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Clinton Rightly Highlights Pakistan's Duplicity

The secretary of state takes notice of a dangerous link.

12:33 PM, May 11, 2010 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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This Pakistani duplicity was most recently highlighted in a report by the United Nations commission investigating the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. (The report, which was released last month, can be read online at the UN’s web site.) While the UN did not point the finger directly at the ISI for Bhutto’s murder, the UN did blame the ISI for hampering its investigation. Here is what the UN said regarding this (emphasis added):

The investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth. More significantly, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) conducted parallel investigations, gathering evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel investigations was selectively shared with the police.

The Commission believes that the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto’s assassination was deliberate. These officials, in part fearing intelligence agencies’ involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions, which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken.

While praising the assistance provided by some Pakistani officials, the UN’s commission said it was “mystified, however, by the efforts of certain high-ranking government officials to obstruct access to Pakistani military and intelligence sources, as revealed in their public declarations.”

The UN did not have to state the obvious: There is a widespread belief that the ISI and other members of the Pakistani military-intelligence “establishment” (as it is called by the UN) pulled the strings on Bhutto’s assassination by terrorists.

In other words, the same sort of duplicity highlighted by Secretary Clinton was also manifest to the United Nations.

Secretary Clinton did not totally dismiss Pakistani cooperation against terrorism. Clinton said she had to “stand up” for the efforts the Pakistani government was taking to hunt down “terrorists within their own country.” But when she was asked whether she was “comfortable” with the level of cooperation the U.S. is receiving, she answered:

Well now, I didn’t say that. I’ve said we’ve gotten more cooperation and it’s been a real sea change in the commitment we’ve seen from the Pakistani government. We want more. We expect more. We’ve made it very clear that if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful there would be very severe consequences.

Clinton declined to specifically identify the “consequences” of such a scenario, saying “I think I’ll let that speak for itself.”

The threat is palpable – both to Americans and the Pakistanis. 

It is doubtful that there has been a “sea change” in the Pakistani government’s commitment to the fight, as Secretary Clinton claimed. And America does not have to wait for a “successful” attack to pressure the Pakistani government, or at least those parts of the government on America’s side, to do more. America and Pakistan have to stop terrorists such as Faisal Shahzad before they have their finger on the proverbial trigger. A more lethal terrorist may be in the terror network’s pipelines.

Still, Secretary Clinton deserves credit for highlighting a key dimension of this threat that is often downplayed or ignored.

Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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