Tribal Region of Pakistan a Dual Threat

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 8 months ago

The News from Pakistan recently carried a commentary on the threat that the Taliban pose to the stability and future of Pakistan.  In part it states:

The sudden rise of the “Pakistani Taliban” initially puzzled the Afghan Taliban. It could be true that the Afghan Taliban initially saw this as a welcome development that would help the cause of resisting the invaders in Afghanistan and leverage the Musharraf administration’s pro-US policies. But the Afghan Taliban grew suspicious when the self-styled Pakistani Taliban, awash with money and weapons, turned their guns on Pakistan. In January, Mullah Omar withdrew recognition from Baitulah Mehsud.

To stop Afghanistan from turning into a permanent base for anti-Pakistan destabilisation activities, Pakistani officials will have to think out of the box. This will not be possible without the help of the Afghan Taliban.

The best idea to emerge is for Islamabad to declare neutrality in the war in Afghanistan. According to this idea, Pakistan could talk to both the Taliban and the Karzai administration while maintaining equal distance from both. Islamabad already has a working relationship with Kabul but will need to restore the lost relationship with the Taliban. If the Pakistani broker can establish its credentials as a neutral party, there can be hope for brokering peace between Kabul and its local enemies …

With the newly elected federal parliament preparing to take over in the next few days, hopes are growing that Pakistan’s Afghan policy will finally be freed from US blunders in Afghanistan.

One can sense in this commentary the loss of Pakistani confidence that the U.S. can win the COIN campaign.  Consider what this commentary recommended.  First of all, the notion that Mullah Omar withdrew recognition from Baitullah Mehsud is exaggerated, and we pointed out that the Afghani Taliban under the leadership of Mullah Omar has split with the Pakistani Taliban, but refused to condemn them and also denied that Mehsud was expelled.  We also discussed the fact that there are two distinct lines of Taliban now, and that the Pakistani Taliban are of a different generation, with different tools and weapons, different views (more willing to conduct suicide missions), and just as radical in their beliefs.

But the Pakistani mind now fears the Pakistani Taliban.  At first the Taliban (i.e., the Afghani Taliban) were free to roam about FATA and NWFP as a safe haven from their operations in Afghanistan.  But the truce with the Taliban brought foreigners into the region who now target the Pakistani regime.  The tribal regions are like an independent state that now threatens both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The Afghani Taliban cross into Pakistan for safe haven, and when being pursued by the Pakistani Army, Baitullah Mehsud crosses into Afghanistan to avoid capture.

This fear is driving at least this commentator to recommend trying to leverage this split by siding with the Afghani Taliban in a war on the Pakistani Taliban, while at the same time declaring neutrality in the Afghani COIN campaign being waged by the U.S.  This strategy will fail, as Mullah Omar will have no interest in siding with the Pakistani regime to attack a brother jihadist like Mehsud.  If nothing else, this would deplete his own forces from the fight in Afghanistan.

Mullah Omar still has his eye on the prize.  In a recent interview on an Arabic-language Web site, a Taliban commander threatened to increase attacks on Kabul — not only through suicide bombings, but by targeting roads in the north and east in a bid to cut off the capital.

Prior:

U.S. Intelligence Failures: Dual Taliban Campaigns

Taliban Continue Fronts in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Concerning Killing Bad Guys and Sacking Worthless Officers

Resurrgence of Taliban and al Qaeda

The Marines, Afghanistan and Strategic Malaise

Misinterpreting the Pakistani Elections

Pashtun Rejection of the Global War on Terror

Everyone Thought the Taliban Would Not Fight!

NATO Intransigence in Afghanistan

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You are currently reading "Tribal Region of Pakistan a Dual Threat", entry #982 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Islamists,Jihadists,Pakistan,Taliban and was published March 5th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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