Why Pakistan won’t fight the Afghan Taliban

November 23, 2009

Time Magazine

President Barack Obama is about to announce his new strategy for Afghanistan, but the success of whatever option he chooses will depend heavily on Pakistan acting to stop its territory being used to attack Western forces next door. And that’s bad news, because the demands of its own domestic counterinsurgency campaign, doubts about the duration of U.S. commitment in Afghanistan and looming political instability in Islamabad have left Pakistan in no hurry to help out.

Obama’s National Security Adviser General James Jones last week visited Islamabad carrying a message from his boss to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari. The New York Times reported Monday that in the letter, Obama urged Zardari to rally his nation behind a joint campaign against militants who fight the Pakistani government and those who fight U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan. Obama was also reported to have demanded more decisive action against al-Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan’s tribal areas. In return, he reportedly offered a range of fresh incentives, “including enhanced intelligence sharing and military cooperation.”

The problem, of course, is that Obama’s letter may have gone to the wrong address. As a weak and unpopular President scarcely seen in public and now the object of growing vilification at home, Zardari is in no position to lead a popular movement against militancy, much less to redirect his army’s focus. As ever, it is the all-powerful military establishment that will make the key decisions in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s military has certainly moved decisively against those militants that pose a direct challenge to its authority on home soil. Buoyed by its successes in last May’s campaign to drive the Taliban out of the Swat Valley, it has for the past month deployed some 30,000 troops to confront the militants in their main stronghold of South Waziristan, along the Afghan border. The army has steadily cleared territory eastward, seizing some of the Pakistani Taliban’s most prized bases, but also sparking a vicious wave of terrorist attacks that continues to claim innocent lives on a near daily basis.

The South Waziristan offensive, however, may be the limit of what the Pakistani military is willing to take on right now. It’s priority after clearing the area of Taliban elements will be to hold it — and there are signs that the militants have merely scattered to areas beyond the scope of the current offensive, waiting to stage a return. “We have not been defeated,” Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told reporters at a secret location on Wednesday, dismissing the army’s claims. “We have voluntarily withdrawn into the mountains under a strategy that will trap the Pakistan army in the area.”

With a long fight ahead of it, the Pakistan army won’t welcome demands that it expand its range of operations. “They will view this letter with some displeasure,” says Hasan Askari-Rizvi, an independent military analyst. “Pakistan army is not going to go to North Waziristan before it completes its operation in South Waziristan.” Two of the militant groups that Washington would like to see Islamabad target are based in North Waziristan: the Haqqani network and the one led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, both of whom mount cross-border attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think that the Pakistan army will target Haqqani,” adds Askari-Rizvi. “The reason being that they don’t want to open a front with every militant group.” The army has long insisted that it does not have the resources to counter the full range of militants based in the tribal areas. Already, military officials argue, heavy numbers are committed all along the tribal areas and in the Swat Valley. It is also forced to commit forces to guard against upsurges of militancy in other parts of Pakistan. And, of course, the army’s priority remains guarding the eastern border with India. Indeed, the fact that India continues to be viewed as the principal security challenge by the Pakistani military establishment also dictates a policy toward Afghanistan that does little to help the U.S. there.

Pakistan’s generals are concerned by what they perceive as growing Indian influence in Afghanistan, through the Karzai government and massive development projects. They also accuse India of using Afghanistan as a base from which to wage a proxy war on Pakistan. Its priorities make the Pakistan army unlikely to turn its fire on the Haqqani and Hafiz Gul Bahadur networks, as Obama is demanding. Instead, the army has revived a nonaggression pact with Bahadur and with Maulvi Nazir — both of which use Pakistani soil as a base from which to wage war on NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s priority is simply to get them to agree to stay neutral or join in the fight between the army and the Pakistan Taliban. Nazir, who was freed from Pakistani custody to fight al-Qaeda-linked Uzbek militants, controls the areas of South Waziristan where the Pakistan army has positioned troops to seal off a line of retreat for the Pakistan Taliban. The danger for the U.S. is that such deals involve a nod and a wink for continued cross-border attacks, making the militants an even more potent threat.

The Haqqani network is believed to have long-standing links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization, while senior Western diplomats allege that Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban continues to operate out of the southwestern city of Quetta — a claim furiously denied by Pakistan’s military. Many suspect that the reason that the Afghan Taliban manages to operate unmolested on Pakistani soil is Pakistan’s need to maintain leverage in Afghanistan, where the U.S. presence is viewed as temporary. Indeed, some Pakistani observers suggest that even if a U.S. surge is successful, it will at best lead to a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, in which Pakistan would play broker.

“You need an increased U.S. troop strength to countervail the Taliban in the south and the east, so that you can bring them to the negotiating table,” says retired general Talat Masood. “The Pakistani military also thinks that if they succeed in Afghanistan, the Taliban will be less powerful in Pakistan. The Americans should see Pakistan as an interlocutor for trying to handle these groups politically.”



  1. yogi , just because you have a break from your call center does not mean you go around spamming

    • Dear Civilian,
      We will talk of Kashmir if you manage to hold your country together.The same Afghan Gaznavi is kicking you in your balls right now,moreover the Americans have been taking your backside from decades.So first take care of yourself then talk of Kashmir.Kashmir is an integral part of India and we will also take back your occupied Kashmir.Zardari,our friend will do it for us.

      • Here comes the idiot back “Kya piddi aur kya piddi ka shorba”. Lalaji dream on and burn in hell. Like your Gen. Kapoora and Manmohan Singh who have nothing else to talk to the AMERICANS except PAKISTAN. Coward Banya don’t you remember this half of Kashmir was snatched by Pakistani Tigers from Indian Ludhars. It was the UN who came for your rescue otherwise we would have snatched the whole of Kashmir from you and your days are numbered in KASHMIR. So here is a little advice for you that like your name YOGI you should become a JOGI and live in a jungle to save your ass from Pakistani Shaheen soldiers who are currently kicking the ass of your agents in SWAT and FATA now you should say to KASHMIR TATA because we gonna get it and leave you burn which you do anyway when you living see pakistan make you banya burn, your burn your dead so keep burning lalaji keep it up because your time is up!!!! YOGI PAKISTAN NAY TUM KO BANA DIYA HAI ROGI.

      • Don’t worry we will send over ‘your friend’ to India soon, then we can say ..hey India is giving safe haven to one of our worst criminals… and hence give us an excuse to come and whip ur a**, not that we don’t have
        enough reasons to do that already..lol. And just to set the record straight, no Afghan is fighting Pakistan right now. The TTP scum is a gift from our beloved neighbour and we will return the gift soon with a BIG thank you 😉

      • very funny the only issue is Pakistan lost its credibility .. no country wants pakistanis .. denmark even started giving money to pakistani based muslims and asking to leave the country .. so even if any country including india does somethnig .. nobody believes ..
        Today pakistani court indicted another 7 people in relation to mumbai attaks and entire world media publishes the news .. but unfortunately no media is reading & taking news from PKKH

      • @it rocks
        Loolzzz… Looks like you have forgotten about ur @$$ being kicked in Australia really fast!

        We Pakistanis don’t have to say much when ur own countrymen like Amaresh mishra as saying the 26/11 was an inside job!

        And pea brain majority of the articles published on PKKH are taken from various newspapers, this one is from time magazine!

      • IM, you are doing a great job here, thank you! 🙂 .Mod PKKH.

      • ur welcome Summayac =)

  2. I personally feel that American days are over now in Afg, we can predict an exit before mar’11. Trusting Americans is the worse thing a nation can do. Pakistan has to plan with its own resources and capabilities.

    America in order to save his might will leave norther alliance with all his backup. giving them weapons (and even airforce assistance i believe). this is how it mill make its exit. this northern alliance simmply means a pro-indian govt in our neighbour.

    Asuming all the above, i guess Afg Taliban are the most suited for Pakistan and frankly northern alliance backed by India will stand no chance in front of them. let the US go then we can see the Indians from the West… They have shot enough bullets using US shoulder.

    There is a big assumption in all the above analysis, a spiritual and dedicated government will be working here in Pakistan. not the one we are seeing today..

    Walaho Alam… (Allah knows best what is going to happen)

  3. @yogi
    my son wait for the time what you have done in pakistan you will get it back with double….
    we wont let you out ….insha-ALLAH

  4. Pak Army Zindabad

  5. what fight are they talking about i wonder. They keep saying, keep saying…where does it end ? when will the authorities, read army, tell the americans that this is it. i doubt anyone in current scenario has that kind of water. i dont understand what are they waiting for. this slow death is surely going to get us killed. and the best part is everyone knows it. the army knows it. after all where do we stop ? who’s decision is it ? is it for authorities already in power to decide or are they waiting for a coup inside army to do it ? or still, are they waiting for people to decide for themselves ? its better they decide before the time runs out, because when people decide, blood sheds. i just wish our authorities dont take it to a point where there is no return for them. they have to stand up to the occasion now rather than expanding their operations in the whole country. latest news is, they are going to start operation in bara now. i mean what the heck. when do they grow some guts to tell usa its enuff, havent we suffered a 100 billion $ or something in this war of terror already and they are afraid of 7 billion $ kerry lugar bill ? what kind of logic is this? i just pray and wish they understand this, otherwise, people will not wait for long, and there’s already frustration growing in people to stop this war now. its enuff.

  6. all this is a trap by the americans to plan civil war
    but my brothers allah also plans and he is the best at planning inshallah

  7. Hahaha I see the mod got really annoyed with Yogi’s single point agenda lol… all his posts got deleted

    • Even Mods have limits to their patience 😉

      • Dear Mod,never mind,you couldnt stand the truth in that video,that is what your country exports across the world.Face the truth.90% of world terrorism is of Pakistani origin.Even Gordon Brown said that.

      • Dear ‘Yogi’ (although you dont talk like one) What we do not allow here is spaming. And if you believe everything Gordon Brown says, knock yourself out : he is another lying politician and someone
        who gets his ass whopped by the Bristish media on any given day. Sounds like someone hasn’t been able to break away from the mind-set of an Imperial Slave!

  8. I have one question & it is for my knowledge. my question is genuine I expect the answer in decent words.. Why in general pakistan seperates afgan taliban from pakistani taliban ? when I read the Dawn or any credible newspaper they never use the world Pakistani taliban.. they use the word “taliban” .. then in what sense on this forum people are thinknig Afgan Taliban seperate from Pakistani one ?

    • Because the Pakistani media is confused at best. This distinction has been made plenty of times by the Afghan Taliban. They have released statements atleast three times making it very
      clear that Tehreek e Taliban pakistan has nothing to do with them. They said to TTP that if you really want to fight a legitimate war. come and fight the US with us in Afghanistan, but ofcourse the
      TTP, like the child-killing Takfiri lunatics that they are, say that they are happy killing Pakistani civilians (as they are getting paid to do exactly that by thier masters in the CIA-MOSSAD-RAW). Also, when Pakistan Army recovered their bodies in Swat operation, it became very obvious that most of them were foreign militia men planted by foreign agencies and were not even Muslim, as they were not circumcized.
      Afghan Taliban have never engaged in hostility against Pakistan and Pakistanis. They are fighting an imperial occupier in their own land. Whatever opinion one might have of the Afghan Taliban, one has to admit that
      they have never caused any harm to pakistan and are fighting a justified war against oppression and aggression. Hope that answers ur question.

