Neo-Deobandis Are Getting Really Riled
Writes An Upper Indus Valley acquaintance in The Peshawar Frontier Post. He fears folks in Swat , Dir and the Northwest Frontier will take none too kindly to SWAT teams arriving in force :
"Just in case Islamabad-- or al Qaeda -- missed Frances Townsend's statement,repeated by Tony Snow, that the United States would be willing to send troops into Pakistan to root out al Qaeda, noting specifically that "no option is off the table if that is what is required." While the statements are hardly a declaration of war, one can be positive that Pakistani President Gen Pervez Musharraf is going to need a nightcap to get to sleep. It is not every day that the global superpower ruminates that invading your country is an option "not off the table."
Townsend and Snow are hinting at an operation that has been six years in the making. There has never really been any doubt that al Qaeda sought refuge in northwest Pakistan after fleeing the United States' November 2001 assault on Afghanistan. But the absolute necessity of maintaining Pakistan as an ally has stayed Washington's hand (aside from nearly continuous small-scale border raids against targets of opportunity). Rooting out al Qaeda from the tribes that shield it would require a thousands-strong force, ideally with Pakistani cooperation. Until now, the dominant belief in Washington has been that such an operation would lead to a Pakistani rebellion and the consequent overthrow of the Musharraf government. Ergo, the attack has not happened. But now two things have changed.
First, Islamic radicals of the Red Mosque -- whom Pakistani security forces raided July 12 -- have tripped public anger. Out of a mixture of necessity and opportunism, Musharraf is now moving in force against Pakistani's long-ignored jihadist circles. Until now, the jihadists have been quiet in Pakistan because that is where they recruit, train and fundraise. Now that the state is closing in on them, the suicide bombs have started going off in earnest, with more than 50 dead just on Thursday and more than 200 since the wave of explosions began. The conflict is going to be a bloody one no matter how it goes -- not only does Musharraf need to battle a desperate, experienced force with few places to retreat to, but many within his intelligence services actually are pro-jihadist. The purge and the fighting could well happen simultaneously.
This is the situation Musharraf could also use to impose state of emergency to prolong his rule and justify his plans to further impose secular western agenda in general on public and particularly on madrassas. The second big change is that Washington is becoming convinced Musharraf is on his last legs -- and that if his government is going to implode anyway, the United States might as well go in and get al Qaeda. From Washington's viewpoint, if statements alone are sufficient to get the good general to dispose of the jihadists on his own, fanbloodytastic. If not, then the United States has thousands of troops just across the border in Afghanistan available for the job.
Not that this would be easy, of course. As Snow noted, "You don't blithely go into another nation and conduct operations," and this is more than just an issue of politeness. NATO's Afghan operation, as it is now, would be flatly impossible without the supply lines that snake through Pakistan. And if the United States had reliable intelligence as to exactly where al-Qaeda's apex leadership was, a grossly excessive tonnage of GPS-guided ordnance would have been dropped on that location ages ago. That means the United States would have to go in with ground forces, and go in big -- and immediately upon arrival, they would be hit from all sides: the Afghan Taliban, and the Pakistani jihadists, the Pakistani public, and even the military"