After Years of Supporting Jihadists, Pakistan Has a Terrorism Problem

On Sunday, a suicide bombing in northwestern Pakistan—likely carried out by an Islamic State affiliate—struck a convention of an Islamist party belonging to the country’s governing coalition. The attack killed more than 50 people and wounded almost 200. Husain Haqqani places the incident in the context of the surge of jihadist violence Islamabad now faces:

Terror attacks have surged in Pakistan since the Taliban’s return to power in neighboring Afghanistan; in the current year, at least 682 people have been killed in 232 attacks so far. . . . Pakistan has faced terror attacks from one group or another since the late 1990s, when local veterans of the U.S.-backed mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s turned their attention to other issues and causes closer to home. The government’s approach has ever since then been to work with some jihadists but to spurn others.

As Hillary Clinton famously warned Pakistani leaders thirteen years ago, “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.” Even after ostensibly becoming an American ally in the Global War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11, Pakistan never seriously disarmed all jihadist groups operating from its territory. The human toll of Pakistan’s approach has been immense. Some 16,225 terror attacks have been reported in Pakistan since 2000, resulting in 66,601 deaths, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a website that tracks terror attacks across the region.

Groups such as the Afghan Taliban have enjoyed active Pakistani government support over the years, notwithstanding the militants’ longstanding ties with al-Qaeda. That’s because the country’s all-powerful military saw them as allies in ensuring that Pakistan maintained greater influence than India—which many Pakistanis see as their [primary] enemy and rival—in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal.

Pakistani officials might make distinctions among various categories of jihadists, but the militants do not always see things through the same lens.

Read more at Time

More about: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Pakistan, Radical Islam, Terrorism

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship