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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Cant teach an old dog new tricks

Friday, November 23, 2007

The New York Times:
Drawing from its experience in Iraq, the US military has developed a plan that calls for recruiting Pakistani tribal leaders to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The United States has used this tactic in Anbar province in Iraq, where the military has been able to enlist some local Sunni tribal leaders to back it in combating Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other foreign fighters.

Citing unnamed US military officials, the newspaper said Sunday the plan had been outlined in a strategy paper prepared by the staff the Special Operations Command, but has not been formally approved by the command's leaders.

However some elements of the strategy, The Times said, have already been given the green light in principle by the Pentagon and its Pakistani partners.

These include a 350-million-dollar proposal to train and equip the Pakistani Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that currently has about 85,000 members coming mostly from border tribes.

The report came amid unrest in Swat, a scenic northwestern valley, where pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlullah is leading a campaign for the imposition of harsh Sharia law in the valley.

Fazlullah is nicknamed "Mullah Radio" because he runs a pirate FM radio station that calls for a holy war on government forces.

Up to 500 Islamist fighters were believed to be holed up in the Swat valley, led by a "hardcore" of 50 mostly foreign militants, especially Uzbeks, according to the Pakistani military.

Insurgent advances in and around Swat have embarrassed the government of President Pervez Musharraf, who cited growing Islamic militancy as one of the key reasons for imposing emergency rule two weeks ago.

He has since ordered the regular army -- rather than the locally recruited paramilitary forces -- to take the lead in tackling the unrest.

In light of these developments, The Times said, some US counterterrorism experts are wondering if Anbar-style partnerships can be forged without a significant US military presence on the ground in Pakistan.
posted by Travis, 4:00 am

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