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

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy