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The war in Pakistan
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I began to write "the war in Pakistan", changed it to "Afganistan" and then realized that in fact I was indeed writing about the war in Pakistan.

There is a war going on there you know?

Al Qaeda, in it's usual fashion, managed to gain the attention of the new government of Pakistan by blowing up a Marriott Hotel there recently. Instead of being satisfied with being left essentially unmolested in the tribal areas of NW Pakistan, the terrorist group refused to leave "well enough" alone.

That has sparked a new round of fighting between both AQ and the Taliban with government forces. And if the numbers are to be believed, the government forces aren't doing that badly.
Clashes between Taliban militants and security forces killed 51 people, including 47 militants in a volatile region on the border with Afghanistan, officials said.

Fighting is spreading across Pakistan's northwest as the government tries to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaida fighters blamed for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Additionally, a new group seems to be rising within this conflict that is similar to the Awakening movement in Iraq. Pro-government militias have formed and, in some cases, engaged terrorist forces:
On Monday, pro-government tribesmen exchanged fire with militants in the Nawa and Kotkai areas of Bajur, tribal elder Nazi Jan said. Thirteen militants and two pro-government tribesmen were killed, he and Khan said.

In another part of northwest, a local leader of a pro-government secular political party and four aides were wounded in a roadside bombing in Upper Dir, said police official Shah Faisal. All were in stable condition, he added.
The mix of players becomes more and more complex. And to add to that complexity, we find that not everything is what it seems to be:
British officials covered up evidence that a Taliban commander killed by special forces in Helmand last year was in fact a Pakistani military officer, according to highly placed Afghan officials.

The commander, targeted in a compound in the Sangin valley, was one of six killed in the past year by SAS and SBS forces. When the British soldiers entered the compound they discovered a Pakistani military ID on the body.

It was the first physical evidence of covert Pakistani military operations against British forces in Afghanistan even though Islamabad insists it is a close ally in the war against terror.
But yes, back to my main point - it is no longer just the war in Afghanistan, there's a war going on in Pakistan as well.

To this point, the US and Afghanistan are pleased with the Pakistani effort, but sustaining it is the key. In the past, Pakistan hasn't been very good at doing that. Our most positive role in this effort would be to help them figure out a way to sustain it and support that.

Additionally Pakistan, like Iraq, needs to be careful with how it manages its relationship with these nominally pro-government militias (my guess is they're more anti-AQ than pro-government in reality). While at this time they are important to the effort to defeat the Taliban and AQ, history tells us that they can end up being more of a detriment than an asset and simply replace the enemy the government is now fighting.

In the future however, the war in Afghanistan can't really be spoken about without talking about the war in Pakistan as well. They're inextricably linked and success will come only when the enemy is defeated in both countries.
 
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Our disastrous misadventure in Iraq has not only allowed Afghanistan/Pakistan to fall apart, but it has limited the options available to us to fix it. We are so hated that the Pakistan government CAN NOT be seen to be cooperating with us. Great, huh? Anyway, I am no longer sure that a major infusion of American combat troops is the answer, at least not now. We will first have to re-establish some support with the populaces, especially in Pakistan. For both countries, we may be better off with humanitarian and public works projects. But since our economy is a wreck, I don’t know where we get the money for any of it.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://
The tribes in Dir (NWFP) and Bajur (FATA-also Bajaur in some literature) are now raising tribal lashkars to fight AQ/Taliban because they are tired of the wanton violence perpetrated by Taliban-Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud’s umbrella organization, and its local constituant groups.

Are the tribes pro-gov’t or anti-AQ? Well, in NWFP (Dir) they support the ANP government and AFP is a secular Pashtun political movement. But right now, their own immediate safety is in peril even more so than national security, so they are acting out of the implicit and "natural law" obligation of self-defense and community defense.

The tribes in NWFP and FATA have never rebelled against the government since the start of all this and are now invoking the same right of self-defense that we saw in Al-Anbar Province and other localities in Iraq.

In the long run, Pakistan needs to encourage these tribal lashkars as militias to work with the tribal police (Khassadars) and Frontier Corps battalions of FATA. On the Afghan side of the border, US/NATO/Afghan government need to create a symmetrical set of security organizations to mirror those on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line (the border). Then we all need to pump more development money in for roads, schools, clinics and particularly, agricultural and light industry development.
 
Written By: Benjamin Works
URL: http://
We need troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we needed them there eight months ago. Luckily, Barack Obama won’t be hamstrung by political posturing, and will be able to get them out of Iraq and put them into the economically and politically collapsing Pakistan and its massive Islamic insurgency before they lose control of their nukes.
 
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