Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Closing the loop

Previously, ISAF commanders complained about the futility of fighting Taliban forces stationed near the border, as they easily slipped to neighbouring Pakistan. With no permission from Islamabad to pursue them over the border, the ISAF forces found themselves hampered severely.

This problem was later partially mitigated with the (perhaps semi-illegal) use of armed UAVs to attack targets within Pakistan from the air.

However, daring attacks in major cities on government buildings, and the conciliatory measures like the implementation of radical forms of Sharia law, made the situation bleak.

The recent "sacking" of the US general in charge of Afghanistan showed that serious reforms were being implemented to try to turn back the tide.

With the renewed Pakistan offensive in the Swat valley, one natural question that pops up, is whether ISAF forces are stationed at the other side of the border, ready to "mop" up the Taliban forces that may be retreating from the offensive.

The first part of the answer would be find out where Swat is, and what lies on the other side of the border.

A new BBC map made the work much easier.

So it seems Swat is not near the border. But the "famous" regions of North and South Waziristan are near the border. So are these areas being actively reclaimed by Pakistan forces? Not yet it seems.

But it could happen soon, according to this Daily Telegraph report. Another new development is the inclusion of Pakistani input in UAV flights over Pakistan.

The next few months will be critical to see if the loop is being closed...

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