Analsysis: Pakistan's Tribal Warfare
Council on Foreign Relations
October 10, 2007
Prepared by: Greg Bruno
Casualty counts aside, the fighting in the tribal belt has an important political component. For Musharraf, struggling to maintain support as he awaits a legal challenge to his election victory, the military strikes appear aimed at quieting critics as much as quelling violence. A day after the White House released its October 2007 analysis (PDF) of domestic security threats asserting al-Qaeda has “regenerated” within Pakistan’s tribal belt, Musharraf’s government fired a decisive salvo: “The action taken against militant elements by Pakistan shows our commitment against terrorism and indicates our resolve that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used for any act of terrorism,” said (Times of India) Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq.
Most experts agree the militants amassed in the tribal belt represent a significant threat to Pakistan’s leadership, as well as to Afghanistan’s stability. The most recent tension began in July, when the army stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad to quash a student uprising led by a rebel cleric.
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