Pakistan army maybe headed to Swat conflict

Bill Roggio:

The Taliban blocked a military convoy from moving into the main town in Swat as rumors swirl that the military will launch an operation in the region over the next two days.

The Taliban surrounded a military convoy as it attempted to enter Mingora, the administrative seat of Swat. The Taliban surrounded the convoy "from all sides," Dawn reported, and forced the military forces to retreat. The military "warned that if such a situation developed again, the armed forces would not hesitate to use force."

The Taliban's move against the military is the latest violation of the ceasefire agreement that put the Taliban in full control of Swat and consolidated their hold of the Malakand Division, an administrative region that encompasses more than one-third of the Northwest Frontier Province and includes the districts of Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Buner, Dir, Chitral, and Kohistan.

The peace agreement, known as the Malakand Accord, was implemented in the Malakand Division in mid-February. The agreement calls for the withdrawal of the Pakistani Army from Swat, the release all Taliban prisoners, the withdrawal of any criminal cases against Taliban leaders and fighters, and the imposition of sharia. President Asif Ali Zardari signed the sharia regulation into law even thought the Taliban killed and kidnapped security personnel and government employees and continue to bear arms and patrol the region.

...

The latest Swat incident comes as the Pakistani military is signaling it plans on launching a new operation against the Taliban. Military officials told Dawn that an operation will be launched against the Swat Taliban in the next two days. The paramilitary Frontier Corps and even some regular Army units are said to be mobilizing for an operation, US intelligence officials toldThe Long War Journal.

Since the summer of 2007, the Pakistani military was defeated in its three offensives designed to oust the Taliban, led by Fazlullah. These defeats prompted the government to promise the implementation of sharia and an end to military operations in exchange for peace.

...

There are other signs the government may move against the Taliban. Military forces are reported to have deployed to the village of Kalpani, Sufi Mohammed's home town in the district of Dir.

"Security forces have started consolidating their positions and military gunships continued flying over the Tehsil [subdivision]," Geo News reported. "The area has been declared sensitive by the government due to increasing cases of kidnapping for ransom and other crimes."

Also, the government removed Malakand division commissioner Syed Mohammad Javed from his post. Javed is a known Taliban sympathizer and is the architect of the Malakand Accord as well as the Taliban advance into Buner. Javed ordered police forces and the tribal militias organized to stand down as the Taliban moved into Buner.

...

People like Javed are one of the big problems Pakistan has in controlling the Taliban. The government needs to find other traitors who are more loyal to the Taliban than the people of Pakistan. If they think that is the same thing then there is something wrong with them.

While it is important for Pakistan to move against the sultans of Swat, it is also important for them to send army units that can and will win. In the past they have sent units that seemed more eager to retreat or surrender. They also need to quit objecting to US training of their troops in counterinsurgency warfare. Perhaps they can get some Iraqi units to come train them. The Iraqis are certainly much better at it than the Pakistani army has demonstrated to date.

Comments

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