To be fair, Washington has been trying to push Pakistan. In Kabul earlier this month, Secretary Clinton called on Pakistan to “take the lead” in fighting insurgent groups operating in Pakistan and help rehabilitate fighters in Afghanistan as well. But enlisting Pakistani cooperation will be quite a challenge. Some suspect that the ISI even supported the recent assault on the US embassy in Kabul, as payback for the attack on Osama bin Laden. This is not so far-fetched. While Americans took satisfaction in a mission accomplished, many Pakistanis viewed the attack as an abuse of sovereignty.
In a recent Pew Global Attitudes Survey, a majority of Pakistanis thought that killing bin Laden was a bad thing. It’s fair to speculate that, consequently, many Pakistanis took satisfaction in seeing the US embassy attacked.
Then there is the Pakistanis’ dislike of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has already drawn himself closer to Pakistan’s archrival, India. Just that perception alone is damning to the Karzai government, because fear of India is a big hot button. Pakistan and India have gone to war three times in just 60 years. Fear of India also helps bind Pakistan to insurgent groups like the Haqqani network.
So what should the US do?
Pressure Army to rein in ISI
First, Washington must demand that Chief of Army Staff Asfaq Pervez Kayani – the key power player in Pakistan – crack down on ISI aid to the Haqqani network, Taliban, and other insurgent groups attacking US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Army holds great influence over the ISI. As a former director general of the ISI, Mr. Kayani knows the agency very well. And the ISI’s current director general, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, is a trusted ally. It’s fair to say that Kayani is strong enough to rein in ISI operatives.