I started City of Brass in March 2002 at Blogspot, and moved to Beliefnet in August 2008. Over a thousand posts and a million page views later, it is time to end this chapter and start a new one. However, I am not technically going anywhere – Beliefnet recently acquired Patheos, where I am going […]
This is an interesting development:
The militants active in North and South Waziristan agencies have been directed by Mulla Omar to immediately stop their attacks on the Pakistani security forces.
In a letter to the militants, who have forged a new alliance, Mulla Omar admonished them not to fight the Pakistani security forces and kill their Muslim brethren, a reliable source told The News on Monday.
“Mulla Omar first sent an envoy to the local Taliban and then wrote a letter to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) admonishing these leaders and told the TTP that fighting Muslims could not be described as Jihad so they should immediately cease attacks on the Pakistani security forces.
He told them that if they really want to participate in Jihad, they must fight the US and Nato troops inside Afghanistan because their attacks on the Pakistani security forces are undermining the objectives of the war against the invaders and cause of the Taliban movement.
“If anybody really wants to wage Jihad, he must fight the occupation forces inside Afghanistan,” the source quoted Mulla Omar as having told the TTP leaders. “Attacks on the Pakistani security forces and killing of fellow Muslims by the militants in the tribal areas and elsewhere in Pakistan is bringing a bad name to Mujahideen and harming the war against the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.”
“Our aim is to liberate Afghanistan from the occupation forces and death and destruction inside neighbouring Pakistan has never been our goal,” he added.
Could this be related to the surrender of the Pakistan government of the Swat Valley to Taliban rule? With an enclave of Taliban within Pakistan itself, how committed is Pakistan to fighting in Afghanistan anymore?
In Slate, Fred Kaplan asks whether the fact of a Taliban enclave in Swat now means that the Afghanistan war is unwinnable. After all, the purpose of the campaign in Afghanistan is to deny the Taliban a safe haven from which to plot their attacks. Kaplan argues,
There is nothing wrong in principle with trying to negotiate deals
with Taliban factions. Gen. Petraeus has openly said that such deals
will have to be a part of any successful strategy in Afghanistan.
However, Petraeus and other officers make two points about such
negotiations: First, it’s futile to go down that road with hard-core
Taliban; second, to the extent negotiations succeed with any faction,
we need to enter into them from a position of strength.
in Pakistan breaks both rules: Pakistan’s political leaders are trying
to craft a deal, indirectly, with the hard-core Taliban, and they’re
entering into it from a position of obvious weakness.
This is why
the deal is not only ill-fated but potentially disastrous: It reveals
the severe weakness of the Pakistani state. The politicians pursued the
deal only because the state cannot control its own territory. Unless
Sufi Muhammad can convince his son-in-law to accept peace and obeisance
to secular authority in exchange for a parcel of land where Islamic law
carries some weight, the deal is more likely to convince the militant Taliban simply to press on for more favors still.
And it is precisely because the Taliban are in a position of strength that mullah Omar can make the magnanomous gesture about not targeting Pakistani troops in jihad – in other words, they aren’t a threat. And that’s a pretty ominous portent indeed.
Related – sepoy at Chapati Mystery provides an overview of the situation in Swat and links to several important analyses. Mark Salter (former advisor to John McCain) argues that Afghanistan can be won, but completely ignores Pakistan as a factor in his analysis. The editorial page of the New York Times makes no such mistake, arguing that Pakistan is indeed the key to success in Afghanistan.