Great news over the past few days as the Pakistani government continues to fight Taliban militants.
First, the Pakistani military has announced that it is ratcheting up its fight against Taliban militants and, following recent successes in Swat and Baluchistan. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Pakistani military is increasing the fight and targeting high-ranking Taliban leaders.
A senior Pakistani official said the army will launch an offensive against a major Taliban leader following a bombing in a bustling provincial market in a weekend marked by violence.
Following Sunday’s announcement, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told the Associated Press that “the government has made the announcement. We will give a comment after evaluating the orders.”
Apart from being Mr. Mehsud’s base, South Waziristan and the neighboring region of North Waziristan are major bases for militants fighting in Afghanistan and al Qaeda, making them key to any Pakistani effort to overcome the Taliban and its allies.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that that US military officials lauded Pakistans efforts, and have a positive outlook for the success of the campaign.
Progress in Pakistan’s two-month-old military campaign against insurgents in the Swat Valley has provoked Pentagon optimism that government forces will soon move decisively into the more rugged frontier region where al-Qaeda’s leaders are based, perhaps curtailing a wave of suicide bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan, defense officials said yesterday.
The defense officials said the principal Pakistani aim in isolating and eventually striking against insurgents inside Waziristan, a tribally governed region on the Afghanistan border, would be to neutralize the threat posed by Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban warlord who U.S. officials believe was behind the assassination in 2007 of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
After a brief period of seeming gains by militants, things are turning around and militants are being sent on the run. This turnaround comes as the Pakistani government and military are looking at past actions and taking lessons, re-working their strategies, and re-energizing the troops.
Another defense official said the Pakistani military effort is working because “they have learned their lessons and changed their approach, and are hoping for more success.”