Sunday, April 26, 2009

They Still Need a Good Swat with the Clue Bat

The Pakistanis have been stirred to action a bit:

The Pakistani military launched an operation against militants Sunday in a district covered by a peace deal between the government and the insurgents, further casting doubt on that pact's survival.

The offensive in Lower Dir, which neighbors Afghanistan and the beleaguered Swat Valley, comes amid heightened U.S. pressure that it confront insurgents on its soil.

A statement from the army said the offensive had already killed "scores" of militants, including a commander, and that clashes had left at least one paramilitary soldier dead.

The offensive came days after Taliban forces from Swat began entering another district, Buner, which lies just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Pakistani capital. The insurgents began pulling out of Buner on Friday amid reports of possible military action, and threats that the government would scrap the deal.

Don't get your hopes up. These intermittent Pakistani offensives against the jihadis raise the cost in soldiers' lives by allowing the jihadis to recover time and time again.

This effort won't last long. And it won't be decisive. And so it won't be the last offensive. It won't be any of these things as long as our CENTCOM commander has to remind the Pakistanis of the bleeding obvious:

The Pakistani military's ability or willingness to take on the Taliban has been questioned by some top U.S. officials in recent days, even as they ponder giving Pakistan billions more in military and other aid.

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Pakistan's leaders should focus on the looming threat posed by extremists within their borders, instead of their rivalry with India.

"The most important, most pressing threat to the very existence of their country is the threat posed by the internal extremists and groups such as the Taliban and the syndicated extremists," Petraeus told a congressional panel Friday.

The Pakistani military needs to fight extremists "rather than strictly focus on the conventional threat that has been traditionally the focus of the military, to their east, which is India," he said.

The Pakistanis make it very difficult to be their ally. But as I've often said, I'd rather have pakistan as an imperfect ally than an enemy (however much their failings would also harm their focus on being an enemy). So it is difficult to press them too much lest our pressure contribute to them breaking (either switching sides or collapsing).

It would be helpful if the Pakistanis could recognize the bleeding obvious.