Taliban tightens grip in Swat as Pak Army continies to worry about India

May 5th, 2009 - 1:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Taliban Islamabad, May 5 (ANI): The Taliban is tightening its grip in the Swat region and continues to resist the Pakistan military’s efforts to dislodge them from Buner because of the latter’s obsession with the Indian threat, claims a Washington Post report.

The Washington Post warns that hopes for a non-violent solution to a weakening law and order problem in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) are receding, even as the security forces maintain that they are “still exercising restraint to honor the peace agreement.”

The paper says that over the past two days, the extremists have attacked a military convoy, beheaded two soldiers, imposed a curfew and blown up a boys’ high school and a police station.

There are reports that the army would imminently launch an attack on Swat, even as Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai meet with President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the way forward to rein in the Taliban and promote peace and normalcy in the volatile region.

Analysts say it is doubtful the army has the stomach for a sustained fight against Taliban forces if the peace accord does collapse.

“The militants have resolve, determination, focus and ideology. On the other side, I don’t see any of those,” said Aftab Khan Sherpao, a former interior minister and a member of Parliament, who comes from northwest Pakistan.

“The army understands the threat from the militants, but they are more permanently worried about India. They are waiting for civilian leadership and direction, and there isn’t any,” he added.

Analysts said that in the past several weeks, the growing defiance and ambitions of the Taliban — who reached within 60 miles of this capital city when they seized Buner — have frightened the country and begun to shake its leaders out of their complacency.

Despite the Taliban’s record of rapaciousness, it is hard for the Pakistani military establishment, trained to view India as its mortal enemy and inculcated with an Islamist mind-set during the military dictatorship of the 1980s, to accept Muslim insurgents as adversaries. Soldiers home on leave have been taunted for fighting their own people; desertions are rising.

There is no doubt that the army, though lacking expertise in counterinsurgency tactics, is equipped to crush the insurgents. With Pakistan under democratic rule, analysts say the army has no desire to be seen as making policy and is determined to seek civilian cover for its actions. (ANI)

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