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

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell