Why Pakistan won’t help the U.S. in Afghanistan

The military official says he worries that the Washington debate about Pakistan is becoming “hyper-focused” on a demand that the Pakistani army attack North Waziristan to stop Taliban insurgents from crossing into Afghanistan – a request he says the Pakistanis are incapable of meeting because their forces are “stretched too thin.”

Almost the same words are used by an official of the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Pakistan’s spy agency, as he tells me why a new offensive isn’t going to happen soon, no matter what Washington wants. The Pakistani army has been fighting hard in the tribal areas for nearly two years, he says, and “we are battle weary.”…

The U.S. military official, standing at his map, says Washington should realize that the Pakistanis “are unable to conduct significant new operations without additional troops. That’s not a criticism, it’s a reality.” This official notes that the Pakistani military has lost 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers fighting the extremists, with three to four times that many wounded. Civilian casualties are in the tens of thousands. If America experienced this level of casualties, he says, “we would probably call it a second American Civil War.”

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