Monday, October 29, 2007

Pakistan Caves Again

This is a regularly repeating feature of Pakistani politics. A terrorist attack or similar action requires the Pakistani government to take action against the Islamists. They say all the right things that they'll go after the Islamists and Taliban, but when push comes to shove, they always come up short.

This is exactly what is happening again.
Pro-Taliban militants and security forces reached a cease-fire in a troubled district of northwest Pakistan early Monday after the deaths of another 35 rebel fighters and 16 troops, officials said.

The scale of the bloodshed in Swat -- a sign of the spreading conflict between Islamist forces and Pakistan's government -- began emerging as the cease-fire took effect around 8 a.m. following negotiations between associates of radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah and senior officials.

A once-peaceful valley that used to draw tourists because of its mountain scenery, Swat has been wracked by violence since about 2,500 government forces were deployed there last week to tackle Fazlullah, who has challenged the state with a campaign to spread fundamentalist Islam.

An army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, said 16 paramilitary troops were killed Friday when militants blew up their truck in the Nawakili area. The report of that bombing only emerged Monday.

Security forces backed by helicopter gunships on Sunday pounded militant hideouts in the mountains of the district. At least 35 militants died in the fierce fighting, two local police officials said, also on condition of anonymity.

Ali Rahman, a local police official, said the militants were now burying comrades slain since Friday. He said villagers who fled to Swat town because of the fighting had seen militants' bodies scattered in the forest. He said they had also seen the corpses of paramilitary troops.

Arshad Majid, a senior district official, welcomed the cease-fire.

''Because of the fighting, the militants could not collect the bodies of their men, and we also could not count them. We will be in a better position today to say how many people died,'' he said.

Witnesses said they heard a couple of explosions in the region early Monday, but in the police control room at Swat they had yet to receive reports of a resumption in fighting.
Instead of fighting to win, the Pakistani government under Musharraf is fighting to simply bide time. That's a losing strategy for everyone but the Islamists, who use this time to regroup and rearm.

Pakistani forces, by engaging in a ceasefire, enable the Taliban and their fellow travelers to avoid a fate that they richly deserve. Those thugs and terrorists will be able to cause mayhem throughout the NWFP, Warizistan, and Afghanistan. It means that many more will die because of a failure to see things through.

It puts Afghanistan at continued risk of further terrorist attacks, not to mention exposes US and NATO forces to future attacks because of a failure to deal with the Taliban in Pakistan.

Welcome Instapundit readers! He's got a few different takes on what the problem is there - whether it's NATO's ineffective policies (too much accommodation and not enough force) or poppies, tribal politics, and corruption. It's unfortunately a combination of all the above that makes the situation so difficult there.

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