Pakistan has responded forcefully to last weekend’s airstrike by ISAF forces that killed more than 20 Pakistani soldiers at two observation posts in the Mohmand tribal agency. In the wake of the attack, the Pakistani government has taken the following actions:
- Closed NATO’s supply lines through both the Khyber Pass and Chaman border crossings. An estimated 50 percent of ISAF’s supplies are moved via these two crossings.
- Ordered the US to vacate Shamsi Air Base in Baluchistan province. The base is used by the CIA to carry out Predator and Reaper drone strikes against al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other terror groups operating in North and South Waziristan.
- Ordered a review of its ties with the United States and its cooperation in hunting al Qaeda and other terror groups on Pakistani soil.
Oddly enough, these actions correspond closely with the Pakistani Taliban’s demands for implementing a peace deal with the government. See Threat Matrix report, Pakistani Taliban, government in peace talks, and LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban signal willingness to conduct peace talks for more details on the Taliban’s demands. On Nov. 19, according to the Washington Post/Associated Press, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman said that in order for Pakistan to make peace with the militants it must cut ties with the US.
The Taliban also want their prisoners freed and Sharia, or Islamic law, established nationwide. The former has happened in past talks, and the latter was permitted in the Malakand Division in Swat in 2009, so those two items are certainly negotiable.
Also, the Mohmand attack takes place just as Pakistan has been embroiled in the controversy over the so-called Hussain Haqqani memo. Haqqani, until very recently Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, resigned after it was disclosed that he passed along a request from President Zardari to Admiral Mullen to intervene and establish civilian control over the Pakistani military and to increase cooperation with the US to hunt terrorists in the wake of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. The controversy has threatened to tear apart the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, and has put pressure on the military to act. In one fell swoop, the Mohmand raid has eased the internal pressure on both the government and the military, and has allowed Pakistanis to vent their anger at the US.
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