Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bush Agenda in Pakistan Remains Crystal Unclear

Not long ago I wrote a piece, "Something Stinks in Pakistan". The odor just got worse according to senior U.S. official. Speaking on condition of anonymity in Washington, he told reporters:

"There is no question that the iconic leaders of al-Qaeda - (Ayman al-)Zawahiri, Bin Laden... are in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

"We believe that the Taleban's shura (consultation) council leaders led by Mullah Omar reside in Quetta in Pakistan."

The BBC hinted at the source of the information, although it didn't say if the terrorist took a ride on the waterboard.

Last month, captured Taleban spokesman Muhammad Hanif made similar claims about Mullah Omar's whereabouts, which were rejected by Pakistan. Mr Hanif said Mullah Omar was protected by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Afghan President Hamid Karzai made similar allegations last year. The ISI was instrumental in backing the Taleban after civil war swept Afghanistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989.

This report comes days after Pakistani truce talks with the leader of the troubled tribal region, believed to be sheltering bin Laden. This is the same leader President Musharraf accused of killing Benazir Bhutto.

So what is the average American to make of this muddled mess? Does Bush want to set the table for another pre-emptive strike in sovereign Pakistan? Is the adminstration putting pressure on Musharraf with the leak? Get your intelligence folks in line, or else there will be consequences.

As for the political side of the equation, who is on whose side? Is Musharraf supporting terrorists or hunting them? What is America getting for its over $1 billion investment in Pakistan security?

This got leaked for a reason. I hope its more than a Deliverance, "I'm gonna make you squeal" signal to terrorists. Please let it be something strategic that benefits the people of Pakistan. They've suffered so at the hands of their leaders. Come to think of it, so have we...