The Taliban “spillover” into Pakistan’s Baluchistan

July 22, 2009

According to the New York Times, Pakistan has objected to the influx of U.S. troops into southern Afghanistan, saying this will drive Taliban militants across the border into its troubled Baluchistan province. It quotes a Pakistani intelligence official as saying that a Taliban spillover would force Pakistan to put more troops into Baluchistan, troops the country does not have right now.

The Pakistan Army has already moved into the Swat valley to clear out a Pakistani Taliban group there and is now preparing an offensive against Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in his stronghold in South Waziristan. At the same time it is unwilling to move significant numbers of troops away from the Indian border.

What is puzzling about Pakistan’s objection to the U.S. military offensive is not so much its logic, but its timing. All this information was publicly available months ago. A cursory look at a map would show that Pakistani troops were going to be stretched fighting in Swat and Waziristan while also preventing Taliban militants fleeing from Afghanistan into Baluchistan – let alone tackling the Afghan Taliban leadership which the United States says is based in Baluchistan’s capital Quetta. 

The United States and Pakistan discussed their military plans well in advance - the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said in May that both countries were aware of the risk of a Taliban spillover from Afghanistan into Baluchistan and were planning measures to prevent it. The timing of the U.S. offensive was also clearly flagged in advance – to take place before August elections in Afghanistan. And while Pakistan’s planned offensive into South Waziristan is not going as expected, it’s hard to believe that the professional armies in both countries would base their strategy on an assumption of everything going smoothly in the tribal areas. Nor did anyone expect a sudden peace deal with India that would allow Pakistan to move large numbers of troops from east to west.

So what has changed?  Or why object now more than before?

By coincidence, an insurgency in Baluchistan by Baluch separatists – which is quite different from the Pashtun Taliban insurgency – is also gaining fresh attention. A joint statement issued by the prime ministers of India and Pakistan last week included a reference to Pakistani concerns about India helping the Baluch separatists, a charge New Delhi denies. While Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been heavily criticised at home for agreeing to the reference, Praveen Swami at the Hindu argues that it could put the long-forgotten Baluch separatist insurgency back in focus.

19 comments

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U got it so WRONG …The Taliban “spillover” into Afghanistan from Pakistan’s Baluchistan and MadrassasPakistan army and ISI are hopelessly trying to stop the war and save their strategic assets from total annihilation. Even ISI is offering to mediate talkes between US and Taliban if US promises to keep taliban alive.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

Pakistan’s ‘mock war’ on Taliban”These are mere mock operations in order to convince NATO and the US that Pakistan is serious (about fighting) extremists and that Pakistan is not the mother of extremism,”"But, in fact, extremists are being protected and promoted with the object of destabilising Afghanistan, to compel America to seek Pakistani support, give them dollars and, ultimately, make Afghanistan a stooge state of Pakistan.”http://www.theaustralian.news. com.au/story/0,25197,25821004-2703,00.ht ml

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive

Pakistan Army cannot afford to neglect the long-term strategic threat faced on the eastern front with India. With almost 60% of Pakistan military strength concentrated on the Indo-Pak border , India is also maintaining Strategic battle groups(SBGs) with offensive capability along the border and applying ‘cold start doctrine’.Coming back to Afghanistan, and the recent ISI breifing to NY Times is absolutely accurate. It is no surprise that in such a complex theatre of war as Afghanistan, Pakistan Army and US Army have differences on strategic, operational and tactical issues. Even within Afghanistan, the ISAF, NATO and US forces operate together but there are differences and lack of coherence sometimes.These differences between Pakistan and US will never be eliminated, Pakistan will extend cooperation as long as Pakistan’s interests are safeguarded.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Why should Pakistan be objecting to the Taliban spillover when they were the ones who supported Taliban ruling Afghanistan? Pakistan has denounced Taliban? If yes, then why does Pakistan allow Taliban leadership to roam freely in Quetta(http://www.washingtontimes.com/ne ws/2009/mar/19/talibanization-spreads-to -southwest-pakistan/?page=2)?Does Pakistan speak truth any time? Or is it objecting this time just to ask for more aid in the name of amount required for troop deployment?

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive

Suckers .. just always make a drama and suck more US aid

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

[...] According to the New York Times, Pakistan has objected to the influx of U.S. troops into southern Afghanistan, saying this will drive Taliban militants across the border into its troubled Baluchistan province. It quotes a Pakistani intelligence official as saying that a Taliban spillover would force Pakistan to put more troops into BalRead more at http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2009/0 7/22/the-taliban-spillover-into-pakistan s-baluchistan/ [...]

Umair says: “Pakistan will extend cooperation as long as Pakistan’s interests are safeguarded.”Since Pakistan supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, we shall consider that Afghan Taliban falls under “Pakistan’s interests”. And since US is fighting against that Taliban thereby hurting Pakistan’s INTERESTS, Pakistan is not be extending cooperation as it should be, right? Why should then US give you billions in aid while their soldiers are killed with your support to Afghan Taliban?

