American officials predict dangerous insurgency, collapse of Pakistani government

Joe Byrne
Published: Saturday April 18, 2009

The forecast for the Pakistani state is troubled at best, according to multiple senior intelligence sources and analysts. Many are predicting an imminent collapse, contingent on continued American assassinations in the region.

An anonymous intelligence official with long experience in Pakistan told McClatchy News that "it's a disaster in the making on the scale of the Iranian revolution," and that "the implications of this are disastrous for the U.S. The supply lines [from Karachi to U.S. military bases] in Kandahar and Kabul from the south and east will be cut, or at least they'll be less secure, and probably sooner rather than later. That will jeopardize the mission in Afghanistan, especially now that it's getting bigger."

Another Pentagon adviser speaking on condition of anonymity told McClatchy, "The place is beyond redemption. I think Pakistan is moving toward a situation where the extremists control virtually all of the countryside and the government controls only the urban centers," he continued. "If you look out 10 years, I think the government will be overrun by Islamic militants." The experts interviewed for the article insisted that their views weren't “worst case scenarios” but were "realistic expectations" for the coming months.

David Kilcullen, former military adviser to General Petraeus and a top expert on guerilla warfare, was recently quoted in the New York Times as saying, “within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state,” creating a civil conflict that would “dwarf” current crises.

Meanwhile, drone missile attacks on Al-Qaeda operatives in the tribal regions of Pakistan continue to incite anger towards the Pakistani and American governments. Dr. Gareth Porter, in an article published Thursday, believes that the drone missile attacks are weakening Pakistan's defense against the growing insurgency. "Al Qaeda has very little to do with the militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan," Marvin Weinbaum, former Afghanistan and Pakistan analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence Research at the U.S. Department of State, told Porter. Weinbaum contends that the drone attacks are being continued "primarily because we’re enormously frustrated, and they represent the only thing we really have."

John McCreary, a senior intelligence analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency until his retirement in 2006, observed to Porter that the targets in recent months "have been expanded to include Pakistani Pashtun militants." According to McCreary, the administration had quietly broadened the definition of Al Qaeda to include Pakistani insurgents. It is unclear just how much the emphasis has shifted from attacking Al Qaeda to attacking Pakistani citizens fighting for the Taliban. James Dobbins, the director of National Security Studies at the Rand Corporation, told Porter in an interview that as Pakistanis become the target of American missiles, a question is raised: is the drone program “feeding the insurgency and popular support for it”?

After the drone missile strikes in Pakistan became public knowledge a few months ago, the Obama administration has come to the program's defense, claiming that it has been an effective tool at controlling Al Qaeda. Information recently leaked by the administration revealed that “nine of the top twenty” Al Qaeda leaders have been killed by drone missile attacks. However, according to figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities and reported by The News in Lahore, only 10 of the 50 drone strikes carried out from the beginning of 2008 to the beginning of this month hit their targets, killing 14 Al Qaeda operatives. 537 Pakistani civilians were killed in the other 40 botched attacks, 152 of them in the first half of 2009.