President Obama focused his speech on Afghanistan. He left much unsaid about Pakistan, where the main terrorists he is targeting are located, but where he can send no troops.
Mr. Obama could not be very specific about his Pakistan strategy, his advisers conceded on Monday evening. American operations there are classified, most run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Any overt American presence would only fuel anti-Americanism in a country that reacts sharply to every missile strike against extremists that kills civilians as well, and that fears the United States is plotting to run its government and seize its nuclear weapons.
Yet quietly, Mr. Obama has authorized an expansion of the war in Pakistan as well — if only he can get a weak, divided, suspicious Pakistani government to agree to the terms. [continued…]
Pakistan, increasingly driven by the military establishment, is bent on looking after its own interests, regardless of the damage it might cause to the US’s plans. Pakistan is most worried of a spillover of the Afghan war into its territory – it is already fighting militants in the tribal areas.
In a recent letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Obama offered Pakistan an expanded strategic partnership, including the carrot of additional military and economic cooperation, along with the stick of a warning with unusual bluntness that Pakistan’s use of insurgent groups to pursue its policy goals would not be tolerated.
The two-page letter, which included an offer to help reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, was delivered to Zardari by National Security Adviser James Jones. It was accompanied by assurances from Jones that the US would increase its military and civilian efforts in Afghanistan and that it planned no early withdrawal.
Pakistan’s present focus is squarely on cleaning up the mess in the tribal areas through military operations against anti-establishment militants. At the same time, it wants to limit its role in the US-led “war on terror”, in which it has played a part since 2001, by striking peace deals with those groups which do not harm its national security. [continued…]