Just when Pakistan was beginning to get serious about its counterinsurgency efforts against the domestic Taliban in Swat and FATA, the German national security council put the kibosh on a previously approved Pakistani purchase of three German submarines. The Germans cited concerns about the stability of the Pakistani government, while ignoring the submarines’ central role in fighting off the Taliban threat. . . . Oh, wait. Maybe the subs weren’t meant for the Taliban, after all. Hmmm. I wonder who they were meant for?
Seriously, Pakistani strategic calculations have not changed, and quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with them. India poses a much greater potential threat than the Taliban, even if the Taliban pose a more persistent nuisance.
The heavy-handed operations in Swat seem custom-made to drive militants over the border to Afghanistan, not to hole them up in Pakistan. Even putting the number of militants at the high end, that means about 10,000 fighters intermingled with between 500,000 and 1 million refugees. Something tells me they didn’t find it too difficult getting out of the hot zone.
This will essentially escalate the fighting in Afghanistan, which, according to John McCreary (a welcome corrective to the breathless doomsday scenarios) is already beginning to register. I’m beginning to wonder if the worst thing that could wind up happening for President Barack Obama is not that he doesn’t get what he wants in Afghanistan-Pakistan, but that he does and it doesn’t necessarily improve things.