For some time I've argued that the Pakistani military, despite its operation against the Taliban in Swat, has no intention of going into the real Taliban strongholds of North and South Waziristan. And just one day after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud's death was reported, I said the Pakistani military may actually use his death as a reason to declare victory against the Taliban and avoid going into South Waziristan. US officials agree:
The problems in Afghanistan have been aggravated by what the American commanders call the Pakistani military's limited response to the threat of militants based there. Although General Scaparrotti said that cooperation by Pakistan and the United States against the militants had improved recently, he stressed that it was important for the Pakistanis to keep up the pressure, particularly after the reported killing of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud.
That echoed concerns from Obama administration officials who worry that with the absence of Mr. Mehsud, who was the Pakistani government's enemy No. 1, the military would shift its emphasis away from the tribal areas where the Taliban and Al Qaeda operate. "They think it's â€˜game over,' " one senior administration official said. "It's more like, â€˜game over, next level.'"
Last week, the Pakistani Army said it needs "months" before it could move into South Waziristan and that an operation against the Taliban may not start until after the winter. If the Pakistani governemnt really believes the Taliban is in disarray after the death of Baitullah and is serious about taking out the Taliban, it would have struck while the iron was hot. Instead, the military and intelligence services appear to be relying on a clumsy and ineffective information campaign designed to cause Taliban infighting while these services continue to support Taliban leaders that have sworn allegiance to Mullah Omar and vowed to fight the NATO forces in Afghanistan.