Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Risk of Terror from the Pakistani Horn (Daniel 8)

Exit comes amid U.S. concerns over terror – INTERNATIONAL

HELENE COOPER WASHINGTON, July 30, 2017 00:00 IST Updated: July 30, 2017 03:42 IST
In most countries where the United States has national security interests, the toppling of a Prime Minister would prompt hurried meetings in Washington and concern over how the change in government will affect U.S. strategy in the region.
But not so with Pakistan. The resignation of Nawaz Sharif raised eyebrows at the State Department and the Pentagon, but little else. The Pakistani military is largely viewed as the real source of power in Islamabad, and that is not going to change with a new Prime Minister.
Still, Mr. Sharif’s removal comes as the White House is trying to determine a strategy for Afghanistan that officials say has stalled amid concerns about how to deal with Pakistan, where both the Taliban and the Haqqani network have a sanctuary. The White House has held up a Pentagon request to send additional troops to Afghanistan while officials grapple with how much pressure to put on the Pakistani government to crack down on the groups.
‘No key action’
The Pakistani government has “failed to take significant action” to prevent those groups from threatening U.S. and Afghan forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, the State Department said last week in a report on terrorism. And Pentagon officials are withholding $50 million in military reimbursements to Pakistan for the fiscal year that ended in October 2016, signalling displeasure with Islamabad’s failed efforts against the Haqqani network, a ruthless wing of the Taliban based in Pakistan.
Taliban’s sneak attack
U.S. and Afghan officials are still raw from a Taliban sneak attack in April that killed more than 160 soldiers at an Afghan military base in northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province, the single deadliest Taliban assault of its long war against Afghan forces.
Blaming the attack on the Haqqani network, U.S. military officials said the attack, which led to the firing of Afghanistan’s Defence Minister and the Afghan army’s chief of staff, was planned over four to six months and was too sophisticated and calculated to have been conducted by other branches of the Taliban.
Mr. Sharif’s exit means that General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistani army’s chief, assumes an even bigger role. For some in U.S. security circles, that is a relief. The military has always controlled the country’s nuclear arsenal, and stability within that military structure means fewer worries that amid the country’s political turmoil, its nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.NYT

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