Friday, June 3, 2011

Afghan Taliban attacks Pakistan outposts

A large-scale attack ofTaliban fighters, amounting to what the Taliban claimed was practically a battalion of some 400 militants, struck from Afghanistan starting on Wednesday to over-run a Pakistani outpost at Shaltalo in the Dir tribal region, killing 27 security personnel & three civilians.  Today, a Pakistani counter-attack involving helicopters & artillery beat back a second attempt.

This comes after a previous report of a possible Pakistani operation in North Waziristan upon the urging of the US.  The commander of the region, LTG Asif Yasin Malik, had dismissed the reports, stating that the army will conduct operations at a time & place of its choosing, not at the behest of the US.  He went on to say "I cannot undertake multiple operations at the same time."

This move by the Taliban, after a similar attack some two months ago in a nearby area of the border, accentuates & capitalises on Pakistan’s inability to sufficiently mass its forces in the region & maintain flexibility.  Pakistan’s military & government continue to carry on a sub rosa struggle over some its elements’ support of the Taliban (first nurtured & then supported within Pakistan) & al Qaeda.  If, despite the comments of General Malik, there is an attempt on the part of the Pakistanis to start up offensive operations against the Taliban & al Qaeda in North Waziristan again (operations in the area have been off again, on again for several years now), the army would be pinned in the area of these cross-border raids, restricting its ability elsewhere.  This could be a move on the part of the Taliban to protect its interests in Waziristan by drawing away Pakistani troops, & could also perhaps give some plausible deniability to sympathetic elements in Pakistan.

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