After nine suicide attacks in just eleven days that killed 160 people, including many from the security forces, the Pakistan army has finally started its long awaited offensive in South Waziristan where the Pakistani Taliban are based. The success of the offensive, against the backdrop of a serious civil-military division in Pakistan and unresolved debate in Washington, could be critical for the fate of Pakistan which is financially broke and politically paralyzed.
The army and the civilian government are once more at odds over policy towards the US and India, the insurgency in Baluchistan, and how to deal with militant Punjabi groups who are linked to the Taliban. Moreover, still unresolved and now an issue of growing international concern, is the sanctuary being given to Afghan Taliban in Pakistan.
Dozens of soldiers and police officers have been killed in suicide attacks from October 5 to 15 that included an embarrassing 22 hour siege of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the deaths of eight soldiers and three simultaneous attacks on police training camps and intelligence offices in Lahore. The spate of attacks could have been designed to prevent or delay the expected army offensive on its stronghold, but they also aimed to topple the government, impose an Islamic state, and, if possible, get hold of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. [continued…]