  9. Time is up for HINDU BANYA who is just using AMERICAN SHOULDER to stay in Kabul. Well INDIA THE KABLI PATHANS are getting ready with pakistan made peshawari chappals to kick your ass. They are the generations of MAHMOOD GHAZNAVI. The HINDUS until now when they remember MAHMOOD GHAZNAVI start oil massage on their ass which was kicked by this SHAHEEN. Well India you asked for it so you will have it. Didn’t we tell you that your cunning schemes will haunt you.


  10. Why Pakistan won’t fight the Afghan Taliban???

    The answer is simple… pak army is a pussy army and can never face afghans… afghans are MUCH MUCH braver than pak pussies.

    Today Afghans are controlling almost HALF of pakistan… this is a fact.


    • Seriously man, You know I only approved this comment so that all our Pakistani boys and girls could read ur ‘factual’ statement and then kick ur ass! LOL
      Why the hell wud Pak Army fight Afghan taliban? They have never attacked Pakistan. And puhlease ….who hides behind the US and who is Israel’s little b*t*h?
      You guys dont have the guts to fight Pakistani soldiers one on one and that is why u train terrorists and send them in to our country and you think that they will break
      us…well Ive got news for you sonny:if there is a country that is in self-destruction mode, it’s India. Your PM ji wets his bed every night ..he is shit scared of the Maoists ..
      and so he shud be. Now you can go and cry in a corner, it’s ok, we understand.:D

      • I thought the moderator of this blog was a little more civilised!

    • Ameet you dumb ass, pathetic, smelly, dot buster and Cow piss drinker indians , your cow piss drunk army came to the border and wouldn’t have gut to attack Pakistan remained there for 1 yr and left with their hand on their ass and eating their shits.

      The talibans in Pakistan consist of thugs, robbers and terrorist indian agents where as Afghan Talibans respect Pakistan, our army and our nation, we have no quarrel with them.

      You cow piss drinkers talk about bravery, Is it not enough that we muslims ruled india for 1000yrs, and you wouldn’t be able to get freedom because the muscles of your men built upon drinking piss of Cow.

      And what your 700,000 army is doing in Kashmir. What a bravery that to keep a small portion of land under control you have to keep your huge bumb ass and shit army in Kashmir the quantity is even more than the total army of Pakistan. shame on you.

      GAY HIND (Land for Indian Gays)

    • As soon as American start to leave, we have identified your terrorist network inside Afghanistan i.e RAW soon our ISI will hunt them and send your agents to hell in Afghanistan and we have started it from our Northern Areas. BTW your dumb ass prime minister is asking American for assurance to save your ass and 5 billion dollars investment in American and that the assurance must be given by Pakistan.

      There is no such assurance as well as soon we are going to kick your ass in Afghanistan and Afghanistan will be a no go area for smell, dot buster and cow piss drinker Indians.

      GAY HIND !!

  11. There seems to be a clear disconnect between what posters from pakistan belive and what happens in reality.

    Say, the 26/11 Mumbai issue, which a lot say was a drama created by India.

    Yet, in reality we see PAKISTANI nationals/entities have been charge-sheeted for their role in the Mumbai attackis IN A PAKISTANI court:

    Pakistan charges 7 suspects in Mumbai attacks


    Agar ye sab waqayi mein dram tha, to Pak govt court case kyon file kar rahi hain!

    BTW asli drama is this:

    Omar Saeed Sheikh, a detained Pakistani militant, had made hoax calls to President Asif Ali Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a bid to heighten Pak-India tensions after last year’s terrorist attacks on Mumbai. — File Photo by AP


    CAN you beat this, a jailed pakistani militant,in a PAKISTANI jail is phoning top pak govt officials and craeting confusion on the mumbai attacks.

    THIS is the drama!

    ANY replies on this.

  12. The Americans sow this and now they have to taste the fruit themselves.

    Why should we ever try to save their Ass. They should save and lick their ass themselves.

  13. It’s divine creed that Kashmir will come to Pak by hook or by crook!.

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