What Pakistan knew about bin Laden

Carlotta Gall is a New York Times reporter who went to live and report in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Her new book is The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014. The New York Times Magazine published a scintillating excerpt last week focusing on what Pakistan knew about bin Laden. I just finished reading it this week.

It is interesting from beginning to end. I highly recommend it. Among other things, Gall not only shows what Pakistan knew about bin Laden, but she also shows that we (the Obama administration) know what they knew and that we seek to suppress it.

Gall concludes with a dispiriting look at coming attractions in Afghanistan:

Kathy Gannon of The Associated Press reported in September that militants from Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, were massing in the tribal areas to join the Taliban and train for an anticipated offensive into Afghanistan this year. In Punjab, mainstream religious parties and banned militant groups were openly recruiting hundreds of students for jihad, and groups of young men were being dispatched to Syria to wage jihad there. “They are the same jihadi groups; they are not 100 percent under control,” a former Pakistani legislator told me. “But still the military protects them.”

The United States was neither speaking out against Pakistan nor changing its policy toward a government that was exporting terrorism, the legislator lamented. “How many people have to die before they get it? They are standing by a military that protects, aids and abets people who are going against the U.S. and Western mission in Afghanistan, in Syria, everywhere.”

When I remember the beleaguered state of Afghanistan in 2001, I marvel at the changes the American intervention has fostered: the rebuilding, the modernity, the bright graduates in every office. Yet after 13 years, more than a trillion dollars spent, 120,000 foreign troops deployed at the height of the war and tens of thousands of lives lost, Afghanistan’s predicament has not changed: It remains a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists. This is perhaps an unpopular opinion, but to pull out now is, undeniably, to leave with the job only half-done.

Meanwhile, the real enemy remains at large.

Whole thing here.

UPDATE: A commenter points out Peter Bergen’s critique of the Times Magazine excerpt of Gall’s book, also worth reading.

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