Gen Petraeus Debunks Allegations of Duplicity Against Pakistan

General David Petraeus, former CIA director and commander of US troops in Afghanistan, has said there is no evidence of Pakistan playing a double game and supporting terrorists in Afghanistan. Petraeus' remarks are now particularly significant given the fact that he is on a short list of President-Elect Donald Trump's nominees for Secretary of State.  He was answering a question posed to him at a presentation at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a British security think tank based in London.

Is Pakistan Duplicitous?

The question was asked by a female Afghan Ph.D. student at the end of remarks by the general on "Security Challenges Facing the Next US Administration". Here's the question:

"General you have stated that democracies can not win long wars (General Petraeus interrupted and said he did not say that and added "in fact I take issue with that" as the student continued). Afghanistan is now US's longest war. What stops the US to win the long war..whether Pakistan intelligence is the cause of the long war? Why does the US not take action against the Pakistan ISI which continues killing and supporting terrorists?"


General David H. Petraeus's response:

Here's part of Gen Petraeus' response: "I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

Gen Petraeus did acknowledge that "there's communication between the ISI and various militant groups in FATA and Balochistan (Haqqanis, Taliban, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, etc) but some of it you'd do anyway as an intelligence service." He added that "there may be some degree of accommodation that is forced on them (Pakistanis) because of the limits of their (Pakistan's) forces."

US-Pakistan Ties:

On the question of the nature of US-Pakistan relations and Washington's influence in Islamabad, General Petraeus said:

"Some people say Pakistan is a frenemy...it is just very very difficult to pin down (blame on Pakistan) and it's even more difficult to figure out how to exert leverage that in a meaningful way resolves the issue.  There was a period when we cut off all assistance and ties (to Pakistan) and held up F-16s that we were supposed to deliver for a while and that did not help our influence there (in Pakistan). It's a very very tough situation and it may be among the top two or three challenges for the new administration right up there with Syria".

General Petraeus acknowledged Pakistan's cooperation and sacrifices in fighting terror in the following words:

“Pakistan Army suffered casualties and had limited Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities though the US did try to help and there existed enormous amount of cooperation between the two militaries. However, the unfortunate episodes of Raymond Davis and publications of book by Bob Woodward and WikiLeaks did impact negatively on this cooperation”.

Summary:

General David H. Petraeus has thoroughly debunked intense and ongoing media propaganda campaign of allegations of duplicity against Pakistan Army and ISI. He has also ruled out cutting ties with Pakistan as an option. His recommendations have now assumed added significance because he is now on a short list of President-Elect Trump's nominees for secretary of state.

Here's the video of General Petraeus at RUSI. His remarks on Pakistan are in the last 8 minutes of the video:

https://youtu.be/4vxSwUrY1E0




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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 4, 2017 at 10:45pm

DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate
by Real Clear Defense

SWJ Blog Post | July 4, 2017 - 10:15pm


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DoD Report: Pakistan is Reason for Afghanistan Stalemate by Robert Cassidy - Real Clear Defense

The latest U.S. Department of Defense Report on “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” reiterates that Pakistan’s sanctuary, support, and employment of insurgents and terrorists is a strategic impediment to ending that war well, or to ending it at all. The Pentagon is now preparing to send about four thousands more troops. A number of Coalition partners will probably send a commensurate number of additional troops. More troops and more actions will build advisory capacity and thus improve the Afghan security forces capacity. More capacity will, in turn, gain some tactical and operational momentum vis-à-vis the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and other Islamist militants that benefit from Pakistan’s support and sanctuary.

But more action and more troops in and of themselves will not gain strategic momentum. Strategic momentum requires a marked change in Pakistan’s strategic behavior. That requires a strategy which includes more regional cooperation and a much more coercive strategic approach to curb Pakistan’s machinations. This requires a sea change in strategic thinking to shock, compel, and instill fear in Pakistan’s security establishment to break it out of its ingrained strategic-cultural pathologies. Pakistan’s duplicitous incubation and export of proxy terrorists and insurgents is the most significant obstacle to peace in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Pakistan has nurtured and relied on a host of Islamist insurgents and terrorists for decades. The Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) has maintained links between Al Qaeda, its longtime Taliban allies, and a host of other extremists inside Pakistan. It is only possible for Pakistan to become a non-pariah state among the community of states and a helpful partner to the Coalition and the U.S. if it significantly modifies its regional conduct and ceases its support of proxy terrorists and insurgents. America has doled out more than $33 billion in carrots to Pakistan in exchange for Pakistan’s treachery since 9/11. This miscarriage of trust and reliability is abhorrent…

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/dod-report-pakistan-is-reason-for-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 14, 2017 at 9:45pm

#Canadian #Hostage on His Daring Rescue by #Pakistan Army. #Afghanistan #HQN https://youtu.be/m1RJGnmWM3g via @YouTube


Josh Boyle: "A major comes over to me while I still have blood on me. The street is chaos and he says to me, 'In the American media they said that we support the Haqqani network and that we make it possible. Today you have seen the truth. Did we not put bullets in those bastards?' "And so I can say to you I did see the truth, and the truth was that car was riddled with bullets. The ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency) and the army got between the criminals and the car to make sure the prisoners were safe and my family was safe. They put them to flight and they ran like cowards. And this is proof enough to me the Pakistanis are doing everything to their utmost."

