NYT reporter: Pakistan has been our real enemy

posted at 10:41 am on April 14, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

How much of a surprise is thisreally? According to a book published last week by New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall, our true enemy in Afghanistan was not the Taliban itself, put Pakistan — which used the Taliban as a proxy against the US and other outsiders in the central Asia region. Gall, who covered the war for more than a decade, told ABC News that not only did Pakistan push the Taliban to fight Americans in Afghanistan, they also kept Osama bin Laden safe from American efforts to find him:

Perhaps the biggest betrayal of all in the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, and one that came as no surprise to Gall, was the fact that bin Laden found shelter in Abbottabad, Pakistan, for six years before he was killed in a Navy SEAL raid in 2011. And, according to Gall, Pakistan’s government was orchestrating his protection.

“Pakistan did know,” Gall said, speaking about bin Laden’s location. “They were hiding him, they were handling him. Someone on the inside told me this. They had a special desk that knew where bin Laden was.

“Not only that, but put him there, protected him, oversaw him, handled him in the terms of the secret intelligence services,” she added. “And it’s all deniable, but I’m told the top bosses knew.” …

“Our relations with Pakistan have gone back to the same thing, and the thing that concerns me is that Zawahiri is still out there, in Pakistan, I believe,” she said. “He is also probably being hidden the same way and protected.”

The only way to be surprised by this would be to have complete ignorance of Pakistan’s involvement with the Taliban before 9/11. The ISI used the Taliban to control its northern neighbor, after partnering with the US to promote militias in opposition to the Soviet occupation from 1980-1989. They had the same relationship with Islamist extremist groups in Kashmir, too, and for the same reasons. It projects Pakistani power in support of their own goals. Even during the Pervez Musharraf era, when the Bush administration partnered with Pakistan on efforts to go after the Taliban, most suspected that Pakistan was playing both sides against each other as Musharraf never quite committed to eradicating the Taliban presence on his side of the border — even after they tried to assassinate him.

I doubt anyone in the Bush or Obama administrations were naive enough to miss the double-dealing, and it’s worth pointing out that the double-dealing appears to go both ways. Pakistan allows the US to use its airfields for drone warfare against the Taliban networks, albeit very grudgingly. That doesn’t make Gall wrong; she’s been there for more than a decade and has seen this from the ground up. But I don’t think that much of this was a surprise, either, which is one reason why the Pakistanis only found out about our bin Laden operation after the helicopters had his body on board and were leaving Pakistan’s air space.

Gall went on PBS last week to discuss this further:

This could also underscore why US/NATO policy in Afghanistan required a long-term commitment. If Pakistan wasn’t backing the Taliban, then there would be no need for the US to conduct nation-building in the wake of taking down the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The only way to push back against the ISI would be to create a representative republic that could engage the Pashtuns while marginalizing their Taliban leadership, curtailing Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan. We may not be in Afghanistan long enough for that strategy to succeed, but it would explain why we stuck around as long as we did. The only question this leaves is why Pakistan agreed to cooperate with us at all, but perhaps having an angry George W. Bush as President at the time answers that question.


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The only way to push back against the ISI would be to create a representative republic that could engage the Pashtuns while marginalizing their Taliban leadership, curtailing Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.

Yes, a representative republic is what they need. Because inside every 7th Century barbarian, there is an American longing to get out.

Akzed on April 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Don’t worry, John Kerry is all over this.

Fixed by Wednesday.

NapaConservative on April 14, 2014 at 10:48 AM

What is the logic of Pakistan supporting a group of people (Talibahn) that causes foreigners to come and wage war in Afghanistan?

Why doesn’t Pakistan just take over Afghanistan…with its own Army, not the Talibahn?

albill on April 14, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Yes, a representative republic is what they need. Because inside every 7th Century barbarian, there is an American longing to get out.

Akzed on April 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM

I think the question of whether that strategy could ever work is a worthwhile one. I’m just saying that this explains why the Bush administration might have adopted it, though.

