Signs of Intelligence Sharing Give Way to Call for “Divorce”: US-Pakistan Relations Continue Extreme Swings

Back on August 2, I noted a very interesting development. At a time when the US and Pakistan were holding high-level meetings both in Washington and Pakistan, a terror plot in Afghanistan reported to be in preparation by the Haqqani network was disrupted. This was a surprising development to me because at the time I was predicting that the talks between the new head of Pakistan’s ISI and CIA head David Petraeus would go badly and that the US would launch poorly targeted drone attacks in retaliation, perhaps even while General ul-Islam was in transit back to Pakistan. Instead, there seemed to be a distinct possibility that Pakistan had provided intelligence on movement of Haqqani network members from Pakistan into Afghanistan and that this intelligence allowed the plot to be disrupted before it was carried out.

Once the meetings in Washington ended, no new drone strikes occurred in Pakistan. In fact, another attack plot was thwarted in Afghanistan on August 12. Although this plot was not believed to be at the hands of the Haqqani network, there was evidence that Pakistanis were involved, which again led me to postulate that this plot also was disrupted with the help of intelligence information from Pakistan.

The absence of drone strikes continued and then on August 13 Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was interviewed by Lolita Baldor and Robert Burns of AP. As seen in the video excerpt above, Panetta said that he expected Pakistan to launch military operations soon against Taliban militants in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. As Bill Roggio noted at Long War Journal, this was a shocking development. After opening with “This is absolutely stunning”, Roggio went on to list his reasoning for why the announcement didn’t make much sense. He concluded:

How many times has Pakistan promised to take action in North Waziristan, or claimed to take action there, only to make fools of top US defense officials?

The lull in drone strikes continued.

Did the US lose patience with Pakistan’s promise to launch an operation in North Waziristan? On August 18, the lull in drone strikes ended (don’t bother looking this or any other drone strike up in New America Foundation’s database, as it now appears to have been taken down). And it ended in a particularly ugly way, at midday on the day when the religious feast of Eid al-Fitr would begin at sunset. That strike has been followed up with three others, so that as of Tuesday, there were four drone strikes in as many days. The lull does not match up with Ramadan. Ramadan started on July 20 and The Bureau for Investigative Journalism’s database shows attacks on July 23 and July 29. Instead, that last strike prior to the lull was just before ul-Islam’s meetings in Washington, which started on August 1.

This sequence of events suggests to me that if there was indeed a time of increased cooperation in which ISI shared intelligence on movement of militants from the tribal areas into Afghanistan for attacks in return for no drone strikes occurring, this agreement has now fallen apart. The intense rate of drone strikes once they re-started is typical of US actions when retaliation is desired. It would not be surprising, then, for the next attack by militants moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan to be successful instead of being disrupted before it can take place.

It appears that I am not alone in thinking we are again at a low point in US-Pakistan relations. Former Pakistani envoy to the United States Hussein Haqqani suggested yesterday that the US and Pakistan should “divorce”. This latest outbreak of drone attacks could then be seen as the US serving notice of separation.

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7 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    This can’t be coincidence:

    Pakistan Summons US Diplomat To Protest Drones

    “Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has summoned a senior U.S. diplomat to protest recent drone strikes targeting militants in the country’s northwest tribal region near the Afghan border.

    Pakistani officials told the diplomat, who was not identified, that the attacks were unacceptable, unlawful and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

    Islamabad’s protest Thursday follows a string of three drone attacks in three days earlier this week in the North Waziristan tribal area, a major militant sanctuary…”

  2. Arbusto says:

    Obama LLC just doesn’t, or want to, get what they’re doing in the area. The ISI is rife with al qaeda and Taliban supporters and is a pretty good intel agency from my reading, the Army is another matter all together. Baksheesh only goes so far to win friends and influence people. Keep killing people on Pakistani soil and China can get the region for a song, while Obama still has his thumb up his ass.

  3. jawbone says:

    Marcy, out of curiosity I called New America Foundation’s DC office to find out when/if the page on drones will be up soon. I was transferred to Anthony, the assistant to the person in charge of the counterterrism section, and he said he knew nothing about this page being down. I gave him the URL and he said he will look into it.

    I mentioned I’d learned about it being out of commission on your blog.

  4. Jim White says:

    Wow. It appears that some of the militants in North Waziristan still believe military action is coming. Pakistan Today:

    As media reports pour in regarding a possible military action in the restive tribal area of North Waziristan Agency, foreign and local militants present in the region are mulling ways to escape the assault, Pakistan Today has learnt.
    Sources told Pakistan Today that amidst the uncertain situation, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, considered the most influential among the militants, has so far remained silent.
    However, some of his supporters and colleagues are in contact with each other for evolving a strategy.
    Maulana Sadiq Noor invited his fellows for a meeting at Khatti Keley near Mirali on Wednesday. Details of the meeting could not be obtained, but sources said it focused on the proposed military action in North Waziristan Agency.
    Noor is considered an active militant figure in the Mirali region and is amongst the confidential aides of Hafiz Gul Bahadar.
    At the same time, Bahadar is in good working relationship with the government through the political administration and officials of intelligence agencies. Even Noor is getting the lion’s share in the huge amount allocated for construction of roads and other infrastructure.

    /snip/

    Even before a final decision on the action, a large number of militants have moved to safer areas, including South Waziristan, Kurram Agency and Orakzai Agency. Some of the militants are moving to the border and other no-man’s areas close to Afghanistan, where they enjoy support and sanctuaries.
    Almost all top figures of the Haqqani Network have shifted to safe places during and before Ramadan.
    Some of them crossed over to Afghanistan, while some have moved to less populated areas in the Potohar region of Punjab, where the Haqqani family owns well-protected houses and accommodations.

    Link: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/08/24/news/national/nwa-militants-abandoning-bases-to-escape-imminent-offensive/

  5. MadDog says:

    I thought I’d throw this comment up in 2 of your posts Jim just in case it might get missed.

    Via the AP, it looks like the “divorce” is starting with a custody battle:

    Pakistan: US Missiles Hit Hideouts, Kill 18

    “American missiles slammed into militant hideouts close to the Afghan border Friday, killing 18 suspected militants, Pakistani officials said, just a day after the government summoned an American diplomat to protest the drone strikes in the tribal areas…

    [snip]

    …One day later, Pakistani intelligence officials said American drone-fired missiles hit three militant hideouts in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal areas.

    The officials said each of the three compounds was hit by two missiles. Militants often use these hideouts when they are crossing into Afghanistan, the officials said.

    Fourteen people were also injured in the attack…”

  6. A Zahid says:

    Everyone knew that,afghan war , Taliban , Al Qaida, are only One Income Way for Pakistan , from Start this war Pakistan plins Double Game, and U S Top Leader s are too stupid for them. Pakistani are the Killer from u s Nation, E U Nation , afghan Nation .u s Most understand Now . Without them they are the Loser .and Pakistan Would be plying all Life the rapidly cassette . Wie had los 35000 Solider ‘s again terrorismus . Doller pl.

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