AdmiralMike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be in Pakistan in the coming days to bluntly express his frustration and to “read the riot act” to its government which has failed to do anything regarding curbing violence in tribal areas. Mullen, and the American government are disgusted, frustrated and angry with the apparent inability or unwillingness of the Islamabad government to take decisive action. Mullen believes they are flip flopping and using stall tactics to avoid action. In the meantime, raids continue hitting US and coalition forces from the save haven of Pakistan.
The Pakistan People’s Party under co-chair Asia Al Zardari has failed to decide on a course of action in tribal regions. They have shifted from negotiation to threats to action without any clear idea as to which represents a long term policy. Unless there are changes, American and US troops may resort to covert or overt action in tribal regions which will undoubtedly anger the Pakistan government.
American forces are stretched thin as they fight both in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is increasing evidence of a possible new third front situation on the border area that connects Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three congressmen recently visited Pakistan where they met with President Musharraf and discussed American concerns about what was happening in tribal areas of Pakistan. Congressmen Gene Green, Michael McCaul, and Henry Cuellar, told the Houston Chronicle, US commandos are prepared to stage raids into Pakistan’s volatile tribal areas if Pakistan does not not action to halt Taliban and al-Qaeda militancy. They told President Musharraf failure to disrupt terrorist attacks which have led to a rise in US casualties in Afganistan will require new American military action in the border region. Musharraf has so far rejected resumption of joint operations with the American military that ended in 2003.
There is little doubt comments by the Congressmen were cleared with the Bush administration. McCaul openly said Pakistan’s failure to contain militancy makes it “imperative that US forces be allowed to pursue the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside Pakistan.” Even as they spoke, General David McKiernan was complaining of the growing number of militant actions that arise from their ability to cross over into Afghanistan.
There is no doubt militancy is growing in Afghanistan. However, US strikes into Pakistan will only create a new front which must be manned and will undoubtedly become a permanent center of new American military action. Is this a possible reality in light of growing concerns by the American public for continued fighting in Asia?