A Summary of the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan – Oct. 2009

Based primarily on an Ahmed Rashid article, in The New York Review of Books, Oct. 8, 2009,


Baitullah Meshud – “all-powerfull and utterly ruthless commander of the Pakistani Taliban”.
By expanding his territory and fighting off the Pakistani military, he provided the Afghani Taliban and Al-Qaeda extended sanctuary in the tribal areas.

Two key Afghan Taliban networks: one led by the Pashtun warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and one led by Gulbiddin Hekmatyar supported by the ISI which allows them to operate as they wish.


Pakistan Taliban

Pakistani Interservices Intelligence (ISI)

Pakistani-based Lashkare-Taiba (Army of the Pure), authors of the attacks in Mumbai. “Trained and sponsored” by the ISI since the 1980s Laskhar is the “best disciplined organization and loyal of the hihadi groups” trained by the ISI, always targeting India and not the Pakistani military. The army is intent on preserving Laskhar as long as it perceives India as a threat. According to the same logic which sees India as THE threat, the military supports the Afghani Taliban to weigh in against India’s influence in Afghanistan.


The Swat Valley
North of the captial Islamabad (not the tribal areas).

FATA – Federal Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan

WaziristanNorth and South, region in the southern FATA. North Waziristan is a base for Al-Qaeda and the Afghani Afghanistan as well as Pakistani Punjabi militants.

Narrative lines

Forces allied with Baitullah Meshud took over the Swat in April, and were subsequently forced out of the valley in June 09 by the Pakistani military. Meshud became a target for CIA drones when the CIA decided in 2008 to target leaders of the Pakistani and Aghani Talliban and Al-Qaeda.

Meshud, dead Aug. 5, 09, killed along with young second wife, her parents and seven bodyguards by a missle fired from a unmanned CIA drone. The role of the unmanned drones and their use to bomb fron on high, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been detailed in an article (abstract). His estimated 20000 fighters have taken over control during the last few years of the seven tribal agencies that make up the Federal Adminstrated Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan. The void resulting from his death left the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban up for grabs among its two dozen constituent Pashtun tribal groups.

The Pakistani Taliban, whose leadership vacuum was resolved at the end of August 09 when Hakimullah Mehsrud took over as the new chief of the Pakistani Taliban and Waliur Rehman will lead the Taliban in south waziristan, remains the main threat to President Asif Ali Zardari’s civilian government and to the Pakistani military, “the real decision makers in Pakistan”.

The Swat campaign was the Pakistani’s military first success since 2001. Two million people have returned home and the main Swat town, is back to business and destroyed schools are reopened under tents. But, Rashid states, none of the militant commanders are arrested or killed and Taliban attacks on schools and police stations have resumed. The success of the campaign was largely due to moving troops from Pakistan’ Indian border into Swat.

In order to prevent the tribal areas from being used as areas to send “men, supplies and suicide bombers” into Afghanistan, the U.S. is pressuring the Pakistani army to go after the Taliban in South Warziristan, assisted by increased cooperation between the ISI and the CIA. As of the writing of his article in early September 09, Rashid says the Pakistani army was unwilling to invade South Waziristan, prefering to see how things work out in Waziristan and Afghanistan. The military has had little success combating the Taliban in the tribal areas during the 2000s, facing a hostile terrain and fierce fighters.

The Pakistani military claims that a major key to success in Waziristan is the ability to move more troops away from the Indian border to the tribal areas, a move predicated on U.S. assistance towards achieving better relations with India.

India wants the Lashkare-Taiba (Army of the Pure) leader Hafiz Saeed put on trial.