What is the current US policy for Pakistan?

Two separate events converged this week. First, there is now evidence that the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad trained in Waziristan with Al Qaeda linked groups. Second, just today Pakistan fired two nuclear capable missiles and expressed it's desire to join the nuclear club. Both events are troubling, but what is more troubling is that the US has no coherent policy regarding Pakistan.

There is now growing evidence, much of it provided by the perpetrator himself, that the Times Square bomber trained in Waziristan in Pakistan.

(Foreign Policy)

In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in New York (available here), the federal government charged alleged failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad on several terrorism-related counts, including the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (FBI, NYT, AJE, Times). Shahzad reportedly cooperated with investigators before and after being read his Miranda rights, and confessed not only to attempting to execute the bomb plot but also undergoing explosives training in the Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan during a recent 5-month stay in Pakistan (WSJ, Independent, MSNBC, WSJ).


Among the people subsequently arrested in Pakistan was a man called Muhammad Rehan, who has association of the Pakistan based militant group Jaish-e-muhammad. For people who do not know much about this group, they were formed by a man named Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released from Indian prisons as a trade-off for the hostages in the Indian Airlines flight 814. It is no secret that JeM operates openly in Pakistan, even though it is nominally banned, with the blessing of the Pakistani secret service ISI that has fostered groups like this to fight a covert war in Kashmir. A recent LA Times report elaborates how openly this group operates:

The leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad, one of Pakistan's most feared militant groups, recently drew hundreds of worshipers to the Batha Mosque, where the theme of speeches and sermons often covers the same topic: holy war against the West.

Young men streamed into the beige building in north Karachi chanting "God is great!" on the day Maulana Masood Azhar spoke. Though Jaish-e-Muhammad has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, local police officers joined mosque guards in cordoning off the garbage-strewn dirt lanes surrounding the mosque and providing security for the rally.

"They had metal detectors checking people going in," said Ali Khan, 27, who works at a barber shop about 50 yards from the mosque's white iron gate. "The people in this mosque, their main focus is jihad."

So here we have the players in the botched Times Square bombing, an ex-Pakistani national who trains in Pakistan; anti-west militant Pakistani groups that operate openly in Pakistan and enjoy the protection of the ISI; and now we have this news today:

Pakistan successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles Saturday capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the military said, as the Islamic nation's leader urged the world to recognize it as a legitimate nuclear power.

The Shaheen-1 missile has a range of about 400 miles (650 kilometers), while the second Ghaznavi missile could hit targets at a distance of 180 miles (290 kilometers), an army statement said. Both can carry conventional and nuclear warheads.


Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other senior army and civil officials witnessed the launches at an undisclosed location, and the missiles "successfully hit the target areas," the statement said.

Gilani also urged world powers "to recognize Pakistan as a dejure nuclear power with equal rights and responsibilities," the army statement said. The prime minister called for cooperation on civilian nuclear power, which would help relieve Pakistan's chronic energy shortages.

Just when you think that things can't get any worse, they just do. Now we have a tottering state armed with nuclear weapons, openly flaunting their nuclear capability, and allowing anti-west militant groups to operate training camps for militants and wannabe terrorists of all shades openly in their country. Now what is the official policy of the US towards Pakistan?

We have this essay by Sen. Lugar in Foreign Policy:

Still Partners

Pakistan needs U.S. help now more than ever.


It was to help undergird such cooperation that President Barack Obama last year signed the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act authorizing $7.5 billion in assistance over five years. This non-military aid package is intended to help reverse Pakistan's converging crises of a growing al Qaeda sanctuary, an expanding Taliban insurgency, political brinkmanship, and a failing economy. These conditions were intensifying turmoil and violence in the country, helping to incubate extremism and putting in question the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal, as well as our own domestic security.

Followed by this statement by Sec. Gates:

Earlier, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the US was prepared to increase military assistance to Pakistan.

"We're willing to do as much... as they are willing to accept," he told reporters. "We are prepared to do training, and exercise with them. How big that operation becomes is really up to them."

And then you uncover data like this, which underscores how much money Pakistan spends on arms:

Major post-2001 defense supplies provided, or soon to be provided, under FMF include:

  • eight P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and their refurbishment (valued at $474 million);   
  • about 5,250 TOW anti-armor missiles ($186 million; 2,007 delivered);
  • more than 5,600 military radio sets ($163 million);
  • six AN/TPS-77 surveillance radars ($100 million);
  • six C-130E transport aircraft and their refurbishment ($76 million);
  • five refurbished SH-2I Super Seasprite maritime helicopters granted under EDA ($67 million);
  • one ex-Oliver Hazard Perry class missile frigate via EDA ($65 million);
  • 20 AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters via EDA ($48 million, 12 refurbished and delivered); and
  • 121 refurbished TOW missile launchers ($25 million).

Supplies paid for with a mix of Pakistani national funds and FMF include:

  • up to 60 Mid-Life Update kits for F-16A/B combat aircraft (valued at $891 million, with $477 million of this in FMF, Pakistan currently plans to purchase 35 such kits); and
  • 115 M-109 self-propelled howitzers ($87 million, with $53 million in FMF).

Notable items paid or to be paid for entirely with Pakistani national funds include:

  • 18 new F-16C/D Block 50/52 combat aircraft (valued at $1.43 billion; none delivered to date);
  • F-16 armaments including 500 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; 1,450 2,000-pound bombs;
  • 500 JDAM Tail Kits for gravity bombs; and 1,600 Enhanced Paveway laser-guided kits, also for gravity bombs ($629 million);
  • 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles ($298 million);
  • 500 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles ($95 million); and
  • six Phalanx Close-In Weapons System naval guns ($80 million).

Which of course brings me to my original point: does the US have a coherent policy to deal with Pakistan? Right now all it seems like we are doing is throw money at them to build their country, while they use their money (which is really our money) to buy arms from us, while the business goes on as usual, and Pakistan trudges along on its way to become the one-stop terrorist supermarket and training camp for the world.

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The same as it was

Policies are made for 3 types of reasons: (a) moral, (b) strategic/tactical, & (c) historical.


Regrettably, the historical (I will act this way because I have always acted this way) factors dominate the other two, in all aspects of life...including US policy towards Pakistan.

by Ravi Verma 2010-05-09 12:49AM | 0 recs
Which makes no sense

One would think that better sense would prevail. This is like doubling down on a failed policy and propping up a failed state with tax payer dollars.

by tarheel74 2010-05-09 11:38AM | 0 recs


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