Guest Post by Katherine Tiedemann: A PAK-age Deal


(Photo Credit: Chand Khan, Agence France Presse–Getty Images)
Katherine Tiedemann is a Program Associate at the New America Foundation.
The lead in Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah’s important piece in the New York Times yesterday is troubling: “After a six-month campaign, the Pakistani military is claiming victory over the Taliban in Bajaur, a northern sliver of the tribal areas, saying the militants have suffered heavy losses and have been pushed over the border into Afghanistan.”
It is the latter part that is worrisome; it reflects a lack of recognition on the side of the Pakistani military that simply pushing the militants over the border into Afghanistan is not going to solve Pakistan’s Islamist problem.
Pakistan’s army has been struggling against the Taliban and assorted Islamist militants for a long time now – some 120,000 Pakistani troops are currently on the border (half in the FATA/NWFP), and yet about three quarters of Pakistan’s 63 suicide attacks in 2008 occurred in the tribal areas and the North West Frontier Province, while there were more than 1,000 terrorist attacks in the NWFP alone last year (data courtesy of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies).
British foreign secretary David Miliband stated recently what is fast becoming trite conventional wisdom in the Af-Pak morass: that Pakistan’s internal militants present a “mortal threat” to the state of Pakistan.
This is exemplified by the fact that the Pakistani government essentially granted the Taliban sole control over the Swat Valley, allowing the militants to implement Sharia law–an alternate universe’s take on land-for-peace.
I’m skeptical of the efficacy of this approach–12 Taliban militants have already been released into Swat, and while no alleged “prominent” Taliban were among the freed, it is not a good sign that it has been less than one month since the truce was announced and Pakistan’s government is already buckling.
I’m also wary of claims that Bajaur is fully under the control of the Pakistani government and that the Taliban has really been uprooted – one way to tell whether true progress has been made is whether or not the some 300,000 Bajaur refugees and 200,000 Swat valley refugees displaced by the conflict return home. I will be keeping an eye on that in the coming months.
President Obama is on to something with his statement to the Times this weekend that “At the heart of a new Afghanistan policy is a going to be a smarter Pakistan policy. As long as you’ve got safe havens in these border regions that the Pakistan government can’t control or reach, in effective ways, we’re going to continue to see vulnerability on the Afghan side of the border.”
Richard Holbrooke’s appointment as special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan is an acknowledgment by the Obama administration that there really is no other way to reach any kind of sustainable political and security equilibrium aside from dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan as a package deal.
Further highlighting the necessity of an integrated approach to battling militancy in the region is the fact that some 80 to 90% of American supplies to Afghanistan flow through Pakistan, and these supply chains have been the new punching bag of Taliban militants in recent months.
The Pakistani government must understand that merely transplanting the militants from one side of the Durand Line to the other is no way to create a safe and stable region.
— Katherine Tiedemann


6 comments on “Guest Post by Katherine Tiedemann: A PAK-age Deal

  1. Clay Thorp says:

    I wrote an opinion on this subject last week for my college paper. I think I got a few things misconstrued, but the bulk of my argument was accurate. If there is a possibillity of winning the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, then we should be taking every possible step to do so. Im not saying we should kiss everyone’s ass. Im saying that a military occupation is certainly part of the equation, but it’s not going to go over well if we don’t mix it with something other than blasting everything into oblivion. We are the most powerful intelligence entity in the world. So why can’t we come up with an effective PR campaign – which utilizes pragmatic economic and social options that will improve the lives of the Afghan people – which will bring many Afghans to our side? Can’t we also introduce a crop in the region other than poppy that will wean them off of the heroin trade? (And, consequently, remove the only source of funding the Taliban really have?)


  2. ... says:

    Pakistan Political Crisis Deepens


  3. ... says:

    something for americans to think about from ron paul
    Imagine an Occupied America


