National Opinion

July 6, 2012 • Editorial

Chaotic Pakistan

For years, Pakistan has ignored the Obama administration’s pleas to crack down on militants who cross from Pakistan to attack American forces in Afghanistan. Recent cross-border raids by Taliban militants who kill Pakistani soldiers should give Islamabad a reason to take that complaint more seriously.

Recently, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief of staff, raised the issue in a meeting with Gen. John Allen, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He demanded that NATO go after the militants on the Afghan side of the border, according to Pakistani news reports. General Allen demanded that Pakistan act against Afghan militants given safe haven by its security services, especially the Haqqani network, which is responsible for some of the worst attacks in Kabul.

Fighting extremists should be grounds for common cause, but there is no sign that Pakistan’s military leaders get it.

Some in Congress want to designate the Haqqanis as a terrorist [auth] organization. That would be unwise because such a move could lead to Pakistan’s being designated a terrorist state subject to sanctions and make cooperation even harder. The United States has no choice but to try to work with Pakistan, including the army, when it can.

Officials hope the crisis in relations caused by the killing of Osama bin Laden and other events will pass. Meanwhile, they are holding the Pakistanis more at arm’s length and setting narrower goals.

After 2001, Pakistan had a chance to develop into a more stable country. It had strong leverage with the United States, which needed help to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan received billions of dollars in aid and the promise of billions more, which Washington has begun to suspend or cancel. But the army continues its double game — accepting money from the Americans while enabling the Afghan Taliban — and the politicians remain paralyzed. Soon, most American troops will be gone from Afghanistan. And Pakistan will find it harder to fend off its enemies, real and perceived.

Guest Editorial

New York Times

Assad making enemy of neighbor

Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, has likely made a fatal mistake for the future of his regime by alienating Turkey.

Early on in the 16-month uprising, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Assad to cease shelling crowded neighborhoods in towns where the rebels had holed up and urged the second-generation dictator to begin instituting needed democratic and economic reforms.

Assad ignored him, as he has other national leaders who have offered similar advice.

Instead, he stepped up the pace of bloodshed and, with support from Russia and Iran, dug in for the long haul against the rebels. Turkey had been a bystander, reluctantly offering sanctuary to civilian refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria.

However, Turkey has increasingly become a place for the rebels to retreat, refit and rearm, as well as a location for their wounded to be treated.

It is now openly the headquarters of the umbrella rebel group, the Free Syrian Army.

Russia was alarmed enough for the security of one of its few friends in the Mideast to begin readying shipment of a half-billion dollars worth of arms — fighter jets, helicopters, air defense systems to Syria.

Those arms suggest the Russians are worried about outside military intervention.

But the U.S. and the other Western nations have repeatedly disavowed any intention of intervening in Syria.

The real threat, now that Assad has alienated Turkey, is better trained, armed and organized rebel forces operating from sanctuaries along the border.

Erdogan said recently, “Turkey will support Syrian people in every way until they get rid of the bloody dictator and his gang.”

Sounds like Assad has lost a friend.

Guest Editorial

The Gleaner, Henderson, Ky.

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