What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Keeping the pot boiling

U.S. pressure on Pakistan did increase to the degree that it pushed the Pakistani military to take action... well, not in South Waziristan, although Baitullah Mehsud is now threatening with a renewed war on Pakistan's armed forces. Instead, the great offensive came in Khaiber Agency. Where the NATO supply line issue is the key stake, and where they just couldn't afford not to do something by now.
The situation was becoming this bad by mid-June, when three U.S. military helicopters, transported on land, were captured en route to Afghanistan there:
"The components of the helicopters arrived in containers at the Karachi Port and were taken by road to Peshawar. The containers then entered the tribal areas for the journey to Afghanistan.
When the containers entered the restive Khyber Agency, Taliban stopped the convoys and took away the helicopter components. Pakistani paramilitary forces tried to confront the Taliban but "suffered heavy losses due to darkness".
The incident happened in the same area where Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin was kidnapped in February this year.
A Chinook heavy lift chopper and a Black Hawk multi-role helicopter were captured recently while a Cobra gunship helicopter was hijacked some weeks ago."
Now Saleem Shahzad gives you the details of what Pakistan has done in response - useful background on Khaiber's "human terrain," uh, I mean, Khaiber's current politics as well:
"After a 10-hour operation at the weekend, Pakistan said that paramilitary forces had reclaimed the strategic Khyber Agency from Taliban militants (...)
Riding with the paramilitary convoys was Haji Namdar, the chief of the self-proclaimed pro-Taliban organization Amal Bil Maroof Nahi Anil Munkir that is based in Khyber Agency.
He was taken along to ensure that encounters with militants were kept to a minimum, as was the case - only four people were arrested and none killed."
Shahzad says Namdar worked for the U.S. since April, having been payed $150,000 for switching allegiance. This means he either wasn't very useful, or he wasn't meant to do that much by the military that took him for the ride around Khaiber Agency this time. Difficult to know from this.
Anyway, whatever is going on, the focus on Khaiber while elsewhere its a Taliban carnival is good only to "keep the pot boiling" (insider reference to 1980s regional history) - to keep the battle going.
I'm not saying that a Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan is the solution. It is not. I'm not saying that a NATO/OEF invasion of the FATA is the solution. It could be, but it would be too costly and enormously risky.
Here some complex thinking is required of which I'll try do my part in the future if I get the time to post something - like, still this week, hopefully.

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