Why the Pakistani Army Will Not Fight the Taliban
The Taliban captured 70 policemen and paramilitary personnel in Buner recently, and while 18 either escaped or were let go, the rest remain hostages. After their success in Swat and Malakand Division (7 districts), the Taliban have been attacking targets in the Hazara Division, which consists of Abbottabad, Battagram, Haripur, Kohistan and Mansehra Districts. Haripur is adjacent to Islamabad.
Is This Important?
What this means is that by the Taliban entering into Haripur, it puts them within striking distance of the giant Tarbela dam, which produces one-third of Pakistan's power. They don't have to blow it up, simply control the water flow crucial for irrigation. Talk about politcal clout. The move into Manshera allows the Taliban to use and control the Karakoram Highway for a direct route to Muzzafarabad, which borders Indian Kashmir. Everytime the US asks Pakistan to shift troops westward from the Indian border, Pakistan counters the US to pressure India into settling Kashmir!
Why the No Fight?
The Frontier areas, where the Taliban thrive, contain mostly lightly armed police that have no capacity nor desire to fight insurgents. They quickly give up. The Frontier Corps. a paramilitary unit, have company level heavy weapons but can only oppose with token resistance. In August 2008, one such base was under seige by 300-400 Taliban, the men of the Frontier Corps' held for 2-3 days, then routed into a city. These two Pakistani forces refrain from combat with the Taliban for fear of reprisals. So far, Pakistan has not committed anywhere a significant number of well-trained troops needed. Recent Buner attacks may change this, but few Pakistani army offensives have succeeded. These are the trained professional army personnel. The Taliban give ground when they are pressed with Pakistan's modern military forces and they bounce back fast, sometimes retaking what they gave up within 72 hrs.There is no way the Pakistan Army is going to repeatedly go into the mountains to retake heights from them. Unfortunately, that is where the Taliban run to and hide when Pakistani jets, artillery and artillery pound them away. Once it stops, they return from the mountains. Pakistan simply cannot make continued attacks in the Taliban's haven.
The regular army will notfight the Taliban, based on reports from Indian and Pakistani sources. US sources also confrim this: " The Army leadership and General Kiyani [the Chief of Army Staff] in particular fear that battling the Taliban will split the officer corps and the rank and file". A senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal: "There is significant support or sympathizers in the military for the Taliban and other Pakistani jihadi organizations. A full fight [with the Taliban] might force them to take sides."
The Taliban are ALWAYS ready to negotiate to buy time. Look at history, the peace discussions between the US and North Vietnam lasted years! They used them to stall and build their forces for the big 1971, 1973 offensives. But is this going to get the Taliban to stop their advance? Of course not. The Taliban have NEVER kept an agreement with the Government. If the Pakistan Government was really able to make in roads against the Taliban, the Taliban would simply shift their focus to Afghanistan, so that improvement in the East will mean deterioration in the West. The minute the coast is clear, the Taliban will resume their advance East. Pakistan is not serious about taking on the Taliban because of its soldiers and officers refusing to take on the Taliban. Both situations have played themselves out again and again over the last three years. To this, we add the Punjab fundamentalist insurgent groups that have joined the Taliban. They want to overthrow the Government of Pakistan as much as the Taliban do because they believe the GOP, under pressure from the US, has abandoned the jihad against India.
What is this paranoia with India? The only issue between the two is Kashmir, which is much to do about nothing. Who cares? What is so valuable about this very remote region that one's focus remains there? India is emerging from third world status as a industrial nation. Its future is bright. Why in the hell would India jeopardize it all by attacking Pakistan, which is falling in the Taliban grip? If anything, India should offer its assistance to Pakistan because the Taliban are not that far away!
The bulk of the Pakistan Army is from Punjabi. It is likely that each village in Pakistan Punjab does have a significant number of men in the Army. It has been the Pakistan Army in Punjabi that shows little willingness to fight the Taliban. Up to 70% of the Army is Punjabi, these men are not going to start fighting their own brothers, even if the brother is Taliban. Sad yet true!
Further, Pakistan is not going to sacrifice its national security for the US, and its national security requires control of Afghanistan. The Pakistani Government is fed up with American pressure linked to the billions in loans. They hate it, yet need the loans, so they go through the motions of fighting the Taliban. Americans have made derogatory comments on Pakistan for so long.The rank and file Pakistani soldier doesn't want to fight Taliban, but secretly wants to kick American butt. In addition to all this, the army and the people of Pakistan no longer want to fight for Pakistan under the current military and the Zaradari government. This is true for most of the fringe districts that border Afghanistan. To those Pakistanis, it seems the Taliban are the friends despite the rigid law and society. Only in large urban areas far away is the opposite true.
The Taliban, for the first time in Pakistan's history, are offering an alternative to the Pakisrani Imperialists. They are offering Pakistanis a reason and a means to fight - not the Taliban, but their own elite fat cats in prestigious builidngs with manicurred lawns. Look at the Russian Civil War origins.
And who are the Americans are allied and identified with? Not a good sign!
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