Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Pakistan Still Doesn’t Get It

On Saturday, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari addressed Parliament in a wide-ranging speech about the future of Pakistan’s domestic politics and international relations. He said Pakistan would use a strong hand against terrorists planning foreign attacks from bases on Pakistani soil, but added that he would “not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism.” According to the New York Times, this last stipulation was “broadly greeted by legislators, who loudly thumped on their desks to show their support.”

Speaking of loud thumps: hours later, 60 people were killed and 250 were wounded when a dump truck loaded with explosives crashed the gate of the Islamabad Marriott. If Islamabad wants to go on thinking their biggest national security problem is the occasional American incursion into the country’s tribal regions, they’re free to do so, but there’s no compelling reason for the U.S. to stop killing America’s enemies (and Pakistan’s internal saboteurs) because we’re stuck, yet again, with a feckless “partner” in the War on Terror. And if you think attacks such as this one are going to make Islamabad change its tune, consider that Zardari went on the radio afterward to give the obligatory condemnation of “cowardly” acts, and in so doing reiterated his firm stance against American operations in the tribal regions. In fact, according to the Telegraph’s Isambard Wilkinson,

public reaction to the bomb attack on the hotel was significant in that it did not roundly condemn the militants but reflected widespread ennui with America’s military policy in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The story goes that after 9/11, State Department official Richard Armitage told Pervez Musharaf that if Pakistan refused to cooperate with the U.S., it should “be prepared to go back to the stone age.” It was taken as a threat, but in truth, it works just as well as a non-interested prediction. If Islamabad wants to demonize the U.S. while al Qaeda makes in-roads into Pakistan, there will be more Marriotts to come. That’s their choice.

But America does not have a choice. We can’t lose in Afghanistan. It was the precipitous military withdrawals of the eighties and nineties that convinced terrorists groups of the U.S.’s vulnerability in the first place. The Iraq War has gone a long way in reversing that perception. The Afghanistan War has the potential to either confirm this change or undo it.  Simply put, that’s more important to the U.S. than the lukewarm allegiance of Pakistan.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.