Breaking the Pakistan-Taliban Alliance
This is the ‘golden hour’ when the U.S. can finally secure Islamabad’s help in stopping al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and the Taliban.By Zalmay Khalilzad, WSJ
June 7, 2016 6:33 p.m. ET
In foreign policy, there are key moments—“golden hours”—when events create a finite window in which to achieve important things. Sometimes they are obvious, like in the aftermath of a successful military operation. More often golden hours are fleeting and apparent only in retrospect, when policy makers realize that they missed an opportunity.
Based on my discussions with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials in Kabul in recent days, I believe that the killing over the May 21 weekend of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike has created a golden hour in which to finally secure Pakistan’s cooperation in stopping support for the Haqqani network terrorists and for the extremist Taliban.
To have such a decisive effect on Pakistani policy, however, the U.S. and Afghanistan must follow up on Mansour’s death with additional steps that escalate pressure on Islamabad. Otherwise the opportunity will dissipate.
Opportunities have come and gone before. The last golden hour that could have secured a verifiable Pakistani break with the Taliban was after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. From the moment the U.S.-led coalition overthrew the Taliban in 2001, through 2004, when Afghans voted in a landslide for the election of President Hamid Karzai, U.S. credibility was sky high.