Leading article: Pakistan's war of necessity

Share
Related Topics

The conflict with the Taliban in the north of Pakistan has undergone a gear change. The bomb that yesterday killed 41 people in the Swat Valley was targeted on a security convoy in an area the military has recently retaken from militants. Two days ago Taliban-affiliated forces launched an attack on the national headquarters of the Pakistani Army. There have been other major attacks.

The situation may look more out of control but the mayhem may signal the very opposite. In the past, Islamists in Pakistan's bureaucracy, military and secret police, the ISI, have driven policy. A blind eye was often turned that gave the Taliban considerable freedom of operation inside Pakistan on the apparent belief that the ISI could allow al-Qa'ida forces to operate in Afghanistan and yet adequately contain their influence inside Pakistan. That seems to have changed after Taliban forces seized control of Swat, ending the tacit truce with the Pakistani government. All summer the Pakistan army has engaged in a sustained campaign to oust them. Now it is preparing to move on the Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan. The recent attacks are seen as Taliban warnings against this. But the operation is imminent, with air strikes already begun.

All this is happening as Washington is divided over whether it can begin to make a distinction between Afghan nationalists in the Taliban, who are no threat to US domestic security, and ideological al-Qa'ida supporters, who are.

Current events on the ground would caution against such wishful thinking. Jihadists have claimed that recent attacks are not just a reaction to the army's recapture of Swat but also in retaliation for the US killing of a key al-Qa'ida commander in southern Somalia. Recent intelligence suggests that Taliban forces fighting Nato have more than trebled since 2006 which suggests that there is more to the upsurge than can be explained by Afghan nationalism.

That is why a new sense of commitment among Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment to an all-out conflict with extremist forces is to be welcomed and supported. This is not a war of choice. It is a war of necessity.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices