Just in the last two days, conflicting messages have emanated from members of the top echelon of the Pentagon regarding the role of Pakistan in the fight against terror. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised the Pakistan’s recent military triumphs while Admiral Mike Mullen implied that the US will retaliate against that country in response to future attacks on American citizens.
The same blend of praise and blame was heard from the United Kingdom, where three Brits of Pakistani extraction have been found guilty of plotting to kill as many as 10,000 people. All three have traveled to Pakistan in the recent past, including the tribal areas.
Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan is rapidly taking a turn for the worse, spreading panic in the European capitals. Previously tranquil northern Afghanistan is becoming increasingly violent as a result of spreading Taliban influence. Last week, NATO air strikes in Kunduz resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people, of which the majority are believed to be civilians.
Furthermore, Karzai and his allies, the notorious warlords, will likely remain in power as a result of the turbulent and confusing Afghan Election. This despite widespread criticism of Karzai as an ineffective leader, with his government often blamed not only for corruption but for drug trafficking.
With this context in mind, how does one interpret the contradictory statements heard from western capitals?
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