Pakistan’s Growing Insurgency

Our guest bloggers are Caroline Wadhams, National Security Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Jenny Shin.

In more disturbing news for Pakistan’s security situation and the U.S.-NATO mission in Afghanistan, yesterday, the Washington Post reported that U.S. officials are now looking to find safer alternative routes into Afghanistan for strategic supply lines that pass through Pakistan. The Taliban have been attacking these supply lines, which deliver about 75 percent of NATO and U.S. supplies, at unprecedented levels, stealing military equipment, ammunition and arms, and food, valued around $13 million. New routes through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are being considered by the Department of Defense to protect these convoys and secure the flow of supplies for NATO and U.S. forces. The Taliban have also begun to target Western aid workers and journalists with increasing ferocity in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan. This past week, in Pakistan, two journalists were attacked; a USAID contractor was assassinated, and an Iranian diplomat was abducted.

The backdrop for these incidents is a steady stream of violent clashes, bombings and assassinations by insurgents in Pakistan against Pakistanis themselves. On Wednesday, General Amir Faisal Alvi, the former chief of Pakistan’s elite commando unit, was shot dead. On Tuesday, Taliban and tribal elders clashed in the Bajaur Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan; ten members of the Taliban and four elders were killed. And on Monday, at least four paramilitary soldiers of the Pakistani Frontier Corps were killed when a suicide bomber drove a car into a security checkpoint.

As security deteriorates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States finds itself increasingly drawn into military action in both countries. Yesterday, for the first time, the United States conducted an attack with a Predator drone outside of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan — deeper inside Pakistan territory than ever before.  A new Center for American Progress report, Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and Stability in Pakistan and Region, outlines a strategy for addressing Pakistan’s growing and urgent militant problem in addition to its other drivers of instability (the economic crisis and weak governance). The report offers a number of recommendations to eliminate the militant threat, including creating a comprehensive and regional counterinsurgency strategy to address militant groups, identifying reconcilable groups within the tribal areas, providing assistance to support deradicalization programs for detained militants in Pakistan, and targeting U.S. aid to Pakistan towards specific counterinsurgency objectives while tying it to Pakistan’s performance.  It also makes the case that the United States needs to coordinate its policies toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even India, which are inextricably linked. This means restructuring the U.S. government bureaucratically to address Pakistan in a regional context and increasing U.S. efforts in reducing tensions between the governments of India and Pakistan, a well as between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It won’t be easy, but it’s clear that the United States, Pakistan and other key countries, need to change tact quickly before things get even worse.