Military urges more Pakistan attacks

Military commanders in Afghanistan are urging Bush Administration officials to allow them to attack Pakistani extremists in the tribal areas on the Afghan border.

The requests have been rebuffed for now, the officials said, after deliberations in Washington among senior Bush administration officials who fear that attacking Pakistani radicals may anger Pakistan’s new government, which is negotiating with the militants, and destabilize an already fragile security situation.

American commanders would prefer that Pakistani forces attack the militants, but Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas have slowed recently to avoid upsetting the negotiations. Pakistan’s government has given the Central Intelligence Agency limited authority to kill Arab and other foreign operatives in the tribal areas, using remotely piloted Predator aircraft.

But administration officials say the Pakistani government has put far greater restrictions on American operations against indigenous Pakistani militant groups, including one thought to have been behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. American intelligence officials say that the threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas is growing, and that Pakistani networks there have taken on an increasingly important role as an ally of Al Qaeda in plotting attacks against American and other allied troops in Afghanistan, and in helping foreign operatives plan attacks on targets in the West.

The officials said the American military’s proposals included options for limited cross-border artillery strikes into Pakistan, missile attacks by Predator aircraft or raids by small teams of C.I.A. paramilitary forces or Special Operations forces.
It is becoming enormously frustrating for our commanders in Afghanistan who are forced to watch helplessly as Pakistani militants allied with al-Qaeda and the Taliban move across the Afghan border with impunity to attack NATO forces - especially in the south where the Canadians and Dutch soldiers are kept busy by these cross-border incursions. 

But the Administration is probably doing the right thing - for the time being. The new government in Pakistan is negotiating with the terrorists to stop their depradations in provinces bordering the tribal areas that has resulted in 1500 Pakistanis killed in suicide attacks this past year. Awaiting the outcome of those talks is our only option since attacking Pakistani territory would seriously undermine the credibility of the new government.

The problem is that it is likely that even if the government negotiates a halt to cross border incursions by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, it will likely be honored in the breach - as have similar treaties negotiated by Musharraf over the years. We must face the probability that Pakistan could care less about how many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters use their country as a safe haven against attacks by NATO and will continue to cross the border at will to engage our forces.

At that point, it would seem inevitable that for NATO to avoid defeat, incursions into Pakistan will become a necessity - thus putting us at odds with the government. 

Some good background on this can be found
in this article by Ali Eteraz who supports the idea of giving the Pakistani government time to see if they can work out an agreement. I am not as optimistic as Ali that it any such agreement will help us in Afghanistan. 
Military commanders in Afghanistan are urging Bush Administration officials to allow them to attack Pakistani extremists in the tribal areas on the Afghan border.

The requests have been rebuffed for now, the officials said, after deliberations in Washington among senior Bush administration officials who fear that attacking Pakistani radicals may anger Pakistan’s new government, which is negotiating with the militants, and destabilize an already fragile security situation.

American commanders would prefer that Pakistani forces attack the militants, but Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas have slowed recently to avoid upsetting the negotiations. Pakistan’s government has given the Central Intelligence Agency limited authority to kill Arab and other foreign operatives in the tribal areas, using remotely piloted Predator aircraft.

But administration officials say the Pakistani government has put far greater restrictions on American operations against indigenous Pakistani militant groups, including one thought to have been behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. American intelligence officials say that the threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas is growing, and that Pakistani networks there have taken on an increasingly important role as an ally of Al Qaeda in plotting attacks against American and other allied troops in Afghanistan, and in helping foreign operatives plan attacks on targets in the West.

The officials said the American military’s proposals included options for limited cross-border artillery strikes into Pakistan, missile attacks by Predator aircraft or raids by small teams of C.I.A. paramilitary forces or Special Operations forces.
It is becoming enormously frustrating for our commanders in Afghanistan who are forced to watch helplessly as Pakistani militants allied with al-Qaeda and the Taliban move across the Afghan border with impunity to attack NATO forces - especially in the south where the Canadians and Dutch soldiers are kept busy by these cross-border incursions. 

But the Administration is probably doing the right thing - for the time being. The new government in Pakistan is negotiating with the terrorists to stop their depradations in provinces bordering the tribal areas that has resulted in 1500 Pakistanis killed in suicide attacks this past year. Awaiting the outcome of those talks is our only option since attacking Pakistani territory would seriously undermine the credibility of the new government.

The problem is that it is likely that even if the government negotiates a halt to cross border incursions by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, it will likely be honored in the breach - as have similar treaties negotiated by Musharraf over the years. We must face the probability that Pakistan could care less about how many al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters use their country as a safe haven against attacks by NATO and will continue to cross the border at will to engage our forces.

At that point, it would seem inevitable that for NATO to avoid defeat, incursions into Pakistan will become a necessity - thus putting us at odds with the government. 

Some good background on this can be found
in this article by Ali Eteraz who supports the idea of giving the Pakistani government time to see if they can work out an agreement. I am not as optimistic as Ali that it any such agreement will help us in Afghanistan.