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive

“Pakistan Army cannot afford to neglect the long-term strategic threat faced on the eastern front with India. With almost 60% of Pakistan military strength concentrated on the Indo-Pak border , India is also maintaining Strategic battle groups(SBGs) with offensive capability along the border and applying ‘cold start doctrine’.”Umair Posted:How the heck India comes into this scene. Pakistan staged Swat operation despite of “Indian Threat”. Its rather Pakistani Taliban spilling over into Afghanistan, not the other way around. They get their training, arms and recruits from Pakistan. Another failed attempt by Pakistan to divert attention from its own to Af.

Posted by singh | Report as abusive

The Rogue state of Pakistan is at it again. Playing it’s dirty games & back-stabbing us (Americans) again & again. They are busy wheeling & dealing with our enemies & waging mock wars against them, while sucking hard earned American tax $$$ like leeches. Pakistanis have become way too morally corrupt, radicalized & belligerent, to understand the language of logic & rationality. The only language they understand is of guns, bombs & missiles. It’s about time that we & the rest of the world wake up to the sinister designs of the Pakistanis & wage a full-fledged war inside Pakistan. That’s the only way, we’ll eliminate terrorism from the world.

Posted by Costanza | Report as abusive

[...] Pakistan: Now or Never? » Blog Archive » The Taliban “spillover” into Pakistan’s Baluchistan | Blogs | According to the New York Times, Pakistan has objected to the influx of U.S. troops into southern Afghanistan, saying this will drive Taliban militants across the border into its troubled Baluchistan province. It quotes a Pakistani intelligence official as saying that a Taliban spillover would force Pakistan to put more troops into BalRead more at http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2009/0 7/22/the-taliban-spillover-into-pakistan s-baluchistan/ [...]

The whole spillover theory isn’t just bizarre, it’s a blatant lie. Even the Pakistanis don’t believe their own rhetoric. If they did, they would not be moving entire divisions into Waziristan and Swat. Everybody knows that the worst India would do after a terrorist strike is bomb a few camps in Kashmir. If the Indians didn’t cross the border after Kargil when Pak regulars were fighting on Indian soil, it’s highly unlikely that they would launch an armoured thrust into Punjab after some terrorist attack. And in the absolutely unlikely scenario, that there was such escalation, it would still take several days or even a few weeks for the Indians to fully mobilize…more than enough time for the Paks to reposition their forces. And all that is aside from the absurd logic that the Pakistanis put forward, that they are willing to ignore current threats to their own security to guard against some vague threat in the future (some purported Indian military action).As to the core contention of the spillover theory (that Balochistan would be destabilized), I don’t buy that one either. The Balochis have had the better part of a decade to combine with the Pashtuns to give the Pakistan Army a run for their money. They haven’t. They show no inkling towards attacking foreigners. In fact, NATO convoys are incredibly secure through Balochistan in no small part because the Balochis don’t want to threaten Western interests. If they had combined with the Pashtuns we would have started seeing convoys to Afghanistan being set ablaze like they are in Punjab and Peshawar. Nope, the insurgency there seems incredibly local and is directly targeted at the Pakistani state. As such, there is very little risk that the insurgency would flare up because of an influx of Pashtun civilians or fighters (though in fairness, we should recognize the increased risk of inter-ethnic tensions).Where the spillover might happen though is in the rest of Pakistan. Pashtun fighters fleeing Afghanistan, might not have had their full taste of jihad but may well decide that the Pakistan Army is far easier prey than coalition forces north of the Durand line. I expect that we’ll see bombings increase and a general decline in security in the coming months.I suspect that a lot of this under the table talk has more to do with getting concessions from the Americans or some genuine worry that the Pakistanis have that the American surge might work and the Taliban may effectively be cut out of the post-NATO picture in Afghanistan….they may simply want to avoid action against their black turbaned friends and are trying to put forward an excuse that will let them off the hook with the Americans. Heck, they may even be worried that the Americans are going to decide that the FATA isn’t enough and that they want to play in Quetta too. Maybe that’s what the Pakistanis are truly trying to pre-empt.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

So if US/Afghanistan ask India to deploy army in Afghanistan, then Pak will be forced to deploy in the western border.India should send army to Afghanistan .. near Pakistan border. Time to play nice should be over.

Posted by Aaarti | Report as abusive

Pak Army towing the usual line, nothing different. Bark a few times and get US to foot the bill with more aid.Everything looks as if there is no strategic plan or vision, displaced people are just herded around the battle zones and Talibans cruising around Pakistan.Everything seems to be Pak’s clever ploy to drag the US into more confilicts and milk more & more money in the form of fighter jets and ammunitions and wealthy lifestyle for the Punjabi elites.US Army has come on a mission and it cannot be complacent on Taliban like the Pak Army. Their mission is, was and always “Kick” the Taliban. The battle has been a while and it is apparent that Taliban will sneak in on all fronts in Pak, with the connivance of Pak Army it is possible to push them in Kashmir too… I hope the recent satellites launched by India for monitoring infiltration pays off here.With already an ethnic flare up in Balochistan against the oppression, coming weeks should be critical.

