“Yet the Army leadership is refusing to strike at the heart of the Taliban command in Baluchistan Province.” declares another editorial from NYT today. If only these Pakistanis would realize – why won’t they just realize – that this is their wars, not ours.
Think back to March 2009. Then, the Taliban were on a march to Islamabad – mere 60 miles away – and the editorial chided the Pakistani army and civilian elite of not understanding their mortal threat. Invade Swat, became a mantra of pundits and editorials alike. After hemming and hawing – and filling up its coffers – the Pakistani Army did. It went in with guns blazing from every hill-top. It watched the million walk out of the valley with their houses gone and their livelihoods vanished. Never did the NYT or the Administration pause to even consider what were the local histories, the local demands, the causes which would have allowed the Taliban any foothold at all in Swat. Not once was Swat’s precarious constitutional structure discussed or attention paid to the Swati demands for expedient justice, equal opportunities and resource sharing. Not once. The drums of war drown out any other voice. All the Empire seeks is immediate action. In the here and in the now.
Then, in August 2009 came the second wave. The real battle is in Waziristan, not Swat where the Taliban’s real base exists. Why won’t the Pakistani army move in there already? Why are the wasting time in Swat? The timing was also good for a Pakistani “invasion” since Baitullah Mehsud had just been killed. Once again, the Army dithered until just long enough before finally launching an operation into N. Waziristan. Once again, the local population fled – but this time there were no IDP camps and no relief efforts. Apparently “most had relatives in the region“. Go figure that one out.
And because frontiers are “always empty”, the Taliban are now going to Baluchistan. So, let us send the Pakistani Army after them. It is fun, no? This chasing. Like a global game of tag. Get serious, Pakistan Army! Get into Baluchistan and crush those Taliban. Once again, who cares if the reality matches any of our discourse. Who cares that Baluchistan is not empty, and that it already has a war.
Step 1: NYT (representing the Administration, of course) decries Pakistani Army needs to get serious on Taliban.
Step 2: Pakistani Army provides a suitable window of dithering, during which time a number of prominent pundits add their voice to the enfolding crisis.
Step 3: Pakistani Army gets more $ and then moves in to the “central area” in order to combat the Talibothra.
Step 4-40: Ignore any local issues; ignore the blowback of drones; ignore the constant bomb blasts in Peshawer, Lahore, Multan; ignore any political realities. Enjoy!