Pakistan’s Military Holds Back in North Waziristan

Saturday, Apr. 17, 2010
Time Magazine
By Rania Abouzeid / Swat

It took just a few months for the Pakistani military to clear the Swat Valley’s lush, mountainous tribal terrain of its Taliban usurpers last summer, using some 30,000 troops to dislodge the guerrillas from the once-bustling tourist haven, 80 miles northwest of the capital Islamabad. Now, however, almost a year after winning the war, the same number of troops are still in place in order to hold Swat, rebuild it and prevent a Taliban resurgence — and that may keep Islamabad from going after the extremists in other parts of Pakistan’s unruly frontier with Afghanistan.

The U.S. has often appealed to Pakistan to do just that, specifically against elements in North Waziristan. More than 200 miles south of Swat, the tribal territory is a base for militants targeting U.S. troops just across the border in Afghanistan; it is also believed to be a refuge for senior al-Qaeda leaders. Yet the Pakistani military has refused to go into North Waziristan because it says its forces are already stretched thin (the bulk of the country’s troops are stationed along the eastern border with India, the nation Islamabad still considers its primary foe). (See pictures of refugees fleeing the Swat valley in 2009.) Continue reading

Whither Pakistan? A five-year forecast

By Pervez Hoodbhoy | 3 June 2009

Article Highlights

  • U.S. government officials and media outlets have exaggerated how close Pakistan is to collapse.
  • That said, the speed of Pakistan’s societal decline has surprised many inside in the country who have long warned of the effects of religious extremism.
  • The first step toward calming the situation–Pakistan’s political leadership and army must squarely face the extremist threat, something they’ve finally begun to do.

First, the bottom line: Pakistan will not break up; there will not be another military coup; the Taliban will not seize the presidency; Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will not go astray; and the Islamic sharia will not become the law of the land. Continue reading

The more you look, the less you see in Swat sharia deal

February 26th, 2009
Posted by: Tom Heneghan

Ten days have passed since Pakistan cut a deal with Islamists to enforce sharia in the turbulent Swat region in return for a ceasefire, and we still don’t know many details about what was agreed.  The deal made international headlines. It prompted political and security concerns in NATO and Washington and warnings about possible violations of human rights and religious freedom.

(Photo: Supporters of Maulana Sufi Mohammad gather for prayers in Mingora, 21 Feb 2009/Adil Khan)

In the blogosphere, Terry Mattingly over at GetReligion has asked in two posts (here and here) why reporters there aren’t supplying more details about exactly how sharia will be implemented or what the  doctrinal differences between Muslims in the region are. Like other news organisations, Reuters has been reporting extensively on the political side of this so-called peace deal but not had much on the religion details. As Reuters religion editor and a former chief correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I’m very interested in this. I blogged about the deal when it was struck and wanted to revisit the issue now to see what more we know about it. Continue reading

Pakistan’s Muddled War

February 5, 2009


Pakistan's Muddled War

Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well as on trucks transiting the city to supply NATO forces in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says Pakistan remains committed to fighting terrorism (FT) using dialogue, development, and deterrence. Yet experts say after nearly ten months of effort, the government has done little to inspire confidence. CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey told, “intellectually, both the civilian government and the military are committed to their plan, but in implementation they are falling short.” Continue reading