The Pakistani Government and Army have finally decided to heed the words of a former ruler: “No patchwork scheme — and all our recent schemes, blockades, allowances etc are mere patchwork — will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steamroller has passed over the country from end to end will here be peace.”
Did Pervez Musharraf, the former President, say that? No, it was Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, more than 100 years ago. And for both strategic and humanitarian reasons Curzon added: “I do not want to be the person to start the machine.”
The inhabitants of Waziristan have resisted outside conquest since time immemorial. That is why Pakistan continued the British tradition of indirect rule, and kept only minimal forces in the region.
So crushing the local Taleban and establishing Pakistani authority in South Waziristan is going to be a long, bloody business in the face of bitter opposition backed by much of the local population — a population motivated as much by old tribal traditions of resistance as by support for the Taleban. This operation will cause great suffering to civilians and lead to deep unhappiness among many Pashtun troops in the Pakistani Army. That is why, like Curzon’s government of India, Pakistan has hesitated for so long before “starting the machine”. [continued…]