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 4, 2018 at 6:42pm

How the #heroin #Narco #trade explains the #US-#UK failure in #Afghanistan. #Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped in its steel tracks by a small pink flower – the opium poppy. #Taliban #Trump #Pakistan

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/09/how-the-heroin-trade-e...

After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations? So dismal is the prospect of stability in Afghanistan that, in 2016, the Obama White House cancelled a planned withdrawal of its forces, ordering more than 8,000 troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

------------------

Despite almost continuous combat since the invasion of October 2001, pacification efforts have failed to curtail the Taliban insurgency, largely because the US simply could not control the swelling surplus from the country’s heroin trade. Its opium production surged from around 180 tonnes in 2001 to more than 3,000 tonnes a year after the invasion, and to more than 8,000 by 2007. Every spring, the opium harvest fills the Taliban’s coffers once again, funding wages for a new crop of guerrilla fighters.

At each stage in its tragic, tumultuous history over the past 40 years – the covert war of the 1980s, the civil war of the 90s and its post-2001 occupation – opium has played a central role in shaping the country’s destiny. In one of history’s bitter ironies, Afghanistan’s unique ecology converged with American military technology to transform this remote, landlocked nation into the world’s first true narco-state – a country where illicit drugs dominate the economy, define political choices and determine the fate of foreign interventions.

--------------


The failure of America’s intervention in Afghanistan offers broader insight into the limits to its global power. The persistence of both opium cultivation and the Taliban insurgency suggest the degree to which the policies that Washington has imposed upon Afghanistan since 2001 have reached a dead end. For most people worldwide, economic activity, the production and exchange of goods, is the prime point of contact with their government. When, however, a country’s most significant commodity is illegal, then political loyalties naturally shift to the economic networks that move that product safely and secretly from fields to foreign markets, providing protection, finance and employment at every stage. “The narcotics trade poisons the Afghan financial sector and fuels a growing illicit economy,” John Sopko explained in 2014. “This, in turn, undermines the Afghan state’s legitimacy by stoking corruption, nourishing criminal networks and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on February 6, 2018 at 4:52pm

After 16 Years, Afghanistan War Is 'At Best A Grinding Stalemate,' Journalist Says

by Terry Gross

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/06/583625482/after-16-years-afghanistan...

"Most of the generals ... say in public, 'There's no military solution to this war,'" Coll says. "This is at best a grinding stalemate. And yet, we prioritize military action at the expense of diplomacy, at the expense of negotiating."

On the current state of the war in Afghanistan

We're in a stalemate. We're in a muddle. We have something like 10,000 troops there, maybe growing a little higher over the next year or so.

There are actually two wars that we're fighting in Afghanistan, I'm not sure most Americans appreciate that. One is a direct combat war against remnants or elements of the Islamic State that have popped up in eastern Afghanistan. There President Obama initiated, and President Trump continued, a return to direct combat in Afghanistan, after previously, at the end of 2014, saying we were done with the war.

The second war is the one that we transitioned to in 2014, which is to advise and assist the Afghan security forces — the Afghan army and police — in their combat against the Taliban, an indigenous Afghan movement that we're all too familiar with after all these years, which controls significant swaths of the Afghan countryside.

So our muddled war policy is that we're directly at war with the Islamic State, but we're not directly at war with the Taliban, except to the extent that we're supporting Afghan forces. But what that means as a practical matter is that we're their air force; we have the planes. So when the Afghan forces need bombs dropped on Taliban positions, that's generally us doing the bombing. The number of bombs that we've been dropping on Afghanistan has increased significantly in 2017 over the year before.

On why Pakistan supports the Taliban

Pakistan's generals seemed to conclude ... that Afghanistan was going to become an ally of India with international backing [and] that they needed to encourage the Taliban support. ...


------

What's happened, where we are now, is that there are 25,000, 30,000 Afghan Taliban guerrilla soldiers fighting the war, going in and out of Pakistan, but fighting the war on Afghan ground. Those units include these suicide bomber, truck bomber units that occasionally kill scores of innocent civilians in Kabul, as we've seen over the last couple of weeks, a couple of horrific attacks.

