Foreign Policy Blogs

Drones Doing Their Job Maybe Too Well

6a00d8341c562c53ef0105371be178970b-500wiPakistani intelligence officials briefed the US military yesterday and though they agreed that American drone attacks were degrading Al Qaeda’s leaders and more importantly their ability to foment far reaching violence, that the radical group, partnered with the Taliban, was increasingly destabilizing the Pakistani state.  As much as the US desires a stable (and free?) Afghanistan, maintaining a secure and capable nuclear-armed Pakistani state is equally if not more important.

The Pakistani intelligence officials voiced their concern that the increase of American troops on the Afghan side of the conflict could push the Taliban further into Pakistani territory, a good thing for Kabul, bad thing for Islamabad, as these insurgent groups desperately try to maintain a sanctuary.  The intelligence report also acknowledges the growing dependency of Al Qaeda on its Taliban bretheren as the group is more and more desperate for protection and resources.  The Al Qaeda-Taliban partnership was “morphing into a monster and growing uglier,” said one senior Pakistani intelligence official.

Though I do not approve of the Obama administration’s use of  the term ‘Af-Pak’ to describe the regional conflict, (it is condescending to both states and undermines each’s soveriegnty when used in any official setting) this latest analysis of the conflict once again points out how connected one country’s stability depends on what’s going on in the other.  It would be great if the US/NATO/Afghan army could dislodge the Taliban insurgents from their territory, but what would this mean for Pakistan?  Where would these insurgents go?  It is obvious that a pincer move, giving the insurgents nowhere to go and hopefully forcing a truly negotiated peace, would be ideal, but this does not look possible, especially with the Paki government making deals like the one in the Swat region.

It is great that the drones are doing ‘their’ job and pushing Al Qaeda further and further to the brink, but now the Pakistani/Afghani governments and militaries need to do theirs as well.  And the US/NATO need to help them in any way they can to make sure that both sides become more stable with their sovereignty in tact.