  4. Sunny Qureshi says:

    Pakistan in the fight between the Soviet Union and the United States became the central hub of training for activists and militants who were driven by religious fervor to fight the Communists. These activists and militants were recruited and trained in the name of religion from around the globe. In this process, nobody even considered the possibility of religious fight against Communism becoming a global threat, once the short term goal of defeating the Soviet Union was achieved.
    More importantly, and rather ironically, the decision makers in Pakistan utterly failed to understand that by fighting for one particular ideology, sooner or later, Pakistan itself could
    become what Afghanistan was in the seventies and eighties, an international battleground where proponents of two very different ideologies would wage an intense war and subsequently, one, or perhaps both sides would rely on increasingly brutal tactics to achieve victory.
    Hence the nuisance of terrorism in Pakistan .
    According to a report by an intelligence agency in Pakistan , the country has suffered about 30 suicide attacks between January through September, 2008, killing over 500 innocent civilians, and critically wounding about 800 people. This terribly saddening report becomes
    even more depressing when we learn that Pakistan has been the target of more terrorist attacks than Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries where an all out war is being waged.
    And yet, as cruel as it sounds, to the dismay of those who are suffering by these daily bombings, astonishingly, PAKISTAN IS BLAMED FOR NOT BEING A SERIOUS PARTNER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERROR!!!
    Before the devastating attack in Islamabad that destroyed Marriott and killed over 60 people (Evidence once again leaded to the plot bythe indian secret agency RAW), pundits in Washington , New York and London routinely and unnecessarily criticized Islamabad for not “taking on the terrorists”. While sitting in
    comfortable and safe studious, these so-called experts regularly pointed fingers at Pakistan for not doing enough, even though, Pakistan was taking casualties day after day. To support their unsubstantiated theories, these studio experts exclusively relied on statistics and computer generated charts, but they failed to take into account the ground realities. Their analysis, with few exceptions, was superficial at best. Worst, this instant analysis was
    driven by the necessity of compressing complex issues into 30 or 40 second sound bites, and this practice perpetuated the myth of Islamabad being complicit against terrorism, an outrageous fabrication completely debunked by the numbers of deaths that Pakistan has endured, both on the battlefield against the terrorists, and by the civilians across Pakistan.
    No country, government and society is perfect, and Pakistan is no exception, but historians looking objectively at the evidence about the contribution as presented in this post by katherine made by Pakistan since the late seventies would have to conclude that Pakistan has done more than any, or maybe every other country when it comes to defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and now in the global fight against religious militarism. And, given Pakistan ‘s record, it is absolutely safe to assume that Pakistan will continue to do whatever it has to do to save itself, and rest of the world from the nihilists. There shouldn’t be any doubts about Pakistan ‘s resolve to defend its culture, its heritage and its
    future. Therefore, it is both important, and wise that allied forces don’t make this fight more complicated by invading Pakistan ‘s territory.


  5. Iftikhar says:

    So much thanklessness from the foreign media/foreign countries is why the people of pakistan are avoidng foreign powers to interfere in our affairs. The people of the world have forgotten how are soldiers were slaughtered by the somalians for saving american marines at black hawk down, our quetta airbase was used to send spy planes into russia, cia operatives were trained at peshawar pakistan by the isi to launch attacks into afghanistan and thus due to american mediation the taliban were created.
    Our people are dying of suicide bombings in the country and our pak army soldiers are again being slaughtered in the swat valley and the border regions closer to afghanistan as we sided with the alliance in war against terror. We have helped the americans and the alliance so many times still they are against us. We infact were the first country to side with the americans and we took a big gamble to that as we were also offered a hand from the russians at that time we refused it and went with the american govt. While india stregthened its relations with Russia and refused america and still does on some policies and still america supports india and this is why we are infuriated and our hatred has increased over america.
    India at the same time created RAW the secret indian intelligence agency which has always been involved in the violence, terrorism that is spreading within pakistan from shia sunni violence , islamabad’s marriot bombing and now the lahore terror attacks all have been planned and orcastrated by india. India never and does not want peace with pakistan this recent terror attack in lahore has again proved that. As it has always been against the existence of pakistan since day one. Even after all of this india is more loyal to america according to the americans and this again infuriates the pakistani people.
    No doubt america pays pakistan a lot on paper but the people and the country havent received a single penny from that so called aid.
    This post again by Katherine Tiedemann is the best example of foreign infact american propaganda with baseless allegations against pakistan.


  6. ... says:

    katherine, i think you make some good points on issues that need to be addressed.. the big one for me is ‘why is it happening in the first place?? if someone was to ask why the taliban have grown to such a degree that pakistans own soldiers turn a blind eye to much of what the taliban are up to, what would you say?? there is a reason they are being strengthened and it is in direction relation to the level of corruption they witness regularly in their own gov’t as i see it.. while the usa would like to support pakistan by installing military dictatorships and such, it has never went over well with the common peopl in any other place it’s been tried…
    why do you think taliban are getting a foothold?? i’m familiar with the mantra “we need to get rid of the taliban”, but no explanation ever seems to be given honestly as to the root causes that have brought them into existence and continues to strengthen them… perhaps one of the answers is they don’t want a foreign power interfering in their own affairs.. this would also connect with the travel path of military supplies going thru their backyard that have nothing to do with them either… curious to hear others thoughts on this, but that is how i see some of this…


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