Pakistan’s militants to fight another day

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images Late last week and into the weekend, it seemed as if Taliban militants and other extremist groups had infiltrated the Pakistani city of Peshawar — a city of three million located at the mouth of the Khyber pass, a critical entry point into Afghanistan. Truckloads of bearded men with guns had been ...

594377_080630_pakistan5.jpg
594377_080630_pakistan5.jpg

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images

Late last week and into the weekend, it seemed as if Taliban militants and other extremist groups had infiltrated the Pakistani city of Peshawar -- a city of three million located at the mouth of the Khyber pass, a critical entry point into Afghanistan. Truckloads of bearded men with guns had been roaming the streets of Peshawar, kidnapping residents, ordering barbers not to shave men's beards, and threatening music and DVD shop owners.

But a strong offensive by the Pakistani security forces over the weekend seems to have cleared out the extremists -- for now. According to Pakistan's Daily Times, no government casualties were reported. Militants (not affiliated with the Taliban) were ordered to refrain from fighting the government. Nevertheless, Washington must be happy with Pakistan's aggresiveness in the tribal areas, as this is the first time that the new coalition government has opted for the military approach.

TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images

Late last week and into the weekend, it seemed as if Taliban militants and other extremist groups had infiltrated the Pakistani city of Peshawar — a city of three million located at the mouth of the Khyber pass, a critical entry point into Afghanistan. Truckloads of bearded men with guns had been roaming the streets of Peshawar, kidnapping residents, ordering barbers not to shave men’s beards, and threatening music and DVD shop owners.

But a strong offensive by the Pakistani security forces over the weekend seems to have cleared out the extremists — for now. According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, no government casualties were reported. Militants (not affiliated with the Taliban) were ordered to refrain from fighting the government. Nevertheless, Washington must be happy with Pakistan’s aggresiveness in the tribal areas, as this is the first time that the new coalition government has opted for the military approach.

In the grand scheme of things, this “battle” may mean little save its symbolic importance for both sides. The Pakistani government seems to be indicating it will take a more hard-line stance towards the Taliban and other groups, but militants continue to infiltrate key regional towns and cities at will — seen recently across the border in Kandahar — and al Qaeda is feeling quite at home in the tribal areas. Watch this space for updates.

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