NIGHTWATCH: Pakistan Nuances Not Understood — Same in Syria

IO Deeds of War

Pakistan: Pakistani news outlets have denounced the death of Maulvi/Mullah Nazir by a US drone attack last week. A prominent national security commentator, Mahmood Jan Bar, said that “it is a loss for Pakistan.”

Babar said Mullah Nazir and his supporters believed that “Pakistan is an Islamic country and no aggression is being carried out against the country,” and therefore “it is not justified under any circumstances to attack forces in Pakistan.”

Babar said Mullah Nazir's old friends who belonged to the Mehsud tribe were not happy with him. “The people who are being led by Hakimullah Mehsud were not happy with Mullah Nazir … because of people like Mullah Nazir that peace was restored in South Waziristan,” adding he was clear that Taliban “will have to go to Afghanistan if they want to fight a war.”

Comment: The US has not confirmed the death of Mullah Nazir, but Pakistani new services accept that he was killed by a US drone attack.

Nazir's death puts in sharp focus the incongruity between US and Pakistani national security interests. All so-called terrorists are not the same in south Asia. Nazir cooperated with Pakistani authorities to establish security in South Waziristan. His counterpart in North Waziristan, Hakimullah Mehsud, did not. Both men led sub-clans of the Mehsud tribe in ancient Waziristan. Both fought against the US in Afghanistan.

In practical terms their differences meant that the followers of Nazir would fight against US forces in Afghanistan but not against Pakistan. Hakimullah Mehsud's followers fight in both countries. That explains Pakistan Army Chief of Army Staff General Kayani's attitude that bin Laden and many others never posed a threat to Pakistan.

The drone strike that apparently killed Nazir, however, directly affects the security of Pakistan. If the Mehsuds in South Waziristan join the Mehsuds in North Waziristan in attacking Pakistani forces, security conditions west of the Indus River will deteriorate and draw down resources, primarily as the result of a US drone attack whose larger ripple effects evidently were never considered.


Phi Beta Iota: Nuances matter. The USA does not know how to do nuances, because the government lacks intelligence (decision support) at the tribal and non-state actor level, and it lacks integrity (holistic thinking) at the executive level.  In Syria the US has recognized the rebels without justification, at the same time that they have declared one of the major elements of the rebel force to be a terrorist group–again without justification, in our view.  How the US defines terrorism, in juxtaposition with its wildly unethical use of rendition and extrajudicial drone killings, is a classic example of power corrupted to the nth degree.

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