Monday, December 29, 2008

Swat in Taliban's grasp

Previous stories on Swat:
Increasingly people in Swat see the Taliban and the Army as two sides of the same coin
Taliban closing girls' schools in Swat

Now this:
Taliban militants are beheading and burning their way through Pakistan's picturesque Swat Valley,....

Officials estimate that up to a third of Swat's 1.5 million people have left the area. Salah-ud-Din, who oversees relief efforts in Swat for the International Committee of the Red Cross, estimated that 80 percent of the valley is now under Taliban control.

Given, e.g., half a million refugees, at some point Pakistan's army will have to be unequivocally against the Taliban, in which case it faces a civil war against an enemy it is currently permitting to be entrenched; or else it will have to declare itself to be with the Taliban, at which point it faces (less effectual) opposition from other sections of Pakistani society, and an international backlash. It cannot go along with the current two-faced approach indefinitely.

Something to note: See Document 29 here. As American intelligence notes: "Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought." One should not be sanguine about the results of a confrontation between the Pakistani army and "the culprits that ...[they] helped to establish".