Pakistan continues to be Obama’s reluctant bride

Tony Karon in The National:

Petraeus-kayani The key character in the US president Barack Obama’s Afghanistan fairy tale is Pakistan – the erstwhile protector and enabler of the evil Taliban, but only out of ignorance, despair and an exaggerated fear of India. If only, goes the story, Pakistan could see that the Taliban is plotting to destroy it and recognise that its true interests lie with the noble purposes of the United States, it would ignore India, turn on the Taliban and flush out the insurgents to be crushed by US firepower. And so, a steady stream of US officials has traipsed through Islamabad this year, bearing carrots and brandishing sticks, trying to get Pakistan to see the light.

But the Pakistan of Washington’s imagination is a little like the Iraq of Bush Administration’s pre-war imagination – the one that was going to greet its invaders with sweets and flowers. But the US is choosing to ignore the writing on the wall. Just last week, back to back visits by two of the most senior commanders in the US military, General David Petraeus and Admiral Mike Mullen, failed to convince their Pakistani counterparts to go after the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban and the allied Haqqani and Hekmatyar networks. Instead, Pakistan’s own counterinsurgency effort will be confined to the Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the local extremist group challenging the Pakistani state.

The explanation given to the Americans by Pakistan’s generals is usually that Pakistan doesn’t have the resources to tackle all the militant groups on its soil at once. They ask the Americans, their key benefactor, to be patient, suggesting that once the TTP has been dealt with, they will be in a position to tackle other problems. That, of course, is a polite rebuff in the spirit of “maybe some other time”.

More here.