The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, released a statement Monday saying that success in Afghanistan is achievable if the strategy is revised. And while President Obama’s administration has certainly given the war in Afghanistan more attention than his predecessor, the question still remains: what is being done to fight the Taliban in Pakistan?
Last month, the Pakistani Taliban suffered a blow when their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by an American drone on Aug. 5th. Rumors of internal strife and the death of another top leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, pressured the Taliban to dispel these rumors. In a joint call to the media last Tuesday, Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rahman dismissed the rumors and announced that Mr. Mehsud would take over leadership of the Taliban, while Mr. Rahman would command the Taliban in South Waziristan, the Taliban stronghold.
Despite the change in leadership and rumors of internal strife the Taliban have continued to disrupt and spread fear. Last Thursday, a suicide bomber, said to be between fifteen and twenty years old, killed 21 Pakistani security personnel gathering to end their daily Ramadan fast near the border of Afghanistan. Days later, the Taliban killed sixteen cadets at a Pakistani police station and attacked a NATO fuel convoy headed to Afghanistan.
The United States is pressing the Pakistani military to be more aggressive and to find momentum in the blow dealt to the Taliban’s leadership. The military appears to have stepped-up its pressure as it was reported this weekend that they destroyed a terrorist training camp in the Swat Valley and captured 43 militants, including two commanders, yesterday.
But many question the desire of the Pakistani military to fight the Taliban. Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has a long history with the Taliban and has many supporters of the Taliban within their ranks. Amongst Pakistanis, the U.S. led war in Afghanistan is unpopular and many view India as a greater threat than the Taliban. Unfortunately, these are the issues the United States must deal with in their fight against terrorism. We should hope Pakistan’s successes continue and that they recognize the Taliban pose a very serious threat.