Andrew Buncombe and Omar Waraich: Arrival of more troops will arouse suspicion in Pakistan

Share
Related Topics

While it is to Afghanistan that additional American troops are being dispatched, Barack Obama's administration has made it clear that its policy is dependent on "getting it right" in neighbouring Pakistan – a country that has very different regional priorities to the US.

In public, the US is full of praise for Islamabad, yet in private it continues to demand far greater efforts to take on Pakistan-based militants responsible for carrying out cross-border attacks on Western troops.

Until now, Pakistan has focused on targeting militants who pose a direct threat to the country from within. But recently, Mr Obama dispatched a letter to Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, urging him to expand anti-militant operations and rally his nation behind a more determined campaign.

Most notable among those militants who use Pakistan as a staging ground is Mullah Omar, suspected by Western intelligence agencies to be based around the city of Quetta, and the Haqqani network based in North Waziristan. Critics allege that the Pakistan army sees these militants as potential proxies who could be used for leverage in Afghanistan. In his letter, Mr Obama said Pakistan must put an end to any such "ambiguity".

Pakistan's concerns over the new US policy are plentiful. While Islamabad might hope that the presence of additional US troops could push the Taliban towards the negotiating table where it could then play a crucial role, it is also concerned that a significant surge may spark a spillover of militants into the already troubled south-western province of Baluchistan. There are also worries that a troop build-up could complicate the military offensive in South Waziristan, the Pakistani Taliban's main stronghold along the border with Afghanistan.

There is also anxiety about any indication of the eventual withdrawal of US troops, particularly if Pakistan's own interests in Afghanistan – the establishment of a pro-Islamabad government, enhanced Pashtun power and diminished Indian influence – are not met. Analysts say talk of a US withdrawal would likely diminish Pakistan's already lacklustre appetite for targeting those militants Washington wants it to confront.

"They have always felt that the United States would run away and they would be left with the mess – just like they were in the 1990s," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who recently worked on the Obama administration's review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, told Reuters. "It's very hard to dispel that image."

Those more critical of Pakistan believe it will do well whatever the outcome of the surge. "If we stay the course, they make extra money from providing supply routes into Afghanistan and becoming more 'indispensable'," said Christine Fair of Washington's Georgetown University. "If we give up and pull out, then it's vindication of their continuing support for the Taliban."

Despite the US's offer of additional civilian and military aid and what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Pakistan would be a closer relationship when she visited in October, there is no doubt that Washington's additional demands have not been well-received in Islamabad.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Senior Research Fellow in Water and Resilient communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: Our team of leading academic...

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Leeds November start...

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Fathers should have their statutory paternity leave doubled, a think tank has said  

Extended paternity leave is a baby step towards equal parenting

Louise Scodie
 

There's nothing wrong with 'sexting' - everyone has done it

Natasha Devon
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker