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Tuesday, July 17

Less sympathy for Pakistan's military, Senator McCain; more sympathy for U.S. troops

I could have picked from any number of U.S. Members of Congress to question but I'm singling out Senator John McCain because he's proved himself over the course of decades to be a good friend to the U.S. soldier, and because he has a demonstrated knowledge about U.S. defense matters. Yet the statements I quote below would alert anyone who's well informed on Pakistan that he's either poorly informed or dissembling on the matter of Pakistan's military.

So, given that American soldiers are being injured and killed by militant groups supported or controlled by Pakistan's military, I think Mr McCain's statements about Pakistan merit particular attention. Take, for example, the quotes from this April 19, 2012 report from the [Pakistan] Express Tribune:
Former US presidential hopeful, Republican Senator John McCain says it is reprehensible that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence maintains a close relationship with the Haqqani Network that is responsible for American deaths. Addressing a packed hall at the think tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC, Senator McCain said that he had sympathy for Pakistan's military since the Pakistani government is dysfunctional, but said that it remained a "source of never-ending frustration" that the ISI had a continuous relationship with the Haqqani Network, when [Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani] is responsible for appointing the head of the ISI.[...]
Senator McCain was poorly informed or deliberately misleading the public if he intended to imply that the Haqqanis were the only terrorist group that had a "continuous relationship" with the ISI. Or did he assume that he didn't have to mention the other groups if he was laboring under the belief that the others had a "continuous relationship" only with the Pakistani military, rather than the ISI?  Whatever he believed, here's a  handy list from the same July 11 Long War Journal report I linked to yesterday:
Pakistan has resisted, and continues to resist, US calls for a crackdown on the militant haven of North Waziristan, which is home base for al Qaeda, Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and a host of other jihadist groups that conduct attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Nor will Pakistan heed US requests to move against the so-called "good Taliban" groups based in both North and South Waziristan, including Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and the notorious Haqqani family. Additionally, Pakistan will not address the problem of its plethora of home-grown terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-Jhangvi, Hizbul Mujahideen, and a host of others. In fact, these groups openly fundraise and recruit for jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir without repercussions to this day.
There is a veritable alphabet soup of terrorist groups either controlled or closely associated with Pakistan's defense/ISI, or openly tolerated by these establishments -- groups that kill and maim American and other NATO troops in Afghanistan, rob NATO supply convoys, and kill Afghan troops and civilians.

As to the division he implied that exists between Pakistan's military and the country's "dysfunctional" civilian government -- was Mr McCain receiving his intelligence on Pakistan from the back of a cereal box? Or was he trying to mislead the Carnegie Endowment audience?

If he was misleading, why? If he was poorly informed, why? He sits on two defense-related Senate committees -- the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Armed Services. The committees are not necessarily the best source for intelligence on Pakistan. But given that Mr McCain has spoken in public several times in the past few years as an authority on Pakistan and the Afghan War, I would assume that his participation in the committees gives him at least some accurate background on Pakistan's military. And accurate background on the military is widely available through open sources.

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