Pakistan Update: Graham Advocates Escalation, Chaman Crossing Closed After Tanker Bombed

Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Pakistan?

In the latest developments in the US-Pakistan war of words, the Pakistani Prime Minister said the US must stop blaming Pakistan, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested the US should start using bombers in the region held by the Haqqani network and the Chaman crossing, one of two major border crossings into Afghanistan used as US supply routes, has been closedafter a bomb detonated, killing a disposal expert.

In remarks broadcast on television less than an hour ago as of this writing, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani warned the United States to stop blaming Pakistan for regional instability:

“The blame game should end, and Pakistan’s sensitive national interests should be respected,” Yusuf Raza Gilani said in comments carried live on local television stations.

Gilani’s remarks were prompted in part by Lindsey Graham raising his anti-Pakistan rhetoric yet another level. From the same Reuters article:

Graham said in an interview with Reuters that U.S. lawmakers might support military options beyond drone strikes that have been going on for years inside Pakistani territory.

Those options may include using U.S. bomber planes within Pakistan. The South Carolina Republican said he did not advocate sending U.S. ground troops into Pakistan.

“I would say when it comes to defending American troops, you don’t want to limit yourself,” Graham said. “This is not a boots-on-the-ground engagement — I’m not talking about that, but we have a lot of assets beyond drones.”

Almost exactly a year ago, on September 30, 2010, the Torkham Crossing from Pakistan into Afghanistan was closed in retaliation for the US killing three Pakistani soldiers in a botched cross-border operation. The closing of this key supply route was a major move, and a number of fuel tankers subsequently were burned as they were idled in various locations around Pakistan. Today, we learn that the Chaman Crossing was closed a couple of hours ago in response to a bomb disposal expert being killed when the bomb he was attempting to disarm detonated:

Pakistani authorities have closed one of the two border crossings used by trucks carrying NATO war supplies into Afghanistan after a bomb hit an oil tanker.

Police officer Mohammad Tayab was quoted as saying by media reports that the Chaman border crossing was closed “for security reasons” after an explosion on Thursday killed a bomb disposal expert who was trying to defuse the device.

It has not been announced how long the crossing will remain closed, but I would not be surprised if the investigation into the bombing of the tanker will be cited as a reason for keeping the crossing closed for several days. Should that happen, a key development to watch for will be whether additional tankers caught in the back-up will be attacked. In last year’s closure of the Torkham Crossing, there were suggestions that the number of tankers attacked could only be explained if one assumed that Pakistan reduced the level of security being provided for transport convoys. Will the same thing happen again this year?

8 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    There certainly is a ratcheting-up recently of the rhetoric against Pakistan by multiple sources within the Obama Administration (DOD, State, CIA, White House).

    I can’t pretend to explain what the US believes it will accomplish as Pakistan’s reaction to such criticism over the years has always been to rebuff it, and as this Telegraph article interviewing former President and military dictator Musharraf shows, Pakistan’s India obsession dominates and obscures any conversation.

  2. Abusto says:

    I am continually amazed that our Administration, Defense and State Departments seem run and populated by rank amateurs. Graham is an idiot, elected by nitwits, but what is the purpose of Mullen’s hyperbole about our former (current?) tribal resource the Haqqani, other than pissing on our tenuous relationship with Pakistan and causing them closer to China’s orbit?

  3. Don Bacon says:

    The principal reason that the US is in Afghanistan (don’t believe the cover story) is its importance the the US Central Asia policy, involving economic advantage of course. Recently Afghanistan and the US promoted a New Silk Road strategy.

    A key component of that strategy involves Pakistan and its new port at Gwadar, near the mouth of the Persian Gulf. A highway from Gwadar to Kandahar, and then to central Asia, goes through Quetta and — Chaman.

    Considering this, as well as many other factors, the US State Dept. would probably not be in favor of bombing Pakistan.

  4. Don Bacon says:

    The current State position is “we need to work together on Haqqani with Pakistan.” Nothing about bombing.

    Pakistan will never cut ties with Haqqani.

    When ex-president Musharraf recently was asked if Pakistan needed the support of the powerful insurgent family led by Jalaluddin Haqqani and linked to the Taliban, he said: “If I was in government I would certainly be thinking how best to defend Pakistan’s interests. Certainly if Afghanistan is being used by India to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan, we would like to prevent that.”

    Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers:
    To Pakistan, however, the picture is much more complex. Pakistani support for the Haqqanis is tied to Islamabad’s fears for its own future security, and Pakistan is unlikely to surrender that support no matter how much pressure the United States applies, analysts here [Islamabad] say.

  5. Garrett says:

    In other news,

    President Barack Obama and Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov discussed expanding U.S. use of the central Asian country as a route to supply troops in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said on Thursday, amid growing concern about the viability of Pakistan as a transit route.

    Obama, Uzbek leader discuss Afghan supply route (Reuters).

    The U.S. still plans to send Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for the region, to Kabul for talks next week that were meant to include the trilateral meeting, said Gavin Sundwall, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy.

    Kabul to Drop Trilateral Peace Effort (WSJ)

  6. Don Bacon says:

    Karzai’s dropping Pakistan and heading for Pakistan’s arch-enemy India.

    NEW DELHI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai will visit India next week to seek India’s support for the peace efforts in his country and promote economic cooperation with India.

    Marc Grossman on US/Pakistan: “The question is not whether we will work together but how we’ll work together to try and deal with these issues. . .but it’s very important that both the governments and the people recognise that terrorism, and that includes the Haqqani network, is a threat to both of us.”

    It’s similar to US/Iran: Sure we will negotiate, as long as they accept US conditions. Otherwise it’s Sanction City.

    But Pakistan probably won’t ever recognize that “the Haqqani network is a threat to both of us.” Particularly with Karzai getting cool and going to India, Pakistan needs Haqqani more than ever.

    So then (listening to Grossman) it becomes a question of whether we (US/Pakistan) will work together, and thereby lies the rub.

Comments are closed.