News / Asia

Skepticism Remains on Pakistani Anti-Taliban Efforts

The U.S. offensive in the Afghan town of Marjah coincides with new Pakistani moves against Afghan Taliban figures, which U.S. officials say aids counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.  But there is still skepticism about Islamabad's depth of commitment to rooting out the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan.

Afghan Taliban leaders have been using Pakistani territory as a sanctuary and staging ground from which to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan.  U.S. officials have long asserted that operations in Kandahar and Helmand Province, where Marjah is located, are directed from the Pakistani city of Quetta.  

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who chaired the Obama administration's Afghan policy review, said as recently as last year Pakistani officials continued to deny the presence of Afghan Taliban figures on their soil.

"When I was chairing the strategic review this month a year ago we asked the Pakistanis at the highest levels, 'Are there any Taliban leaders in Pakistan?'  And from the highest levels on down they were adamant, 'There are no Taliban leaders in Pakistan, if you have information give it to us.'  Well, we finally called their bluff," Riedel said.

In recent weeks, Pakistani officials have captured at least 15 Afghan Taliban figures.  Afghan Taliban operations chief Mullah Baradar was arrested recently in Karachi, although the circumstances of the arrest remain murky about whether Baradar was picked up more by accident than design.

However it came about, Riedel, now at the Brookings Institution, says the arrests in Pakistan are a boon to U.S. and NATO efforts in Marjah and elsewhere in Afghanistan.  

"The arrest of Mullah Baradar, the follow-on arrests of shadow governors, is probably the single biggest victory we have seen in nine years in this conflict," Riedel said. "If it is followed up by continued movements by the Pakistanis to start shutting down the sanctuary and the safe haven that will be a significant boost for the prospects for success."

But skepticism abounds about how deep Pakistan's commitment to rooting out the Afghan Taliban runs.  Pakistan has a long record of supporting the Afghan Taliban, primarily through its Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.  

Pakistan has traditionally seen the Afghan Taliban as a way of maintaining influence in Afghanistan.  That is why, analysts say, the Afghan Taliban has been able to operate from Pakistani soil.

Professor Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College says Pakistan watches arch-rival India's growing influence in Afghanistan and its newfound closer relationship with the United States, as epitomized in the U.S.-India nuclear deal, with alarm.  

"Now you cannot tell me that the Pakistanis can sit there and watch the first state dinner be with (Indian Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh, and the nuclear agreement with India, and all of what they perceive as happening with India and Afghanistan, and have them say, 'Oh, okay, we will go along with what the United States wants us to do," Goodson said.  

In such an atmosphere, Goodson says, Islamabad wants to maintain the Afghan Taliban as its strategic hedge against India.

"They [Pakistanis] cannot use the nuclear weapons, and their conventional force has never been successful against India," Goodson said. "And so they have to maintain these guys [Taliban], and that comes with a certain amount of messiness and cost.  Now they are trying to control them, and we are putting them under a lot of pressure.  But to me, anyway, I would say it is obvious that those folks in Washington who are putting the pressure on, agitating for the pressure and so forth, would like to believe that the pressure is working."

Analysts say Pakistan looks to any future political reconciliation in Afghanistan to include Taliban elements, but the prospect of the Taliban in any power-sharing arrangement in Kabul is worrisome to the Indians.

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan held their first round of peace talks Thursday, which had stalled since the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in November of 2008.  The attacks have been blamed on Lashkar-i-Taiba, a militant group based in Pakistan. 

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs