Ian Black and Richard Norton-Taylor in The Guardian say AQ Central in Pakistan is actually not in such hot shape:
Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida is under heavy pressure in its strongholds in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas and is finding it difficult to attract recruits or carry out spectacular operations in western countries, according to government and independent experts monitoring the organisation.
Speaking to the Guardian in advance of tomorrow’s eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, western counter-terrorism officials and specialists in the Muslim world said the organisation faced a crisis that was severely affecting its ability to find, inspire and train willing fighters.
Its activity is increasingly dispersed to “affiliates” or “franchises” in Yemen and North Africa, but the links of local or regional jihadi groups to the centre are tenuous; they enjoy little popular support and successes have been limited.
That’s via Andrew Exum, who highlights the fact that contrary to some skepticism that he and I share about the drone attacks, that the article says they’ve played a role in this. I’ll take the overall picture they paint as evidence that we need to avoid doing anything too panicky in the region and certainly that we shouldn’t take too seriously the idea that somehow the Taliban is one step away from taking over in Islamabad. But as long as the Pakistani government actually wants to clamp down on radical groups, which has been the case in recent months, then it seems that we can help them be reasonably effective in doing so.