Ed Morrissey on April 14, 2014 at 10:53 AM

They had a special desk that knew where bin Laden was.

smart furniture?!!?

ted c on April 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM

IRS audit of this reporter in 3…2…1…

workingclass artist on April 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM

The only question this leaves is why Pakistan agreed to cooperate with us at all, but perhaps having an angry George W. Bush as President at the time answers that question.

Back when we were at a minimum feared and potentially respected.

I miss those days.

Steve Eggleston on April 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Thanks for the news bulletin Carlotta, but the rest of us figured that out the night the seals raided the OBL’s compound right down the street from a Pakistani military base.

Duh.

fogw on April 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM

This will come as a surprise to everyone with authority in government and retards in the general population.

BL@KBIRD on April 14, 2014 at 11:01 AM

There is gambling going on in…DC Casablanca.

Schadenfreude on April 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM

The World is awash in Machiavellian villains. Pick yer flavor. The only thing that kept us from winning in Afghanistan (for the long term) was/is the Paki nukes. We know it, they know it and the Taliban knows it. Each is playing one off the other for – what? Control over the poppy fields? Bringing the Afghans closer to the 11th century? Get out, stay out and support India in Kashmir. !#%$@! Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Right after we get ‘Z-Man’)…

vnvet on April 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM

In my “reading for comprehension” moment of the day I substituted Pakistan in the headline for Palestinians and thought there had been a real epiphany. But alas, another No Sh!t Sherlock moment. But it’s fine, I like when the media has a brief moment of grasping the obvious.

Cindy Munford on April 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

This woman is an idiot. Wake me when she points out that the real problem is Islam everywhere. Anything short of that is obfuscation. This has nothing to do with nation states at all. Islam does not recognize nation states as a geo-political organizing principle. It recognizes the Ummah and the Caliphate. There wouldn’t even be nation states there if they hadn’t been artificially imposed by Western countries.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Radical Islam is the enemy, regardless of what pretend country it’s holed up in.

Akzed on April 14, 2014 at 11:10 AM

As for the “Pakistanis” “grudgingly” allowing drone strikes against the Taliban, since when do Muzzies care about killing their own. It’s all fine as long as it serves Islam’s ultimate goal — the imposition of Sharia on the entire planet.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Well then, the only smart thing to do is give them more taxpayers money. A few brizillion should do it. Smart Power!..Keep up the good work!

Mimzey on April 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM

I’m guessing this gal was also working for CNN when they sat on Saddam Hussein’s tactics.

Access. pffft, what good is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Good God y’all!

DanMan on April 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

She is 100% right, but I’d throw in Saudi Arabia as well but instead we went after Saddam. Among other things, Saudi Arabia is an apartheid state with regards to women. But no, we had Bush holding hands with the King and Obama bowing to the king. The vast majority of all the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabian; and Pakistan hid OBL. The one man that did what our idiot intelligence agencies couldn’t do – the Paki doctor that gave up OBL location is currently rotting in a Paki prison. The USA owes that man something big – as well as the reward money but nope, that idiot Obama has allowed the Pakistanis to imprison him.

MoreLiberty on April 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

The only question this leaves is why Pakistan agreed to cooperate with us at all, but perhaps having an angry George W. Bush as President at the time answers that question.

I think Pakistan’s leaders see India as an existential threat, and see their nuclear capacity as the only protection against India.

Their “cooperation” was based on our giving them money to modernize and maintain those weapons.

kcewa on April 14, 2014 at 11:21 AM

bin Laden found shelter in Abbottabad, Pakistan, for six years before he was killed in a Navy SEAL raid in 2011.

Navy SEALs were involved? I thought Obama personally HALO’d in and took the kill shot. That’s certainly the impression from the way he crowed about “getting” Bin Laden.

Happy Nomad on April 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM

India. My understanding is that one cannot over emphasize how much Pakistan loathes it. They fear India far more than a radical Afghanistan.

The Pakistan military and security elite don’t want a relatively pro-west or at least not anti-India Afghanistan along with China and India.

This is a classic example of how our “allies” play us and use us just as much if not more than we use them. That shouldn’t be a surprise.