Posted by Praveen | Report as abusive

“Everything seems to be Pak’s clever ploy to drag the US into more confilicts and milk more & more money in the form of fighter jets and ammunitions and wealthy lifestyle for the Punjabi elites.”Praveen, you forgot to mention free (US govt paid) education in “Ivy League” universites for the top Pak generals children.Nevermind Baluchistan, the Taliban already control areas in Karachi where the mayor (Syed Mustafa Kamal) cannot enter because he will be killed.Terror Creeps Into the Heartland (NY Times, 22/07/2009)

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@costanzaYour american army can’t even control afghanistan and getting some severe beating at the hands of talibans and you are talking of waging a war against Pakistan.You can dream of that as it doesn’t cost $$$ to dream!

Posted by imran | Report as abusive

Costanza writes:” It’s about time that we & the rest of the world wake up to the sinister designs of the Pakistanis & wage a full-fledged war inside Pakistan.”-You and the rest of the world know the consequences of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You and the rest of the world better stay out of Pakistan, because there are WUDs(Weapons of Ultimate Destruction) in Pakistan; I am talking about the nukes. You must be dead sure you really want to attack Pakistan before you attack. Lets see if you have the stomach for a war with Pakistan.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

@You and the rest of the world better stay out of Pakistan, because there are WUDs(Weapons of Ultimate Destruction) in Pakistan; I am talking about the nukes. You must be dead sure you really want to attack Pakistan before you attack. Lets see if you have the stomach for a war with Pakistan.- Posted by Umair–Oh, please do not scare Costanza/Americans/the rest of the world because the rest of the world does not have the nuclear technology yet. Pakistan is so advanced that it is learning to fly the planes using water. US-Pak war (what a joke!) means toal withdraw of financial aid, preventing the world bodies to help also and squeezing the oil supplies. Talking about “rest of the world”, Chinese are not getting into this mess to help Pakistan for their own reasons. They did not help in 1971, and this is 2009. Indians no nothing about fight and has yet to learn to spell NUCLEAR, so INDIA might be very susceptible plus India lost all the wars against Pak makes it all the more valid (..lol).Now please please please do not hurt America and the rest of the world with your Nukes since Pakistan has 170 million strong population and a professional army, while the rest of the world is just over a tiny billion with un-professional army.Do not give heart attacks to the bloggers…too much laugh can cause that.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Umair writes: “You and the rest of the world know the consequences of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You and the rest of the world better stay out of Pakistan, because there are WUDs(Weapons of Ultimate Destruction) in Pakistan; I am talking about the nukes. You must be dead sure you really want to attack Pakistan before you attack. Lets see if you have the stomach for a war with Pakistan.”Have you read Keith’s comments in reply to your boasts on Pakistan’s preparedness for war? For your reference:http://blogs.reuters.com/pakis tan/2009/07/17/taking-the-fight-to-pakis tan-from-afghanistan/#commentsI like this quote “Amateurs talk weapons, professionals talk logistics.”

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive

Terror started from ISI HQ in Islamabad.War on terror will end when someone will flatten ISI HQ with all inhabitants inside.More we delay .. more innocent lives lost everyday.

Posted by Irfan - Iran | Report as abusive

Americans and their allies will choke with no path ahead in Afghanistan. They are used to short term solutions and do not have a history of making long term decisions. They are trying to get out of Afghanistan with a face saving act. Afghanistan cannot be set right overnight. Its culture is very ancient and very deep. As soon as the Americans leave, war lords will pick up their weapons and go to war with each other. Imagine being a neighbor of such a nation. That is why Pakistan tried to bring order by creating the Taliban and it worked. The only problem is that Taliban would only go so far as to listen to Pakistan and had its own agenda. The mistake on their part is their fierce support of Al Qaeda against all odds.In the long run, Americans will leave. And Afghanistan will return to its old ways and Pakistan will be burdened with refugees and will be forced to act on its own. And Taliban will return. There is no other way to bring stability to Afghanistan. To the Western eyes the Taliban appears brute and primitive. But that is the only thing that can contain the elements inside Afghanistan.So I simply do not know what the American objective in the region is – is to get the Al Qaeda leaders? is to bring democracy in Afghanistan? is it to control the region remotely? They can never wipe out terrorism from the face of the earth. They need to state their objective correctly first before dropping their bombs. They have simply added to the chaos. Pakistan was a stable nation before they entered the picture. Now its has been forced to bear the brunt of everything and accused of all ills. Pakistan’s objectives are local and never global. We have our own issues and external threats to deal with.The Americans will never win this war. They will create more chaos and more wars. With their economy on the brink, they will make some really foolish short term decision that will make things much worse than before. And the Indians will celebrate it. This is the moment where all Pakistanis have to stay together and fight with the greatest resolve. And we will.

The West is contantly demanding that Pakistan stop the alleged flow of militants from its side, so now the West should do the same. Instead they mount an operation and expect Pakistan to control the flow from both sides. How unfair.