A top Republican lawmaker suggested on Sunday that “all options” should be table to defend American forces in Afghanistan from the schemes of Pakistani intelligence. “They’re killing American soldiers,” Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday.
The senator from South Carolina, who is a noted interventionist and foreign policy hawk, criticized Pakistan’s spy agency for its continued support of militant Islamists who are allied with the Taliban.
Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate on Thursday that the Haqqani network, among the most violent of insurgent groups associated with the Taliban, “has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.”
The Haqqani were deemed responsible for staging an attack on the American embassy in Kabul and ISAF headquarters there two weeks ago. At least 36 people died during two days of fighting in the capital.
Graham lamented that the Haqqani operate “with impunity inside of Pakistan” and are assisted “directly and indirectly” by the military’s intelligence agency. He recognized that the imminent withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan compels the Pakistanis to maintain their ties with extremists.
They’re betting the Taliban will come back. The Pakistan military lives like kings within Pakistan. A democracy in Afghanistan is a threat to Pakistani military control in their own mind.
Pakistan regards the modern day mujahideen as a wedge against India, to be deployed whenever New Delhi asserts itself too prominently in Afghanistan where India, in turn, has fostered ties with Hamid Karzai’s civilian government to upset Pakistan’s quest for “strategic depth” there.
Yet Pakistan staunchly supported the international War on Terror after 9/11. Years of anti-terrorist operations by a majority Punjabi army in predominantly Pashtun territory has pushed the Muslim nation onto the brink of civil war. The army’s offensives in Pakistan’s western tribal areas displaced nearly half a million people.
Before the Afghan war escalated, the battle was confined to the border region but since 2008, it has spread into Pakistan proper with bombings and assassinations taking place in major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
If the United States are preparing for a retreat in 2014, it makes no sense for Pakistan to crack down on insurgents that might prove an asset in the future. Similarly, once the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, America has no clear interest in keeping up its alliance with Pakistan.
According to Graham, “it is now a time of choosing.” The Pakistanis “made a tremendous miscalculation” in supporting terrorist who attacked Americans, he said. “Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan. That must cease.”