Pakistan’s escalating Taliban war
Does a series of audacious attacks mean the Taliban and other militants could seize the nuclear-armed state?
Pakistan’s security forces have been caught “flat-footed time and again” in the last two weeks, said Syed Shoaib Hasan in BBC News, as a series of “brazen” Taliban-linked attacks have killed more than 100 people. An Oct. 12 attack on the army’s central headquarters in Rawalpindi especially “defies the imagination,” but after several attacks on Lahore, including a U.N. food office, “nothing has seemed safe or out of reach.” (Watch the aftermath of the latest Lahore attacks.)
The move “toward full-scale war” is bad news for the U.S., said The Washington Post in an editorial, because it means the growing power and ambitions of the Taliban are aimed at “gaining control over a nuclear-armed state,” not just the Pashtun areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. That makes the Obama team’s assessment that al Qaida is more dangerous than the Taliban “badly out of date,” especially now that Pakistan is finally joining the fight.
After the “audacious attack” on Rawalpindi, the army could make a concerted push to “crush” the militants, said Andrew Marshall in Reuters. But the “overwhelming likelihood” is that Pakistan will stay “locked in a stalemate for months or years,” with the military unable to quash the “loose alliance” of Taliban and other militant groups, but with “no real risk that state control will crumble and Islamists will seize power,” either.
Well, just in case, the Obama administration has persuaded Congress to triple aid to Pakistan, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, to $7.5 billion over five years. This would have been “an easy diplomatic win,” if House Democrats hadn’t insisted on sticking “a gratuitous thumb in the eye of Pakistani national pride” by tying the aid to specific benchmarks. Now Pakistan’s angry, just when we need influence there. So much for “smart power.”