While redeploying from Afghanistan back to Germany, I passed through Kabul International Airport. Inside the recreation center, several Pakistani military officers played table tennis. They were part of the military partnership between America and Pakistan.
As I sat watching the game, a Pak officer approached and sat down next to me. He inquired about my 101st Airborne combat patch. He told me that the 101st recently left Afghanistan, so he wondered why I was still there. I told him that I’d deployed as an individually attached soldier. In other words, though I was in a combat zone with the 101st, I was on loan from another unit and my deployment cycle didn’t quite sync with the 101st.
The officer was extremely charismatic and smooth. He combined the attributes of Pakistan’s old English military masters with Eastern guile. I’ve read of some other accounts similar to mine. People who meet Pakistani military officers are somewhat beguiled. I was immediately put on the defensive by this officer, but I believe that if it wasn’t for my current job and my experience as a cop, I would have come away thinking: “Maybe we’re just misunderstanding Pakistan.”
We know what Pakistan is up to politically and militarily. Yet Pakistan’s ability to say one thing and do another is unparalleled. I believe Americans, who’ve grown up in a country where trust is common, despite media cynicism, are easily led by such well-honed deceptive skills. This is why our policy regarding Pakistan remains unchanged despite evidence that we should probably take a harder stance.
Admiral Mullen’s recent comments on Pak duplicity ring true to me. But I believe the snake charmers in Pakistan will continue to lead many astray.