Taliban advance deep inside Pakistan, just 70mi from Islamabad; no resistance

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Taliban Seize Vital Pakistan Area Closer to the Capital
New York Times said:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pushing deeper into Pakistan, Taliban militants have established effective control of a strategically important district just 70 miles from the capital, Islamabad, officials and residents said Wednesday.

The fall of the district, Buner, did not mean that the Taliban could imminently threaten Islamabad. But it was another indication of the gathering strength of the insurgency and it raised new alarm about the ability of the government to fend off an unrelenting Taliban advance toward the heart of Pakistan.

Buner, home to about one million people, is a gateway to a major Pakistani city, Mardan, the second largest in North-West Frontier Province, after Peshawar.
...
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday for the second time in two weeks, reflecting the sense of alarm in the Obama administration. He was scheduled to meet with Pakistan’s top military and intelligence commanders.
I have absolutely no idea what's going on, so I decided to draw up some charts. Now I still have no idea what's going on, and I also have charts.


2natzr6.jpg


wrbadt.jpg



Derived from CIA maps, provided by the library of the University of Texas-Austin:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/pakistan.html
(note the city of Mardan is not marked, I edited it in manually.)

So - what are the implications of this? Will this further destabilize the politics of Pakistan, and how far? What kinds of military conflict will we see in the immediate future? Where will the US stand? Is there real concern about the status of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal?
 
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  • #2
Astronuc
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It looks like the Taliban are expanding their influence outside of Swat. This is very worrisome, since it will give al Qaida greater operating freedom and potentially bring Sunni and Shia into conflict. It's also very bad for the women in those areas.
 
  • #3
AhmedEzz
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8014167.stm

The Pakistan government has sent troops to tackle Taleban militants who have advanced into a region just 100km (67 miles) from the capital, Islamabad...As the troops moved into the region, insurgents launched an attack on their convoy, killing at least one soldier.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Islamabad says many people feel the government's actions in Buner are too little, too late.
 
  • #4
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Apparently it is ineffective:
New York Times said:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — With 400 to 500 Taliban fighters newly in control of a strategically important district just 70 miles from here, Pakistani authorities have deployed only a poorly paid and equipped constabulary force — numbering just several hundred — to the area.
...
At the Pentagon, several senior uniformed and civilian officials also expressed worry.

One senior Defense Department official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on policy matters, called the deployment of the constabulary force “a cosmetic effort.”
Alarm Grows Over Pakistan’s Failure to Halt Militant Gains
 
  • #5
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New York Times said:
WASHINGTON — As the insurgency of the Taliban and Al Qaeda spreads in Pakistan, senior American officials say they are increasingly concerned about new vulnerabilities for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, including the potential for militants to snatch a weapon in transport or to insert sympathizers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/world/asia/04nuke.html?_r=1&hp
 
  • #6
mgb_phys
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Leader is dictator - check
Leader wears comical army uniform - check
Leader has mustache - check
Previously supported leader to annoy neighboring country - check
Country has oil/minerals - nope
Country is on pipeline route to oil - check
Useful place to put airbases to annoy bigger enemies - check
Has weapons of mass destruction - check
Actually has WMD - check (erm we better think about this)
Need to distract electorate from f-up at home - check (give it a couple of years)

I believe the military term is hammer-time.
 
  • #7
Astronuc
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Of more concern is the potential for Pakistan to become a more militant state - with nuclear weapons.

Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/world/asia/04schools.html
MOHRI PUR, Pakistan — The elementary school in this poor village is easy to mistake for a barn. It has a dirt floor and no lights, and crows swoop through its glassless windows. Class size recently hit 140, spilling students into the courtyard.

But if the state has forgotten the children here, the mullahs have not. With public education in a shambles, Pakistan’s poorest families have turned to madrasas, or Islamic schools, that feed and house the children while pushing a more militant brand of Islam than was traditional here.

The concentration of madrasas here in southern Punjab has become an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan’s expanding insurgency. The schools offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.

In an analysis of the profiles of suicide bombers who have struck in Punjab, the Punjab police said more than two-thirds had attended madrasas.

