Friday, May 15, 2009

The Taleban in Pakistan

I had done a brief study of Afghanistan and then Pakistan to get a feel for what's going on in that part of the world. From the CIA world factbook I see that Pakistan is just a slight step above a third world country. They may have a large army and nuclear weapons but that's about all. With an average anual income of $2600 I don't think you could call them well off economically. Literacy rate is 49.9% and they have water and food borne illness due to lack of potable water. Not a pretty picture even without the Taleban. But let's back up a bit to the 1980s. That was when the Afghans were fighting the Soviet Union. With our assistance and training they were able to frustrate the Russians who finally gave up and left. The U.S. did what it always does in a country with limited government (remember this was a country made up of loose knit tribes and puppet government). We picked the strongest faction and put it in place as the government and that was the Taleban. When the Taleban refused to turn over Osama Bin Ladin the U.S. stepped in and drove them out of the major towns and with the help of the Northern Alliance ( a loose group of tribes from the northern part of the country) drove them to the mountains of the far eastern part of the country. As we persued into the mountains they chose to head to Pakistan. That was perfect for them in that Pakistan isn't letting us persue them past the Afghan borders.
Now for the real kicker. We've been sending drones into Pakistan to do surveilence and target Taleban fighters. We've had several occasions of targeting and firing on the Taleban. The problem? The Taleban travel with local kids (6 and 7 year olds) who will carry their guns and pick up shell casings. The colateral damage to the kids is quite bad. How do they get these kids to follow them around? First the kids are facinated with guns. What young boy wouldn't want the chance to carry an AK 47. So where's mom and dad you might ask? Well the economy is so bad there that parents give their kids to be trained at a madrosa where they are fed and given a Taleban education complete with suicide instructions.

Children of the Taleban

The Pakistan government just permitted the region to be under Shria Law which is a violation of the Pakistan constitution in order to get some type of peace. That was on the condition that the Taleban move out of the cities in the north. They didn't and that's when the Pakistan army moved in. At present some 700,000 people have fled the area. The army is permitting more people to flee during the day so they won't get wiped out in the fighting.

Another problem - The Pakistan army has no experience fighting this type of war. Their last big battle resulted in an entire town being leveled with all the civilians and Taleban killed. The Taleban now have a greater presents in the western and northern part of the country and are recruiting more young men with each bombing.

What's the solution to this fine mess left by Goeorge W? At this point I really don't know. There was a chance to change things before they moved into Swat in Pakistan. At that time their numbers were far less and they didn't have the blessings of the Pakistan government to take up residence. We're starting to look like the Soviets of the 1980s. Just two days ago a suicide bomber at a U.S. base in Khost (Afghanistan on Pakistan border) killed nine afghan workers.

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

Big picture - peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan mean pipelines from Iran taking oil to China and India. Remember Superpowers don't like other superpowers so try to keep them down. Don't look for peace soon.