The WikiLeaks files make it plain: Islamabad is the Taliban’s faithful ally. Tunku Varadarajan argues it’s time for the U.S. to stop paying money to Pakistan so they can help our enemies kill us. Plus, the seven most shocking secrets from the WikiLeaks files.
The latest gaudy gush from WikiLeaks will leave the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department soggy and irritable for many days. But one aspect of the leak—that concerning Pakistan’s brazenly unstinting support for the insurgency in Afghanistan—should be news to absolutely no one.
In fact, one might say that the one good thing to come out of this latest leak—a thing so good that it is worth the “collateral damage” to the U.S. from everything else—is that it could spell the end of Pakistan’s repulsive double game. This is a game in which that country takes billions of dollars of our aid money (money paid, in part, in taxes by the kin of American soldiers killed by the Taliban) and then blithely, devilishly, mendaciously stabs us in the back by arming, protecting, financing, hiding, and advising the same forces against whom this country is at war. We pay them money so that they can help our enemies kill us.
There can be no caveats, no exit clauses, no fine print, no weasely handwringing about Pakistan’s need to retain “strategic balance” in Afghanistan.
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington, is essentially a decent man. He has, by instinct and by inclination, no truck with the malign men in khaki who run Pakistan’s army. But watch him over the next few days as he contorts himself before the press, prevaricating, offering us canned lies, nuggets of tergiversation scripted in Islamabad. Don’t buy a word of it. And if the White House does buy from him, be sure to read the subtext of the purchase agreement. Above all, be skeptical—aggressively skeptical.
We are now at a crossroads with Pakistan, a point at which we need to pull out old words from the Bush playbook. It is time to state to them—to state, in particular, to Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, the Pakistan army’s chief of staff—that Pakistan is either with us, or against us. There can be no caveats, no exit clauses, no fine print, no weasely handwringing about Pakistan’s need to retain “strategic balance” in Afghanistan.
• Philip Shenon: Did Bradley Manning Act Alone?• Leslie H. Gelb: What the Leaked Documents Reveal• The 7 Most Shocking Secrets from the WikiLeaks FilesMuch of the latest involvement in the Afghan insurgency by the ISI—Pakistan’s military intelligence—happened on Gen. Kayani’s watch, when he was the head of the ISI. That very same man, Kayani, whose agency lovingly breastfed the Taliban, and who was later elevated to chief of army staff, has just been granted a three-year extension by Pakistan’s civilian government. It boggles the mind that this duplicitous underminer of the U.S. war effort is now General David Petraeus’ direct interlocutor. Petraeus will need to navigate a labyrinth of misinformation and half-truths, accompanied by typically unctuous protestations that Pakistan is doing everything it can to help us in the war against al Qaeda. (Readers will not have missed Hillary Cinton’s tart remarks, last week, in which she said on television that “someone” in the Pakistan government must, surely, know where Osama bin Laden is.)
My sense is that the latest leaks will have broad repercussions of an ungovernable variety. But of one result I’d like to be certain: that the White House will now read the riot act to Pakistan, squeezing hard, if need be—and I mean this somewhat metaphorically—on the double-dealing epaulettes of Gen. Kayani. Pakistan is either with us, or against us. Right now, as I see things—leaks and all—it is resoundingly, irrefutably against us.
Tunku Varadarajan is a national affairs correspondent and writer at large for The Daily Beast. He is also the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Stanford's Hoover Institution and a professor at NYU's Stern Business School. He is a former assistant managing editor at The Wall Street Journal. (Follow him on Twitter here.)