We are at the beginning of a great storm that is about to sweep the country,” said Ibn Abduh Rehman, who directs the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent organization. “It’s red alert for Pakistan.”

. . . .
It might not be soon, but the Taliban and others are patient and persistent.

Education of girls as well as boys is important, and it must be an education based on mathematics, science and a broad world view, not on a very narrow doctrine or view.
 
  • #8
mgb_phys
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Education of girls as well as boys is important, and it must be an education based on mathematics, science and a broad world view, not on a very narrow doctrine or view.
Are we still talking about afghanistan/pakistan?
 
  • #9
Astronuc
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Leader is dictator - check
Leader wears comical army uniform - check
Leader has mustache - check
This would be a description of Gen (ret) Pervez Musharraf, but not Asif Ali Zardari who is current president of Pakistan, although Zardari has something of a mustache.

Country has oil/minerals - nope
Actually there are mineral and gas deposits in the south - Baluchistan - and parts of the north, but there is little development and infrastructure to support exploitation of those deposits. One problem is the lack of coal with which to make coke with which to refine/smelt the ores into metals.

The gas reserves are not enough to satisfy internal demand.
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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Are we still talking about afghanistan/pakistan?
Both actually - same applies.
 
  • #11
mgb_phys
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Both actually - same applies.
I was thinking of some other states were the teaching of science/maths has fallen off in favour of a narrow doctrine.
 
  • #12
DavidSnider
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Anybody ever heard of this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Bashiruddin_Mahmood
?

"In 1967, Mahmood then came back to Pakistan where he then rejoined Pakistan's nuclear program as a chief nuclear engineer at the KANNUP nuclear power plant in Karachi, where he eventually became the Director General of Nuclear Power at PAEC."
....
"Mahmood has published papers concerning djinni, which are described in the Koran as beings made of fire. He has proposed that djinni could be tapped to solve the energy crisis."

How scary is that!
 
  • #13
Astronuc
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I was thinking of some other states were the teaching of science/maths has fallen off in favour of a narrow doctrine.
It's a global issue. It's a matter of disparity in education and economic opportunity, and of government and societal corruption, and in some cases extremists are exploiting those problems.
 
  • #14
MATLABdude
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Anybody ever heard of this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Bashiruddin_Mahmood
?

"In 1967, Mahmood then came back to Pakistan where he then rejoined Pakistan's nuclear program as a chief nuclear engineer at the KANNUP nuclear power plant in Karachi, where he eventually became the Director General of Nuclear Power at PAEC."
....
"Mahmood has published papers concerning djinni, which are described in the Koran as beings made of fire. He has proposed that djinni could be tapped to solve the energy crisis."

How scary is that!
What may be scarier still is his belief that the end-times might be brought about through the use of nuclear weapons (from that same Wikipedia article). It's as if the eschatlogists got their act together, started pumping out Ph.Ds and started actively trying to bring about the apocalypse / rapture.
 
  • #15
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Just when I think the middle east is starting to make some progress, crap like this happens. I'm starting to think that there is no saving that part of the world and just let them keep killing each other until nothings left.

What may be scarier still is his belief that the end-times might be brought about through the use of nuclear weapons (from that same Wikipedia article). It's as if the eschatlogists got their act together, started pumping out Ph.Ds and started actively trying to bring about the apocalypse / rapture.
I got the same impression. Whats worse, is that most of those PhDs were probably obtained in the US.
 
  • #16
mheslep
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Just when I think the middle east is starting to make some progress, crap like this happens. I'm starting to think that there is no saving that part of the world and just let them keep killing each other until nothings left.
Not ME, SE Asia.

I got the same impression. Whats worse, is that most of those PhDs were probably obtained in the US.
Europe. Delft.
 
  • #17
LowlyPion
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Pakistan army 'regains' Swat city

Pakistan's army has gained control of the main city in the Swat valley after several days of street-to-street battles with Taliban fighters, a military spokesman has said.

Major-General Athar Abbas said on Saturday that the centre of Mingora had been secured, but troops were still facing some resistance on the outskirts of the city.
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/200953010547715690.html

Looks like they have rolled them back some at least. The question is whether they will be able to suppress them all together.
 

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