Pakistani launches Taliban Offensive (1)

It seems that, while denied by top Pakistani officials, we, the Americans, have successfully persuaded Pakistan to act.

An offensive has been launched yesterday, Sunday, against Taliban elements in the Lower Dir district of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) – a neighbor of the SWAT Valley.

Said offensive is now in its second day, and scattered reports seem to imply it has carried over into other limited areas of the NWFP – although details regarding the expansion of operations are slim at this point.

It seems elements of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a smattering of tribal entities pulled together into a cohesive unit numbering about 80,000, are the spearhead of this offensive, and are being supported by air forces and ground-based artillery/armor.

Now, the Pakistanis, to save face of course, and to try to deconstruct the image of them as puppets of Western, namely American, influence, deny that this offensive is a cave-in to American pressure to act.

And yet it’s quite obvious, given the near-perpetual string of high-level talks between America and Pakistan in the past number of weeks (Namely between Admiral Mullen [the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and therefore the highest ranked military officer in America] and what is essentially his counter-part in the Pakistani military, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff) that this offensive is a direct response to candid advice given to the Pakistani government/military by the American military and affiliated agencies.

Perhaps our top commanders (Military, CIA, and diplomatic [the pitbull Richard Holbrooke]) have finally painted a more holistic, sweeping picture of Pakistan’s fate if they fail to deal with the newly embolded Taliban (After having the SWAT Peace Accord officially recognized and signed recently) as they methodically sweep from district to district in the NWFP.

And this picture painted by the U.S. would not simply encompass the strategic failure of having more and more of Pakistan under the thumb of Talibani elements, but also would bring into focus other, more indirect matters, such as economic aid given to Pakistan, which President Obama has made clear will from this point on be determined by “benchmarks” of progress (not officially defined as of now) regarding Pakistan’s commitment to fighting radical elements within their country; namely within the NWFP.

I certainly put forth the notion that we are supplying them intelligence and logistal support regarding these most recent strikes against Taliban strongholds in Lower Dir and, most likely, other areas of the NWFP.

One of many questions that come to my mind regarding this most recent offensive: How serious is it?

In scope and expected level of intensity, is this just a show of potential strength by Pakistan to get America to shut up?

I will say it comes at an excellent annual juncture, as the traditional Afghan-Pakistan tribal “fighting season” is about to commence, as crops are harvested and the weather improves. This Pakistani offensive will at the very least disrupt Taliban preparations for the incoming influx of 17,000 American combat troops who are scheduled to arrive, within the coming month or two, in the very Afghani provinces in which Taliban activity has spiked in recent months.

The New York Times is reporting that this offensive is a ” prelude to a larger one against the Taliban in Buner in the coming days, according to a government official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/world/asia/27pstan.html?_r=1&ref=world

Buner, a neighbor of SWAT, was infiltrated by large numbers of Taliban fighters last week. After “talks” with the Council of Elders for the region, the Taliban agreed to withdraw. That withdrawal is dubious, as reports are still coming in of armed Taliban fighters roaming in at least one border village of Buner.

Other reports from the New York Times claim that, while the initial Taliban forces that invaded and consolidated control over Buner have withdrawn, elements of “local” Taliban entities still maintain control over strategic areas of Buner, and are looting supplies.

Some analysts are saying this Pakistani offensive jeopardizes the SWAT Peace Accord.

Bullshit.

The Accord called for the Taliban to lay down their arms and in return Sharia law would be implemented in the SWAT Valley and neighboring districts.

And then, within days of this being officially signed by the Pakistani president, heavily armed Taliban forces enter Buner. Ha.

Hopefully Pakistan is beginning to see the absurdity in trying to deal with the Taliban.

Time will tell.

 

juice

 

One news outlet detailing the initial progress of the offensive is:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8019518.stm

In this report, the BBC reports:

“A militant commander was among a number of militants killed in gun battles in the Lower Dir district of North West Frontier Province, the military said.”

And also:

“Helicopter gunships and tanks were reportedly used in the fighting.

There was no immediate word of casualties from the Taleban and independent sources have not been able to verify the army’s claims.

Pakistani interior ministry chief Rehman Malik has repeated his call for the Taleban to disarm.

‘Enough is enough,’ told a TV channel on Sunday.

‘We have decided to flush them out. The peace accord was linked to peace. When there is no peace, there is no use for that accord.’

The clashes seem to suggest that the government has finally decided to try to stop the spread of the Taleban across northern Pakistan, the BBC’s Mark Dummett reports from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.”

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: