Taliban 60 miles from Pakistan capital

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen says he is “extremely concerned” about Taliban militants moving closer to Islamabad. “We’re certainly moving closer to the tipping point where Pakistan could be overtaken by Islamic extremists,” he told NBC. But the Mail’s article on this is incoherent, as it repeatedly refers to Pakistani officials giving the Taliban one last warning to “withdraw.” The Taliban are about to take over the country, and the government, unable to stop them, is warning them to withdraw or else?

Who has control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons? A commenter at the Mail says the U.S. does. I’ve never heard that before.
And where is the mighty Pakistan army?

For the record, I always felt Musharaf was as good as we could get over there and didn’t understand the U.S. campaign to oust him.

- end of initial entry -

Ed writes:

We made the same mistake with Musharaf that we made with the shah of Iran. I predicted the current outcome when we removed Musharaf in the hope of getting liberal democracy and human rights. What Pakistan needs is law and order not human rights and chaos.

LA writes:

Here, from November 2007, is the beginning of a longish discussion about Musharraf and Pakistan and my thoughts about the irrationality of American pressure against him.

I wrote:

Gen. Pervez Musharraf came to power in Pakistan in a military takeover in 1999, and has been an important if ambiguous ally of the U.S. in its “war against terror” ever since September 11, 2001. At the same time, the U.S. government with its commitment to spreading democracy has been uncomfortable with Musharraf’s non-elected status, and has pushed him to return Pakistan to democracy. This never made any sense, since it was precisely Musharraf’s non-democratic power base that made it possible for him to be in office. On one hand, we were immensely appreciative to have our ally Musharraf, rather than our jihadist enemies, leading a Muslim country with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, we were out of sorts over the fact that Musharraf had overthrown Pakistani democracy. But how did we think this leader for whose existence we were so grateful had got into power? By overthrowing Pakistani democracy.

Also, given the fact that something like half of Pakistan’s population supports bin Ladinism, popular elections would likely mean a pro jihadist, pro-Taliban government. At the same time, the only national, stable, and relatively responsible institution in Pakistan is the military, which is why there have been repeated military coups in that country against unstable and incompetent elected governments, such as the coup that brought Musharraf himself to power. According to Musharraf in his Saturday night tv speech announcing the crackdown, it was in order to prevent jihadists from taking over Pakistan that he has abruptly halted his reluctant moves toward constitutional elections, and taken direct power once again.

And now, in the full tide of American schizophrenia (we are half unprincipled pragmatist, half starry eyed idealist), the Bush administration, at least at first, was in a great tizzy over Musharraf’s coup….

Ken Hechtman writes:

You write:

But the Mail’s article on this is incoherent, as it repeatedly refers to Pakistani officials giving the Taliban one last warning to “withdraw.” The Taliban are about to take over the country, and the government, unable to stop them, is warning them to withdraw or else?

Good luck finding a coherent article on the subject. I’ve been looking for one all day and haven’t found it yet.

Al Jazeera has one of the least-bad ones.

This one, from a private security company, is a week old but it recaps the Pakistani Taliban’s gains this spring and predicts their next couple of moves after Buner.

I’ve been in the two districts the article says the Taliban will take next (Mardan and Nowshera) and there was strong support there 8 years ago. I believe the Taliban will take them easily.

Syed Saleem Shahzad from Asia Times, who’s usually the best there is on this stuff, only has a background interview with the governor of Frontier Province.

He lets the governor go on for four pages, making up in longwindedness what he lacks in accuracy.

This one, from a splinter group of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (the current government) quotes a series of Pakistani Taliban commanders confirming that they are in fact driving on the capital and not trying to encircle Peshawar (which would be the smart thing for them to do)

And that’s the best I’ve been able to puzzle out. If I was a Pakistani general, I wouldn’t want to fight the Taliban on their home turf. The army’s won-lost record doing that is none too impressive. But if I let two more dominos fall (Mardan and Nowshera) that puts them at the border of Punjab province. If they cross that border, they no longer have a population they can blend in with—they’re too tall, too white and they speak the wrong language. And the population won’t help them, much less join them the way it did in Frontier Province. If the Taliban takes a Punjabi town and moves on, the town won’t stay taken—exactly the problem the army faces in Frontier Province.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 24, 2009 03:29 PM | Send

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