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You’ll Have Had Your Pakistani "Co-operation" Then?

Posted by on February 27th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Despite a lot of slightly breathless retelling of the administration's preferred tale that Pakistan detaining so many Taliban high-ups is a "game-changer" for Pakistani co-operation against terrorist extremists, it doesn't seem to be going that way after all.

For one thing, Afghanistan apparently suspects Pakistan to be the directing force behind todays Kabul attack which obviously targeted Indian medical workers just a day after Pakistan told India to go f**k itself on the first day of new peace talks. At the talks, India handed over a fresh dossier of evidence about the 26/11/08 attacks in Mumbai in which it named two serving Pakistani officers, both majors, as complicit in the attacks and asked for them to be extradited. Pakistan flat refused, dismissing India's dossier as "literature, not evidence". 

But that's India, not America. So – ignoring the teensy fact that detente with India is one of the key bits of co-operation the U.S. has been pressing Pakistan for – what's the state of play with the Pakistani arrests that have been causing such a stir?

Well, a provincial court has blocked the extradition of Baradur and all the other high-ranking Taliban officials arrested, whether to the U.S., Afghanistan or anywhere else. It seems obvious that this move was carefully orchestrated and the Pakistani government was swift to say it wouldn't be appealing the court's decision. And it's quite difficult to know who exactly has been detained, other than baradur. As Colin Cookman points out, recent reports from Anand Gopal and the A.P. have had rather different lists of who has been arrested, rasing the possibility of at least some of Pakistan's old "security kabuki" being in play here. However, Anand's sources tell him something that sounds right to me:

The crackdown may to be related to efforts by some Taliban leaders to explore talks with Western and Afghan authorities independently of Pakistan, the UN official said. Pakistan is widely suspected of backing the Afghan Taliban in a bid to maintain influence in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad has long denied. But Pakistan may also be wary of Taliban attempts to initiate talks without its involvement or sanction.

“Pakistan wants a seat at the table,” says the UN official, who is familiar with Taliban efforts to initiate talks. “They don’t want the Taliban to act independently.”

“It’s possible that Mullah Baradar and those around him wanted to start thinking about an eventual settlement,” says Mr. Muzjda. Former and current Taliban figures emphasize, however, that such a settlement necessarily involves a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces in the country.

I wrote something similiar last week.

The Obama administration admits it's mystified, while still trying to keep the happy-talk going.

“We are not sure what these recent detentions [by Pakistani security services of Afghan Taliban leaders] have meant,” the official said. “There’s been over multiple years, Pakistani detentions of Afghanistan Taliban, but it’s been inconsistent.”

“We’ve had an ongoing discussion with Pakisan about nature of enemy itself,” the official said. “It’s not something we’ve always agreed on. …The Pakistanis have by way of their actions demonstrated that they are wiling to take the fight to elements of that network, but not to all elements at the same time, and not to all elements on our time. That’s understandable for reasons. They have their perspective, we have our perspective.”

If by "own persepctive" the White House means Pakistan has it's own agenda rather than any meaningful "co-operation", well they've got that bit right. But I suspect that General Kayani is finding continued success with his Jedi mind tricks every time an administration offical or a U.S. general pays a visit.

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