27 September, 2006

War on Terror: the Waziristan problem

As widely feared, the Taliban are using the opportunities afforded by the Waziristan Accord to increase their activity in eastern Afghanistan. The International Herald Tribune reports a tripling of Tabliban attacks in the area, as a result of which the US army's Operation Mountain Fury has been involved in more combat than expected.

Waziristan is also where Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership are widely believed to be holed up.Reasonably enough, the Americans want to know what Pakistan intends to do about the area's terrorist population. On the face of it, Pakistan is doing little, other than surrendering Waziristan to the terrorists. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that, as NDTV.com reports, the US is becoming "impatient" with Pakistan's inaction.

Tonight, President Bush is hosting a White House dinner for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. ABC News has a useful summary of the main points of contention. It could be a crucial meeting for the future direction, and prosecution, of the war on Terror. The mainstream media will, no doubt, be full of headlines saying this and that was decided but, providing Karazi and Musharaf do not end up trying to stick items of cutlery into each other, I do not expect anything of immediate significance being made public. That is not how the "great game" is played; and Musharaf, in particular, has a largely anti-US domestic audience to consider. We will just have to be patient and keep a careful watch on actual developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the coming weeks and months

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