Washington, Jan 8 (ANI): The Obama administration has decided to offer more military, intelligence and economic support to Pakistan, despite the ongoing frustration that Pakistani officials are not doing enough to combat terrorist havens in the country's tribal areas.
The decision to double down on Pakistan represents the Obama administration's attempt to call the bluff of Pakistani officials, who have long complained that the United States has failed to understand their security priorities or provide adequate support, the Washington Post reports.
Vice President Joe Biden, who plans to travel to Pakistan next week for meetings with army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and top government leaders, will deliver that message.
Pakistan has complained in the past that promised US aid, currently projected to a total of over 3 billion dollars in 2011, has been slow to arrive, and that the requests for helicopters and other military equipment have remained unfulfilled, the report said.
Beginning with Biden's visit, the time may be ripe for a frank exchange of views and priorities between the two sides, an administration official said.
The Pakistanis "understand that Afghanistan-Pakistan has become the single most important foreign policy issue to the United States, and their cachet has gone up," said the official, adding that they, however, also realise that they may have reached the point of maximum leverage, "and things about their region are going to change one way or the other" in the near future, as Congress and the American public grow increasingly disillusioned with the war and a timeline for military withdrawal is set.
"Something is going to give," the official said. "There is going to be an end-game scenario and they're trying to guess where we're heading."
According to the report, on intelligence sharing, the administration plans to address Pakistan's complaints that the Americans have not established enough outposts on the Afghan side of the border to stop insurgent infiltration, while pressing the Pakistanis to allow US and Afghan officials to staff border coordination centres inside Pakistan itself.
The intelligence coordination is part of an effort to build political, trade and security links between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a way of assuaging Pakistan's fears that India, its traditional adversary, is building its own influence in Afghanistan, the report added.
"We think there's a lot of room for improvement on that front," said one senior administration official, who participated in last month's White House Afghanistan war review and was authorized to discuss it on the condition of anonymity.
The administration also plans to "redouble our efforts to look for political approaches" to ending the war, including a recognition that Pakistan "must play an important role", if not a dominant one, in reconciliation talks with the Taliban, he added.
An intelligence estimate prepared for the review concluded that the war in Afghanistan could not be won unless the insurgent sanctuaries were wiped out, and that there was no real indication Pakistan planned to undertake the effort, the report said.
But the White House concluded that while Taliban safe havens were "a factor," they were "not the only thing that stands between us and success in Afghanistan," the senior official said, adding, "We understand the general view a lot of people espouse" in calling for direct US ground attacks.
But while the administration's goal is still a Pakistani offensive, the review questioned whether "classic clear, hold and build" operations were the only way to deny the insurgents free access to the borderlands, and asked whether "a range of political, military, counterterrorism and intelligence operations" could achieve the same result, according to the report.
That view represents a significant shift in administration thinking, perhaps making a virtue of necessity, given Pakistan's refusal thus far to launch the kind of full-scale ground offensive that the United States has sought in North Waziristan, the report added.
"In the long run," the senior administration official said, "our objectives have to do with the defeat of al-Qaeda and the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. If you're not careful here . . .you may do something in the short run that makes gains against the policy objective in North Waziristan, but proves self-defeating in the long term." (ANI)