Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pakistan is the Taliban's ally, not our ally

Assailants launched two separate attacks on tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan on Friday, showing the vulnerability of NATO supply lines a day after the Pakistani government itself shut one down.

The events stand to complicate a difficult war in Afghanistan, especially if the Torkham border crossing along the fabled Khyber Pass remains closed for long. They are a reminder of the leverage Pakistan has over the United States just as Washington seeks the help of its uncomfortable ally at a crucial point in the 9-year-long conflict.

They also highlight the importance of recently opened supply routes into landlocked Afghanistan through central Asian states to its north. Those routes are safer, but the Pakistani lines from the Arabian seaport of Karachi north to Kabul and Kandahar in Afghanistan are cheaper and account for most of NATO's non-lethal supplies.

Pakistan shut down the Torkham border crossing - the most important NATO supply into Afghanistan - on Thursday in apparent protest of a NATO helicopter attack that killed three Pakistani soldiers on the frontier. It was the third such incursion into Pakistan in less than a week.

The other NATO supply line through Pakistan remained open - the Chaman crossing in Baluchistan, where it seemed likely the tankers were heading.

Pakistan funnels NATO and U.S. traffic through one supply line, lines us up like sitting ducks, and then the Taliban swoops down and picks us off.

Obviously, Pakistan and the Taliban are acting in concert.

Pakistan is neither our friend nor our ally. It is complicit in the recent Taliban attacks on NATO and U.S. forces.

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