Taliban’s Pre-emptive Counter-Offensive in Pakistan
While the Pakistan military is reportedly gathering itself into launching a major (counter)offensive, causing thousands to flee Waziristan, the Taliban continues to take the fight to the Pakistan government:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Militants dressed in police uniforms simultaneously attacked three law enforcement agencies in Lahore on Thursday morning, the fifth major attack in Pakistan in the last 10 days.
The government, of course, is handicapped by an infestation of Islamist sympathizers and anti-Americans within the Pakistan military itself:
officials said Pakistan was handicapped in fighting the onslaught because of discord between the civilian government and the military that spilled into the open in the last week, particularly over American aid legislation that the army said represented a violation of sovereignty. [wordsmith link insertions]
“We cannot fight the Taliban when the army and the government are at loggerheads,” said Jahangir Tareen, a member of Parliament from Punjab and a former federal minister.
The best defense is a strong offense, and thus far, the Pakistan Taliban with their al Qaeda allies have made the government appear impotent and weak (appearances are sometimes NOT deceiving). How can Pakistanis feel confidence in their government's ability to protect them when the government and the military can't even protect themselves?
By exposing the weak links in the country’s security apparatus and complacency among top officials, the Thursday’s attacks again risked undermining the faith of ordinary Pakistanis in the military, the police and the intelligence agencies, said a retired army brigadier, Javaid Hussain.
The frequency of the assaults, Mr. Hussain said, also demonstrated that the new Taliban leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, remained aligned closely to Al Qaeda and was receiving technical training, planning and support for the attacks from the terrorist organization. They furthermore showed how the Taliban was working in tandem with the cells and supporters among jihadist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, based in southern Punjab, Brig. Hussain said.
Our own president's dithering over what to do in Afghanistan affects how Pakistan may handle their Taliban problem:
In an interview at the Journal's offices this week in New York, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi minced no words about the impact of a U.S. withdrawal before the Taliban is defeated. "This will be disastrous," he said. "You will lose credibility. . . . Who is going to trust you again?" As for Washington's latest public bout of ambivalence about the war, he added that "the fact that this is being debated—whether to stay or not stay—what sort of signal is that sending?"
Mr. Qureshi also sounded incredulous that the U.S. might walk away from a struggle in which it has already invested so much: "If you go in, why are you going out without getting the job done? Why did you send so many billion of dollars and lose so many lives? And why did we ally with you?" All fair questions, and all so far unanswered by the Obama Administration.
As for the consequences to Pakistan of an American withdrawal, the foreign minister noted that "we will be the immediate effectees of your policy." Among the effects he predicts are "more misery," "more suicide bombings," and a dramatic loss of confidence in the economy, presumably as investors fear that an emboldened Taliban, no longer pressed by coalition forces in Afghanistan, would soon turn its sights again on Islamabad.
Should Pakistan perceive that America will go the way of the paper tiger, why shouldn't they appease the Islamists, much as Saudi Arabia had done, much as Saddam Hussein had done?
For decades Islamabad has viewed and used terrorist groups as assets to be cultivated. Before the Soviet invasion, Pakistan used Islamist militants for operations in India and Afghanistan. Today, Pakistan aids the Afghan Taliban mainly in the belief that if U.S. and international commitment to Afghanistan wanes, it would be better to be friendly with a group like the Taliban that can keep Indian influence in the country at bay—the same logic behind Pakistan's pre-2001 support for the Taliban.
Pakistan has long been a conflicted ally and a breeding ground/safe haven for Islamists and Islamic terrorists.
While the Taliban takes decisive, pre-emptive action....Islamabad dithers indecisively.
When will the new offensive arrive? How many more homicide bombings and pre-emptive attacks, until then?
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces