Pakistan attacks Taliban near Peshawar

posted at 8:40 am on June 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The Pakistani government has launched an offensive against Taliban forces that have crept close to Peshawar, reversing a policy of negotiations in a hail of mortar shells.  Islamabad began to worry that the radical Islamist forces pose a real threat to the major city and acted to push them back.  However, this may not be all that it seems:

Pakistani forces bombarded suspected militant hide-outs with mortar shells Saturday as the government launched a major offensive against Taliban fighters threatening the main city in the country’s volatile northwest, officials said.

The offensive in the Khyber tribal region marked the first major military action Pakistan’s newly elected government has taken against the militants operating in areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The government had said it preferred to try to defuse tension with the groups through negotiations, but with threats to the city of Peshawar growing in recent weeks, the military decided to take action. Khyber also is a key route for U.S. military supplies into neighboring Afghanistan.

A round-the-clock curfew was imposed in the Bara area bordering Peshawar, and heavy contingents of troops were deployed, blocking the main road into Khyber, said Mujeeb Khan, a senior local official.

It’s the first major show of force that Pakistan has staged since the parliamentary election took policy out of the hands of Pervez Musharraf.  Until now, the PPP/PML-N ruling coalition has eschewed military force for negotiations, much to the dismay of Afghanistan and the US.  Earlier this week, Pakistan finally committed to stopping the Taliban from staging attacks across the border, but it was the threat to their own cities that finally moved Pakistan off of its policy of appeasement.

However, people shouldn’t get too excited, at least not yet.  The apparent target of this attack is not the Taliban forces of Baitullah Mehsud but of his rival, Haji Namdar, the leader of the Vice and Virtue Movement within the Taliban umbrella.  His forces kidnapped 16 Christians from Peshawar (and later released them), and the expansion of VVM/Taliban around Peshawar indicated something bigger was afoot.  The terrorists had begun posting notices demanding that people seek justice through their shari’a courts rather than Peshawar’s civil courts.

This could just be an effort by Pakistan to narrow down their negotiations by eliminating Mehsud’s rivals.  It could also be meant as a signal to Mehsud that negotiations have their limits.  In either case, the Pakistanis hace learned a lesson: leaving terrorists to their own devices doesn’t work.  The policy of appeasement didn’t bring about a live-and-let-live attitude among the Taliban, but an urge for expansion and aggression.  Perhaps Islamabad might rethink their experiment with appeasement and rejoin the fight against radical terrorists before they really do lose an entire city.

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Somehow I just don’t expect much from the Pakistan government

2theright on June 28, 2008 at 8:54 AM

The terrorists had begun posting notices demanding that people seek justice through their shari’a courts rather than Peshawar’s civil courts.

Next up, Meshud will counter by posting notices demanding that people seek justice through America’s courts.

Buy Danish on June 28, 2008 at 9:10 AM

Wow if even the Pakis can learn that appeasement doesn’t work maybe there’s hope for Democrats in America (esp. Obama).

We can hope for change!

Neo on June 28, 2008 at 9:11 AM

Too little, too late.

TooTall on June 28, 2008 at 9:14 AM

Was anybody killed or captured?

Or was it just a fireworks show?
Can I get a real reporter on the case?

bridgetown on June 28, 2008 at 9:18 AM

… leaving terrorists to their own devices doesn’t work.  The policy of appeasement didn’t bring about a live-and-let-live attitude among the Taliban, but an urge for expansion and aggression.

What’s that old saying? “Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive”.

You’d think the Pakis would know how the taliban would behave. Everybody here on H.A. knew this, how come they didn’t?

Tony737 on June 28, 2008 at 9:26 AM

I think they are walking a fine line. They shot back when a direct threat was made to government authority, but did not put boots in the ground to actually capture anyone or make confirmed kills.

njcommuter on June 28, 2008 at 9:42 AM

it was the threat to their own cities that finally moved Pakistan [America] off of its policy of appeasement

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM

This follows the kidnap and execution of Afghanistan’s mountain tribal leaders by Pakistani AQ terrorists. If the current Pakistani government wants ANY international respect, even from AQ, it must take on responsibility.

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 9:50 AM

posting notices demanding that people seek justice through America’s courts.

Buy Danish on June 28, 2008 at 9:10 AM

Islamofascist terrorists were granted that via US Supreme Court that the MSM gladly publicizes ‘free for all’.

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 9:53 AM

The Taliban threaten to take Peshawar as a negotiating tactic and the Pakistani government threatens to do something about it as a negotiating tactic. Who do you think has more conviction, unity and spine?

KW64 on June 28, 2008 at 10:00 AM

Yawn….

This is like the Saudi’s “arresting” 500 or so “terrorists” the other day. Eyewash.

Pakistani “terrorists” are not terrorists to the Pakistani’s, they are heroes of Islam from the Land of the Pure. But if you pay tribute money to Pakistan, they will call them terrorists if you like.

BL@KBIRD on June 28, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Ed, I appreciate the updates on global hotspots like Pakistan, Zimbabwe, & Venezuela. Most US media are myopic, paying more attention to the latest pop-tart scandal than what really matters.
More news from SE Asia, please. : )

jgapinoy on June 28, 2008 at 10:12 AM

Mortars?

Geez, next they’ll break out the comfy chair.

Beagle on June 28, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Pakistan has an air force and large artillery, FYI. Nobody starts a “major offensive” with mortars. Sounds more like they were attacked and are trying to spin it as an offensive.

Beagle on June 28, 2008 at 10:47 AM

maverick muse on June 28, 2008 at 9:53 AM

I know, that’s why I made that comment.

Buy Danish on June 28, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Pakistans idea of an offensive is a lot of posturing and no real effect. The a lot of video and photos, a truce and then they pack it all up and go home.

We should level that entire border region flat. Afterwards, we can write a nice letter to the pakistani government apologizing for wiping out all those nasty jihadis.

Hey, W, They are either with us or against us, remember? These folks have harbored and are harboring more AQ and Taliban than Iraq.

Its time to put the terrorists away, with a message.

dogsoldier on June 28, 2008 at 11:14 AM

We’ll be putting a fence around Pakistan soon enough. They deserve whatever fresh hell they have coming – heathen maggots.

Jaibones on June 28, 2008 at 11:47 AM

Ed, I appreciate the updates on global hotspots like Pakistan, Zimbabwe, & Venezuela. Most US media are myopic, paying more attention to the latest pop-tart scandal than what really matters.
More news from SE Asia, please. : )

jgapinoy on June 28, 2008 at 10:12 AM

I second that. Don’t always feel the need to comment on these posts, but I always look for them. Thanks Ed.

Maquis on June 28, 2008 at 4:34 PM

jgapinoy on June 28, 2008 at 10:12 AM

i agree. there is still stuff going on here in thailand, but the thai gov’t has a really tight grip on news coming out of there. i would certainly be blogging about it more if i could find stuff…

i have seen good info. from zombie and robert spencer here and there…

homesickamerican on June 29, 2008 at 1:17 AM

So Pakistan is fighting a civil war 90 miles from their capital. great

koolbrease on June 29, 2008 at 5:30 AM