In the context of a speech to Indian businessmen, Mr Cameron delivered a view of the role of elements within the Pakistani military and government. He warned Islamabad that it could no longer "look both ways," toward supporting Taliban, the Haqqani network, and LeT and toward "respect as a democracy." His warning in both its starkness and accuracy has been long overdue for issuance in a public forum.
Pakistan has engaged for some time now in what Cameron correctly described as the "export" of terror acts. It is the source of some seventy percent of all recent threatened or executed attacks. That is a ground truth which exists independently of any or all of the WikiLeaks document dump of contemporary notoriety. The role of Pakistan as a country as well as that played by the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as well as other components of the military and government constitute the unmentionable T. rex in the bathroom.
Mr Cameron has performed a great service by finally publicly pointing to the T. rex and calling it precisely what it is--a thwacking great killing beast.
The reaction of Islamabad's minions was instant, vociferous, and freighted with indignation. It is no surprise that the Pakistani officials pinned the rap on the WikiLeaks documents. Without exception, the worthies of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan claimed (inaccurately) that Mr Cameron had shamefully accepted the low level reports emanating originally from Afghan intelligence agencies as proof of the accusations of partnership between ISI and Taliban.
While numerous items within the WikiLeaks trove do point to the ISI-Taliban linkage and many but not all did originate with Afghan sources, Mr Cameron had no need to rely upon them as evidence for the bang-on nature of his observations. There is evidence aplenty extending back many years and coming forward in time to the testimony of the confessed Times Square bomber of direct Pakistani involvement with terror.
The Indian authorities have demonstrated convincingly that "retired" members of ISI were directly involved in both the planning and execution of the Mumbai attack. Cases in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere in Western Europe have connected the dots of local terror cells and acts with planners, financiers, and operational managers in Pakistan, at least some of whom were employees of ISI.
It was someone in the Pakistani government and most likely ISI who called Osama bin Laden while the Tomahawk missiles were crossing Pakistani airspace. The satellite phone warning allowed bin Laden to get out of the impact area literally minutes before the incoming missiles arrived. In the immediate wake of the Bush ordered invasion of Afghanistan, it was ISI and Pakistani military personnel who held the hands of assorted al-Qaeda and Taliban heavyweights as they left Tora Bora almost literally one step ahead of the Americans.
It was ISI and the Pakistani military (which was the government at the time) who formulated an agreement with Taliban and the Haqqani network which opened the FATA as a sanctuary for their displaced fighters in the years following the American led invasion. The Fearless Fugitives of the One True Faith were provided all facilities necessary for their recovery and rejuvenation by ISI. Had it not been for ISI and the larger military/government understanding and support, the war in Afghanistan would have ended long ago.
That is the record. That is the evidence behind Mr Cameron's indictment. That is the justification for his demand that Islamabad choose a side and stick to it.
In truth, Islamabad should not have it both ways. It should be denied the opportunity to work both sides of the street.
However, as pointed out in yesterday's post on this site, the US and UK need Pakistan far more than the Pakistanis need us. That is the conundrum facing both Foggy Bottom and Whitehall.
Mr Cameron did suggest a viable way out of the morass. It is a route which is neither pleasant to contemplate nor easy to travel. It consists of forcing Islamabad to make a choice: With the civilized states or with the savage primitives of violent political Islam.
The way in which this choice can be forced upon Islamabad consists at root of a truth offensive. This means telling the Pakistanis and, perforce, the world all that we known and can prove concerning the close relationship between ISI or other elements of the Pakistani government and military on the one hand and groups practicing violent political Islam on the other. As an accompaniment, the US, the UK, and other civilized states must make continuation of assistance contingent upon Pakistan making the right choice--and abiding to it.
The reaction of the Pakistani establishment to Mr Cameron's remarks shows it is embarrassed by the truth. Embarrassed to the point of hysteria. This implies the establishment in government and the elite sectors of society which support the government are vulnerable in this area, the area of being openly associated with the primitives of violent political Islam, which is a very real existential threat to both the establishment and the elite.
The vulnerability exists. It exists to be exploited. To be exploited for the interests and benefit of the US, the UK, and the other civilized states. To be exploited for the interest and benefit of Afghans and whatever state they finally create. Even to be exploited for the interest and benefit of Pakistan, its government, its elite sectors, and its future.
Sometimes truth is not only the best, most effective weapon, it is the only weapon. Mr Cameron had both the foresight and intestinal fortitude to recognize this. And, use it.