Pakistan still nurtures the Taliban

The United States must not look away

“When you talk about Taliban, it’s like fish in a barrel in Pakistan. They train, they rest there. They get support.” [NYT]

The New York Times tells the story of a Pakistani teenager who was sent to fight the coalition forces in Afghanistan. It is quite clear that for all his protestations, Musharraf continues to retain the mujahideen as coercive foreign policy tools in both Afghanistan and Kashmir. So while he retains the trump card and assists American authorities in capturing al Qaeda operatives at significant moments, his intention to retain the jihadi option is looking more and more concrete. What is worse, it appears that the United States is both aware and accepts this. Unfortunately, if America does indeed come down with myopic amnesia on this issue it would mean its entire war on terrorism results in nought, even if Musharraf ultimately delivers Osama bin Laden.

The threat which America and many countries in the region face is not so much from a (nebulous) organisation called al Qaeda but from the institution that incubated it – the Pakistani military-intelligence apparatus. If Mr Bush wants to claim even a small victory in the war on terrorism, he must not allow Musharraf to get away with this.