Meanwhile, the LA Times reported the U.S. Pentagon is making plans to send military personnel to Pakistan to train the country's security forces, "taking advantage of promising ties with the country's new top general." The news agency noted, "The Bush administration has avoided using American troops in Pakistan because it would be deeply unpopular with many Pakistanis. The plans would limit the U.S. mission to instructing Pakistani trainers, officials said recently, speaking on condition of anonymity because the proposals are not final. Those Pakistanis then would train their country's forces." An anonymous Defense official told the LA Times, "The U.S. has to be careful of what it is doing inside Pakistan. If it becomes obvious, that's one of the things that could undermine the stability of the Pakistan government. It could provoke a response that could easily get out of hand."
Kayani has reportedly been a major influence behind these training efforts. Since Musharraf relinquished his army uniform, the new army chief has taken steps to redeem the military and move it "away from its focus on preparedness against rival India and toward fighting Islamic extremists." Much of the fighting has been concentrated along the border with Afghanistan, and the militant stronghold is located in southern Waziristan. On Thursday, BBC News ran an interesting article, entitled, "Why Waziristan Matters," discussing the implications of the region. BBC's Jill McGivering wrote, "The battle for control in South Waziristan is critical. It is described as one of the most important frontlines in the fight against Islamic extremism, a new proxy war." Militants in this area, she noted, "are drawn from a cluster of local tribes and embedded in local communities." Control of Waziristan, McGivering added, is key to controlling Afghanistan as well as stabilizing the northern regions of Pakistan. [Image courtesy of the Daily Times]
[Forgot to also note an interesting commentary in the Washington Post today by columnist David Ignatius on Kayani.]