Thursday, January 10, 2008

Local tribesmen turn on Baitullah
Pakistan a'fire with battles against militants

I see that Lt. Col. Caveman and I hit upon the same DAWN article this AM, and he's pretty much said what crossed my mind.... That the attempt of a hostile takeover of the Taliban isn't doing much to win "hearts and minds" of fellow Islamic law tribesmen, and instead creating yet another crack in the armor of the jihad movement. Visit his Ramblings from the Rock and check out his thoughtful overview.

In response to
the assassination of eight tribal leaders last week - attributed to Baitullah Mehsud - a jirga... a Grand Council... of "tribesmen from every household belonging to the Wazir tribe was called to come to Wana with arms to prepare for action." In short, they are mad, and not going to take it anymore. Baitullah Mehsud has made himself even more local enemies at a time when he's also currently under siege from the Pak military.

Lt. Col. Caveman, just as
Ray Robison has been noting, sees this all as good news. Yet another rift between the Islamic jihad movement resulting in the bad guys fighting the bad guys. And I couldn't agree more.

Despite US candidates mis'accusations of Musharraf's complacency in tamping down the militants - all emanating from the safety of their campaign buses and jets - Pakistan is a'fire with skirmishes. The Pak army is
engaging Mehsud in S. Waziristan with warplanes and heavy artillery, and Mullah Fazlullah in NWFP. The Daily Times reports today that the Frontier Constabulary (federal paramilitary group) launched a major operation against local Taliban in Mohmand Agency.

On the other side of the country, Lahore has been hitting the news with
today's suicide bombing on the heels of arrests of two high profile terrorists... OBL's Black Guard security coordinator, Dr. Amin al Haq, and Ahsan al Haq, an AQ suicide cell leader.

It's Pak boots on the ground - as it should be. Despite the
NYT's non-news of WH discussing options with advisers, the US has no intentions of adding our boys and girls to the fray in Pakistan.

Yet those in Pakistan do not know how our US hierarchy works. They listen to Congress members and Dem Presidential wannabee spew their "cowboy policy" - never realizing that it is the Commander in Chief who controls these decisions. So, until Jan 2009, it's unlikely Pakistan can expect unwelcomed "help".

“Right now we do not plan or really have any vision for operations with our forces into the Fata or into Pakistan,” Brig-Gen Votel told a teleconference at the Pentagon. “That’s a sovereign country; that’s their responsibility to deal with.”

As a senior commander in the field, Gen Votel has direct access to day-to-day military operations in Afghanistan but his statement contradicts those of other officials in Washington who are often quoted in the US media as saying that the United States will send troops into Pakistan if it has “actionable intelligence” about the presence of Al Qaeda or Taliban militants inside the country.

It also has become a major issue in the 2008 presidential race. At least half a dozen key contenders for the 2008 presidential race have said that if elected they would not hesitate to send troops into Pakistan to conduct anti-terrorism operations.

Brig-Gen Votel, however, painted a totally different picture of joint military operations along the Pak-Afghan border. “I would assess our relationship, both from a US standpoint and from an ISAF-Nato standpoint here in our portion of Afghanistan with the Pakistan military and with the Frontier Corps, to be very, very good,” he said.

Nothing can be more striking in contrast. Those that accuse Bush of arrogant aggression are, themselves, guilty of the charge. Under this WH, Pakistan's sovereignty remains their own responsibility. One can only hope the next CIC will continue this wise policy.

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