The Pakistani Army is claiming that it’s practically cleared the Taliban out of the Swat Valley. Now comes the real counterinsurgency test: holding the area. In this (sadly-unembeddable) video from the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, you can see a lot of creative angles of Pakistani soldiers letting off shots. But listen to what analyst Zahid Hussein says about the test ahead:

Even if the Army clears away the whole area, quite a lot of militants have melted away in the population, and they continue to operate. There’s a need for a major effort from the government to reestablish the police and administration.

One thing is very clear. The Army can do firefighting. It cannot do policing duty. In fact, actually, there’s a need to strengthen the police force in Swat and in other places, in the Northwest Frontier Province, because the police now will be the frontline force. And without a strong police force, the Army cannot control the situation.

The Obama administration’s Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund is partially designed to bolster a Pakistani policing capability. And you can read a piece I wrote about that for the Washington Independent — published while I was on vacation — here.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman