It is really difficult to judge that how much more powerful Al-Qaeda is, since it is more of a background to the whole game in the area. I don’t deny their presence, but I deny public support for them, and they cannot come in front.
Most of Al-Qaeda members are from Arab countries and Punjab (the eastern province bordering with India), as after 9/11 most of the Al-Qaeda leaders were arrested from the big cities of Punjab, and may be a very less number of Pashtoons from both side of Durandline (the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan).
The Taliban have kept themselves separate successfully from Al-Qaeda, as being in Al-Qaeda they will have lost their identity. It is said and some cases confirmed, that Pakistani security agencies have a soft corner for Taliban but in no way for Al-Qaeda. Pakistan has been blamed by Afghanistan and USA for their hidden support for Taliban; even to the extent that Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omer is in safe custody of Pakistan army in the South western city of Quetta near Pak-Afghan border.
Mr Obama considers (he is right) the FATA as a safe haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda. He even did not believe Pakistan in this regard. He is keeping continuous the notorious drone attack of former president Bush, on Taliban and Al-Qaeda sanctuaries. Many People consider these drone attacks, as violation of international laws of state sovereignty of Pakistan. Pakistans past and present government received and is receiving severe criticism from opposition political parties and civil society. In some cases drone attacks has crossed the FATA borders towards North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan and some analyst consider it a sever threat for the country. It is really difficult to analyse that for how long drones will be able to keep up their attacks, due to public pressure. It was Richard Boucher, who announced in September 2008 in a press conference sitting in Islamabad, while answering a question that he will never consider what the Pakistani public think; he will consider only USA interest. His statement was very much criticised but might is right. I would like to clarify here that after 20th January 2009, drones have changed their targets according to Pakistan wishes, as they hit the training camps and hideouts of the Taliban groups who are against Pakistan.
Obama should be very careful if he starts talking to moderate Taliban. How he will know who is moderate and who is hardliner? Taliban are changing their policy also accordingly. Just after Obama recommended deployment of 17,000 more troops in Afghanistan, Taliban also lined up themselves. According to some reports The Chief of Taliban, Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, sent his special envoy Mr Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of very prominent Afghan Taliban Commander, Mr Jalaluddin Haqqani (Mr Haqqani remained anti-soviet Mujahid (Fighter), and now has a strong influence in Afghanistan and also on Taliban leaders in Pakistan. I will remind here that his religious school in North Waziristan of FATA, Pakistan, was hit by US drone few months ago, but he escaped the attack) to three Taliban commanders in North and South Waziristan to bring their differences to an end. Two of these Taliban commanders Mr Mullah Nazir of South Waziristan and Mr Hafiz Gul Bahadar of North Waziristan were strong ally of Pakistani security agencies and they helped security agencies in throwing out Uzbek Taliban from the area. Baitullah Mehsud, the Chief of Taliban Pakistan give protection to the Uzbek Taliban, and they have had very strong differences on the issue.
Now they have resolved all their issues and they have expression that they will be together, against Pakistan and also they will send their fighters when needed to Afghanistan against ISAF troops. It is very much alarming for ISAF as at the start of spring and then summer, they can increase their attacks to the maximum.
On the other hand, after announcement for dialogue with moderate Taliban, some Taliban leaders have thrown down their weapons to be in better position for dialogue. The best example is in the northern tribal agency of Bajaur (FATA, Pakistan). The vice Chief of Taliban in Pakistan, Mr Mullah Faqeer Muhammad, laid down his arms. Pakistan army is giving a pose that they defeated the Taliban there, but facts are against their claim. There are strong proofs, that before announcing the victory against Taliban, the political agent (Political agent is an official responsible for their respective tribal agency) of Bajaur have had direct meeting with Mr Faqeer Muhammad and requested a restoration of peace in the agency.
These back door dialogues and agreements are very dangerous for the future of the region. The Obama administration should check the dialogue process very strictly. I am always in favour of dialogue but it should be very open and the public should know the reality as the final victims are masses. I strongly support the peace process in Swat (where Islamic Shariah rules are implemented) because the dialogue was open and public knows and public is the guarantor. It is due to the public pressure why the Taliban are respecting the peace agreement there.
If the Obama administration wants to repeat the process as he announced, he should do also with radical Taliban, but this dialogue should be done through moderate Taliban. If Taliban gives one guarantee in Afghanistan and FATA, that they will destroy sanctuaries and hideouts of Al-Qaeda in the region, it will be a great success. The remaining issue can be solved with the time as presence of Al-Qaeda in the region will be a threat for the region and the world.
If any one agrees to talk on this point with Obama’s administration, it should be done. Enemies should be decreased and the original enemy should be sidelined. With hopes for the everlasting peace.