Pakistan's timing of attack on Taleban is no coincidence

  • The coincidence of the Pakistan Army’s apparently full-blown assault on the Taleban in the Swat Valley with President Zardari’s visit to Washington is no accident.

    The US has been pressing Pakistan to take on the militants on its soil ever since al-Qaeda and Afghan Taleban leaders fled there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

    Under President Musharraf, Pakistan generally responded by helping to kill or capture foreign militants, and making sporadic, half-hearted attacks which usually ended in short-lived peace deals. Since President Obama took office, US officials have made a concerted effort to convince Pakistan that it faces an existential threat from home-grown militants, not just foreigners.

    That effort suffered a huge setback when President Zardari reached a peace deal with the Taleban in Swat that effectively placed three million people under its strict interpretation of Sharia. Mr Zardari was finally shocked into action when the militants moved into the neighbouring regions of Lower Dir and Buner, 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital.

    US officials responded with massive diplomatic pressure, publicly accusing Pakistan of “abdicating” to the Taleban.

    Behind the scenes, they also threatened to launch missile attacks on Swat and to withhold — or at least attach strict conditions to — billions of dollars in military and civilian aid. Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee approved an initial package of $1 billion (£665 million), including $400 million for improving Pakistani forces’ counter-insurgency abilities and $600 million for education and democratic reforms.

    Congress is still debating a Bill that proposes to triple civilian aid to Pakistan to $7.5 billion over the next five years. The outcome of that debate will depend on how long the army keeps up the pressure on the Taleban once Mr Zardari gets back from Washington.

  • Migel:

    Thanks for the article.... as always.

    Yeh Zard-ari bhi na, kya kaha jaye?!? Yeh awaam bhi jo iss keerhey ko ley ayi saamney, yeh samajh kar ke BB ke waadon ko poora karey ga.... what a sick joke.

    And the think-tanks in Washington, Congressman, Obama's F.P advisors seem to think that throwing dollars at Pak in the form of civilian aid this time around is going to help rid the planet of Pak Talibs and Arab Al-qaeda members.... another sick joke.

    All this is akin to throwing hard-earned, credit-crunch affected tax-payers' cash into a bottomless pit.