FINANCE

The United States and Pakistan are once again facing the threat of Afghanistan


US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (R) met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on September 2, 2021 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Injured by Betancur | AFP | Getty Images

The Taliban’s occupation of Kabul has deepened the mutual mistrust between the United States and Pakistan, which are involved in Afghanistan. But both sides still need each other.

The Biden administration is looking for new ways to stop the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, it is likely to look again at Pakistan, which has been critical of US intelligence and national security because of its proximity to Afghanistan and its contacts with now-in-charge Taliban leaders.

After two decades of war, U.S. officials have accused Pakistan of playing a double game by promising to fight terrorism and cultivate Taliban and other extremist groups attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan with a pledge to cooperate with Washington. Islamabad, meanwhile, pointed to the failed promises of a supportive government in Kabul when the United States ousted the Taliban after September 11, 2001, extremist groups took refuge in eastern Afghanistan and carried out deadly attacks across Pakistan.

But the United States seeks Pakistan’s cooperation in counterterrorism efforts and may seek permission to operate surveillance aircraft in Afghanistan or other intelligence assistance. And Pakistan wants U.S. military assistance and good relations with Washington, even as its leaders openly celebrate the Taliban’s rise to power.

Raja Krishnamurthy, a Democrat from Illinois and a U.S. representative, said, “For the past 20 years, Pakistan has been essential to the US military’s logistics. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee.” . “

Former diplomats and intelligence officials of the two countries say the possibility of cooperation is severely limited due to the events of the last two decades and Pakistan’s constant competition with India. The former Afghan government, which New Delhi strongly supported, regularly accused Pakistan of harboring the Taliban. The new Taliban government has included officials whom US officials have long believed are linked to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.

Hussein Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, said he understood that “officials in both countries are trying to take advantage of the situation by trying to seduce them and find common ground.” But Haqqani said he hoped Pakistan would “provide all kinds of support to the Taliban.”

“Pakistan has been waiting for this moment for 20 years,” said Haqqani, who is in the Hudson Institute’s think tank. “They now feel like they have a satellite status.”

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U.S. officials are trying to quickly build what President Joe Biden called “The Horizon” to monitor and stop the terrorist threat.

Surveillance drones have to fly long distances, limiting the time that the United States can use to target targets, without any partner countries bordering Afghanistan. The United States has lost most of its informants and intelligence partners in the current ousted Afghan government, making it critical to find common ground with other governments that have more resources in the country.

Pakistan could be instrumental in this effort by allowing “overflight” rights for American spy planes from the Persian Gulf, or by allowing US surveillance or counter-terrorism bases on its border with Afghanistan. There are a few more options among Afghanistan’s neighbors. Iran is the US opponent. And Central Asian countries north of Afghanistan face different levels of Russian influence.

There is no known agreement so far. A statement from the Pakistani government said CIA Director William Burns visited Islamabad earlier this month to meet with Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI leader Lieutenant General Fayez Hamid. In recent weeks, Burns and Hamid have traveled separately to Kabul to meet with Taliban leaders. The CIA declined to comment on the visit.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi noted this week that Islamabad had cooperated with US requests to facilitate peace talks before the Taliban took over and had agreed to US military requests during the war.

“We are often criticized for not doing enough,” Qureshi told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “But we weren’t appreciated enough to do what was done.”

Qureshi will not directly answer whether Pakistan will allow surveillance equipment or drone over-flight bases.

“They don’t have to be there physically to share their intelligence,” he said of the United States. “There are smarter ways to do it.”

Afghanistan has a long history of CIA and ISI, which returned in the 1990s with the goal of arming the Mujahideen-“freedom fighters” against the Soviet occupation. The CIA sent arms and money to Afghanistan through Pakistan.

Among those fighters was Osama bin Laden. Others will become leaders of the Taliban, who won the civil war in 1996 and gained control of much of the country. The Taliban sheltered bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders who carried out deadly attacks on Americans abroad in 1998 and then struck the United States on September 11, 2001.

// After 11, the United States immediately sought Pakistan’s cooperation in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. According to a declassified cable released from the National Security Archives at George Washington University, officials in President George W. Bush’s administration have made a number of demands on Pakistan, ranging from blocking shipments of weapons to al-Qaeda to providing intelligence to the United States and military and intelligence flights. Area.

The CIA will carry out hundreds of drone strikes from Pakistan targeting others accused of links to al-Qaeda leaders and terrorist groups. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the attack, according to figures provided by outside observers, leading to widespread protests and public outrage in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the US-backed coalition in Kabul has continued to accuse Pakistan of harboring the Taliban after ousting the group from power. And bin Laden was killed in a covert operation by US special forces in 2011 in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, where the country’s military academy was located. The bin Laden operation has raised questions in the United States about whether Pakistan harbored bin Laden and angered Pakistanis who thought the operation violated their sovereignty.

CIA officials tried to confront their Pakistani counterparts after gathering more evidence from Pakistani intelligence officials about the Taliban’s money and the transfer of fighters in the then-growing insurgency in South Asia, said Douglas London, who oversaw the CIA’s counterterrorism operation in South Asia. 2018.

“They’ll say, ‘You just come to my office, tell me where the location is,'” he said. “They usually provide our lip service and say they can’t confirm Intel.”

London, author of the upcoming book “The Recruiter”, said he hoped American intelligence would consider a limited partnership with Pakistan with mutual enemies such as al-Qaeda or Islamic State-Khorasan, who last claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide attack outside Kabul airport. Months in the last days.

London said the risk is sometimes “because your partner is as threatening to you as the enemy you are following.”



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