Foreign Policy Challenges for the New US President - Taliban in Pak-Afghan Border Areas

Foreign Policy Challenges for the New US President – Part I
Exploiting a lack of jobs, the Taliban rises in Pakistan’s border region, threatening US strategy

Imtiaz Ali; YaleGlobal, 31 October 2008

NEW HAVEN: Gul Mohmmand Jan, a middle-aged man from the Bjure Agency in Pakistan’s tribal region, works odd jobs as a day laborer to support his six children. The tribal belt’s economy is based primarily on agriculture, but with effectively no private sector, work is scarce and compensation low. Jan sent two older sons to a local public school – a room in a mosque – but as Jan’s health failed, his sons were forced to leave school and work to cover the family’s cost of living.

Both boys started as day laborers like their father, but employment was inconsistent. They soon found the only regular work was as paid fighters with the Pakistani Taliban. It’s now two years since they joined the militia, a path all too common in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

Once dormant in Pakistan’s tribal areas, militants are stronger than ever, largely due to economic desperation and a failure of both Pakistan’s government and the international community to provide viable alternatives.

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