Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A New Resolve in Pakistan?

There may be a new resolve in Pakistan to beat back the Taliban. This resolve may bring a shimmer of hope to an otherwise dreary picture in the "crucible of Terror."

Very rare "Save Pakistan, Stop Taliban" protests popped up in Karachi recently. Most public opinion in the past has been relatively neutral towards the Taliban (though I frankly cannot imagine why--they have been killing Pakistanis for years), until the Taliban advance out of the Swat valley (and the undermining of the peace deal). Additionally, the media is starting to paint the Taliban in a bad light--something that has brought threats from the Taliban that there would be "dire consequences" for any media that report negatively on them (this is reminiscent of the "behead those who insult Islam" meme, at least to me). Such desperate attempts to intimidate are a sign that the Taliban are, in some ways, on the defensive.

The Pakistani army offensive into the northwest continues. But will the will remain? Can they pull troops from the Indian border, or will their obsession with their southern neighbor handicap them? The US is trying to encourage the new turning of tide, and is threatening sticks if the Pakistanis cannot deal. The US is now openly considering sustained operations in Swat valley, which would be a huge escalation (and would be breaking all sorts of international law, unless you question the actual sovereignty of Pakistan over the area [which is plausible, given a complete lack of administration, control, and now, effort]). In short, "Stop the Taliban, or we will."
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