At the end of this previous post (in May) I asked where militants from Malakand will wind up, having infiltrated out from the area when the large kinetic operations by the Pakistan military came their way. Of course many must have gone to places like the Waziristans, no question about that. But many may have gone to Pakistan's major cities, including mega-city Karachi.
That's why I recommend viewing this video from Frontline (and the NYT). Get a glimpse into the Pashtun quarter of Karachi, and hear concerns from Pashtuns and non-Pashtuns. Some things you should keep in mind:
- 20,000 IDPs arrived from Malakand only recently, joining Pashtuns in Karachi.
- Current economic trends provide scarce opportunities for employment which aggravates tensions.
- These tensions (and the recent "ethnic" riots, including attacks on IDP camps in Karachi's vicinity) have a past, of which you can get a sense here for example - bear in mind that the link goes to anything but a balanced view, and I would be interested in reading a similarly nuanced Pashtun recounting of events.
- Given how some people, as mentioned in the video, commute from season to season from the fight in Afghanistan (or somewhere in Pakistan) to doing some job in Karachi or elsewhere (and this of course is not an unfamiliar phenomenon at all, from the 1980s), one has to realise that the "AfPak war" is a sector of the region's economy. Regard the U.S. and other militaries in the region as a major employer, not just in a direct but in a structural sense as well, if you like - a war economy has emerged (long ago).
Meanwhile, I said cross-border activity would be a key metric, and I'm focusing on it as promised. The interest in this arises from an interest in seeing if some militants are just pushed across the Durand Line, tossed there to the fight on the other side with the increased pressure on the Pakistani side. I can quote the July 20 issue of Time this time, again with the answer being "negative" (which would be very positive):
"Perhaps the most important military action in the region isn't happening in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan, McChrystal says, are ''unique situations that are linked inextricably." Islamabad's fitful offensive against the Taliban in Pakistan has successfully drained resources from the Taliban in Afghanistan. "Money is drying up," Colonel John Spiszer, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, along the border, saind on June 23. Over the past year the going prices for guns and ammo "have almost doubled," he noted. "That's a great sign." Such pressure on safe havens in Pakistan will reduce hit-and-run attacks across the border."
Of course, Spiszer's claim is from June 23, as pointed out in the text. I would be interested to see trends since then, and I'll try to. It is interesting that the U.S. military seems to have a consistent line on this issue (by the end of June).
As to the price of guns in Afghanistan - that is surely important, but weapons can also be bought elsewhere. The gun pipeline from the north of Afghanistan is just one source. Prices elsewhere, including the FATA, with its own weapons industry, would be interesting as well (obviously they should be interlinked to a degree).