Pakistan’s Slide

Taliban and al Qaeda leaders confident; the NWFP is becoming a Taliban training and recruiting grounds; Pakistan tells NATO to appease the Taliban in Afghanistan

NWFP/FATA. Click map to view.

Pakistan continues its slide into darkness as the government attempts to appeases the Taliban. While the Chingai al Qaeda training camp air stike, which killed 80 Taliban, gave some hope that the Pakistani government may change its policy of appeasement to the Taliban, the follow up suicide bombing at the Dargai Army base, which killed 45 recruits, sent a message to the Pakistani government and military. Pakistan has ceased to aggressively or passively fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal areas, and has essentially ceded the region to the terrorists.

Alexis Debat reports the Taliban and al Qaeda are so confident in their security with North Waziristan that “senior al Qaeda operatives have been spotted ‘walking and talking openly’ in the market of Mir Ali in North Waziristan.” Mr. Debat also notes the al Qaeda presence in the Northwest Frontier Province has increased since the signing of the Waziristan Accord. And the Taliban are pushing a recruitment program as well.

U.S. intelligence have also noted the increasing presence of foreigners in Waziristan, Bajaur and Dir, as well as up to Chitral, further north at the border with Afghanistan, where British intelligence sources tell ABC News that the Taliban are “recruiting openly” for the jihad in Afghanistan. Pakistani militants have also opened several offices in Khar, the main city of Bajaur, to recruit volunteers for combat or suicide missions against NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to intelligence sources.

The Jamestown Foundation notes that senior al Qaeda have passed through Chitral, and extremism is on the rise. We noted after the signing of the Waziristan Accord that the tribal agencies of Bajaur, Tank, Khyber, Peshawar and Dera Ishmal Khan are contested agencies, essentially in the Taliban’s sphere of influence. Pakistan’s western tribal regions are essentially lost to the Taliban and al Qaeda, and the whole of the Northwest Frontier Province is in danger of meeting the same fate.

The Waziristan Accord was explicitly set up to prevent the infiltration of “foreigners” (al Qaeda), prohibit the establishment of parallel governments, stop the assassination of pro-government tribals, halt attacks on government and military institutions and check the power of the Taliban.

None of these goals have been reached, and the situation is worsening. Just yesterday, in North Waziristan, the Taliban assassinated another “spy”. He received the usual treatment: he was shot in the head with a warning note pinned to his body, then thrown in a ditch. The Taliban also attacked another military base. Four ‘militants’ were killed after they attacked a base near Mir Ali.

In Bajaur, the government claims to have reopened the files on the banned Tehreek-e-Nifaaz-e-Shariah-e-Mohammadi, or the “Pakistani Taliban.” The Daily Times reports “The government has now reopened the cases against TNSM activists including its acting chief Maulana Alam, Maulana Fazlullah and Maulvi Haq. The suspected TNSM activists have been directed through newspaper advertisements to appear in court and face charges filed against them under anti-terrorism laws.” But the Pakistani government doesn’t have the ability to enforce the law in Bajaur (incidentally, this is why they had to use air power against the Chingai madrassa.)

Pakistan’s appeasement to the Taliban extends beyond its own border. Now the government is openly calling for NATO to cease military activity, depose Afghan President Hamid Karzai and assist with the formation of an Afghan unity government, with Taliban participation.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops. Western ministers have been stunned. “Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban,” said one Western official who met the minister recently.

General Jan Orakzai, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province, “insists that the Taliban represent the Pashtun population, Afghanistan’s largest and Pakistan’s second largest ethnic group, and they now lead a “national resistance” movement to throw out Western occupation forces, just as there is in Iraq.” He also advocates more peace deals in Afghanistan that are akin to the Musa Qala surrender, where the British turned over the Helmand district to the Taliban.

An American intelligence official likens Orakzai to a “Quisling” or “shill” as he is willing to surrender Pakistan’s sovereignty to the Taliban. Orakzai is also believed to be in collusion with the Taliban. On October 15, we described Orakzai as “is a known Taliban sympathizer and is a proponent of expanding the terms of the Waziristan Accord throughout the tribal agencies.”

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.


  • Anand says:

    Very concerning. Excellent post.

  • Bill Biddle says:

    Quick! Let’s attack, invade and occupy Pakistan!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Bill Biddle,
    If you’ve spent any time around here, you’d know that neither I nor anyone else around here advocates that. The hope is Pakistan gets it together and seriously addresses their problem. They are nation with nuclear weapons and a complex population that makes Iraq look like child’s play.

  • GK says:

    I can’t say this enough times.
    1) Pakistan has nuclear weapons. 30-50 of them.
    2) Pakistan is where Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and others currently reside.
    3) Pakistan was where AQ Khan was selling nuclear secrets to anyone who would pay him, and there may be other like him.
    4) About 60-80% of Pakistan’s population hates the US (to varying degrees).
    Now, how can the combination of these 4 points result in anything but the destruction of a US city in an act of terror at some point in the next 10 years? Is there any reason that would *not* happen?

  • GK says:

    I regret that if terrorists use a nuclear weapon in a US city, and if the investigation leads to AQKhan-type people in Pakistan, we would have to invade full force, no matter how big the country is.
    There is no way around that if that happens.
    However, I don’t think it would be 6 times more difficult than Iraq just because the population is 6 times more. Note that Afghanistan is the same population as Iraq and has gone much better – only 300 US casualties in 5 years.
    Here is why :
    1) Pakistan borders India, who would be enormously helpful to any US invasion there.
    2) Pakistan is much easier to ‘democratize’ than Iraq was, due to most of the population being culturally Indian-like. They are more interested in making money and watching cricket/films than Jihad.
    3) A lot more Pakistanis speak English than Iraqis do. This makes many of our efforts easier.
    4) Pakistan does not have oil. Many tyrannies in the world only exist because of oil wealth used to bribe people and keep a dictatorship propped up.
    If an invasion of Pakistan after a nuclear attack on a US city in the next decade is necessary, maybe it would only be 6 times more difficult than the Invasion of Afghanistan. 1800 US troops over 5 years. That is not that bad.

  • Anand says:

    Only 1800 casualties to invade Pakistan? It isn’t April Fools day my friend. Most Iraqi’s were very pro-American in March, 2003 (isn’t this true Bill?). Iraq was still this difficult. About a quarter of Pakistanis vote for extremists in elections. This group is likely to organize a lot of suicide bombing attacks.
    The only country more hated by Pakistanis than America is India. Assuming India gave Pakistan $10 billion (430 billion Rupees), the Indian development projects would be attacked in occupied Pakistan. Suicide bombers would attack Pakistani civil society and Pakistan’s silent moderate majority. Sometimes this majority (although real) can appear very silent.
    Pakistan is very ethnically diverse and full of confessional rivalries (Panjabi–not that Panjabis are particularly united–against Mohajirs against Baluchis against Pathan Pashtu againts Sindhi). There is a reason that in 1947, Nehru and other Indians wanted a partition. India’s leadership did not want to administer Pakistan. They didn’t even want anything to do with Bangladesh in 1971-72, which was much easier to govern than Pakistan.
    India has the Donald Rumsfeld approach to nation building. Invade and withdraw immediately. Thats what they did with Bangladesh in 1971-72. That would only worsen matters in Pakistan. And being a democracy, India doesn’t want to risk being nuked by Pakistan.
    Far better would be for the world to offer Pakistan $100 billion in grants from the international community (maybe $40 billion from the US, $30 billion from EU, $10 billion each from Japan and India, $5 billion from China etc.) in return for them converting themselves into a free prosperous democracy that empowers Pakistani civil society to take on its extremist minority.
    But this carrot has to be accompanied with an “or else” stick. As Bill says, it would be very difficult to enforce a stick. We (the hole world) had better pray that it doesn’t come to that. But once we make a threat, we have to follow through on it.

  • GK says:

    Well, why were there only 300 US deaths in Afghanistan to date? Afghanistan is the same population as Iraq and 1/6th that of Pakistan.
    The $100 Billion grant idea is awful. That is essentially bribing them as long as they pretend to behave well.

  • GK says:

    And what is your answer to the Pakistan situation for when a suitcase nuke is detonated within the US, killing 300,000 people? That is just about a certainty between now and 2020.
    It is almost inevitable. 80%+ chance.

  • Nicholas says:

    I’d say there would be no choice but to retaliate in kind. Care to think about the ramifications of NOT doing so?

  • mb says:

    What do you mean invade Pakistan?! If a city of ours is nuked our response should not be conventional. If Pakistan has ceded a region to terrorist control and out of that region has come the weapon that destroyed an American city – that part of Pakistan will disappear.

  • jeff says:

    “If Pakistan has ceded a region to terrorist control and out of that region has come the weapon that destroyed an American city – that part of Pakistan will disappear”
    A pretty inane comment. First: how will you be able to tell the nuke came out of pakistan (Tom Clancy doesn’t always have all his facts straight)? Second: The areas ceded to AQ are not the areas which store the weapons. So if an american city gets nuked with a suitcase, you obliterate Islamabad? That will go over good with folks. Finally: If you set off a nuke in the part of pakistan that AQ has made home, you will kill some shepherds, a bunch of goats and, maybe a terrorist or two for each 100 children you fry. And you won’t make it “disappear” either, Rambo. Quit posturing and get a little realistic

  • JMS says:

    Let’s not panic yet. The hope with Pakistan is that the economy’s booming, %8.6 growth last year, %7 this year (would have been more but for the earthquake). Trade with India is slowly liberalising, is increasing with China (Chinese PM was just there), they’ve got a lot of the same competitive advantages as India (English speaking, well educated, low cost) so many of the same outsourcing business models as work so well in India will work in Pakistan.
    The young, urban middle classes dominate this growing economy, as they do in India, and they’re extremely liberal, almost to western standards. These people hate the extremists, and love Musharaf, primarily because they see him as a defender of their liberal values against the fanatics. The West’s goal should be to increase this tribe, by boosting Pakistani economic growth — investment credits for Western companies, free trade agreements, scholarship programs, etc, everything they can throw at it. Make the young liberals powerful, help them to dominate Pakistani economic and political life, and thus the military, intelligence, etc, and eventually they’ll do our job for us. Musharaf, I think, may just be buying time until this happens.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    There is no such thing as ‘Young Liberals’ in Pakistan. Please have a look at the education sylabus of Pakistan. Since 1977 the education system in Pakistan has laid stress on the fact that Pakistan is an ‘Islamic Republic’. The education system in Pakistan produces english speaking ‘jihadis’.
    In fact I would go so far as to say that the young liberals are the log jam who have since the creation of the Pakistani state in 1948 consistently denied things like ‘education’ ‘land reform’ etc. to their own people. They and their kind have looted the resources of their own state for their own comfort, supported coup after coup by the army and fed religion to the masses in order to keep them quite!!
    Pakistan in this context is no different to Iran. They are both ‘Islamic Republic’,and in fact they both attacked their respective US embassies at the same time. MSN ignored Pakistan and focused on Iran.
    The principal difference between the two islamic replublics is that USG ‘talks’ to one and refuses to talk to another!!!

  • JMS says:

    I agree with your critique of the Pakistani ruling classes, but it doesn’t change the fact that those classes practise values that are incompatible with the Taliban. Rapid economic growth will grow the numbers and influence of this class (as it has in India) and at some point, these two cultures will clash, possibly in civil war, possibly in something less dramatic. In fact, the lack of economic growth is often what forces urban elites to resort to other means to control their population. In a nation of growing wealth, discontents can be bought with development. If there’s no development, other means of control must be sought, leading to worse problems down the line.
    Maybe calling them ‘young liberals’ today is a misnomer, the point is that rapid economic growth in poor nations creates new classes that previously didn’t exist. If Pakistan maintains %8 growth, they will exist in the future, as a result of filling the millions of new jobs, especially in the service sectors. As their culture of uncovered women, Bollywood movies and rock music spreads with them, the Taliban will no doubt attack it. And thus the urban elites will be forced to fight the Taliban at some point simply to survive, and preserve their way of life. It will also create a stark choice for Pakistan’s middle-ground population — wealth and modernity on the one hand, or poverty and violence on the other. But the urban elites are no where near powerful enough yet to fight that fight. Ten years of %8 growth might do it, though. The question is whether Afghanistan can hang on that long.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Sorry to disagree but I think you have a very ‘romantic’ view of the people of Pakistan.
    Please look at the Pakistani growth rate over the 1980’s. It will show similar growth rates to today because then, as now, USG is pumping huge amounts of greenbacks into the Pakistani system and the end result of that growth was the the destruction of the Twin Towers.
    If you wish to save Afghanistan and by extention the rest of the world then you have to plan & execute the destruction of the current state of Pakistan and hopefully its replacement with something which is a bit more peaceful.
    I am a person who personally backs President Bush in his foreign policy, I don’t have a view on his internal US policy since I am not a resident of the US and am not effected by it. But President Bush’s foreign policy is going to fail if the USG ignores the hole that it has dug itself into by supporting a government which has Weapons of Mass Destruction and whoes leader namely General Musharraf stated publicly that he was aligining Pakistan to the US in order to betray the US at a later stage i.e. his version of the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’
    Rather amazing isn’t it that the US invaded Iraq on the assumption that it had WMD but ignores the fact that here is Pakistan which has the capability to produce WMD’s and is supporting non state actors who are attacking US soliders on a daily basis!!! but is being given trunks full of dollar bills by the USG.

