A Thursday column by Simon Tisdale in The Guardian headlines, With friends like the US, Pakistan doesn’t need enemies.
As the Obama administration dithers over what to do for the best in Afghanistan, neighbouring Pakistan is paying an increasingly heavy price. Like a spate of previous Taliban attacks in recent days, today’s mayhem in Lahore underscored fears that the principal consequence of Washington’s Afghan paralysis, albeit unintended, is the further destabilisation of the Pakistani state.
Over the last eleven days the Taliban-in-Pakistan and their allies have launched a series of attacks across the country. There was a 22 hour siege of the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, civilian targets were hit in Peshawar and police targets in Lahore, there was a grenade attack in Quetta, bombings in Kohat and elsewhere.
In an interview with the UK’s Sky News, Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of the Taliban-in-Pakistan (outside Waziristan), has warned the attacks will continue as long as the Pakistani security services, “follow American orders.” He also tosses off a promise to attack India. Hakimullah has previously promised direct attacks on the US.
This most recent offensive spike is seen as related to pending Pakistani ground operations against the Taliban-in-Pakistan’s operational core, al-Qaeda hideout, and Mehsud tribal home in South Waziristan.
On October 14 the Washington Post editorialized, “For years the United States has been trying to persuade Pakistan to fully confront the threat of the Taliban, even as its government and army dithered and wavered. Now that the army at last appears prepared to strike at the heart of the movement in Waziristan, the Obama administration is wavering — and considering a strategy that would give up the U.S. attempt to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
The evidence of wavering is speculative. Those inside the administration argue the President is attempting to — among other goals — set the political preconditions for success, whatever strategy is applied in AfPak. Crucial to this is broad recognition of how the US has a keen stake in the outcome of struggles all along the Hindu Kush.
Neither the Taliban nor al-Qaeda present the most dangerous threats to a successful AfPak strategy. The biggest threat is the disinterest of the American people.
Thursday night, just before going to bed, I checked the headlines in London and Islamabad. I then turned to CNN.
It was as if entering a different dimension. Falcoln Heene, seen above, and his Mylar balloon dominated the headlines. I scanned the “Latest News,” here’s what was listed:
- Feared adrift in balloon, boy found hiding in attic
- World watches balloon odyssey in real time
- Balloon family was featured on ‘Wife Swap’
- Family known for science, storm chasing
- CNNMoney: BofA CEO must return 2009 pay
- Tom Joyner gets pardon of electrocuted kin
- Obama’s New Orleans visit draws criticism
- Borger: Mistrust of government hurts Obama
- Ticker: Unfaithful gov’s wife to resurface
- KISS drummer has breast cancer
- Nurse sues to avoid mandatory flu vaccines
- Will e-bikes be the new ‘commuter cool’?
- Officer grieves for dying K-9 partner
- Dead toddler found in trash; mom charged
- Abandoned pup prepped for brain surgery
- ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ gets it right
- Vote now for 2009 CNN Hero of the Year
- CNN Wire: Louisiana justice under fire…
This was not Entertainment Tonight. This was the homepage of “America’s most trusted news source.” Instead of “latest news”, how about “Most Viewed”?
- Boy, 6, thought adrift in balloon found alive
- World captivated by ‘Balloon Boy’
- Original KISS drummer beats breast cancer
- Sweat lodge deaths investigated as homicides
- Balloon family was featured on ‘Wife Swap’
- Tom Joyner gets justice 94 years later
- Many hospitals are banning VBACs
- Obama visits New Orleans, blasts critics
- A Dem backlash against GOP Sen. Snowe?
- Scientists hope poison gas can be a lifesaver
The early Friday morning CNN headlines are not much different.
We are at war. Those who attacked us on 9/11 are in the cross-hairs. Yet they are showing fierce resistance. South Asia hangs in the balance. We are barely emerging from the worst economic recession in a generation, the dollar is under sustained pressure as the principal reserve currency, a major policy debate on health care is at a crucial inflection point…
What the President may see as our national interest is not interesting to most Americans. In a democracy, how are you supposed to square that difference?