Monday, January 26, 2009

Pakistan is the key...

With the increasing consolidation of their power, the Taliban have taken a sizable bite out of the nation. And they are enforcing a strict interpretation of Islam with cruelty, bringing public beheadings, assassinations, social and cultural repression and persecution of women to what was once an independent, relatively secular region, dotted with ski resorts and fruit orchards and known for its dancing girls.

Last year, 70 police officers were beheaded, shot or otherwise slain in Swat, and 150 were wounded, said Malik Naveed Khan, the police inspector general for North-West Frontier Province.

The police have become so afraid that many officers have put advertisements in newspapers renouncing their jobs so the Taliban will not kill them.
This is in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Afghanistan has become more inhospitable to the Taliban (more so than the lands overseen by the divided and inept government of current Pakistan).

The point is that President Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan won't change the fact that operations for the Taliban are primarily in Pakistan. There needs to be an effort to secure a common line of thinking in Pakistan...with action to follow the position.

"The crux of the problem is the government appears divided about what to do," said Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier who until 2006 was in charge of security in the western tribal areas.

"This disconnect among the political leadership has emboldened the militants."

From 2,000 to 4,000 Taliban fighters now roam the Swat Valley, according to interviews with a half-dozen senior Pakistani government, military and political officials involved in the fight. By contrast, the Pakistani military has four brigades with 12,000 to 15,000 men in Swat, officials say.

But the soldiers largely stay inside their camps, unwilling to patrol or exert any large presence that might provoke - or discourage - the militants, Swat residents and political leaders say. The military also has not raided a small village that locals say is widely known as the Taliban's headquarters in Swat.
The problem seems to be that the military doesn't believe in the cause, and is not willing to stick their heads up out their bases. I tend to believe it goes deeper, and there is an absolute refusal to see the Taliban as the enemy to some exent. The result is an occasional US spy drone firing missiles along the Pakistani border as Pakistani officials and military leaders rush to the scene to count "civilians." In the blink of an eye, stringers for the anti-American press are only too willing to carry the water.

More troops won't make much difference unless Pakistan starts towing the line and marginalizing the dissidents in their own ranks.