Pakistan to Deal with the Devil - Again

Perhaps it's time that the United States government start asking a basic, fundamental question about Pakistan: Just whose side are they on?
Taliban militants declared a cease-fire Wednesday in fighting with Pakistani forces, and the government said it was preparing for peace talks with al-Qaida-linked extremists in the lawless tribal area near the border with Afghanistan.

Any deal that allows armed Islamic extremists to operate on Pakistani soil would run counter to U.S. demands for the government to crack down on militants. The Bush administration contends a failed truce last year allowed al-Qaida to expand its reach into this turbulent, nuclear-armed country, and the U.S. has sounded warnings in recent days about a revival of militant strength.

A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a militant umbrella group, said the new cease-fire would include not only the tribal belt along the Afghan border but also the restive Swat region to the east where the army has also battled pro-Taliban fighters.

Two local Pakistani security officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that the truce followed secret talks with the militants and tribal elders. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive.
The main militant group the government will be negotiating with is headed up by Baitullah Mehsud, an al-Qaida-linked commander based in South Waziristan. This is the thug that Scotland Yard has fingered for the Bhutto murder.

President Musharraf has numerous problems, I'm sure. But surely even he can see that negotiating with these terrorists only delays the inevitable confrontation. The political situation in the NWFP is extremely delicate. Tribes are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they support the government, al-Qaeda comes a calling. If they support al-Qaeda and the Taliban, government forces attack. They are at the mercy of events and neither expect or want any help from the government to fend off the advances of the Taliban.

We've tried bribes. We've tried reconstruction. And Musharraf has tried force. Nothing is working and all the while, the Taliban get stronger, their attacks on Afghanistan across the border increase, and NATO bickers about adding a few thousands combat troops to fight them off.

Perhaps its time we look at Pakistan and Afghanistan as the same battlefield. Treat the nuclear weapons as a seperate problem by getting multi lateral support to secure them in the event Musharaf and secularism in Pakistan falls.

A change of policy is called for. Otherwise, there is a chance we can lose both countries to the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies.
Perhaps it's time that the United States government start asking a basic, fundamental question about Pakistan: Just whose side are they on?
Taliban militants declared a cease-fire Wednesday in fighting with Pakistani forces, and the government said it was preparing for peace talks with al-Qaida-linked extremists in the lawless tribal area near the border with Afghanistan.

Any deal that allows armed Islamic extremists to operate on Pakistani soil would run counter to U.S. demands for the government to crack down on militants. The Bush administration contends a failed truce last year allowed al-Qaida to expand its reach into this turbulent, nuclear-armed country, and the U.S. has sounded warnings in recent days about a revival of militant strength.

A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a militant umbrella group, said the new cease-fire would include not only the tribal belt along the Afghan border but also the restive Swat region to the east where the army has also battled pro-Taliban fighters.

Two local Pakistani security officials told The Associated Press on Thursday that the truce followed secret talks with the militants and tribal elders. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive.
The main militant group the government will be negotiating with is headed up by Baitullah Mehsud, an al-Qaida-linked commander based in South Waziristan. This is the thug that Scotland Yard has fingered for the Bhutto murder.

President Musharraf has numerous problems, I'm sure. But surely even he can see that negotiating with these terrorists only delays the inevitable confrontation. The political situation in the NWFP is extremely delicate. Tribes are caught between a rock and a hard place. If they support the government, al-Qaeda comes a calling. If they support al-Qaeda and the Taliban, government forces attack. They are at the mercy of events and neither expect or want any help from the government to fend off the advances of the Taliban.

We've tried bribes. We've tried reconstruction. And Musharraf has tried force. Nothing is working and all the while, the Taliban get stronger, their attacks on Afghanistan across the border increase, and NATO bickers about adding a few thousands combat troops to fight them off.

Perhaps its time we look at Pakistan and Afghanistan as the same battlefield. Treat the nuclear weapons as a seperate problem by getting multi lateral support to secure them in the event Musharaf and secularism in Pakistan falls.

A change of policy is called for. Otherwise, there is a chance we can lose both countries to the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies.