The Pakistani military is claiming it has killed hundreds of militants in the fighting in the Malakand region of the North-West Frontier Province. The campaign against the Taliban there continues, and now includes bombing raids. That cannot possibly be good counter-insurgency.
Steve Chapman argues that the Obama administration exaggerated the threat to Pakistan posed by the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan, in order to put pressure on Islamabad to launch the current massive military campaign. Chapman is especially good at puncturing the hysteria over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Veteran CNN correspondent and old Pakistan hand Peter Bergen had made the same point about Pakistan hardly having been on the verge of falling.
On Sunday, Aljazeera English reports, the Pakistani military lifted the curfew for a few hours to allow civilians to escape from the crossfire.
I am fearful that in order to root out a few thousand Taliban, the Pakistani military has been induced by Washington to create a new and massive social problem in the NWFP, which could create a whole new recruiting pool for radicals. The displaced Afghans of the 1980s, after all, were the group from which the Taliban were later drawn. It will be key, in avoiding this scenario, to have good swift repatriation programs when the fighting is over. And, the Pakistani military will have to learn to stick around instead of hurrying back to the border with India, in order to keep the militants from just coming right back in and terrorizing locals again.
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