Buried at the very end of this New York Times article on General Petraeus’ appointment to the post of Director of Central Intelligence is this anecdote about the Taliban operating in South Waziristan:
The easy access into Afghanistan was on full display last week in Wana, the main town of South Waziristan, according to a local resident.
There, militants loyal to Maulvi Nazir, a Taliban leader who maintains a peace agreement with the Pakistani military and whose forces often cross into Afghanistan, showed high morale and were moving around freely in front of the Pakistani Army, the resident said. “It looked,” he said, “as though the army was giving them a free hand.”
Of course none of this should come as any surprise, as this is right in line with the Pakistani policy of allowing the so-called “good Taliban” – the Taliban who do not overtly attack the Pakistani state – to control territory and cross the border to launch attacks against the Afghan government and ISAF forces. “Good Taliban” leaders include Mullah Nazir, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The so-called “bad Taliban” are essentially made up of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Movement of the Taliban in Punjab. These are the Taliban groups that carry out attacks against the Pakistani state. They also operate inside of Afghanistan. Many Pakistani elites consider the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Movement of the Taliban in Punjab to be “wayward brothers” and misguided “patriots.” In other words, if they would only cease attacking the Pakistani state, they’d be good Taliban.
The major problems with this attempt to distinguish between good and bad Taliban are that the good Taliban shelter the bad Taliban, and both groups shelter, train, and conduct joint operations with al Qaeda and allied terror groups. You can be sure that the anecdote in The New York Times article about Nazir’s fighters operating freely only scratches the surface. You can also be sure that al Qaeda is operating on Nazir’s turf. And with the US’ covert Predator campaign essentially on hold, al Qaeda and the allied groups have little to fear.
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