SteveMG on April 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Obama can’t pronounce corpsman but he properly pronounces Pock-EE-Ston.

ConstantineXI on April 14, 2014 at 11:28 AM

islam has always been our enemy. First foreign war we ever fought as a nation was against muslim pirates in North Africa.

ConstantineXI on April 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM

It’s interesting that this book is getting so much publicity since most of what she says has been widely known for a long time.

Maybe the time is just ripe for people to understand that standard old geo-political expansionism is at the heart of so many if these conflicts in Asia. Religion is a factor, but Pakistan wants to control Afghanistan because it wants to be a geo-political force and not because of Islam.

MTF on April 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Among other things, Saudi Arabia is an apartheid state with regards to women.

MoreLiberty on April 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

SA is an apartheid state not just with regard to women, but to all non-Muslims. And they don’t let Jews in at all.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/saudi-arabia/practical-information/visas

Can you imagine if any other country had such a policy? Can you imagine if the US, for example, refused to allow, for example, non-Christians into the country? There would be worldwide rioting in protest. But Saudi Arabia? You hear nothing. A total media blackout.

When is this dumb woman going to write a book about that? Never. She’s just part of the cover-up.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

In my “reading for comprehension” moment of the day I substituted Pakistan in the headline for Palestinians and thought there had been a real epiphany. But alas, another No Sh!t Sherlock moment. But it’s fine, I like when the media has a brief moment of grasping the obvious.

Cindy Munford on April 14, 2014 at 11:07 AM

In order to understand why any individual or group does the things they do, you have to understand how they construct their “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs“. Attachment theory aside, primal motivation asserts itself through layer’s and and/or nand/nor cognitive decisions as they rank in priority on the individual or groups hierarchy of needs.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the foundational need, was remaining alive. Each need thereafter transitioned further and further up the hierarchy becoming more and more abstract the further away from it became from the fundamental act of remaining alive.

This is where the critical deviation between those sincerely holding religious faith and those not doing so arises. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places remaining alive as the absolutely bed rock foundation of the hierarchy of needs.

Religious faith places the consequences of ones individual actions in this life as the absolutely bed rock foundation of the hierarchy of needs.

The epiphany you thought you almost saw, failed to exist, because of that critical deviation between those sincerely holding religious faith and those not doing so. It has been a long time since anyone in the United States Government simultaneously held both a deep religious faith and the cognitive prowess required to understand the profound difference between how Islam and the West construct their hierarchy of needs.

oscarwilde on April 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM

India. My understanding is that one cannot over emphasize how much Pakistan loathes it. They fear India far more than a radical Afghanistan.

SteveMG on April 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Keep in mind Pakistan was founded by ex-pat Muslim Indians, and Indian ganglords so it’s predicated on not being India. Like most of the mid-east, the boundaries are unnatural to the regional cultures. Pakistan proper really shouldn’t be much larger than Kashmir.

The only reason they haven’t become North Korea are from their roots in criminal corruption, which always stops a cult leader from coming to power.

Just consider they killed Bhutto, but kept Bin Laden and Zawahiri safe.

budfox on April 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM

What?

Anyway. The Taliban and Madrases in Pakistan were developed and maintained by Saudia Arabia to further the Ummah, the necessity for the world to be a Muslim community. The fact that the Taliban expanded into Afghanistan just naturally follows.

TerryW on April 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

This could also underscore why US/NATO policy in Afghanistan required a long-term commitment. If Pakistan wasn’t backing the Taliban, then there would be no need for the US to conduct nation-building in the wake of taking down the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The only way to push back against the ISI would be to create a representative republic that could engage the Pashtuns while marginalizing their Taliban leadership, curtailing Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan. We may not be in Afghanistan long enough for that strategy to succeed, but it would explain why we stuck around as long as we did. The only question this leaves is why Pakistan agreed to cooperate with us at all, but perhaps having an angry George W. Bush as President at the time answers that question.

