Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.
The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.
The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.
It’s all downhill from there. Take advantage of the slow news day to read all of this one; it explains at length how that nightmarish “peace treaty” in early September between the jihadis and Musharraf — who stood next to Bush at a White House presser and presented it as a victory — has completely backfired. According to the Times, the International Crisis Group is set to release a report on the deal tomorrow branding the treaty with the scarlet A. Even some Pakistani officials were willing to admit that the policy is a disaster — off the record, of course.
Diplomats in Kabul told the LA Times last week that the next few months could determine whether the Taliban resistance peters out or whether they start a full-fledged Iraqi-type insurgency in the country. We’re killing them militarily but the zombie army has an endless supply of manpower. According to officials, they need to “prevent the militants from seizing and holding more territory, establish reasonably secure conditions in the capital and the hinterlands, choke off infiltration across the porous Pakistani border and mend fences with restive tribal leaders.” None of which directly addresses the problem of having Talibanistan right next door.
After all that, I’ve got to leave you with some good news.