Tuesday, April 20, 2004
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Encouraging news from Pakistan
The New York Times reports that Pakistan is having some success in its spring offensive against the remnants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Northwest frontier:
The sourcing of this article bothers me a bit. All I see is a general sitting down in Kabul with the reporter saying how swell it's all going. The interviewee may have a high position and all that, but everything he's saying is probably coming from ever-so-reliable Pakistani government officials. I'd feel better if Al Q types were swarming over the Afghani border to escape the onslaught -- something that's not happening.
Wonder what the Pakistani papers, like Dawn or the Frontier Post have been saying about this. Maybe I'll give them a looksee.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
Well, well, well. Looks like the Generals and the US Ambassador in Kabul are not singing from the same playbook:
"Zalmay Khalilzad (the US Ambassador)has repeatedly alleged that Taliban and al-Qaeda activists are regrouping on this side of the Durand Line, and that Islamabad is not doing enough to prevent the fugitive militants from staging raids across the border against Afghan and ISAF troops."
The Pakistanis are expressing their displeasure, accusing the ambassador of "attention deficit disorder."
I too am getting impatient for another big "Zawahiri" shoot-out. Last night on the BBC they showed footage of some tribesmen burning down a house they said had been used by 'foreign fighters' as the local Wazirs start their own offensive, but it had the look of a made for tv moment to me.posted by: matt on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
It's the light at the end of the tunnel!
Why don't we cut out the monopolistic supplier here? Just send me $5 per Email and I will lie to you as much as you like, telling you comforting stories about how well things are going in Pakistan. Sure, I may repeat myself a little, but given your prior behavior, I'm confident that you won't notice. Why wait for good news to be manufactured only once a week when I can make it up for you as often as you like?posted by: Rich Puchalsky on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
This is somewhat on topic. It has begun, the call for draft reenlistment.
THe way this Senator phrased the reasoning for the draft really unnerved me. I need to look him up but the statement that people need to be drafted to understand what we are up against is just wrong. It goes along well with an article I just read in Commondreams regarding groupthink though.
The US military has not proven itself to be a 'balanced and fair' or credible purveyor of news. Certainly this is their side of the story.
The other side of the story is that the Pakistani incursion resulted in a large dislocation of civilians, resulted in a minimal number of fighters killed, the execution of several of their own captured soldiers, and a negotiated pull-out arranged thru some outraged local leaders.
That and due to new electoral laws requiring educational degrees (Madrassa certificates accepted), the Islamists have been gaining in elected offices.
So given everything I'd say at best the adventure was a wash. Calling it a success would be a stretch at best.posted by: Oldman on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
So General Barno, where are the al Qaeda bigwigs you were looking for?posted by: Nitin on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
After the Daniel Pearl incident it cannot be expected that we will always get timely and accurate information from Western news outlets about what is really happening in Pakistan. Reports of what American officials (who may be wrong, or may be trying to construct a reputation for locals to live up to) think, or reports of conversations with Pakistani officials (who may be lying) are the best most of them will be able to do.
Having said that, I don't think it unlikely at all that Pakistan's army has fought several fierce and bloody battles against Islamist guerillas. These may or may not have operational ties with the al Qaeda leadership we are familiar with; however, they have demonstrated in two assassination attempts against Musharraf that their goals are for political change within Pakistan first, terrorism against the West only afterward. There may be among these Islamists many who see the overthrow of Musharraf and the slaughter of secular-minded, Shiite, Christian and various other Pakistanis as only the first step in a larger war. My point is that Musharraf would be compelled to act against them even if they had no interest in any terrorism, or anything else, outside Pakistan's own borders.posted by: Zathras on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
Refreshingly real, Zathras.
Would someone please tell Lt. Gen. David Barno that referring to U.S. Military zones of control in Afghanistan as areas of "ownership" is not really the best kind of public relations? I'm referring to his presentation on Security in Afghanistan on C-SPAN today, but he probably uses the same unfortunate terminology in other settings as well.posted by: Bob Schacht on 04.20.04 at 10:34 AM [permalink]
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