June 2, 2008


Why Pakistan Plays ‘Let’s Make a Deal’: Islamabad is about to cut another deal with the country’s tribal leaders. These agreements rarely last long and appear to have helped no one besides terrorists and hardened militants. But Washington should support the deal making—at least for a little longer. (Daniel Markey, May 2008, Foreign Policy)

So, should the Bush administration move fast to put an end to Pakistan’s constant deal making with militants? No. Because despite appearances, Islamabad is not stabbing Washington in the back, acting irrationally, or being willfully ignorant to the threat posed by militants. Although Washington has reason to be wary of any truce blessed by Pakistani politicians and Islamist militants, there are valid reasons why Washington should support the deal making—at least for now.

First, although the specific conditions of the latest deal are not yet public, the Pakistani government appears to have learned something from its mistakes. In the past, Islamabad failed, for instance, to recognize that a deal must only be made with tribal leaders, and instead blundered in signing arrangements directly with militant organizations. This time, rather than negotiating with militants directly, tribal elders have been the primary interlocutors. [...]

Second, the deal will likely have important tactical benefits for the Pakistanis. Under its apparent terms, a cease-fire is supposed to last for the next several months. The new Pakistani government could use some breathing space... [...]

Third, a period of relative calm might also give the Pakistani Army and Frontier Corps—paramilitaries assigned to the tribal areas—just a little more time to recover from an extremely taxing year of unprecedented violence and morale-bruising setbacks. [...]

Finally, the cease-fire could offer a range of new development projects the chance to get started in parts of the country that have been plagued by violence.

The only hard part of war for the United States these days is locating a non-state enemy. The more like a state you can trick them into acting the easier they are to target and kill.

Speaking of which, Dozens of Rebels Killed in Afghan Strikes: Officials (AFP, 6/02/08)

Afghan security forces under attack in northwestern Afghanistan called in NATO air strikes in heavy clashes that left dozens of Taliban fighters dead, authorities said Monday.

The deputy governor of Badghis province, Abdul Ghani Saber, told AFP that around 55 Taliban were killed in the fighting late Sunday. [...]

"Yesterday, about 300 to 400 Taliban attacked our police posts in Bala Murghab district. With the help of coalition air support, we killed about 55 Taliban," Saber said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 2, 2008 6:50 AM

Final finally, American UAV can still hit the militants in the tribal areas whenever they are in sight without a word from Islamabad.

Posted by: ic at June 2, 2008 1:27 PM

And Islamabad can go right back to the tribal elders and say "Why are you complaining to us? You were supposed to keep the young hot heads in line. If you want us to stop the Americans then you have to let us run the area and help us root out these hot heads."

Posted by: Mikey at June 2, 2008 4:42 PM