Pakistan is in a civil war with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and it is a war the government is losing
Pakistan’s failure to commit the needed resources and political will to uproot al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan in 2001, 2004 and 2006 will haunt the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan for years to come.
According to Adnkronos International, the Taliban is now “calling the shots in North and South Waziristan.” The Taliban and Pakistan have agreed on a truce that ensures the Pakistani Army “will not carry out operations against them” in North Waziristan. The tribal Jirga confirms this, and Pakistani troops have now withdrawn from North Waziristan.
These truces are fueling the resurgence of Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, and by default Afghanistan (also see “Lost Territories.”) The situation in southeastern Afghanistan has reached the point where the Canadians have requested permission to patrol inside the Pakistani border. Canadian forces in Kandahar province have killed over 200 Taliban during the past two days of Operation Medusa. The Pakistani Taliban will continue to pour cannon fodder into the maw of Afghanistan.
As the Pakistani government ceded ground to the Taliban in Waziristan, Taliban forces destroyed two Pakistani Army posts in Bajaur. The Pakistani government fails to realize the Taliban is not a local problem. The same organization that is attacking Army checkpoints in Bajaur is at work in the tribal agencies of Waziristan, Tank, Dera Ismal Khan, and Khyber. The truce only allows the Taliban to focus their resources in the contested agencies while consolidating their power and maintaining safe havens in North and South Waziristan.
While Iraq is often likened to a civil war, the situation in Pakistan is largely being ignored by the western press. Pakistan meets all of the classical requirements of a civil war: there are two armed actors, with radically different political agendas engaged in combat to establish control of territory and political control of the country. The Pakistani government is ceding territory and political authority to the Taliban. The Taliban is essentially setting up autonomous zones in the western border regions. Pakistan is currently mired in a civil war, one which the Musharraf government is losing. The Pakistani government is unable to assert its will over its western border regions and a nuclear armed Pakistan is currently giving ground to the Islamists of the Taliban and al Qaeda.