No…no…no…

This is Vietnam all over again. Limited war at its best. So we must stay in Afghanistan forever, because we won’t deal with Pakistan (North Vietnam Part II) who instigating the whole thing?

We should have bombed Pakistan into dust after 9-11, deprived them of their nukes, and helped India reclaim some territory. We did not because we had fools running our government at the time, and we still have fools running it now. Everyone gets all excited about Iran getting a nuke, but no one ever gets excited that Pakistans has lots of nukes, and hands nuke tech out to everyone. Pakistan, along with the Arabian oil states, are the biggest supporters of sunni jihadism on the planet, and the U.S. tends to be who they hit.

It is just so annoying how incompetent the Bush administration was…and why I will never vote for another Bush again….ever.

William Eaton on April 14, 2014 at 12:18 PM

“All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Even if it is years old.

Hello NYT. Welcome to the party. Even if you are a few years late.

Anyone whose ever been to AFG knew this was happening. The Taliban pretty regularly and without much of a problem cross the border into Pakistan. Oddly, they often come back better armed. Gee- I wonder what’s going on there?

The ISI have been the Taliban’s benefactor for years.

Maybe the NYT has no idea how to Google: US, Pakistan border, Taliban. They would find something interesting that’s happened since this President took office. We no longer pursue the enemy.

Hey Carlotta. Rip Van Winkle called. He said it’s time to wake up.

Marcus Traianus on April 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Marcus Traianus on April 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

True, but how come Bush did crush Pakistan from day one. Bush was running around calling Pakistan an ally! Instead we invaded Iraq…because they might have had what we all know Pakistan has.

Not defending Obama, he is a imbecile, but Bush plan was equally stupid, right up there with Kennedy’s and LBJ’s Vietnam plan to limit the war.

William Eaton on April 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The government runs things less effectively than the private sector. Why should military policy be any different?

Our policy was foolish from the get-go.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Keep in mind Pakistan was founded by ex-pat Muslim Indians, and Indian ganglords so it’s predicated on not being India. Like most of the mid-east, the boundaries are unnatural to the regional cultures. Pakistan proper really shouldn’t be much larger than Kashmir.

budfox on April 14, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Pakistan (as a nation state in the modern sense) was founded by the British, not ex-pat Muslim Indians. There was no such thing as an “ex-pat” back then. These were pre-nation-state days in that part of the world. Muslims conquered what was then generally considered “India” in the middle ages (slaughtering millions of Hindus as they did, as is typical of Muslims). Then the British took over the place. And then when the British were ready to pull out, they divided that whole region into modern day nation states (internationally recognized fixed borders) for the very first time in world history. Most Muslims were concentrated to the north, so the British made that a separate country — “Pakistan” — to try to keep the peace. It obviously hasn’t worked out so well.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM

nukes solve problems.

dmacleo on April 14, 2014 at 12:34 PM

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 12:33 PM

My friend from Bangladesh told me that when Pakistan separated from India, Hindus corpses were sent back on rail cars.

Of the violence that accompanied the Partition of India, historians Ian Talbot and Gurharpal Singh write:

There are numerous eyewitness accounts of the maiming and mutilation of victims. The catalogue of horrors includes the disembowelling of pregnant women, the slamming of babies’ heads against brick walls, the cutting off of victims limbs and genitalia and the display of heads and corpses. While previous communal riots had been deadly, the scale and level of brutality was unprecedented. Although some scholars question the use of the term ‘genocide’ with respect to the Partition massacres, much of the violence manifested as having genocidal tendencies. It was designed to cleanse an existing generation as well as prevent its future reproduction.”

From Wiki. Apparently between 200,000 and 1 million were killed.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Telling the truth @ NYT without WH OK. Here’s a reporter about to lose her job.

RdLake on April 14, 2014 at 12:58 PM

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 12:47 PM

The carnage that you cite doesn’t sound all that different from, for example, last year’s Kenya mall attack, does it?

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Our political leaders are at best utterly incompetent, and at worst complicit.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 1:06 PM

She’s right, and Pakistan got the money for the Taliban and the madrassas from Saudi Arabia.

FloatingRock on April 14, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Our political leaders are at best utterly incompetent, and at worst complicit.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Quite right. Even from a brief perusal of wikipedia, you can see that the UK bungled the entire partition from the beginning, allowing muslim nationalism to flourish and amp up in the territory.

This directly led to the violence.

Of course Pakistan knew where OBL was. If we were serious about retaliating, we should have destroyed Pakistan’s infrastructure and then thrown full support behind India. No nation building necessary.

Current events see India, China, and Russia allying to form an alternate currency to trade oil, which would be the death knell of the dollar.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Our political leaders are at best utterly incompetent, and at worst complicit.

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Quite right. Even from a brief perusal of wikipedia, you can see that the UK bungled the entire partition from the beginning, allowing muslim nationalism to flourish and amp up in the territory.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Meh. I don’t see it as that they bungled it so much. The problem, as always, is that we have to confront Islam, which we’re not doing now. Instead, the more Muslims kill us, the more our idiotic political leaders get on TV telling us how wonderful Islam is. It’s just suicide.

At least the British at that time had the good sense to try to partition off Muslims. Can you imagine any US leader today proposing the same policy? The British at that time were ruthlessly pragmatic. We could learn a lesson from that period of history. But it’s a far cry from where they are today: Total dhimmis.

And “Muslim nationalism” is a redundancy.

Of course Pakistan knew where OBL was. If we were serious about retaliating, we should have destroyed Pakistan’s infrastructure and then thrown full support behind India. No nation building necessary.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 1:21 PM

We definitely need to be supporting India’s Hindus against both India’s Muslims and Pakistan. Even though there are plenty of India Hindus that are confused about this as well. Just as there are Americans.

Current events see India, China, and Russia allying to form an alternate currency to trade oil, which would be the death knell of the dollar.

antisense on April 14, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Do you really think so? That’s a serious question by me. (We’re getting waaay of topic now.) As long as our core economic policies remain in place, monetary matters will be fine. What one doesn’t want in terms of currency is sudden fluctuations in exchange rates. If, hypothetically, India, China, and Russia conspired to trigger sudden fluctuations, would that be bad? Yes. But it would be bad for them too. I don’t see it happening. These are rational actors. We might disagree with them; we might disagree with their “rational” decisions, but at least they are rational in the Western sense. They are not seeking mutually assured destruction.

Muslims are a different story. Muslims are not rational. If Muslims had the power to cause a sudden fluctuation in exchange rates, then we would need to buckle our seat belts. In order to prevent that from happening, we need to have an honest public discussion about what Islam actually is, and start basing our policies on reality. But that’s not what we have. Instead, we have practically every President since Thomas Jefferson lying to us and telling us that Islam is a religion of peace and that we should just lay our heads on the chopping block.

But as I say, we’re way off topic here. Fun discussion though. :)

WhatSlushfund on April 14, 2014 at 2:12 PM

The ISI didn’t only just “use” the Taliban, they created the Taliban. And actively recruited al Qaida’s presence in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Pakistan is and always was a terrorist sponsoring state. Steve Coll isa raging liberal who worked for the NY Crimes…but I have to give him credit where it is due. This book lays out the time line of the rise of the Taliban right up to the day…9/11.

http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Wars-Afghanistan-Invasion-September/dp/1594200076/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397499483&sr=1-6&keywords=steve+coll

norm1111 on April 14, 2014 at 2:19 PM

So those of us that said this during the Bush years were not wrong. We may got the town or village wrong, but we all knew it was in Pakistan.

Faramir on April 14, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Nobody in government seems to care in foreign policy what’s true. They only care what’s deniable.

David Blue on April 14, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The taliban NEVER attacked us until we invaded their country. Pakistan has always been the enemy – it didn’t take a genius to figure that out, and WE are the insurgents over their, not the natives fighting the invaders (us!). I’ve always found it amazing how flag-waiving dumbass amerikans are so easily led around by the nose and brainwashed by our criminal government.

earlgrey on April 15, 2014 at 12:02 AM