanistan have created a political demand for a more decisive endgame in the region. In the footsteps of the Marja offensive in early April, The New York Times reported that many of the gains made in the area by the US Marines’ costly offensive had largely been reversed and many Taliban had moved back into the area.

"The Kandahar offensive due to start soon has also been the subject of lowered expectations, with experts saying that the easy absorption of Taliban fighters into the local population and the lack of visible centres of Taliban control make it difficult to win a decisive victory in the area.

"The reason why the failure of both offensives — one yet to begin — is relevant to the Pakistan equation is simple: with the beginning of a US withdrawal already announced for 2011, there is immense political pressure on the Obama administration to produce some semblance of victory.

"The expansion of the Afghanistan war into Pakistani territory would not only be a culmination of the Obama campaign’s slogans of Pakistan being the real problem, it would also provide a visible endgame to the vexing and increasingly intractable issue of whether the war in Afghanistan has really eliminated global terrorism.

"The ongoing saga of drone attacks and Pakistan’s tacit approval of them has provided further fodder to the argument that expansion of incursions into Pakistani territory would be met with vocal opposition but would more or less be tolerated by the current Pakistani establishment. Supporters of this argument point to the fact that Pakistan’s sovereignty, once foregone, is relinquished for ever and airstrikes by US forces are not too different from aerial drone attacks.

"Recent reports indicate an expansion of the use of the aerial drone programme to include not just high-value Al Qaeda and Taliban targets as previously planned but also “general patterns of life”. This new approach could include targeting large gatherings of people with weapons or vehicle processions even where the identities of the persons in them remains unknown. The lack of an outcry by Pakistan’s military and civilian establishment following the reports suggests that a limited military incursion by US forces could be given tacit approval.

"Those who doubt that the Times Square saga will be a game changer point to the following: first, even with the escalation of terse rhetoric against Pakistan, Obama administration officials have continued to point to the fact that Pakistani authorities are cooperating in every way possible.

"Second, the capacities of US ground troops are undoubtedly already stretched to the limit in Afghanistan and an expansion of the military campaign, even if politically valuable to the Democrats facing elections in November, may not militarily be feasible. Little evidence exists that the obstacles faced by US troops in Afghanistan such as failure to discern the enemy, the changing loyalties of tribal leaders and an unforgiving and alien terrain, would not follow them across the border into Pakistan and thus make such expansion minimally valuable.

"Finally, the fact that Pakistan chose to test-fire two short-range ballistic missiles in the footsteps of escalating rhetoric can be seen as a direct message to the United States: while ground invasions into Iraq and Afghanistan were met with little resistance, such incursions would be considerably more complicated in the Pakistani case. This last point would suggest that reminding the US of this fact at a crucial moment was designed to make the overt point that tolerating the drones does not mean automatic approval of airstrikes and ground troops.

"As in the wake of the Mumbai bombings, Pakistan finds itself in a difficult position where the failure of the state to crack down on militant groups within its borders may well be used as an excuse for invasion of its territory. While Pakistan’s nuclear capability can ultimately function as an effective deterrent against invading Pakistan, it can also become the source of an obstinacy that continues to ignore the cancer of militancy in the country.

Pic "Pakistan is ruled by the trinity: Allah, the Army and America"