Pakistan claims control of Khyber area

LA Times:

Pakistani authorities declared today that they had re-established control in a district that a local warlord had used as a staging ground for forays into the largest city in Pakistan's volatile northwest.

Commanders said paramilitary troops encountered no resistance as they fanned out in the Bara district of the Khyber tribal agency, the former stronghold of a local militant commander called Manghal Bagh.

Bagh's supporters, however, said his fighters had left voluntarily and could return whenever they wished.

Pakistani officials said a tribal paramilitary force had taken up positions in posts they had fled months ago, when Bagh first began to assert his influence in the area. Troops also destroyed more militant outposts and blew up an illicit FM radio station, they said.

The government moved on Saturday against Bagh and another insurgent leader after armed, bearded militants began staging brazen patrols in Peshawar, a city of more than 3 million people. The insurgents also menaced people in outlying districts of the city, seeking to impose a Taliban-style social code and carrying out a series of abductions.

Pakistan is going to have to keep troops in the area to deny the space to Taliban forces. In other words they will have to do the hold part of the take and hold. It is not unusual for insurgents to disappear when government forces appear. To deny them control of the area the government forces need enough troops to deny their return. It is an open question whether Pakistan is willing to commit the force to space ratio needed to stop the Taliban activities.


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