Militants based in Pakistan foray across the border to conduct operations in Afghanistan, while other militants—of similar ilk but organizationally separate—use the cover of chaos in Afghanistan as a base for operations in Pakistan. The rationale of a U.S.-led counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is to combat a terrorist group that has hardly anyone in Afghanistan. In the face of that last fact, the rationale sometimes instead becomes the security and stability of Pakistan, even though operations conducted as part of the counterinsurgency have if anything made things more difficult for Pakistani security forces. And the same Pakistani regime on behalf of whose stability the counterinsurgency is supposedly being waged maintains cooperative relationships with some of the very insurgents against whom the war is fought. With lines of contention like that, it is little wonder that confusion can bring about something like Saturday's lethal incident.
The 10-year-old Afghan war, neither wholly won nor lost, is slowly drawing to a close – or so Washington postulates. But what has not stopped is the linked, escalating destabilisation of the infinitely more important, more populous, and nuclear-armed Pakistan. If Washington does not quickly learn to tread more carefully, it may find the first US-Pakistan war is beginning just as the fourth Afghan war supposedly ends.
Victor Davis Hanson thinks, ultimately, Pakistan will stick with the U.S.
(Photo: Pakistani activists of Peoples Peace Committee, shout slogans during a protest in Karachi on November 27, 2011, against a NATO strike on Pakistan troops. By Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images.)