Flames From Afghanistan Ignite Pakistan

Eric S. Margolis

The eight-year war in Afghanistan has now set Pakistan on fire. What began in 2001 as a supposedly limited American anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan has now become a spreading regional conflict.

Pakistan’s army just launched a major ground and air offensive against rebellious Pashtun tribes in wild South Waziristan which Islamabad claims is the epicenter of the growing insurgency against the US-backed government of Asif Ali Zardari.

It’s likely the rebellious Pashtun tribesmen will simply fade into the mountains, leaving the army stuck garrisoning major towns and trying to protect roads. A similar uprising in Kashmir has tied down 500,000 Indian soldiers and paramilitary police.

Washington, by contrast, is delighted. It has long been a key US goal to press Pakistan’s tough army into fighting both Pashtun rebels in Pakistan, and the Pashtun Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan has long hesitated doing so, loathe to wage war on its own tribal people. The US is paying most of the bills for the Waziristan offensive.



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