Pakistan’s tribal areas; can money go where troops can’t?

January 30, 2008

Amid all the talk about whether U.S. troops would, could or should go into Pakistan’s tribal areas to track down al Qaeda and the Taliban, here are two items putting forward an alternative — that money might succeed where military power fails.

In a feature called “US aims to turn hostile Pakistani tribes friendly“, Reuters Bureau Chief in Islamabad Simon Cameron-Moore says that the United States this year will start spending in earnest $750 million in the hope of making Pakistan’s unruly tribal lands less hospitable for al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Protest in Peshawar

“The United States fears Islamist militants using satellite telephones and laptops in mud-walled compounds on Pakistan’s fabled north west frontier are plotting a devastating attack in the West, just as al Qaeda did from Afghanistan in 2001,” writes Cameron-Moore, to explain why the Americans are thinking of spending money on developing Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

In a detailed analysis of the insurrection in Pakistan’s tribal areas, which includes such telling details as the literacy rate for women (officially three percent for women and “probably much less”), Brian Cloughley, an expert on the Pakistan army, says that the rebellion in FATA cannot be defeated by military means alone. In a paper written for the Pakistan Security Research Unit at Britain’s Bradford University, he suggests instead “the time-tried and effective means of discreetly-implemented, generous bribery”.

So is money the answer? Have your say by posting a comment on this, or any of the previous blogs on Pakistan.

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