Biden to Visit Pakistan In Assassination's Wake

Posted: Jan 11, 2011 2:56 PM
As Americans reflect upon last weekend's unspeakable act of domestic political violence, Vice President Biden is preparing to embark on a diplomatic mission to a nation where such heinous acts alarmingly commonplace:

As Vice President Biden prepares to visit Pakistan this week, he must let the Pakistani government know that billions of dollars in U.S. aid must be matched by tangible accomplishments in combating terrorism in frontier lands where al Qaeda and other insurgencies have found safe haven, experts and military officials say.

Biden is expected to meet with Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and Pakistan's powerful Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to discuss counterterrorism and Pakistan's deepening economic crisis, according to Pakistani officials.

The goal of the vice president's discussions will be to get Pakistan more directly involved in an aggressive anti-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan. Experts say the Obama administration must make it clear that it will not tolerate Pakistani military and intelligence agencies that aid the Taliban or harbor terrorists.

Biden's visit comes on the heels of yet another high profile political assassination carried out by extreme Islamist elements within Pakistan.  Christopher Hitchens describes the senselessness of the slaying, and the laziness with which similar murders are "justified" in the minds of the killers:

Now look at the grinning face of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who last week destroyed a great human being. He did not explain. He boasted. As "a slave of the Prophet," he had the natural right to murder Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, not even for committing "blasphemy" but for criticizing a law that forbade it for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And this sweeping new extension of the divine right to murder not only was not condemned by the country's spiritual authorities; it was largely approved by them. No argument, no arraignment, no appeal—permission to kill anybody can merely be assumed by anybody, provided only that they mouth the correct incantations.

This is only one of the many things that go to make up the hideousness of Islamic jihadism, but I believe that it has received insufficient attention. Amid all our loose talk about Muslim "grievances," have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended?

Which bring us back to the quandary facing American leaders, as described in the Washington Examiner piece:

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan has received more than $15 billion in aid to combat terrorism in the region. Last year, the administration also announced more than $500 million in aid for Pakistan in an effort to build closer ties with the Pakistani people.

The Af-Pak strategy released by the White House in December revealed that there is still widespread distrust and hatred of America among Pakistanis.

And the latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concludes that Pakistan is unlikely to change its policies toward the Taliban because of its concerns over Indian influence in the region.

How can we influence an indispensable ally to change its behavior when it demonstrates little interest in doing so -- knowing all the while that we desperately need their cooperation, and wouldn't dare sever ties and walk away?