Posted on 25-02-2010
Filed Under (Current Affairs, Foreign Policy) by Rashtrakut

The Christian Science Monitor has reported that Pakistan  arrested half of the Afghan Taliban leadership in recent days.  See link.  Speculation abounds about the timing of the crackdown and whether it was related to Pakistan seeking a more direct role in the Afghan peace negotiations.  To me the speed at which the Taliban leadership is being rounded up raises the question why this was not possible in the past eight years or even in the last couple of years when Pakistan itself became the target of the fundamentalist terror it midwifed.  Pakistan’s future actions will show just how serious it is in tackling the threat, or whether this is merely the latest gambit in the new Great Game (see previous blog post).

Also, unclear is the extent the lack of leadership affects the Taliban’s military operations.  It should make it harder to coordinate joint attacks, but there are enough lower level commanders with guns and experience to continue fighting.  Similar decapitations of the leadership among the Pakistani branch of the Taliban appear to have lead to militants training their guns at each other as they jockey for power.  Whether and to what extent the pattern repeats itself here remains to be seen.

For now, this should be a boost to the American surge.  But good news in Aghanistan seems to be accompanied by bad.  As usual it comes from the man supposed to provide the good governance essential for a lasting peace.  In recent days Hamid Karzai has tried to pack Afghanistan’s impartial election commission with his cronies, deepened his ties to the corrupt warlords and once again pandered to the fundamentalist fringe by weakening constitutional protections for female representation in parliament. See here, here and here.  Some things never change.

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