Thursday, November 01, 2007

U.S. and Pakistan: A Frayed Alliance

The recent article by Joby Warrick, reveals again one more reason that affairs in the North West Frontier of Pakistan are so poorly managed.

Washington Post
By Joby Warrick

"Five years ago, elite Pakistani troops stationed near the border with Afghanistan began receiving hundreds of pairs ofU.S.-made night-vision goggles that would enable them to see and fight al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in the dark. The sophisticated goggles, supplied by the Bush administration at a cost of up to $9,000 a pair, came with an implicit message: Step up the attacks."
"But every three months, the troops had to turn in their goggles for two weeks to be inventoried, because the U.S.military wanted to make sure none were stolen or given away,U.S. and Pakistani officials said. Militants perceived a pattern and scurried into the open without fear during the two-week counts."
"'They knew exactly when we didn't have the goggles, and they took full advantage,' said a senior Pakistani government official who closely tracks military operations on the border"
"The goggles are but a fragment of the huge military aid Washington sends to Pakistan,but the frustrations expressed by Pakistani officials are emblematic of a widening gulf between two military powers that express a common interest in defeating terrorism."
"frustrations are rising among military officers on both sides because the aid has produced neither battlefield success nor great trust"
"U.S. officials say part of the problem is that the Pakistani government has lacked sufficient commitment to engage the enemy"
"Pakistani officials, for their part, say that strict U.S. controls over equipment and a failure to provide other equipment, such as spare parts,have impeded their ability to hunt down Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers.In addition to complaining about the goggles, they cite U.S.-made attack helicopters that are grounded for weeks because of parts shortages.Pakistani officials acknowledge slow progress in driving terrorists out of the frontier provinces, but they chafe at suggestions that U.S. military aid is being squandered. "
"By most measures, the country's security problems are worsening"
"'The billions of American taxpayer dollars to Pakistan since September 11have clearly failed to prevent our number one enemy from setting up shop in that country,' said Sen. Robert Menendez"
"Less than a tenth of overall U.S. aid to Pakistan since 2001 has gone to support the country's economy and social infrastructure, including about $64million for schools -- a sum smaller than the funding level for education in a typical small U.S. city, said the CSIS report, written by Craig Cohen and directed by Frederick Barton and Karin von Hippel."
"'We just haven't put very much into securing hearts and minds,'Barton said.'It is possible to generate goodwill. If the United States were the champion of teachers in Pakistan, we'd probably all be okay.'"

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