PAF Exercise High Mark 2010 (slideshow)

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Raise Your Price, Pakistan

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How about exchanging Taliban Number Two Abdul Ghani Baradar for terror master Brahamdagh Bugti and the dismantling of the terror network targeting Pakistan’s Balochistan?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan has agreed to hand over Afghan Taliban’s number 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to Afghanistan. How about asking for Mr. Brahamdagh Bugti in exchange? Or for the dismantling of the Afghan-based terror infrastructure targeting Pakistani Balochistan?

There are signs that Afghanistan’s role as a base for anti-Pakistan operations over the past seven years is gradually shrinking. But it is not completely over yet. The rollback in that role is directly linked to what the United States wants. And Washington’s recent change of heart regarding Pakistan’s role and legitimate regional security interests are the result of the Pakistani military standing its ground, not any genuine change of heart in US policymaking circles. This is why you did not see any US official jumping in excitement at the idea of Pakistani military training the Afghan National Army, which is what our army chief has proposed.

So the change in the US position may be tactical, forced by Pakistani straight talk. Examples abound, including how CIA dragged its feet before it finally began targeting anti-Pakistan terror groups and leaders in the border area.  There might have also been some visible decrease in the level of logistical support that the so-called Pakistani Taliban received from the Afghan soil [and not all of it from the proceeds of Afghan Taliban’s drug trade, as Afghan and American officials have been trying to convince their Pakistani counterparts].  Pakistani officials are yet to certify this decrease publicly. Granted that Admiral Mike Mullen is someone who genuinely tries to understand Pakistani concerns. And he has been doing his bit with apparent sincerity in the past few months. But there are still some tensions below the surface. A Time magazine story over the weekend tried to delink US connection to the Jundullah terrorist group and throw the entire responsibility at Pakistan, targeting Iranian paranoia by suggesting a Pakistani intelligence support for Jundullah ‘as a tool for strategic depth.’  This type of media leaks and background intelligence briefings have to stop. Enough of the demonization of Pakistan that the US media unfortunately spearheaded over the past three years, apparently through some kind of semi-official patronage. If US officials can bluntly accuse their Pakistani counterparts of sponsoring ‘anti-American articles’ in newspapers, whatever that means [What is ‘anti-American articles’ anyway?], surely Islamabad can pose the same question, especially when Pakistan’s case is stronger.
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