The Commander of the United States Central Command (Centcom) based in Bahrain, General James Mattis, had arrived on August 16 in Islamabad for a two-day visit, which is a follow- up on the recent visit of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief, General Zaheerul Islam to Washington, D.C. General Mattis is expected to meet with both civilian and military leadership of Pakistan to exchange ideas of mutual interest in military cooperation between both the countries. Some skeptics are viewing this visit as a last minute tactic from the U.S. to convince Pakistan Army to include the Haqqani network in its soon to begin military operation in North Waziristan Agency. Whereas, Pakistan military wants to focus on rooting out Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), something at which Pakistan Army is already engaged in since the beginning of this year.
The annihilation of the Haqqani network is of interest to the U.S. because the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is being attacked by its members from their safe haven at Pakistan-Afghanistan border. But beyond the Pak-Afghan border, in Afghanistan, is safe haven for TTP members which launch attack against Pakistan. The common tactics of war include surrounding the enemy from all sides so that it cannot escape. For this to happen, the U.S. must
cooperate with Pakistan Army in sealing the Afghanistan border so that this time TTP does not flee away. The U.S. has shown lack of reliability in this matter before when Pakistan Army could have succeeded in its military operation in South Waziristan Agency.
Without this assistance from the ISAF and Afghan National Army (ANA), Pakistan military should not be expected to make any new commitment whilst it fulfills one mission smoothly. Already Pakistan military has shared its plans of launching a new operation in the tribal belt region without specifying its exactitude. With such hands full, Pakistan Army cannot be demanded to simultaneously get involved in another battle with the Haqqani network. If this visit
by General Mattis would incorporate these points in the agenda to be discussed, it would help fight the War on Terror.
On the Independence Day of Pakistan, in the conventional, yet significant, speech by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Kakul, the “right themes” have been touched upon according to the Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, which highlight the overall view and approach of Pakistan military on fighting the War on Terror. This immediate acknowledgement by the U.S. military chief after the recognition of Pakistan military’s efforts in fighting terrorism by the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently means that new stepping stones are being built to pave the way for future cooperation between the two militaries. This would only help the cause of the U.S. and Pakistan armies, as well as benefit political relations between the two allies.
At least now Washington realizes that Pakistan military understands the challenge it faces from the militancy it was previously mistaken about and is taking the right action with its public’s support. By supporting choices made by Pakistan military’s leadership, the U.S. could earn the accolade of a true ally in front of the Pakistani nation. It is also a move forward on part of the U.S. to accept the cross border attacks on Pakistani military posts and other areas as a real menace created by TTP. The reopening of the NATO supply routes into Afghanistan from Pakistan has convinced the U.S. to itself confess what Pakistan has been asserting for long. In short, the U.S. is finally following-up with Pakistan military’s course of action.