Taliban pushing past Buner toward Islamabad
There is more.
The Taliban are pushing past the districts of Swat and Buner and are threatening Islamabad, a senior Islamist member of parliament said at a briefing.
The Taliban have consolidated control over the district of Buner and are moving on Mansehra and Haripur. These two regions, which are just on the outskirts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, have been relatively spared from the violent Taliban insurgency that has plagued the Northwest.
The Taliban have entered the district of Mansehra and are threatening to take of the Tarbela Dam in neighboring Haripur district, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, an Islamist political party said during a debate in parliament.
"If the Taliban continue to move at this pace, they will soon be knocking at the doors of Islamabad as the Margala Hills seem to be the only hurdle in their march towards the federal capital," Fazl said, according to a report in The News. "After occupying Buner, they have reached Kala Dhaka and may also be taking over the water reservoir of the Tarbela Dam."
Pakistan has reportedly rushed paramilitary forces into Buner today, but some units were attacked by the Taliban stationed there. Six platoons of Frontier Constabulary forces were sent into Buner to secure government buildings. One policeman was reported killed after the Taliban ambushed a convoy, The Associated Press reported. The military claimed the Taliban only control 25 percent of Buner, but Taliban fighters have been reported in all of the major regions in the district.
The forces the Pakistani government has sent to Buner are clearly inadequate in numbers and capability to the challenge of removing the Taliban. A few hundred Frontier Corps troops will have trouble defending themselves much less the people of Buner. They very likely will be captured or surrender to the Taliban. That has been their history in previous conflicts with the Taliban. The Pakistan army needs to send its best troops to deal with this problem and it needs to do it quickly.
Update: The NY Times confirms much of what is in this post.
It appears to me that the Taliban Spring Offensive is in Pakistan this year and not in Afghanistan where we are sending our additional troops. Al Qaeda and the Taliban appear to be making an all out effort in Pakistan which has resisted US assistance in fighting them. What is really troubling is the lack of reaction on the part of the Pakistan army. I have seen no explanation for them staying away from the fight. Their inaction is bad news for the government.