Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Zardari's Vow

Via an interview with Roger Cohen (nod to SWJ:)

"I will fight them because they are a cancer to my society, not because of my wife only, but because they are a cancer, yes, and they did kill the mother of my children, so their way of life is what I want to kill. I will suck the oxygen out of their system so there will be no Talibs."

Give it a read it's an enlightening interview. Zardari comes across adamant about and focused on settling his countries growing insurgency. Of course questions remain about his ability to bring Pakistan's military in line with his governments policies and one wonders how effectively he can reign in the countries intelligence service, ISI. His rhetoric regarding such is certainly bold:
"We've changed a lot of things and a lot more will happen, and anyone not conforming with my government's policy will be thrown out."

Will the US leave off cross border operations that have brought a great deal of political turmoil and allow him a grace period to make his struggle against Taliban militants, "Pakistan's war"? I've long been a proponent of American counter insurgency operations inside Pakistan's lawless tribal regions but perhaps Zardari can focus his people's anger after "Pakistan's 9/11" into a nationalistic anti-terrorism movement and bring them to identify fighting the Taliban as their own struggle and not just that of the US and Afghanistan.

Perhaps a better question would be can the US afford such a grace period? As Adm. Mike Mullen observed earlier this month:
"Frankly, we are running out of time,"


Jay@Soob said...

Wow. No thoughts. I drift alone in contemplating the future of American policy regarding Pakistan under nascent leadership.

Anonymous said...

Not entirely, please excuse my lateness. Zardari is finally someone we can work with, who is (tragically/sp?) invested in the defeat of the Mehsud/Haqqani/Hekmaytar network. It's a shame we took so long to figure out that a) ISI was playing us and b) only a civilian could reform the Pakistani military instead of one of their own (Musharraf). I do believe that Zardari invited Karzai to his inauguration, and with adults back in charge in January, perhaps a serious Washington-Kabul-Islamabad axis can emerge to seriously challenge the warlords. But that might be too optimistic?

Jay@Soob said...

stephen, apologies for only just noticing your reply! I've spent a good deal of time reading about and thinking about the Pakistan angle to the Afghan war. I think success is going to require a rather intricate measure of light footprint military action (leave off the airstrikes!) and maneuvering the various tribes that make up and fall under the Taliban "umbrella." First will be recognizing, as Robert Kaplan wisely pointed out, that the Taliban is not a monolithic organization.
In this light, I've got to spend some time discovering the makeup of the Taliban network. At some point I'll post some analysis.

In Zardari I hold some cautious optimism. He's taking steps in the right direction (canning the head of the ISI, rounding up popular support against AQ, etc) but the question remains can he hold on?