The Great Debate UK

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Defeating the Taliban in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

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Brian Clougley is a South Asia defence analyst.  Reuters is not responsible for the content - the views are the author's alone.

When the Taliban insurrection in Pakistan began in earnest, in 2004, the Pakistan army did not have enough troops in North West Frontier Province to combat the growing menace.  It was not possible for the army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps to conduct operations without considerable reinforcement.  In any event, the role of the lightly-armed Frontier Corps has always been more akin to policing than to engaging in conventional military operations. Dealing with inter-tribe skirmishes and cross-border smugglers is very different to combating organised bands of fanatics whose objective is total destruction of the state.

It was therefore decided to redeploy some units and formations from the eastern frontier to the west, but the main problem with the decision, no matter its appropriateness, was that troops facing India along the border and the Line of Control in Kashmir are skilled in conventional warfare tactics but not trained in counter insurgency (COIN). Retraining was essential if there was to be a properly conducted campaign against militants in the west of the country. The process requires much time and energy. (The British, for example, had
to design a training programme lasting up to eight months before units were considered effective to fight the terrorist Irish Republican Army. The US belatedly dealt with a similar problem before deploying units to Iraq, having learned the hard way.)

But there is another important factor in Pakistan’s equation of redeploying troops : the attitude of India.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Attack in Iran: What are the links to Pakistan?

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A week after suspected Sunni Islamist insurgents attacked the headquarters of the Pakistan Army, a suicide bomber killed six senior Revolutionary Guards commanders and 25 other people in Shi'ite Iran in one of the deadliest attacks in years on the country's most powerful military institution.

Were these two events connected only by the loose network of Sunni insurgent groups based in and around Pakistan? Or are there other common threads that link the two?

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Attack in Rawalpindi: are Pakistan’s militant groups uniting?

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An attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the city of Rawalpindi has highlighted the country's vulnerability to a backlash from Islamist militants in the Pakistani Taliban as it prepares an offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan. It follows a suicide bombing in Peshawar which prompted Interior Minister Rehman Malik to say that "all roads are leading to South Waziristan."

But what is perhaps more troubling about the attack is not so much the backlash from the Pakistani Taliban (the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP)  holed up in the Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but rather suggestions of growing co-operation between al Qaeda-linked groups there and those based in Punjab, the heartland of Pakistan.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Assessing U.S. intervention in India-Pakistan: enough for now?

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In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India's response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?

According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was "irrefutable evidence" that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.

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