Meanwhile, In The Other War…
…things are still not going swimmingly:
Three days of fierce fighting have convulsed Pakistan’s tribal areas and exposed what tribal elders, politicians and local officials concede is the government’s lingering paralysis in dealing with the threat from Al Qaeda and Taliban militants spilling out of the region.
The fighting, the heaviest in more than four years, has left at least 45 Pakistani soldiers dead as pro-Taliban militants and foreign fighters mount a vengeful campaign on all law enforcement in the area.
The clashes come on top of months of deteriorating security after the militants tore up peace agreements with the government in July. Since then, more than 250 members of the security forces have been killed in sustained attacks, the highest losses since the 1970s.
The upheaval underscores complaints by a range of officials that the government has been so absorbed in securing the re-election of Gen. Pervez Musharraf as president that it allowed the security threat to go unchecked.
Even after General Musharraf’s re-election on Saturday, parliamentary elections and wrangling between the president and an incoming civilian government could allow the situation in the tribal areas to drift even further, they warn….
Western officials, meanwhile, insist that if left alone, the militants and their Qaeda allies are more dangerous, because they can exploit the freedom of movement and the territory to train and plot more attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and even farther abroad.
The lack of focus and leadership in the government has left the police, bureaucrats, tribal officials and the military reluctant to act, Mr. Shah said, even in the face of increasingly brazen assaults. Clashes are reported almost daily, he said, and the attacks are almost always initiated by the militants.
“They are definitely reactive, not proactive,” a Western defense official said of the Pakistani military, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Pakistani Army still has a long way to go in training and adopting a new counterinsurgency doctrine, another Western military official added.
The militants and their Qaeda allies have taken advantage of the disarray to spread their attacks and influence on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border….
Feeling safer? Me neither. Someone tell me again what a great job the Bush Administration is doing with national security, foreign policy and military strategery and long-term intel ops.