U.S. Hopes to Use Pakistani Tribes Against Al Qaeda - Unlikely to Work

U.S. Hopes to Use Pakistani Tribes Against Al Qaeda

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 — A new and classified American military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as part of a broader effort to bolster Pakistani forces against an expanding militancy, American military officials said.

If adopted, the proposal would join elements of a shift in strategy that would also be likely to expand the presence of American military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective and pay militias that agreed to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists, officials said. The United States now has only about 50 troops in Pakistan, a Pentagon spokesman said, a force that could grow by dozens under the new approach.

The proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by American forces in Anbar Province in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there. But it raises the question of whether such partnerships, to be forged in this case by Pakistani troops backed by the United States, can be made without a significant American military presence in Pakistan. And it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes, some of which are working with Pakistan's intelligence agency.

Altogether, the broader strategic move toward more local support is being accelerated because of concern about instability in Pakistan and the weakness of the Pakistani government, as well as fears that extremists with havens in the tribal areas could escalate their attacks on allied troops in Afghanistan. Just in recent weeks, Islamic militants sympathetic to Al Qaeda and the Taliban have already extended their reach beyond the frontier areas into more settled areas, most notably the mountainous region of Swat.

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Anonymous said…
Finally a real strategy to fight AlQaeda in the Suleiman/Hindu Kush Range. When Musharraf made earlier deals, had he received US counsel and resources to work those deals and back them up with powerful US resources and a robust heloborne Special forces to aid tribal elders who wish to side with US and Pakistan then the results would have been different. AQ and other outfits have been given a free reign to win the hearts of these tribes in high altitude hamlets now US /pakistan must fight on this turf and not from 25000ft. The people poohpoohing this are the ones who probabely were cynical of Anbar initiatives which mirror Musharraf's earlier initiative but with better planning and resources. Once OBL knows that local pashtuns no longer wish to be his unwilling hosts, he will donkey outta there.

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