  • Michael says:

    I appreciate your comments. But can you give a link regarding the planned betrayal of America by Musharraf? I prefer authenticating the source.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    I don’t know the extent of you knowledge of the islamic culture but the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’ was a treaty signed by the Prophet Mohammed in AD628 with his enemies.
    The ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’ allowed the young islamic state to consolidate its hold and grow in power till when they were strong enough in AD630 to overpower its enemies. Please refer to // for further detail.
    Since then all islamic rulers have used the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’ as code to tell their followers that look this is a temporary ‘peace’ between us and our enemies and we will resume the war once we are in a position to win.
    General Musharaff in his speech of the 9/19/2001, please refer to // refers to the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’ and the people of Pakistan knew exactly what he was talking about. Which was that he was telling them that this alignment with the US is temporary and we will resume the war when we are in a position to win.
    What I find surprising is that all arms of the USG fell for this hook line & sinker. USG has not only backed the General with the full knowledge that he would ‘betray’ the US the first opportunity that he got and true to his word he has done eaxctly that.
    Pakistan is currently arming & training people either as an act of commission or ommission and I am not bothered either way since the end result is that brave GI’s are getting bullets with their name written on it.

  • Tru says:

    Here’s a thought: lets TCB before that nuke goes off in one of our cities (maybe coming to a city near you and your family!) in the future. If Pakistan has basically ceded the Northwest Frontier Province to the Taliban and al-Qaeda with the Waziristan Accord then is it really Pakistani territory still? – yeah, yeah   whatever. Why are we fighting with one hand tied behind our backs? Did we not learn that lesson from that Vietnam conflict? Come to think of it we haven’t fought a WAR since WWII, Korea being a ‘police action’ and all. I’m no military planner but couldn’t we decimate the Taliban and al-Qaeda since they are so cozy in that area? How much damage could special ops with air support do? Let the terrorists get comfy, wait till they gather for one of their meetings and send a special package via air mail. Lots of questions but I hope our planners are seriously considering these options and tcb BEFORE we are nuked.

  • Tru says:

    I know Raj is probably from India and therefore maybe a little biased against the Paks but he does make some good points. He is not incorrect concerning the ‘Treaty of Hudaybiya’. As far as I am concerned, until moderate muslims step forward and take back their religion I personally will not trust anything any muslim says. The longer the moderate muslims remain silent the more likely it is that there are no moderate muslims which drastically changes the rules of (the game) engagement.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Yes my origins are Indian but I am British. Didn’t have much of say in picking my parents!! Infact I was a Short Service Commission officer in HM Armed Forces (Royal Corps of Signals) in the mid to late eighties.
    I am not anti Pak, I just like calling a spade a spade simple.
    What annoys the hell out of me right now is that people is SD & Whitehall in public at least give the impression that this is a game. AQ and the ‘green men’ are as serious now as they were in the 90’s when all of us made the mistake of looking the other way.
    If we give the ‘green men’ the space & time to plan then you can expect a repeat of 9/11 except we will be glowing in the night. Right now the ‘Green Men’ are beinging given the time & space they need in north west frontier of Pakistan to plan whatever they want and please expect serious consequences for the rest of us.
    I have been shouting myself hoarse since the early 90’s when I saw the radicalisation of people I had grown up with here in the UK that people need to get serious about islam and realise the threat that it posses.
    The current radical islam is made up of Saudi brains and Paki foot soliders and the sooner we get serious about them the better it will be for all of us.

  • Tru says:

    No disrespect was meant in my comment above. I was simply pointing out what could have been a reason for bias, given the India-Pakistan relationship, and then agreeing with you. I agree 100% with your comments. I think a lot of us are afraid that it will take another catastrophe, perhaps on a scale greater than 9-11, to wake up everybody else who does not take the threat of radical islam seriously. We are in a war for the survival of our way of life and most people are sleep-walking thru it. I pray to God that a city does not have to get nuked in order for our respective countrymen to finally get serious and bring all powers to bear on the enemy wherever and whoever that enemy may be.

  • nihichsu says:

    Raj/Tru/ everyone else,
    USG has been taken for a long & wonderful ride by Pres. Mush of Pakistan. This is in fact the 2nd long ride for USG. The first one was by Pres. Zia ul Haque. One should not forget that the Taliban came into existence during his rule. You can call Haque the Midwife who delivered the baby called “Taliban” and which has now become a Monster. The study of rise of Islam and its propagation would dawn upon the student that “betrayal” is the essence of this religion.
    God bless America – is all I can say.


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