"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Taliban, al-Qaeda fight to the death in Pakistan

From M & C, South Asia.

When thousands of Pakistani troops backed by tanks and artillery moved into Bajaur tribal district to retake a strategic checkpoint from Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters, many thought it would be a relatively easy walk for professional soldiers with huge fire power.

But the tenacious resistance the militants offered and the superb guerrilla warfare they used in the six-week pitched battles with government forces came as more than a surprise....

The commanding officer of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps, Major General Tariq Khan, told reporters early this week that if the insurgency was dismantled in Bajaur, 65 per cent of the militancy in the country's tribal areas would be brought under control.

The Taliban also realize this and have moved reinforcements of guerillas from across the border as well as from at least three neighbouring tribal districts. The main fighting from the rebel side is being led by an Afghan commander Qari Ziaur Rehman, who is assisted by well-trained al-Qaeda fighters of Arab, Chechen and Uzbek origin.

'There is substantial evidence that heavy weaponry is being moved into Bajaur from Afghanistan,' said Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas, complaining that there was no serious effort by the International Security Assistance Force operating in Afghanistan to stop militant infiltration across the border.

Loses of 1000 militant is the reason why the Taliban are concripting males into fighting for the Taliban. While the fighting is intense, there are rays of hope.

However, back in Bajaur there are some positive signs of change, with locals in some areas defying Taliban terror and the Islamists' hard-line shariah law.

Emboldened members of three tribes - the Salarzai, Tarkhani and Utmankhel - last week announced that they would organize an army of volunteers to defend their respective areas against the Taliban.

'Many people still remain reluctant to support the government, because they are not sure whether (government) forces will fight the militants till the last or withdraw after a peace deal with them as they did in North and South Waziristan,' said a local journalist, who gave his name as Shah.

The fear for the civilians caught in the middle of this fighting is that as soon as the troops leave, the well-trained and well- organized Taliban army will settle in and create a new hell for them, he said.

Once again, fighting an insurgency is difficult.

The population must be secured so they stop sitting on the fence, tacitly supporting the insurgency, to supporting the government. As Pakistani forces continue their operations inside of Bajaur, the population is rising up against the Taliban.

Mandatory conscription, killing of innocent muslims, killing of tribal leaders, destruction of crops and electric powerlines, and other such indiscriminant violence which the Taliban and Al Qaeda use to subdue a population over time only causes the population to turn against them and to side with the government who brings law and order, peace and prosperity.

Al Qaeda did not want the democratic election in Pakistan to occur. To stop it, they killed Bhutto. However, the election happened. That fact cannot be changed. A democratic government is now in charge in Pakistan. With the democratic government, now the military has began to battle the Taliban/Al Qaeda in earnest.

As the battle wages, the population will rise up against the Taliban and Al Qaeda if the government can secure the population. This battle is now taking place in Bajaur. As MG Khan states, the outcome of Bajaur could quell 65 percent of the militancy in Pakistan. If Bajaur is successfully liberated from the Taliban/Al Qaeda and the population is secured, expect a rapid defeat of the Taliban/Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

While battles will continue to wage for a few years as the Taliban/Al Qaeda attempt to regroup, if the Pakistani Army is successful in Bajaur of routing the Taliban/Al Qaeda and securing the population while maintaining the strong tribal structure in the region, the Taliban's/Al Qaeda's defeat will be more rapid in this area than it was in Al Anbar in Iraq as the population in this region has long been relatively peaceful, orderly, and forgiving of other tribes resulting in much trade in this region. Al Qaeda/the Taliban has attempted to destroy this historic tribal structure and control all trade/commerce in the region just as Al Qaeda in Iraq attempted to do in Al Anbar.

Even Alexander the Great knew this was not the way to quell this region. Apparently, the Taliban/Al Qaeda have never read the history of this region. It is a lessen they are going to regret not learning.

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