The Pakistani Smack-Down
With all of the hype surrounding Pakistan’s military operation in Waziristan- the militant stronghold that has caused so many problems for the United States in the region- it is tempting to automatically assume that the raid will result in nothing but total and absolute victory.
While it is certainly difficult to restrain from feelings of overt accomplishment in the War on Terror, it would be rather premature for the United States to expect anything substantial from the Pakistani offensive. After all, the Pakistani Government has launched very similar operations in the past, all to no avail. In each circumstance, the Pakistani Army was demoralized to the point that the generals would strike a truce with Islamic militants to the west; not only conceding territory to the insurgency, but allowing some of the most dangerous elements in Pakistani society to fight for another day.
Despite recurring structural problems within the Pakistani army in general,, this Waziristan offensive differs from previous missions in a number of respects. First and foremost, over 60 percent of the Pakistani public supports the army’s efforts. Secondly, the intense barrage of terrorist acts across Pakistan- including a devastating attack on the army headquarters- is quickly persuading Islamabad to actually crack-down on fundamentalist activity. And finally, the United States and Pakistan are deepening their military relationship against Islamic terror.
Therefore, while the capturing of Osama bin-Laden is out of the question, there is still some benefits that might result from Islamabad’s operation in the western-half of the country. Realistically speaking, killing or capturing bin-Laden probably would not make much of a difference anyway, considering AQ’s decentralized character over the past couple of years.
-Daniel R. DePetris