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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.

By David Ignatius  | February 18, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Next: A conversation with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius


If General Jones is not being deluded by wishful thinking, then this is VERY good news. Ultimately the Kashmir issue must be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. I humbly suggest a semi-independent dual-sovereignty approach, much like what is evolving in N. Ireland.

Once the Kashmir issue is resolved the Pak' gov't can focus on the welfare of its people and finally and totally turn its back on terrorism.

If Kashmir isn't resolved then the Pakistan gov't will be tempted to continue to see Kashmiri-focused terrorists as the moral equivalent of the French underground in WWII. Irregular warriors doing what the regular army is currently unable to do ~ resist an unjust occupation.

Posted by: cyberfool | February 18, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Oops.... by "turn its back terrorism" I mean
"turn its back on supporting terrorism". Obviously they still have to stop the terrorists.

In fact, that is IMHO exactly why various high-profile terrorist strikes have occurred in India just as the Indo-Pak peace process starts moving forward. A real Indo-Pak peace will end any reason that the Pakistani gov't would support terrorists.

Posted by: cyberfool | February 18, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

If true, significant...But what if this is happy talk which is being used to keep our troops deployed in Af/Pak for the distant future. Remember there are believers, like Gen. Gul who think we are an immoral , illegal occupying power in Afghanistan.....I hate to think all this happy talk will result in us being sucked into the local territorial fights of warlords and religious fanatics....BTW, are we sure the good intel we are getting for targeting the drones is not info which we are being fed (FEEDINT) used to settle local scores and/or turn the population against us!!!!

Posted by: JerryOlek | February 18, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It's sad to read the commentary of conservatives.

Sad, to see that they prefer tax cuts to fighting terrorism.

We know full well that conservatives will immediately cut support to Pakistan the very moment they are in power, and therefor allow terrorists to run free again.

Conservatism has always been the best friend of terrorism. That is why terrorists attacked on 9/11.

Osama bin Laden remains free today because of conservative policies.

Let's hope Obama's wiser, better policies capture this monster.

Posted by: colonelpanic | February 18, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

If only we'd done this back in 2003 when we were stronger and healthier rather than put Israel first.

Posted by: patrick3 | February 18, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

I think Gen Jones should take a wait and see approach. Why this sudden change of heart by the Pakistani Military? Their real objective is to be an influential player in Afghanistan in a post-war scenario. They know exactly where each of the Mullahs are, they just chose to arrest some of them now.

They also still maintain a hands off approach to their own version of the Taliban, because it is part of their state policy to use them against India.

We cant believe everything the Pakistanis say. All their actions are driven by self-interest, like every other nation in the world.

Posted by: markham35 | February 18, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

this stuff amazes me. i watched jones on tv last week saying that russia was on board with us in confronting iran. two hours later i see russia claim that there is no reason for them not to sell sa-300 missles to iran. ???? last year within two hours of obama scrapping defensive missles in poland, the head of nato comes out and says we need to combine nato's defensive missle sheild with russia's.???? these people are all incompetant. we are in grave danger.

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Posted by: weryrtuitriytjrtjytieyu | February 18, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

And all of this achieved by a socialist, elitist, teleprompter dependent, professor of law, weak President. Thank God he sent us Barack Hussein Obama.

Posted by: AverageJane | February 19, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Have we forgotened that there has been change in leaders in Pakistan.And The fact the Taliban killed the president's wife. Don't know, do you think that might have something to do with Pkistan's help. JUST SAYING; Mr. Jones or Obama had nothing to do with the events maybe

Posted by: randalljnr | February 19, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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