Pak Taliban post-Baitullah
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 11:29
Pak Taliban post-Baitullah Kamna Arora

Baitullah Mehsud is dead, but his group is not. A US drone claimed the life of the Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in August. As soon as the news of Baitullah’s demise spread, analysts and leaders across the world started pondering over the fate of Pakistan Taliban.

For Pak officials, Baitullah had become a headache and his elimination meant relief and victory for them. Pak officials excitedly stated that Baitullah’s group was in shambles after its leader’s death.
But recent wave of terror strikes across Pakistan has shaken the whole nation.

“We will take revenge and soon we will give reply to this drone attack to America," Pak Taliban’s new chief Hakimullah Mehsud had declared in his first public declaration after taking over the group.

The 28-year-old Hakimullah issued the threat as soon as he was declared new central Amir of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, Pakistani authorities took his threats lightly, describing it as nothing but rhetoric.

But the recent attacks by Pak Taliban prove how fallacious authorities’ calculation was. Pak Taliban is back and that too with more vigour and determination! From attacking UN World Food Programme office to infiltrating Army headquarters, revitalised Pak Taliban’s reach as well as strength has raised many eyebrows.

The worst of the recent terror attacks was assault on Army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. The 22-hour attack on the headquarters claimed 20 lives. Pak Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that left the whole international community in shock. Imagine, if militants can infiltrate heavily fortified compound of the country’s most powerful institution and take hostages, they can hit any corner of this nuclear-armed country and at any time.
Another notable point here is that the embarrassing attack on Army HQ did not come as a surprise. Of late, the Crime Investigation Department of Punjab had made their own security assessments and shared them with related government departments. According to the civilian law enforcement body, "terrorists belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, in collaboration with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, were planning to attack GHQ in Rawalpindi." And this happened. However, the 22-hour-long ordeal showed that despite having a clue, Pak security forces failed to stop the extent of the breach.

A day after Pak hostage drama ended, suicide blast rocked near Swat valley and killed at least 41 people. In that area, few weeks ago, Pak Army claimed to have carried out a successful campaign against the militants.

The question arises whether Pakistan`s secret nuclear sites are safe or are guarded by crack troops. Albeit US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed concerns over the safety of Pak’s nukes, the issue remains a most disturbing one.

Pakistan has certainly more to see as the Taliban has pledged to drum up more fighters across the nation for more ‘embarrassing’ strikes for avenging Baitullah’s death. And of course, the group’s attack on Army HQ is deemed as a success and is expected to attract more recruits.

Reports are claiming that Pak Taliban has joined hands with militants outside their key strongholds in Pashtun areas near the Afghan border, which has added to their might. It is definitely alarming to see Pak Taliban’s revival with more terror links attached to it.
A stitch in time saves nine

The resurgence of Pak Taliban has hinted at the inability of the authorities to root out the menace. It indicates that Pakistan’s war with Taliban is a phoney war. It is a war, which is dramatised by Pakistan to please the US and get more and more funds in the name of fighting terrorism. Reports also suggest that Pakistan is using the aid provided by the US in the name of fighting terrorism to actually build up troops against India.

Clearly, Pakistan is suffering from trust deficit. It is imperative for authorities to mobilise public support to carry out effective military operations against Pak Taliban, if they are serious in doing so. It should immediately begin ground military operations in South Waziristan because any delay will endow Pak Taliban with more time to reorganise and obtain more armour and weapons.

It is high time that Pakistan administration should realise the need to get serious in tackling the menace inside their territory. According to Kamran Bokhari, an analyst with global intelligence firm Stratfor, "(The militant attacks) make it all the more clear that if you (Pak authorities) don`t do this, this monstrosity that`s out there in the tribal belt is not going away."

The Pak administration has done enough of troop building in the East, now what about taking a crack at fighting militants in the West?

First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 11:29

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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