Pakistanis still reluctant to take on the Afghan Taliban

What will it take to get the Pakistani government to address the vital problem of Taliban infiltration from Pakistan into Afghanistan? Change the mind of Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Kayani:

Kayani, who as Pakistan's army chief has more direct say over the country's security strategy than its president or prime minister, has resisted personal appeals from President Obama, U.S. military commanders and senior diplomats. Recent U.S. intelligence estimates have concluded that he is unlikely to change his mind anytime soon. Despite the entreaties, officials say, Kayani doesn't trust U.S. motivations and is hedging his bets in case the American strategy for Afghanistan fails.

In many ways, Kayani is the personification of the vexing problem posed by Pakistan. Like the influential military establishment he represents, he views Afghanistan on a timeline stretching far beyond the U.S. withdrawal, which is slated to begin this summer. While the Obama administration sees the insurgents as an enemy force to be defeated as quickly and directly as possible, Pakistan has long regarded them as useful proxies in protecting its western flank from inroads by India, its historical adversary.

"Kayani wants to talk about the end state in South Asia," said one of several Obama administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive relationship. U.S. generals, the official said, "want to talk about the next drone attacks."

Our "strategy" is to start withdrawing troops in a few months regardless of the situation on the ground. And Kayani currently sees no reason to give us a hand since a Taliban victory means virtual control by Pakistan of Afghanistan. In other words, a return to a pre-9/11 relationship with their neighbor - which suits the Pakistanis just fine.

Pakistan's domestic terrorists -an offshoot of the Taliban who is seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani government - are the real threat that Kayani wants to take on. His army is making slow progress in that regard and as a result, suicide attacks have skyrocketed in Pakistan over the last several months. In short, Kayani has his hands full already and taking on the additional mission of preventing the Afghan Taliban from inflitrating from the border regions just isn't in the cards.

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