Al Qaeda’s Pakistan Sanctuary

NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies are openly controlled by the Taliban; yellow are under threat. Click map to view.

Musharraf appeases the Taliban

I’ve published an article at The Weekly Standard magazine on the continuing decline of northwestern Pakistan and the Taliban and al Qaeda’s dominance in the region. The Bajaur accord, the Talibanization of the Northwest Frontier Province, the increased fighting in Afghanistan, the recent fighting in South Waziristan between al Qaeda supporting Taliban and Taliban supported Uzbeks, Pakistan’s attempts to promote the Waziristan Accord as a success, and Hamid Gul’s role in the events are covered.

Click to read Al Qaeda’s Pakistan Sanctuary.

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



  • RJ says:

    Here’s a simple thought: Tony Snow, the President’s Press Sec. tells America he is again going under the knife to address a suspected problem that “might relate” to his previous bout with “discovered cancer.” During a routine doctor visit and exam, a potential problem was identified. This choice, to go in there and cut it out, then examine what is found… Am I missing something in this war on terror? If we took a similar attitude within this war, wouldn’t we be farther ahead than what appears we are? I see, it all depends on how the doctors intend to fight “cancer” and where the patient is in toleration, etc. Our lead doctor believes in “Compassionate Conservatism” which means what relative to fighting a war on terror? The trickle down theory, or Commander in Chief position, means what? Do Americans believe, hell–think that the Taliban and Al Queada are capturing land in Eastern Afganistan and Western Pakistan for any other reason than to take over both countries then come west to America? If so, what do we do with these “cancers” and when do we do it? Seems to me Tony Snow made the choice to do whatever it takes to “stay alive” as long as possible. I wonder what he says to the President about such desires?

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Your link goes to page 2. You might want to make it go to page 1.

  • Tony says:

    General Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI seems to be a critical player in all of this.
    What would the advantages of putting a bounty on his head be? The disadvantages?

  • Neo-andertal says:

    I can’t say I have seen too many analogies between someone’s case of colon cancer and a wartime political situation. I can’t say I really want to see such analogies either.
    I don’t mean to get on your case and your discussion has usually been nothing but civil, but geeez. Can I say poor taste, poor taste, poor taste. Maybe you should retract that and take another hour to wake up.
    Sorry, but I think I’ll go take some antacids after reading that.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Link fixed. My apologies…

  • RJ says:

    Neo-A. How’s this? Miss Crow comes on tv to say she is a cancer survivor. 30 plus years ago, American planes were being blown up by Arafat’s buddies. Today, we have sent thousands of troops to distant lands to fight terrorists. Our doctors tell us that after five years of no signs of cancer, one might/should consider him/her self a cancer survivor. Insurance industry has all the stats on every form of cancer–you tell me the survivor rates. Want to treat terrorists within our legal system, or do we treat them in our military system? Therapies of treatment. Attitudes toward…You get squeamish over my analogies. Ms. Crow tries to take a “hopeful” position on her cancer. Tony Snow is “at war” with his. And for me, well, I’ve never met a terrorist I like! And as soon as one is identified as such, I am ready to kill it, just like if the doctor told me I had cancer cells he found…kill them as fast as you can…doc! Cancer leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. Bet it does for Ms. Crow and Mr. Snow too. And the last time I checked, these people who consider themselves terrorists want to kill us, just like cancers will. Question is: Sooner or later? Your antacid is for fighting acids…anti kinda…war kinda…or lawyer like…one cell at a time over time. And you have how much time available? Ms. Crow, Mr. Snow…how much time do they want? Reality can scare the hell out of you, at times. I’ve been awake, pal.

  • Tony says:

    I would say that we should not confine our metaphorical comparisons of the war on terror to cancer. Although this can be helpful, we should not strictly limit our medical metaphors to that one alone.
    Sure that is a helpful analogy. But so is hardening of the arteries, arteriosclerosis.
    A complacent nation has become fat and lazy in the war and terror and this has diminished our ability to respond effectively. Our arteries have become hardened and our ability to react decisively and quickly at times resembles an old man more than a young one. This was Rumsfeld’s point about trying to cut out all the fat and beauracracy in the military.
    We need every tool we can get in the war on terror. On the linguistic front, an essential part of psyops, cancer can be an instructive metaphor.
    But it should not be our only one.

  • RJ says:

    Tony, I sense we both have a desire to win this terror war, then help our fellow brothers and sisters who live on this planet, after all; “My Country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty!” Hippocrates was a good guy, just like Galen. We should be too. Let’s bring the best of America to the table.

  • crosspatch says:

    “”a steady, direct attack against the command and control in sanctuary areas in Pakistan” essential to preempt the expected Taliban spring offensive. Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voiced similar concerns last month, saying, “Long-term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan”
    Amen. I think that is what is on everyone’s mind that is following the situation in Afghanistan but is often left unsaid in official circles for reasons of diplomacy. It is a tough nut to crack but we can’t allow Pakistan to become a Cambodia. On the other hand, the people in Pakistan need some mechanism whereby they can be “satisfied” with having what they want inside Pakistan and not needing to meddle in Afghanistan. I am not expecting that to happen.
    The sum of all my fears is Islamists gaining control of the Paki government and it becomes a regional conflict involving India which could make China nervous. But as long as this stuff continues in the tribal regions of Pakistan, we aren’t going to see security in Afghanistan or the London Underground.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    Yes, but usually one uses such metaphors in a more general sense, rather than in reference to the illness of a specific person.

  • RJ says:

    N-A. Leaders and followers. A leader learns how to communicate effectively. You want to split hairs over feelings, diversity, etc. Political correctness is just another game to decide who’s on whose team. I would think about those Pakistani nukes more than who uses whose names to describe a reality that can kill your world. If you ever get the chance to be a part of a team charged with meeting an enemy “live” where destruction and death is the order of the day, reality sets in really quick. Cancer affects a different reaction than loss of sleep or an upset stomach. Pakistan is primed for a revolution. As are other countries with Islamofacists joining a global mass movement. Americans are the really, really bad guys from their perspectives. I don’t like being a target for them. I want my team to win! Real simple and direct…no metaphors in that.

  • Thanos says:

    Tony, I have to agree that someone oughta sweat Hamid Gul, if anyone outside the immediate circle knows where UBL is, it would be Hamid. The real form of AQAM as we know it today happened on his ISI watch, his and Benazir’s. She’s still in London, trying to destabilize as best she can.
    I look at what’s happening now differently… everyone assumes the bad guys are going to win, I think the bad guys are going to be so busy fighting different factions that they aren’t going to have time for much else.
    The recent Peace Jirga agreement wasn’t accepted, expect more AQAM infighting, and that’s not a terrible thing except when innocents happen to be in their way. If they are fighting factions for power over there then they aren’t focused on us.
    Right now I like it that they are jaundiced towards the foreign elements, they hate us first, but… they hate AQ second according to surveys.

  • Pakistan has outlived its usefulness. Why not pull all US forces out of Afghanistan . . . and send them into Waziristan?
    The US has put up with Musharaff’s games because the war in Afghanistan is logistically unsupportable without Pakistani cooperation, but we are only in Central Asia because the Pashtun Taliban provided our enemy, al Qaeda, sanctuary and hospitality. The Pashtun word for themselves is Afghan. The Pashtuns on the eastern side of the Durand Line, given the choice of sharia-law in Talibanistan or joining Karzai’s Afghanistan in its march to the Indus, might just decide to join the modern world.
    Put the Brits and Canucks to securing Karachi and the line of communications to Kabul, just evacuate the Germans and the French and all the other NATO contingents whose governments won’t allow them to do anything worthwile, send the Americans and Afghan National Army to Peshawar, then link up with the Indians in Islamabad after they clean out Kashmir.
    India is a great power. Time to ask them to step up.

  • Tony says:

    Cannoneer, are you saying it’s time to let the Hindus settle some scores with the Moslems here?
    I think there are drawbacks in what you say.
    Surely you are familiar with what has occurred recently in both Gujarat and Ayodhya. Whether you happen to describe that as genocide (as some do) or not is less important than understanding the level of hatred between the two communities, especially under rule of the BJP.
    It can be legitimately said that the sectarian strife between Muslim and Hindu which led to the partition of West and East Pakistan from India was more extreme than the death squad activity which plagued Baghdad after the bombing of the Samarra mosque.
    And on a far grander scale.
    And the very recent pogroms in Gujarat and Ayodhya show that these sectarian tensions remain very near the surface.
    I didn’t see you factor this at all into your analysis and I fear that following your course of action would only unite the Pashtuns behind the most extreme elements.
    It’s best to think these things through very carefully in my opinion. All Hindus are not perfect.

  • I’m saying defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Waziristan will require friendly Pashtun help and a BIG diversion from the east to keep the Pak Army that can’t be bothered to maintain any semblance of sovereignty there out of our way. I think the Pashtuns would prefer to ignore the writ of Kabul where one of their own rules over ignoring the writ of Islamabad. The Durand Line is replaced with the Indus, the Americans finally capture Osama and go home, if Pakistan is allowed to continue to exist at all it will no longer be a sanctuary and training ground for killers to be unleashed upon the world.
    Hindus aren’t perfect, but they aren’t killing many Americans.
    Pakistan is a failed state with nukes. Those nukes have to be kept out of the hands of jihadis, one way or another. If that means the end of the writ of Islamabad, well, they had their chance.


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