The Scenic Route To Islamabad
Last week's strike on the Bajur madrassa continues to be misinterpreted. Some misinterpretation is intentional misinformation from Islamists in Pakistan that the facility was merely a place of religious learning for Pakistani young men when it was, in fact, an al-Qaeda/Taliban terrorist training facility.
Some of the misinterpretation is less sinister, such as western media accounts that still take at face value the Pakistani government claims that it was a Pakistani strike. It was most certainly a US strike with American assets, just as was the strike in Damadola
earlier in the year that sought to take out Ayman al-Zawahiri. Left without much option after the fact, it is less painful for the Pakistani government to claim the strike their own than to admit that it was either assisting the United States in al-Qaeda/Taliban strikes inside Pakistan or unable to prevent them.
Consider an analysis from Newsweek titled Pakistan's Troublesome Borders.
Musharraf has switched tactics in trying to deal with the Islamists along the border, alternating from military action to peace deals and now, apparently, back to armed force. Neither approach has worked. At the heart of Musharraf's predicament is the failure of his plan to pacify pro-Taliban tribesmen in Waziristan with a peace accord.
But even though the Newsweek analysis is based on the false premise that the attack was a change in tactics for Musharraf (back to attacking the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance), it nonetheless arrives at the proper conclusion.
The ICG's Ahmed says Musharraf's policy swings are "counterproductive." What might work? Maybe nothing, say experts. Any further military operation in the border areas could split the Army. And left alone, the Islamists continue to pursue jihad. Caught between the almost medieval religious fanaticism of the Islamists, a disenchanted Army and the pressing Americans, Musharraf is in a very tight spot indeed.
While the 'policy swing' was not his, Musharraf is in an unimaginably difficult position and his days are likely numbered. While his alliance in the War on Terror has been checkered, the day Musharraf falls will be a huge victory for Islamist terrorists worldwide, as the levers of true power will have the Islamist hands of the ISI/Taliban/al-Qaeda on them.
And Pakistan's power is nuclear in nature.