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January 2, 2011

Gen Kayani rejects US plea to hit Taliban hideouts: WP

 
January 2, 2011

WASHINGTON: Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani will not eliminate insurgent safe havens within his country from where Taliban and al-Qaeda elements launch attacks against the coalition troops in Afghanistan, because he doesn’t trust US motivations and is hedging his bets for when America’s strategy fails, says the Washington Post.
Recent US intelligence has validated this premise as Kayani refused to budge despite personal appeals from President Obama, General David Petraeus and other US military leaders and diplomats. Kayani’s rationale is based on many factors.
He is hesitant to launch attacks against terrorist sanctuaries because it could incite domestic terrorism and uproot local communities. Plus, anti-American sentiments run high throughout Pakistan, and launching an offensive into North Waziristan would cost the military public support.
Kayani is believed to be the most powerful man in Pakistan — more powerful than even the president and prime minister — and many have suggested that, if he ever wished, he could easily execute a coup and seize complete control of the country. Yet he is also prudent and does not want the military running the country — however, he is ready to fill a power vacuum should the civilian government collapse, the Post said.
Kayani says he is worried about the end game in the region while the US is worried about the next drone strike in North Waziristan. Kayani has been furious with Americans lately because of the recent WikiLeaks fiasco, as diplomatic cables depicted him as chummy with the US and was quoted as discussing a possible removal of Pakistan’s president and his preferred replacement. According to the Post on the eve of the cable’s publication in November, the normally aloof and soft-spoken general ranted for hours on the subject of irreconcilable US-Pakistan differences in a session with a group of Pakistani journalists.
The two countries’ “frames of reference” regarding regional

security “can never be the same,” he said, according to news accounts. Calling Pakistan America’s “most bullied ally,” Kayani said that the “real aim of US strategy is to de-nuclearise Pakistan”, the Post said.
Kayani’s India obsession is being viewed by many Pakistanis as over-the-top and potentially disastrous to the country as domestic insurgents turn on the Pakistani state. In August Pakistan’s own intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), reported that for the first time in the country’s 63 year history, India is no longer Pakistan’s greatest existential threat - Islamist militants now are.
Pakistan is in drastic need of a foreign policy paradigm shift as they continue to cling to a post-nuclear variation of “strategic depth” at their own peril; because Pakistan’s geopolitical rivalry with India will become irrelevant if the state is devoured from within by extremists.
The militant entities that Pakistan originally established to terrorize India are now terrorizing Pakistan itself as a number of groups begin to merge, forming a jihadist conglomerate now bent on overthrowing the state.
Kayani needs to wake up and realize that internal extremists are a bigger existential threat than India right now. Pakistan can no longer afford to nurture homegrown Islamist groups nor can they afford the establishment of a terrorist state next door. If Afghanistan should fall to the Taliban, Pakistan will never be able to effectively address its own extremist problem. Ultimately, the last thing Pakistan needs to see is the Haqqani Network or any version of the Taliban in power next door, the newspaper said.

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