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John Hughes

Finally, tough love for US ally Pakistan

With nuclear missiles and a hotbed of terrorists, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Washington's aggressive new approach toward insurgent groups in Pakistan, particularly the Haqqani network, is crucial.

By John Hughes / October 17, 2011

America’s sometime ally Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world – with at least 100 nuclear missiles and a hotbed of terrorists not friendly to America. The time has come for the United States to display the tough love that tough partnerships sometimes require. Fortunately, Washington has now begun a more aggressive approach toward insurgent groups operating out of Pakistan, particularly the Haqqani network.

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The Haqqani network has been attacking US soldiers in neighboring Afghanistan and is believed to be responsible for the Sept. 13 assault on the US Embassy in Kabul. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency is accused by high American officials of supporting and protecting the Haqqani network, which is closely allied with Al Qaeda.

But the Pakistani military has also cracked down on various other anti-American terrorist activities. And Pakistan serves as an important conduit for supplies to the American military campaign in Afghanistan. Still, Pakistan plays favorites with some terrorists and confronts others. Some of those terrorists would undoubtedly like to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Why should the US, which sends a great deal of aid to Pakistan, put up with this? Because it is important that Pakistan become a stable nation in the region, that none of those nukes fall into mischievous hands, and that a country that has drifted in and out of military rule now consolidates strong democratic civilian government. It would also be a positive development if that government looked more to the US for aid than to China, which has a long record of cultivating Pakistan.

But the US can’t afford to excuse Pakistan’s failings any longer. In the past, secret talks between US officials and Haqqani representatives have apparently offered no hope for less militancy, though these efforts continue. Whether the Pakistani government likes it or not, the US has now act begun to act more aggressively against a Haqqani organization that continues to target Americans. Last Thursday and Friday, targeted drone strikes against a Haqqani stronghold in North Waziristan (in a city never before targeted by US drones) killed seven insurgents.


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