Pakistan’s efforts to wrest its frontier provinces from jihadist control may be compared to a child who is trying to get out of cleaning his or her room by doing as half-hearted a job as possible: Put a few things away; how about now? No? Straighten up a few more things; now? No? And the reluctant participant actually starts to look serious for a while, but nonetheless keeps his or her eye out for that magic milestone of progress known as “good enough for now.”
Of course, the analogy breaks down where the hypothetical youngster probably isn’t crafty enough to keep demanding more resources, purportedly for the task at hand, but not entirely. “Pakistan under pressure after NY car bomb,” by Chris Brummitt for the Associated Press, May 10:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – U.S. claims that the Pakistani Taliban were behind last week’s failed car bombing in Times Square add pressure on Pakistan’s government to attack the militant sanctuary of North Waziristan close to the Afghan border, but few expect its stretched army to rush into any operation there.
New calls from Washington for the army to move into North Waziristan could backfire because they would create the impression the force was acting on the orders of America — a perception that would undercut the public support needed for such an operation to be successful.
Aside from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s warning over the weekend of “severe consequences” if an attack on U.S. soil is traced back to Pakistan, most U.S. officials have been careful not to criticize Pakistan in their public comments since Pakistan-American Faisal Shahzad was arrested soon after the terror attempt in New York.
America is limited in what it can do to tackle the threat coming from Pakistan’s tribal regions.
It is seen as highly unlikely that nuclear-armed Pakistan would ever allow American troops to operate there, meaning Washington must try to work through the Pakistani army, which has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid since 2001.
The Pakistani Taliban, which have previously not conducted attacks on U.S. soil, have been the target of several Pakistani army offensives over the last two years and been battered by scores of American missile strikes. They are allied to al-Qaida, which has also found sanctuary in the northwest, and the Afghan Taliban just across the border.
A suspected U.S. missile strike early Tuesday killed at least three people in the Doga area of North Waziristan, two intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The identities of those killed were not immediately known.
Pakistan officially protests the strikes on its territory as violations of its sovereignty, but it is believed to aid them. The U.S. rarely discusses the unmanned-drone-fired strikes, which are part of a covert CIA program.
The army has not moved into North Waziristan, in part because powerful insurgent commanders there have generally not attacked targets in Pakistan. In recent months, however, fleeing fighters and commanders from the Pakistani Taliban — which have launched scores of bloody suicide attacks around the country since 2007 — have moved there.
Even before the failed Times Square bombing, many security analysts had said that the army would need to move into at least some areas of the region if it wanted to deal a decisive blow against militancy in the country.
The army has said it cannot spare the troops for a full-scale offensive this year and needs to consolidate gains elsewhere against militants, including in neighboring South Waziristan. It says it is carrying out small-scale, targeted missions in the north against insurgents, but Associated Press reporters who have visited recently say it is under militant control….