Obama Afghan-Pakistan Policy Already Unraveling
DELHI, INDIA, United States President Barack Hussein Obama unveiled his much awaited South Asian strategy in a globally televised speech last night (Indian time). Today many Indians told me, as one put it, that Obama "lived up to his middle name by showing the face of a pro-Pakistan US policy," a critical component of which that policy is to find "moderate Taliban" with whom the United States and its allies can negotiate a peace.
Imagine if in 1942 Franklin Roosevelt had said that the US was going to look for moderate Nazis who could negotiate peace. Americans would have been outraged then, and history would show the policy to have been a calamitous mistake. Fortunately, we do not have to wait for the passage of history since those moderate Taliban have already provided evidence that the policy is terribly flawed.
Yet just hours before Obama's speech, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque located in the Khyber region near the Pakistan-Afghan border. So far, the dead or injured number at least 170 of the 250 worshippers. The mosque was completely destroyed.
Most news outlets reported the event as a message to Obama that defeating the Taliban will not be easy and that the "militants" could strike at Pakistan pretty much at will. The media also said that no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. All of that is true, but very few outlets reported the fact that several security sources have evidence that the attack was the work of Tehrik-e-Taliban, a deadly Islamist group headed by Batullah Mehsud. What makes that especially significant is that Tehrik-e-Taliban and Mehsud were one of those "moderate Taliban" that entered into that agreement in the Swat Valley. One of the Hindi language channels reported that the group's spokesman claimed it abrogated the treaty because "it is against the will of Allah to fight for Sharia only in Swat Valley, that all of Pakistan must be under Sharia."