The conversion of Gen. Jim Jones
Every day seems to bring new reports of U.S.-Pakistani success in the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the degree of cooperation is converting skeptics within the Obama administration who had doubted Pakistan’s commitment as an ally.
A measure of the administration’s growing confidence in Pakistan is the attitude of national security adviser James Jones. Three months ago, Jones remained uncertain about Pakistan’s willingness to collaborate fully. This concern was reflected in a tough letter from President Obama to the Pakistani leadership in November, warning that its links with insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan “cannot continue.” The letter named five extremist groups with which the U.S. believed the Pakistanis had maintained intelligence links in the past.
But after returning from a three-day trip to Pakistan last week, Jones appears convinced that the military and civilian leadership in Islamabad has turned a corner. “I came back encouraged,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “The degree of trust and confidence between the Pakistani government and military and the United States is changing in a favorable way.”
Jones traveled widely in Pakistan on his trip, visiting Pakistani army units that fought the Taliban last year in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan. He also visited the Frontier Corps, a constabulary force being trained by U.S. Special Forces at a base near Peshawar, which is a key part of Pakistan’s strategy for maintaining future security in the tribal areas. These visits convinced him that the Pakistanis are fighting aggressively and pushing the limits of their capabilities.
Jones also had an unusual two-hour meeting in Islamabad, where all the top Pakistani political and military leaders gathered around the same table and agreed on a common strategy. The group included the Pakistani president, prime minister, foreign minister and Army chief of staff. And, given Obama administration fears that the civilian government is too weak and divided to be an effective partner, the gathering was reassuring.
U.S. officials have long felt that Islamabad was hedging its bets, maintaining contacts with groups such as the Afghan Taliban because of worries that the U.S. would withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, leaving a security vacuum there. But the Pakistanis seem to have tilted toward greater cooperation and trust with the U.S., in part because of Obama’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, officials say.
The closer partnership was evident in the raid that nabbed Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s No. 2 official. That was followed by raids that grabbed two other top Taliban leaders in Pakistan about 10 days ago. The two countries are also cooperating secretly on the Predator attacks on targets in North and South Waziristan that have pounded the top leadership of al-Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans.
A final sign of the U.S.-Pakistani alliance is the cross-border cooperation between U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps in the tribal areas. “It’s fair to suggest there’s considerable cohesion and coordination along the borders,” Jones said.
| February 18, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
Categories: Ignatius | Tags: David Ignatius
Save & Share: Previous: Alienated in Austin
Next: A conversation with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Posted by: cyberfool | February 18, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cyberfool | February 18, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JerryOlek | February 18, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: colonelpanic | February 18, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: patrick3 | February 18, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: markham35 | February 18, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 12thgenamerican | February 18, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: weryrtuitriytjrtjytieyu | February 18, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: AverageJane | February 19, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: randalljnr | February 19, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.