And then inside Pakistan, the effort by the Pakistani Taliban to overthrow their government has really faltered. The Pakistani state has restored security over the last couple of years to a significant degree. Not entirely — I think 500 civilians died in terrorist attacks in Pakistan last year — but [that's] compared to many thousands a few years ago, when the country looked like it might collapse.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 16, 2021 at 9:50am

Late General Hameed Gil: “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.” #Biden’s #Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for #Pakistan . But at What Cost? #US #CIA #ISI #Taliban - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/15/world/asia/pakistan-afghanistan-...

Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — appeared on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.

“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”

“Then there will be another sentence,” General Gul added after a brief pause, delivering his punchline to loud applause. “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.”

In President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment finally gets its wish after decades of bloody intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where the I.S.I. had established strong influence through a friendly Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded in 2001.


A return of the Taliban to some form of power would dial the clock back to a time when Pakistan’s military played gatekeeper to Afghanistan, perpetually working to block the influence of its archenemy, India.

---

If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.

And more: A Taliban return to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a share of power, would embolden the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same source of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan. Those groups have shown no hesitation in antagonizing the country’s government.

While Pakistan’s military played a dangerous game of supporting militants abroad and containing extremists at home, the country’s Islamist movements found a rallying cause in the presence of an invading foreign force next door, openly fund-raising for and cheering on their Afghan classmates. New extremist groups kept shrinking the civil society space in Pakistan — often targeting intellectuals and professionals for abuse or attack — and even found sympathizers in the ranks of Pakistan’s security forces.

Pakistani generals have resorted to a mix of force and appeasement in tackling the country’s own growing militancy problem, said Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. But a strategy for countering the spread of extremism has been elusive.

“It scares me, it scares me,” Dr. Siddiqa said. “Once the Taliban come back, that should trouble the Pakistani government, or any government. It will be inspiring for all the other groups.”

Said Nazir, a retired brigadier and defense analyst in Islamabad, said Pakistan had “learned some lessons” from the blowback of past support to jihadist groups. The country would need to tread more cautiously in the endgame of the Afghan war.

“Victory will not be claimed by Pakistan, but tacitly the Taliban will owe it to Pakistan,” Mr. Nazir said. “Pakistan does fear the replay of past events and fears a bloody civil war and violence if hasty withdrawal and no political solution occur simultaneously.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 16, 2021 at 9:52am

Fareed Zakaria: “For the past 20 years, facing the world’s most powerful army — with the most advanced weaponry and intelligence in history — the ragtag Taliban has survived and often prevailed”. #Afghanistan #Taliban #Biden #US The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/biden-is-right-its-time-to-...


To understand why the United States couldn’t win, we should remember the dictum coined by Henry Kissinger in 1969 when describing the war in Vietnam: “The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. The conventional army loses if it does not win.” Or recall the famous exchange between a North Vietnamese commander and Col. Harry Summers, in which the American officer told his Vietnamese counterpart just before the fall of Saigon in 1975, “You know you never defeated us on the battlefield.” To which the Vietnamese replied, “That may be so, but it is also irrelevant.” The guerrillas win by not losing.


The question we don’t ask enough, however, is not why the United States failed but why the Taliban has succeeded. For the past 20 years, facing the world’s most powerful army — with the most advanced weaponry and intelligence in history — the ragtag Taliban has survived and often prevailed. We spend a lot of time condemning the Taliban for its fanatical ideology and its treatment of women. We call its members terrorists. But we don’t seem to ask, despite all that, why it has done so well.
Mao once noted that guerrillas can succeed only if they can move among the people “as a fish swims in the sea.” The Taliban have managed to do that. Scholars on the ground have found that ethnic identity and solidarity are key to understanding Taliban success, far more important than military prowess, economic aid or even good government. Many people, particularly Pashtuns (the largest ethnic group in the country), identify with the Taliban. The Kabul government is often associated with the outsider, with foreigners. In his brilliant book, “The Accidental Guerrilla,” counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen recounts a battle in which local Afghans joined the Taliban even though they were not ideologically aligned with the group. They simply felt they had to join the fight against the outsiders. And no matter how much money and services the United States may provide, it remains the outsider.

There are other reasons for Taliban success, as well. The group has enjoyed a haven in Pakistan and received help from that country’s military. It is difficult to think of a single case in history in which an insurgency was defeated when it had a sanctuary across the border. The Taliban also benefited from the massive corruption unleashed by the tens of billions of dollars of U.S. aid and military spending that has utterly distorted the Afghan economy. The United States weakened the Kabul government by insisting that it fight opium production, which for better or worse has been a staple agricultural product in provinces such as Helmand for centuries.

But ultimately, it comes down to a simple reality: An outside force that has an ambitious set of goals — establishing a functioning democracy, ending the opium trade, ensuring equality for women — cannot succeed without a powerful, competent and legitimate local partner.

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