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Bombing Quetta?
Bombing Quetta?
An attack on Quetta, and on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is something else entirely - and not just because bombing Quetta would probably result in mass civilian casualties, argues Robert Dreyfuss.
Saturday, December 19,2009 11:11
Middle East Online

An attack on Quetta, and on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is something else entirely - and not just because bombing Quetta would probably result in mass civilian casualties, argues Robert Dreyfuss.


If Afghanistan is Vietnam, and the Taliban is the Viet Cong, then, according to the analogy, Pakistan is North Vietnam. The really odd thing about that extended analogy is that, in the case of Vietnam, North Vietnam's ally was the USSR. But Pakistan's ally is, well, the United States.

Which points up the utter absurdity of the contemplated drone attacks into the Taliban's refuge in Quetta, Pakistan.

For years, since the early 1990s at least, Pakistan has been the chief sponsor of the Taliban. When the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, only three countries recognized its rule: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. After 2001, when the United States invaded Afghanistan with its token force -- in alliance with the India-backed Northern Alliance -- Pakistan pretended to stop supporting the Taliban, but its military command and its intelligence service, the ISI, continued to provide not-so-covert support. Despite the eight year US war next door, Pakistan has refused to halt its support for the Taliban, and it has allowed the Taliban leadership to operate freely from safe havens inside Pakistan, from Karachi to the tribal areas in Pakistan's northwest to, especially, the teeming urban center of Quetta, in the Baluchistan area of southwest Pakistan.

For weeks now, the United States has been telegraphing its intention to bombard Quetta in order to strike at Mullah Omar, the one-eyed pirate who leads the Taliban, and his confreres. The Los Angeles Times reports today:

"Senior US officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan's tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.

"The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta, a sprawling city, signals a new U.S. resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing Washington's relationship with Islamabad."

The paper quotes a Pakistani official who says, "We are not a banana republic." If the US attacks Quetta, a city of nearly one million, the senior Pakistani official added: "This might be the end of the road."

Until now, beginning in 2008 under the Bush administration and accelerating this year under President Obama, the United States has conducted a regular series of drone attacks aimed mostly at Al Qaeda terrorists in North and South Waziristan and other areas of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The FATA attacks, while nominally denounced by the government of Pakistan, have in fact been supported by the Pakistani military, because they've been targeted against Al Qaeda and elements of the Pakistani Taliban who've been responsible for horrific attacks in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, including the assassination of President Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto, and mass-killing bomb attacks. The protest-too-much criticism of the drone attacks by Pakistan are for domestic consumption only, meant to temper the reaction of the nationalist and Islamic Pakistani populace which is decidedly anti-American.

But an attack on Quetta, and on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is something else entirely - and not just because bombing Quetta would probably result in mass civilian casualties.

Why? Because the core of Pakistan's military elite sees the Afghan Taliban as a strategic asset. The Taliban is Pakistan's ace-in-the-hole against India's burgeoning influence in Afghanistan, and they're not likely to give it up without a fight. By taking on the Taliban's shura in Quetta, the United States is in effect making the war in Afghanistan a war against both the Taliban and the Pakistani military.

It's true that Pakistan's politics is complicated. First of all, the Pakistani military and the ISI are not Islamic fanatics. Most of the generals are whisky-drinking secularists. But they see the Taliban as a tool, and they intend to use it. Meanwhile, Pakistan's civilian government, under President Zardari, is less than enamored of the Taliban, but they don't have the control over the military that they'd need to rein in the army's support for the Taliban. Already, the Pakistani army is unhappy with what they see as a pro-Indian tilt by the diplomacy-minded Zardari government. In fact, the military would be much happier, it seems, if former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family mafia, who are close to Saudi Arabia, would take over power from the very unpopular Zardari. The Sharifs, too, are far more sympathetic to the Taliban than is the Zardari clan. In recent years, Sharif has taken part in secret talks with the Taliban, sponsored by the king of Saudi Arabia.

By attacking Quetta, the United States is effectively declaring war on Pakistan. It appears that the Obama administration is calculating that Pakistan is so dependent on the United States that if push comes to shove the Pakistanis will capitulate. That's a dangerous gamble, one made more complicated by the fact that Pakistan is allied with China in a de facto coalition against India.

The ever-receding diplomatic solution for Afghanistan involves a US-sponsored deal with the Taliban, Pakistan, and their allies, on one side, and with India, Russia, Iran, and their Afghan allies, on the other. Or has Obama forgotten about diplomacy entirely?

Robert Dreyfuss is a contributing editor to The Nation magazine, and the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Metropolitan)

tags: Afghanistan / Bombing / Quetta / Taliban / United States / Violence / Moderate Muslim Brotherhood / Moderate Islamist / Obama
Posted in Islamic Movements , Islamic Issues , MB VS. Qaeda , Obama  
please stop Hassan
Pakistani army and ISI is the second part of the taliban helping story .. i request the writter to make a through research about pakistan army and ISI and USA security personell along with CIA. and who started this thing is CIA, officials can be seen in pictures (through a short google image search) in FATA (Federally administrative tribal areas of pakistan) who deployed and helped talibaan to start training camps. it was seen very easy to train afghani and outsiders jahadis in FATA Pak with the arms and amunition support from US which was first conducted by Charli wilson in cold war Afghan. He arranged every thing even egyptian arms and USA stingers to fight against Russian red army. so first point was eliminated and now pakistani army and ISI is trying to remove this whole thing, people are talking like this. the whole world is against PAK army and ISI because our dictators are not happy with army and ISI. Are we Free, is this the freedom we were been promised by USA in Congress in 1942 when Qauid was called for talk after pearl harbour and japan attack. Please stop this i am pakistani a comon living man i am through in this situation we are direct recieptant of RAW's , pakistan based american paid Tallibans, pakistan based Raw's and mosad paid talibaan, then Mousad Israel , M15 , M16 , CSI ,Black water , CIA's criminal intelligence acts. please stop this we want to live with peace and sanity. before american attack to afghanistan there was nothing wrong with pakistan. why muslim are being slaughtering accross whole world. after sometime USA will write to world that pakistan is the base of all terror and the army and ISI of pakistan is the starting point of all terrorism in whole world and we are going to attack pakistan. USA'll attack pakistan but they think that pakistanis are being fooled like whole world by their paid media elements. They don't know every pakistani will die and fight for the freedom of Pakistan. here everyone have ability to fire rifle cuz , we've been taught how to protect our land. we don't care for our live all we care is about out home land . we are not terrorist, we want to live in peace but our land full of reserves of precious elements is what they want and to get this they'll try to kill us but they don't know ALLAH is with us. We are loving and caring people cuz care for every human who breath and have blood in their vains because our last and final Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) thaught us that " if u kill a human means u've killed humanity" . please work togather stop fighting every thing is because of fighting. let Pakistan free we are extremely happy here we don't want to come to america or other world. pictures of america are good looking but believe me we hessitate to be friend of america cuz what ever we do america consider us as their dictator country. Soon every thing will destroyed by Nature so why we loose our money to do this let it be with nautre. Islam stands for peace.
Saturday, December 19,2009 14:54
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