Friday, May 8, 2009

Good Taliban, Bad Taliban … a failed concept

The seeds of Pakistan’s rapid descent began in mid February with a peace agreement crafted by cleric Sufi Mohammed that the Taliban would disarm in exchange for control of the Swat Valley. In India there was shock and horror that Pakistan’s government could accept such a deal. The Times of India reported at the time:

Reactions from US officials to Islamabad’s latest "peace deal" with extremist forces who have scorched the Swat region indicated that Washington was once again buying into the discredited theory of "good Taliban and bad Taliban." Pakistan has argued that some Taliban (those sponsored by the ISI whom it regards as strategic assets) can be won over and trusted whereas others (who have turned "rogue") and are irreconcilable.

Shortly after, the Taliban consolidated their hold, imposed strict Sharia law and began moving into neighboring Buner district by force of arms. There are reports of hostage taking by the Taliban to shield themselves from Pakistani attacks. There is now a realization from the US administration that working with the Taliban simply won’t work. The trustworthy cannot control the extremists and hold on to power at the same time. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

But U.S. officials and analysts in Pakistan say the Swat deal shows it is the men with weapons -- ordinarily the hardest core of extremists -- who decide on what terms peace will come. Men like Mr. Mohammed must find favor with them to maintain their positions. The deals "actually neutralize the moderate people," said Samina Ahmed, the South Asia program director for the International Crisis Group. "Where are they now? They're not in Swat. They're fleeing for their lives."

The seriousness of this can’t be overestimated. If even one of Pakistan’s 60 or so nuclear weapons falls into the hands of the Taliban, the world changes. We have been told that the weapons are safe, but these are hollow assurances. Most reports have them spread around the county side at missile sites and air bases. Spiriting them out of the country would have to rely on absolute cooperation at each location. The problem is, the Pakistani military sees them not just as weapons, but as symbols of national power and sovereignty. There is no better example that you can’t work with terrorist organizations and expect positve results. Good Taliban, Bad Taliban is a failed concept.

1 comment:

Placeholder said...

It's not this country's job to be the policeman of Central Asia. It's too expensive.