A couple of days ago Brian Ulrich linked to this Christian Science Monitor account of tensions between jihadis in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. The piece “focuses on a difference in tactics between Beitullah Mehsud, one of the most influential Taliban leaders in Pakistan, and a commander named Qari Hussain Ahmad, who has been waging an aggressive campaign against traditional tribal leaders in the hopes of eventually replacing the Pashtunwali tribal code with shari’a.”
Part of what I think people need to take away from this is that the “Taliban” concept underdescribes what’s going on. The United States has a clear interest in getting Pashto-inhabited territories to submit to central rule from Kabul and Islamabad if the only alternative is for that territory to be administered by people interested in playing host to anti-American terrorists. Insofar as there may be Pashto leaders who aren’t interested in using autonomy in that manner, however, then we needn’t necessarily be troubled by them.