Since operation Absolute Justice in 12/2001 and the toppling of the Taliban regime the main strategic issue was the sealing of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in the middle of the Pashtu tribes land, to prevent pro Taliban tribesmen from Pakistan to join the war in Afghanistan and the Afghan tribesmen to find refuge in Pakistan.
The close ties between the Pakistani notorious intelligence apparatus – ISI and its protégé – the Taliban, the hostile mountainous hard terrain and weather, as well as the radical militant Pashtu tribesmen on both sides of the border, the weakness of the Pakistani regime, political instability and the Ongoing Crisis in Pakistan as well as the 1300 km of borders – made the mission of sealing the borders impossible and the border regions remain the weak spot of the war in Afghanistan.
Being America and believing that money is always the best solution, Pakistan received since The 9/11 over $7 billions military aid designated specially to the war on terror, particularly to seal the border with Afghanistan and to restore Pakistani sovereignty on the pro-Taliban Pashtu tribes. There is in USA serious doubt what was, eventually, the usage of the money and there is accumulating evidence that part of the money went to build Pakistan’s capacity against India rather then sealing the border with Afghanistan.
It is obvious that the money did not improve, in any way, the war on terror and that the problem is not money but political determination, the serious risk that Pakistan might plunge to an over-all CIVIL WAR and, mainly, the basic loyalty of the soldiers of the PAKISTANI ARMY – most of them devoted Muslims.
In the second stage NATO-ISAF in Afghanistan adopted, since 2003, a policy of violating, to some degree and with silent consent of the Pakistani Authorities, Pakistan’s sovereignty and to attack the Taliban in Pakistan from air using precise intelligence and UAV – Unmanned Aerial vehicle. Indeed hundreds of such attacks were carried out since 2003 in FATA areas inflicting heavy casualties on the Taliban and especially its leadership. Since war on terror is always waged among civilians and many civilians were killed too, the Pakistani regime came under pressure, on one hand, to implement its sovereignty and to limit those attacks, while on the other hand, the Taliban adopted itself to the situation and developed techniques to deceive USA intelligence and technology.
After 7 years it is almost clear that Pakistan is unable, because of various reasons mentioned above, to cope with the Taliban head to head and to efficiently seal the border with Afghanistan – no matter who the political leadership of Pakistan is or how much military aid the country is receiving.
There are signs that USA is loosing its patient and is ready to take much more aggressive measures. USA troops which are operating on the ground near the border are conducting “hot pursuit” after the Taliban into Pakistan, including taking the risk of killing Pakistani soldiers (see – Mohmand 06.10.08).
On Wednesday 09/03/2008 dawn, according to Pakistani sources, USA went even further, when its special forces raided the village of Mohammad Khel near Miranshah in North Waziristan inside Pakistan, in the first ever publically known ground assault into Pakistan of NATO-ISAF or USA forces in Afghanistan (see – Miranshah 09.03.08). The incident immediately ignited political tension between Pakistan and USA and Pakistan has reportedly blocked, on Saturday 09/06/2008, a major fuel supply route for Western forces in Afghanistan in response (see – Bush 2008 approval ).
The situation on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan is in a strategic limbo. Pakistan is unable to cope with the situation, USA is unable to encounter the Taliban problem without full cooperation with Pakistan and the Taliban, meanwhile, prospers.
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