Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
If you were to apply the advice of 19th century Prussian military strategist Carl von Clausewitz that one of the objectives of war is to destroy the effective strength of the enemy, it is still not clear how that aim is to be achieved when it comes to fighting the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Predictably, the Taliban has melted away in the face of offensives in both countries, retaining its capacity to live to fight another day and to open new fronts in other areas.
In Pakistan, the army has driven Taliban militants out of towns in the Swat valley and won control of the main lines of communication after launching an offensive at the end of April. But clashes are still flaring daily in some areas, writes Reuters Islamabad correspondent Robert Birsel in this analysis. “Unless you eliminate the leadership, however much damage you do, the command structure will manage to grow back,” he quotes security analyst Ikram Sehgal as saying. “As long as that leadership exists, low-intensity guerrilla warfare will keep going on.”
In the meantime, the Pakistani Taliban are expected to try to open up other fronts to distract the Pakistan Army both from cleaning up Swat and launching an offensive in South Waziristan, the base of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.