The tide has shifted dramatically in recent years. Resurgent Afghan Taliban, better armed, trained, and deadly effective, now have control over 80% of Afghan territory. There has been a significant increase in offensive targetting of US and NATO bases and Afghan government officials and buildings in the last couple of years, with even Kabul coming under increasing pressure.
On the other side of the border, the CIA and Indian supported TTP has been getting a hiding at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces with even the US and NATO stunned at the efficiency and success of the army operations against TTP militants in Swat and South Waziristan. For the first time in 8 years, Pakistan now has the upper hand and has started to dictate terms to the US, starting last week with the rejection of US request to extend the operation to North Waziristan where Jalaluddin Haqqani’s faction allegedly operates from. Anticipating an imminent turnaround in Pakistan’s Afghan policy and fearing the US supply lines into Afghanistan may come under pressure, the US immediately sought to pacify the Pakistan Armed Forces with promises to deliver 12 ‘unarmed’ shadow drones – which hasn’t worked.
The White House and Pentagon are in shock, as this turnaround by the Pakistan Army couldn’t have come at a worse time for them – with the recent attacks on CIA’s Chapman outpost in Khost, a failed civilian government incharge, an incompetent Afghan army, and with 30,000 US troops on their way to what many now realise is a lost cause.
And now the New York Times reveals an interesting conversation between Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and an unnamed senior Pakistan Army official that took place last week. The biggest sign yet of the reversal of fortunes comes with a simple but symbolic ‘Are you with us or against us?’ from the Pakistan Army to the United States. The NYT article follows:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Nobody else in the Obama administration has been mired in Pakistan for as long as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. So on a trip here this past week to try to soothe the country’s growing rancor toward the United States, he served as a punching bag tested over a quarter-century.
“Are you with us or against us?” a senior military officer demanded of Mr. Gates at Pakistan’s National Defense University, according to a Pentagon official who recounted the remark made during a closed-door session after Mr. Gates gave a speech at the school on Friday. Mr. Gates, who could hardly miss that the officer was mimicking former President George W. Bush’s warning to nations harboring militants, simply replied, “Of course we’re with you.”