Pakistan: Peace in our time

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Map of ISAF Mission in Afghanistan. Click to Enlarge.

U.S. shells Taliban in Pakistan; The Musharraf government insists on negotiating with the Taliban, despite their string of attacks on government institutions and continuation of attacks in Afghanistan

U.S. forces have begun to conduct artillery strikes into western Pakistan from Afghanistan. In an interview with the Associated Press, Colonel John Nicholson, the commander of the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, which operates in eastern Afghanistan, “described the fighting along the border, particularly in Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces, as intense,” according to the Associated Press.

In some cases, he said, the Taliban have crossed the border at night, using wire cutters to breach the perimeter of small U.S. outposts, “trying to get hand grenades into our bunkers.” “I mean we’re talking World War I type of stuff,” Nicholson said. “These are some very sharp, intense fights” initiated by an enemy he described as resilient and undeterred by superior U.S. firepower. “They’ll keep coming back,” he said.

Col. Nicholson explained how Pakistani military and border posts were carefully marked, and the military worked to reduce the chances of killing or wounding Pakistani forces. Pakistani units were even given radios to warn them of incoming attacks, and a flare is sent up if all else fails (something the Taliban no doubt recognizes by now, if they are not in possession of the U.S. radios.)

Over the past several weeks, evidence of U.S. and NATO activity has surfaced. NATO and Afghan forces were said to have crossed into Pakistan and captured 11 Taliban on February 8. Mortars fired from a U.S. outpost in Khost struck a Pakistani Frontier Corps post on January 24.

Baitullah Mehsud, covered, signs the South Waziristan peace agreement in 2005. (BBC Urdu Edition) Click photo to view.

Yet despite the very real problems in western Pakistan, the Pakistani government, led by President-General Pervez Musharraf, may to be ready to cut another deal with the Taliban in Waziristan. Last week, the government sent a team to negotiate with Baitullah Mehsud, the most powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan with an army of 30,000,

“At the instance of the South Waziristan Political Agent, the top Government representative in the tribal area, a delegation of tribal elders met Baithullah Mehsud earlier this week,” the Hindu reported. At the meeting, Baitullah Mehsud denied having anything to do with the rash of bombings and suicide attacks in Pakistan over the past four weeks.

“I have no hand in the suicide attacks. But if the government has any evidence, proving my involvement, it should be brought before public,” said Baitullah to the tribal leaders and a Senator from the Taliban supporting Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal political party. The tribal leaders and Pakistani politicians have chosen to believe Baitullah, despite strong police evidence linking Baitullah and the Taliban to the multiple suicide attacks, in conjunction with the al Qaeda linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, whose leader was arrested last week.

The Pakistani civil war continues. The past week alone has seen multiple multiple attacks and plots against government representatives and military and civilian targets. A suicide bombing at Islamabad airport targeted Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, President Musharraf’s strongest ally in the government. In Dera Ishmail Khan, police discovered 12 roadside bombs and mines planted along the road to a military base. A police inspector was gunned down in Darra Adamkhel. A bomb was detonated in a market in Tank. Two pro-government tribal leaders were killed in a roadside bombing in Bajaur agency. Two more ‘US spies’ were executed in North Waziristan.

The Taliban were active against non-government organizations in the Northwest Frontier province, bombing the International Committee of the Red Cross in Peshawar, an NGO office in Bannu and the Save the Children relief agency. A government welfare office in South Waziristan was also attacked.

The Pakistani government negotiated multiple peace deals in North and South Waziristan since 2005. Each has ended in failure, as the Taliban continued to harbor al Qaeda fighters, and launch attacks against Pakistani, NATO and Afghan forces. The Pakistani government, despite a report from last week that it intended to launch an operation in Waziristan, is giving all indications it wishes to negotiate with the Taliban yet again.

U.S. and NATO forces will fight an endless holding action in Afghanistan until the Pakistani government addresses its ‘militant’ and ‘miscreant’ problem in the tribal areas and Quetta. And U.S. and NATO troops will be forced to continue the marginally effective cross border attacks within Pakistani territory to disrupt the Taliban and al Qaeda supply lines. The Taliban and al Qaeda training camps, recruiting centers, armories and centers of government will remain untouched, save a few pinpoint strikes if high value targets pop up on the radar.

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

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  • AMac says:

    “U.S. and NATO forces will fight an endless holding action in Afghanistan until the Pakistani government addresses its ‘militant’ and ‘miscreant’ problem…”

    Well, that’s one way of looking at it. Considering the consistently high level of public support for armed incursions into Kashmir, border skirmishes with India, the Taliban, Islamist elements in the Pakistani military (ISI), madrassas, al Qaeda, and so on–we are perhaps fortunate to get such support from the Pakistani military and government as we do.

    Pakistan: a borderline “failed state” run by a military dictator (“our SOB,” for now), a quasi-Sharia legal system, thoroughly corrupt, bordering a rising world power and paranoid about it, supporting terrorist bases and incursions into India, surrendering sovereignty on the Afghan border to AQ-friendly warlords, a Saudi-funded Wahibbi educational system. And a nuclear power and #1 nuclear arms proliferator, playing great-power games with China and North Korea.

    It is grimly amusing to contemplate the current fad of “should never have gone into Iraq, Afghanistan was The Good Fight; the small fight that we coulda, shoulda won easily.” As if our enemies there as well as in Iraq are too stupid to have studied history, and to have exploited their own strengths and our weaknesses as best they could.

    And our biggest weakness/their biggest strength in the Afghan war is the nature of the Pakistani nation.

    But for US newspapers, if it’s not “Bush’s fault,” there is no point in educating your readers about it.

  • joe says:

    AMAC, that is probably the best description I heard for the clusterf#ck that is pakistan.

  • Papa Ray says:

    Sounds like a plot for a best seller or a hollywood blockbuster!
    Pakistan on the verge of becoming a Radical Islamic state, determined to destroy the U.S. and at the same time, Iran working day and night feverishly toward building nukes to destroy not only Israel but the great Satan as well.
    While thousands die in Iraq and Syria and Iran contiues to send terrorists into Iraq.
    What will the U.S. do? Who will save the U.S. and stop world wide war?
    Where are all our heros when we need them?
    Dead… every one.
    Papa Ray
    West Texas

  • billy says:

    My question: Who is backing the Taliban in Pakistan? Are they financed by opium, like they were in Afghanistan? Or do they have foreign support?

  • Robert says:

    Who is backing the Taliban in Pakistan? Radical elements in the Pakistani government. Hell, for the longest time, the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Service) was a large supporter of the Taliban and many elements still are. When Clinton dropped the cruise missles in Afganistan, 6 of the reported KIAs were ISI agents training, equiping, and financing the Taliban. Also, Iran has been supporting them as well. There are numerous accounts in western Afganistan of IRG (Iranian Revolutionary Guard) equipment, vehicles and perssonel being found and captured far into Afganistan. If we are to believe the the Quods Force is operating in Iraq (and since we caught their Ops officer I think that’s a yes) we have to assume that the Quods Force is also operating in Afganistan.

  • RJ says:

    Mass movements have certain dynamics. It is my belief we are witnessing such an event. So called “spiritual leaders” are the intellectual organizers within this movement. They have a very rich field to gather true believers. Barbarians at the gates, in many ways. Years ago, a minister was on fox tv explaining the Paks and their “wilderness” areas…he was more than right. Compassionate Conservatism will not be able to control this game! Nor will soft talking change its direction! We are in for some terrible times! I’m thinking of going into the bomb shelter business.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 02/12/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

  • Speller says:

    NATO shelling targets in the sanctuaried Tribal Territories of Pakistan is a good start.
    We are fighting a War of Attrition there and the enemy has many more fighters to throw into the meat grinder, with NO political consequence, while each NATO soldier represents so much to our western societies and therefore affect our political will to win.
    Either Pakistan delineates a clear stand in support of OUR vision of a more secure world or NATO should invade these Tribal Territories which have become the new home of the SAME type of terrorist bases that lead to the attacks on 9/11.
    Why should we respect the sovereignty of nations such as Pakistan when nations such as Pakistan don’t respect their own sovereignty enough to have their own monopoly on law and the use of armed force?

  • Pakistan: Peace in our time

    Courtesy of The Fourth Rail:
    U.S. shells Taliban in Pakistan; The Musharraf government insists on negotiating with the Taliban, despite their string of attacks on government institutions and continuation of attacks in Afghanistan
    U.S. forces have be…

  • John Moore says:

    I have long thought that in the period right after 9-11, we should have substantially increased our military forces -especially ground forces – in case we might have to pacify a toppled Pakistan (yes, I know they have nukes) and/or Iran.
    Unfortunately, the political capital has been spent without enough increase, so our options in Pakistan and many other places are more limited.

  • Speller says:

    I don’t think our options with Pakistan are any less than they were in 2002.
    Didn’t President Musharraf say he complied with the U.S./NATO in 2002 because an American diplomat said the U.S. would use Air Power against Pakistan?
    Obviously Mr. Musharraf doesn’t think the U.S. has the political capital to back up that particular threat in recent months.
    Weren’t Pakistan, KSA, and the UAE the only countries to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan?
    And here we know, because of Mr. Roggio’s excellent informational blog, that Pakistan is still treating the Taliban as a party to forge treaties and strategically important agreements with?
    This doesn’t look good for the “either with us or against us” concept. Things are looking too fuzzie.


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