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The Reliable ISI

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Reliable ISI"

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Good times:

Twice in recent weeks, the United States provided Pakistan with the specific locations of insurgent bomb-making factories, only to see the militants learn their cover had been blown and vacate the sites before military action could be taken, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. Overhead surveillance video and other information was given to Pakistani officials in mid-May, officials said, as part of a trust-building effort by the Obama administration after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid early last month. But Pakistani military units that arrived at the sites in the tribal areas of North and South Waziristan on June 4 found them abandoned.

Was this really trust-building or was the US government just running a test?

At any rate, the thing I’ve never understood about our policy in Pakistan is this. Right now, the Pakistani government gets aid money to fight violent Islamists. But obviously some share of the funds goes to support other activities. It’s siphoned off for corruption, or it builds military strength vis-à-vis India, whatever. And if the violent militant groups go away, then so does the aid, right? After all, if Pakistan weren’t a hotbed of dangerous extremists there’d be no reason for the US Congress to directly subsidize Pakistani government corruption or a Pakistani military standoff with India. So if you’re a corrupt Pakistani official, you don’t really want to solve the violent Islamist problem and if you’re a patriotic and responsible Pakistani official concerned about your country’s security relative to India you don’t really want to solve the violent Islamist problem. So what’s our answer to this supposed to be?

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