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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Maureen Dowd's "Cool Hand Barack": Something Is Rotten in the State of Pakistan

In her New York Times op-ed entitled "Cool Hand Barack" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/04/opinion/04dowd.html), Maureen Dowd rakes Pakistan over the coals for its failure to cooperate with the U.S. in hunting down bin Laden:

"And that is exactly where President Obama now finds himself. He will now have to sort through the bazaar of Pakistan’s deceptive stories and deal with lawmakers angry about giving $20 billion since 9/11 to a country where Osama was comfortably ensconced. For years, top Pakistanis have said that Osama was dead or in Afghanistan.

Even Condi Rice proclaimed she was shocked to find 'Geronimo' settled in Abbottabad for six years, living in plain sight in a million-dollar house in an affluent suburb near a military base and the Pakistani version of West Point. As one of Osama’s neighbors put it: 'It’s the closest you can be to Britain.'

At a House homeland security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Patrick Meehan asked the question about Pakistan that is ricocheting through Washington: 'Does it reflect to some extent some kind of divided loyalty or complicity in some part, or incompetence or both?'”

Indeed, it is time for Washington to come to grips with reality: Pakistan has been working both sides of the street.

Although reluctant to forego billions of dollars in U.S. aid, Pakistan's ruling elite has also had to contend with a significant minority of its citizens that sypathizes with al-Qaeda and has perpetrated repeated acts of violence against the regime in order to "keep it in line". Since March 2009, there have been 19 attacks by the Pakistani Taliban and allied terror groups against the Inter-Services Intelligence ("ISI") and military and police facilities in large Pakistani cities (see: http://www.wichaar.com/news/285/ARTICLE/24482/2011-03-09.html).

For its part, the ISI has been alleged to have been involved in the horrifying November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, India (see, for example: http://www.rediff.com/news/2009/jan/06mumterror-isi-knew-all-about-mumbai-attacks-intelligence-bureau.htm).

As such, Pakistan's denunciation of the raid that killed bin Laden as "unauthorized unilateral action" should come as no surprise (see: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110503/ap_on_bi_ge/as_pakistan_bin_laden).

Should the U.S. continue to shower billions of dollars in civilian and military aid upon Pakistan? No way.

In a similar vein, I hope the editorial board of The New York Times will no longer call upon "Congress to pass long-stalled legislation to establish special trade preference zones in Pakistan" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/opinion/08tue1.html).

It is also time for columnist Nicholas Kristof to reconsider his naïve support for a reduction of U.S. tariffs on Pakistani garment exports in order to fight extremism (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/opinion/13kristof.html?hp).

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