David Kilcullen’s bizarre prediction last spring that the Pakistani government could fall to the Taliban or al-Qaeda within six months was always downright looney, but recent events have underlined the extent of its daftness. The 650,000-strong Pakistani army has made mincemeat of the Pakistani Taliban wherever they have seriously taken them on.
On Tuesday, for instance, Pakistani troops took the militant stronghold of Laddah, South Waziristan,, reporting that they found a large cache of jihadi literature, mainly in Arabic. The town, formerly of 10,000, appears to have been a training camp for guerrillas, including “Arabs and Uzbeks.” The Pakistani arm’s assault on the place left it in ruins, and all 10,000 civilian inhabitants had already fled, albeit the remaining militants put up a hard fight.
The BBC has the basics on South Waziristan and a map on which Laddah is visible:
Last week, the military similarly took Sararogha, of which there likewise doesn’t seem to be much left. Islamabad says its troops killed 180 Taliban in the course of the campaign. The town is alleged to have been a center for the training of suicide bombers. The Taliban Movement of Pakistan had already done a lot of damage to its buildings in 2008 when they took it. The Pakistani military warned inhabitants to leave before they went in, and locals are eager to return, though it is doubtful much is left of their homes.
The 30,000 crack Pakistani troops fighting in South Waziristan are now focusing on the important city of Makin. They began the campaign in October and have rapidly swept the Taliban before them.
In a blow to Pakistan’s hopes of finishing off the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, it was announced Tuesday that Maulana Fazlullah, a leader of the Swat Taliban was not killed when the Pakistani army retook the valley, but rather has fled to Afghanistan.
On the other hand, the widespread rejoicing of the people of Swat over the defeat of the Taliban in their area, and the appearance of anti-Taliban banners there, augurs ill for Maulana Fazlullah’s political future.
A motorbike bomber killed one person and injured 9 others on Tuesday, in an attack on the Deputy Inspector General there, Nizam Durrani. Durrani was among those injured in the attack, and is thought to have been the main target. Quetta is thought by US analysts to be the base of the “Old Taliban” of Mullah Omar, and the US has been pressuring Pakistani security officials to crack down on the “Quetta Shura” or board of directors. I wonder if Durrani was involved in such a crackdown and if this was the reply.
In the Khyber tribal area, Taliban blew up a village girls’ school on Tuesday. The Taliban’s ideology differs from mainstream Islam in disapproving of women knowing how to read and write; the male Taliban are often poor, rural males with a smattering of seminary study, and apparently they need someone to feel superior to, so women are it. In contrast, conservative Saudi Arabia has just opened a co-educational scientific and technical university.
I.A. Khanzada argues against the drone strikes in The News.
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