June 16, 2011

Pressure on Kayani Cripples North Waziristan Operation

Although we factored the internal pressure within Pakistan’s military into North Waziristan's pseudo-invasion, the situation is even more dire than originally forecast. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pentagon’s main (and evidently the only) conduit to Islamabad, is reportedly facing extreme pressure to correct his “pro-American” ways. The New York Times reports:
“The Pakistani army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.

Washington, with its own hard line against Pakistan, had pushed Kayani into a defensive crouch, along with his troops, and if the general were pushed out, the United States would face a more uncompromising anti-American army chief, the Pakistani said.

To repair the reputation of the army, and to ensure his own survival, Kayani made an extraordinary tour of more than a dozen garrisons, mess halls, and other institutions in the six weeks since the May 2 bin Laden raid, trying to rally support among his rank-and-file troops, who were almost uniformly anti-American, according to participants and people briefed on the sessions.”
Citing Pakistani and US officials, the Times adds that, “Kayani had already become a more obstinate partner, standing ever more firm with each high-level US delegation that has visited since the raid to try and rescue the shattered US-Pakistani relationship.” The arrested CIA informants offer the latest example, while Kayani also pushed back against unilateral operations requested by CIA Director Leon Panetta. Another delay for North Waziristan’s invasion falls into the same pattern.

As we outlined on Tuesday, North Waziristan hosts one of Islamabad’s loyalist militant commanders, Hafiz Gul Bahadur, along with patches of the Haqqani network. Those Pakistani officials questioning Kayani’s policy would see little benefit in stirring up North Waziristan, as neither the Haqqanis nor Bahadur targets the Pakistani state. U.S. officials have, of course, pushed hard for an operation on these units and employed drones to circumvent Islamabad’s strategy. If Pakistani officials opposed the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, they would all the more oppose an operation in response to his execution.

Kayani himself reversed direction several weeks ago on North Waziristan, now a clear effect of the pressure he’s facing.

The major take-away then becomes: what happens if Pakistan’s military does install an anti-American general at the top? Will joint operations simply be limited, or will U.S.-Pakistani relations undergo a radical transformation?


  1. IMO The military will have even more power in Pakistan in the very near future.
    China and Russia will nudge Pakistan further from the West.
    Iran and its energy route neighbors will also influence Pakistan.
    America is becoming less and less relevant in the region.

  2. Good point, Pakistan's future military head will likely tilt more towards China, both as a hedge and because their interests sincerely align in some areas.

  3. Didn't occur to me as an interested observer but it certainly rings true as a scenario.