Pakistan delays going after Taliban in tribal areas

Rick Moran
And we wonder why our military and security experts lose sleep at night over Pakistan?

The nation with nearly 80 nuclear weapons and a civil war with radical Islamists that they are not winning at the moment, has decided to delay going after the Taliban where they live; in the wild, Northwest Frontier Province of Waziristan.

Al-Qaeda also has bases in that troubled province and it is a place of rest and refuge for Taliban fighters who cross the border into Afghanistan and kill Americans. But the Pakistani government is in a bind as refugees from the recent fighting in the Swat Valley attempt to return home.

Joshua Partlow writing in the Washington Post:

The Pakistani military operation against the Taliban was planned to unfold in three phases, starting in April with the Frontier Corps paramilitary force moving into areas around the Swat Valley, the former tourist destination where the Taliban seized control. The following month, two Pakistani divisions, or about 40,000 soldiers, led a ground operation into the valley. They have since regained control, although fighting continues and the Taliban leadership there remains largely intact. The third and most difficult phase was to be a ground operation into South Waziristan.

But the offensive in Swat pushed some 2 million people from their homes, and the fighting damaged hundreds of schools, homes and businesses. The military now must orchestrate the return of thousands of refugees each day along with rebuilding and trying to prevent the Taliban from returning, as it has done in the past. The Taliban overwhelmed the police before the operation and residents are skeptical about whether the military can keep control.

American officials are concerned that the Pakistani military might not stay in Swat long enough to ensure residents' safety. "Failing to hold in Swat would be a calamity," said a U.S. official in Pakistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I hope they're thinking about it in terms of a plan and not on a timetable."

The Pakistani military is also extremely reluctant to take on the Taliban in the mountainous region. Two years ago, they were soundly defeated in that region and forced to sign a humiliating treaty with the tribes that basically prevented the army from basing more than a handful of soldiers in the province.

Our AfPak troubleshooter Richard Holbrooke is having little success in spurring the Pakistanis to greater haste in confronting the Taliban but understands why they feel they must secure the Swat Valley first - an area that is a stone's throw from several major cities and a place where the Taliban have used as a base to launch suicide attacks against soft targets.

Meanwhile, the Taliban grows stronger, which will make it that much more difficult to dislodge them when the time comes.






And we wonder why our military and security experts lose sleep at night over Pakistan?

The nation with nearly 80 nuclear weapons and a civil war with radical Islamists that they are not winning at the moment, has decided to delay going after the Taliban where they live; in the wild, Northwest Frontier Province of Waziristan.

Al-Qaeda also has bases in that troubled province and it is a place of rest and refuge for Taliban fighters who cross the border into Afghanistan and kill Americans. But the Pakistani government is in a bind as refugees from the recent fighting in the Swat Valley attempt to return home.

Joshua Partlow writing in the Washington Post:

The Pakistani military operation against the Taliban was planned to unfold in three phases, starting in April with the Frontier Corps paramilitary force moving into areas around the Swat Valley, the former tourist destination where the Taliban seized control. The following month, two Pakistani divisions, or about 40,000 soldiers, led a ground operation into the valley. They have since regained control, although fighting continues and the Taliban leadership there remains largely intact. The third and most difficult phase was to be a ground operation into South Waziristan.

But the offensive in Swat pushed some 2 million people from their homes, and the fighting damaged hundreds of schools, homes and businesses. The military now must orchestrate the return of thousands of refugees each day along with rebuilding and trying to prevent the Taliban from returning, as it has done in the past. The Taliban overwhelmed the police before the operation and residents are skeptical about whether the military can keep control.

American officials are concerned that the Pakistani military might not stay in Swat long enough to ensure residents' safety. "Failing to hold in Swat would be a calamity," said a U.S. official in Pakistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I hope they're thinking about it in terms of a plan and not on a timetable."

The Pakistani military is also extremely reluctant to take on the Taliban in the mountainous region. Two years ago, they were soundly defeated in that region and forced to sign a humiliating treaty with the tribes that basically prevented the army from basing more than a handful of soldiers in the province.

Our AfPak troubleshooter Richard Holbrooke is having little success in spurring the Pakistanis to greater haste in confronting the Taliban but understands why they feel they must secure the Swat Valley first - an area that is a stone's throw from several major cities and a place where the Taliban have used as a base to launch suicide attacks against soft targets.

Meanwhile, the Taliban grows stronger, which will make it that much more difficult to dislodge them when the time comes.