Will Pakistan Fall to the Taliban?

BY Herschel Smith
13 years ago

In The Talibanization of Karachi, we discussed the influx of Taliban and foreign fighters into the port city of Karachi, and the danger this poses since Karachi is the main entry point for NATO supplies in Afghanistan. We weighed in saying that the figure cited (400,000 fighters) was probably exaggerated, but that anecdotal evidence shows that Karachi is increasingly under Taliban control.

In a new report we are now learning that both the U.S. and Pakistani governments are similarly worried, but not just about Karachi. The concern now is for the whole of Pakistan.

Grim new intelligence assessments about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan were disclosed yesterday amid reports the US had deployed hundreds of military “advisers” close to the hub of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Officials involved in drafting a new, classified national intelligence estimate for policy planners in Washington said it portrayed the situation as “very bad”, “very bleak” and “on the edge”. It is said to summarise the embattled Islamic nation in three words: “No money, no energy, no government.”

Its reported tone was matched during a secret emergency session of Pakistan’s parliament in Islamabad yesterday when one of the country’s most senior leaders — giving MPs the Government’s view of the situation — conceded for the first time that a grouping of al-Qa’ida, the Taliban and local jihadi militants was seeking not just to launch terrorist attacks but to take over the country.

The gloomy assessment was provided behind closed doors by Information Minister Sherry Rehman.

Disclosure of the two assessments came as diplomats in Islamabad were warned for the first time to restrict their movements because of the threats posed by the militants and not to “go out of station” — travel too far from their embassies.

A government official was quoted as saying the directive had been issued following last month’s kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador-designate and three other foreigners.

The assessments came as the Pakistan army acknowledged for the first time the presence of US “trainers” who have been deployed at a base close to the Tarbela dam, 20km from Islamabad, the site of the main hub of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Tarbela is the site of the brigade headquarters of Pakistan’s crack commando unit the Special Operations Task Force, and reports in Pakistan have claimed a 300-strong “US training advisory group” is now based at Hasanpur, a small town 6km away.

The local airstrip has been upgraded to “war readiness” and underground shelters, bunkers and tunnels had been built, reports said.

The presence of the US group — and, in effect, the establishment of the US’s first “base” in Pakistan — follows a statement by the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, conceding Washington had deployed “trainers” in the country.

These are extremely troubling developments for three reasons: [1] Pakistan holds nuclear assets, [2] Pakistan could evolve from being a Taliban sanctuary in the FATA and NWFP to being a sanctuary in the entire country, i.e., the country itself could become “Talibanized,” and [3] Pakistan (from the port city of Karachi to either the Southeastern city of Chaman or the northern Torkham Crossing) is the supply route for NATO forces in Afghanistan. India is equally concerned, and Indian security forces are monitoring the trouble.

Could Pakistan fall to a Taliban-al-Qaida coup? Is India looking at the possibility of a Talibanized neighbour to its west, one with access to nuclear weapons? If Pakistan’s senior minister for information Sherry Rahman is to be believed, Pakistan is in the midst of a serious internal security threat from a collection of Taliban, al-Qaida and J&K terrorist elements who want to take over the country.

Indian security sources said they have been receiving reports of a steady infiltration of Taliban and al-Qaida elements in Pakistan’s biggest cities of Lahore and Karachi recently. In fact, in a recent incident which rang alarm bells, there were a number of Taliban posters in Karachi and Taliban spokespersons were quoted promising a better government in Sindh.

Rahman’s statements were made during an in-camera briefing on national security and the war on terror in Pakistan’s national assembly on Tuesday.

By J&K the article is referring to Jammu and Kashmir terrorists, largely a creation of the Pakistani ISI for the purposes of undermining Indian stability and security. The monsters of the Taliban and J&K terrorists created by the Pakistani inter-services intelligence (ISI) are not just unwieldy and out of control. That was true a couple of years ago. The movement is now so powerful and ideologically evolved that it is about to engulf the country of Pakistan itself.

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You are currently reading "Will Pakistan Fall to the Taliban?", entry #1344 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Pakistan,Taliban,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published October 15th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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