5 years ago
Syed Saleem Shahzad writing for the Asia Times gives us an important perspective on the Taliban victory in Swat where Sharia law was instituted and a truce called.
In Malakand, which includes the Swat area, the militants are a part of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Taliban and the vanguard of the Taliban’s cause in the region against Western occupation forces in Afghanistan and their ally – Pakistan. They have established their own writ with a parallel system that includes courts, police and even a electric power-distribution network and road construction, and all this is now official in the eyes of Islamabad.
All intelligence indicated that further concentration on military operations in Swat could lead to an expansion of the war theater into Pakistan’s non-Pashtun cities, such as Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. The security forces were already stretched and even faced rebellions.
These combined factors culminated in Monday’s peace agreement, which is a major defeat for Washington as well as Pakistan, and it could also lead to a major setback for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan come spring when hordes of better-trained fighters from Swat pour into Afghanistan …
The developments in Malakand division coincide with the arrival in Afghanistan of close to 3,000 American soldiers as part of an extra 30,000 to boost the already 30,000 US troops in the country. The new contingent will be deployed in Logar province to secure violent provinces near the capital Kabul. Petraeus must now be thinking of how many more troops he will need to confront the additional Taliban fighters that will come from Malakand.
There is much more at the link to the Asia Times commentary, but basically, Shahzad is correct. Implementation of Sharia law is only part of the deal. The Pakistani Army will leave. The institutions set up by the Taliban are now formalized and official, recognized by the Pakistani government. Given the proximity of Swat to Afghanistan, safe haven for the Taliban doesn’t even begin to explain the depths of the problem. The problem goes not only to territory and terrain, but preoccupation of the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP).
Although not exclusively, the TTP has primarily been disposed with fights inside of the North West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. They are now no longer occupied with fights with the Pakistani Army.
These fighters are now free to engage U.S. troops, and thus has Pakistan traded off its “security” for that of Afghanistan. And the campaign in Afghanistan has just gotten a little harder. Now. How about all of those dignitaries summoned to Sharia court by the Taliban in Swat? Had the Pakistani negotiators forgotten about that?
One final thing. Sufi Mohammad … will soon travel to Matta, a sub-district of Swat, to visit his son-in-law Mullah Fazlullah (the Tehrik-i-Taliban commander in Swat) to try to persuade him to end the insurgency. Of course he’ll be happy to oblige.