India-Pakistan: It’s A Strange World

 

The American decapitation (concentrate on killing or capturing leaders) strategy is causing a split between the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan., and the mid-level commanders who actually run combat operations in Afghanistan. The Taliban has a sanctuary in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan), where CIA UAV missile attacks are not allowed. It’s an open secret that the Taliban leaders are in and around Quetta (the capital of Baluchistan). There are also rest camps for Taliban fighters operating across the border in southern Afghanistan (mainly Kandahar and Helmand provinces.) The growing problem is that the Taliban senior leaders, safe in Quetta, are demanding that the Taliban middle management across the border in Afghanistan do more to keep the foreign troops away from drug gang operations (poppy fields and labs for converting opium into heroin). During the past year, doing that has become suicidal for Taliban leaders operating in Afghanistan. While the U.S. can only track and kill Taliban leaders in Pakistan with missile armed UAVs, in Afghanistan these leaders face far more danger. U.S. troops prefer to capture these guys (as a source of information), but will otherwise kill them with ground fire, smart bombs or whatever. Rewards are paid for targeting information, and few Afghans are adverse to making a few thousand bucks at the expense of the hated Taliban (who continue to behave badly with the civilians they claim to be protecting.) As a result, morale is very low among Taliban field commanders. Some men are refusing promotion, even though it brings with it more money, and sanctuary for your family in Quetta. While the Taliban has a form of life insurance, it does not make the widow and her kids rich. Taliban middle-management is increasingly calling for peace negotiations, but the Taliban senior leadership, safe and sanctimonious in Quetta, refuses to negotiate. It’s victory or nothing. Pakistan is unwilling to remove the sanctuary status of Quetta, as powerful groups in the Pakistani government see the Taliban as a key tool for controlling events in Afghanistan. This offends the Afghan’s a great deal, but Pakistanis in general agree that, left to their own devices, the Afghans would become allies with the evil Indians. Meanwhile, there’s a road heading north from Quetta, the crosses the Afghan border after about a hundred kilometers, goes through Spin Boldak and then north another hundred kilometers to Kandahar City, the traditional “home town” of the Taliban. It’s the road less travelled these days.

India-Pakistan: It’s A Strange World

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