Holbrooke In Pakistan
According to this account from The New York Times, while Taliban forces were launching attacks in Kabul, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Af-Pak, visited the Pakistani tribal areas. That’s a pretty strong don’t-think-we’re-shook signal. He heard from beleaguered citizens of the insurgent/terrorist-riddled Swat valley — who may not be as naturally aligned with the insurgency as the Pakistani Taliban seems to think — about insurgent perfidy, a more compelling message than the typical requests for military aid from the Pakistani government.
That government, The Times reports, reiterated its demands that the United States stop its missile attacks on the tribal areas. But behind closed doors there may be a renewed U.S.-Pakistani modus vivendi on that front:
A retired Pakistani general, Talat Masood, who attended a dinner in honor of Mr. Holbrooke at the American Embassy on Tuesday night, said he got the impression that there may be some effort by the Americans to make the drone strikes more palatable by conducting them as a joint operation.
The Daily Times, a major Pakistani newspaper, has an interesting bit on that in a recent editorial, which seems to capture the emerging contours of policy:
The US determination to continue with Predator attacks means the intelligence is proving effective in taking out high-value targets. Therefore, Washington will ignore public protests by Islamabad. However, there is need, simultaneously, to shield the Pakistani government from the negative fall-out of use of force. This is where reconstruction and development efforts come in. The joint mechanism also means the two sides want to arrive at commonalities; moreover, that the US wants to bring on board Pakistan’s security and other concerns.
The paper approves of that, by the way.