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One Week Hiatus... And One Last Thing on Pakistan

Until Monday July 30, I will be 'out of the office' on family vacation. As well, Michael Tanji will be off during the same time period, but also extending into early August. Following Michael's same-week vacation, he will be attending The Claremont Institute's 2007 Lincoln Fellowship Program August 4-12. We congratulate him, thank the good folks at The Claremont Institute and anxiously await his return.

Regular writing from us will resume Monday July 30th.

In the meantime, as a parting shot, consider the latest from the Asia Times: One crisis after another for Pakistan.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A week-long campaign of suicide bombings that has killed more than 130 people across Pakistan has seriously demoralized security personnel in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. These areas are a safe haven for the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Directed at police and army targets, the bombings are believed to have been carried out to avenge last week's storming of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, an operation in which 75 pro-Taliban militants were killed, according to official figures. The bombings were also to protest the support given by President General Pervez Musharraf to the "war on terror" prosecuted by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Afghanistan.

First, the suicide bombings are not "to avenge" Lal Masjid. They are a continuation of the same operation. Zawahiri's letter surely makes this clear (if we are to believe it authentic - and I've heard no denial). 'Retaliation' is the desired public consumption. 'Phase II Operation' is the proper delineation and progression. Those not observant enough to understand the difference are the same who will buy into Hamid Gul (or another) as a non-aligned pragmatist just long enough to serve the deception's purpose.

After suffering the heaviest casualties ever sustained by Pakistani security forces during peacetime, many security personnel in the tribal areas have gone on long leave or are going about their work in plain clothes.

"We are scared to be seen in our uniforms. The militants are better equipped than we are. And there is no way to stop suicide bombers," said a police constable in Swat, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). He said the threat was real enough for senior officials to approve the idea of police performing their duties in plain clothes.

Second, soldiers and police do have their breaking point. Police, closer to their homes, are naturally the first to begin walking slowly backwards from a losing battle. Pakistani soldiers are not working in their hometowns and, more importantly, are not taking any fight to the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance deploying suicide bombers and mortar squads to attack and kill them in not insignificant numbers. It's when the soldiers begin to turn - perhaps not far behind the police given current employment of them - that the problem exponentially escalates and the situation deteriorates with abandon.