A gaggle of the highest-ranking US and Pakistani military commanders held a secret meeting on Tuesday at a posh resort in Oman to “plot a course out of the diplomatic crisis that threatens the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.” So begins a lengthy report from Foreign Policy’s “The Cable.”
The report continues:
The United States was represented by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, Stars and Stripes reported. The Pakistani delegation included Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s chief of army staff, and Maj. Gen. Javed Iqbal, director general of military operations.
If you had to pick the four most important people in the United States military, it would be those four. So this wasn’t just any meeting. This was what is known in the trade as a principals meeting. And, like most principals meetings, it was convened in the expectation that the issues addressed would be resolved.
The issue on the table in Oman: the incarceration of CIA operative Raymond Davis and the politics of releasing him from jail in Lahore, Pakistan into US custody. The US military commanders implored their Pakistani colleagues to intervene on Mr. Davis’s behalf and insist that Pakistan’s civilian leadership arrange for his immediate departure to the United States. It appears (reading between the lines) that the Pakistani military leadership concurs with the US military leaders that the Davis matter must be resolved quickly, lest relations between the two countries deteriorate any further.
The question is whether the Pakistani civilian leadership will heed the advice of the Pakistani military brass. The Davis case is political nitroglycerin in Pakistan. Mishandled, it might cause a societal explosion.
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