The semi-official US think tank, the Rand Corporation, claims that the Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and paramilitary force, Frontier Corps, not only failed to root out Afghan insurgents but "in some cases, individuals from these Pakistani organizations have provided direct assistance to such groups as the Taliban network."-
At the same time, a Rand Corp official alleged: "Right now, the Taliban and other groups are getting help from individuals within Pakistan's government, and until that ends, the region's long-term security is in jeopardy."-
Tellingly, in recent weeks, top US generals in Afghanistan also leveled similar allegations against Pakistan and a congressional delegation that visited Islamabad last month urged the US government to suspend its assistance to the Frontier Corps because of its alleged involvement with the Taliban.
Not surprisingly, the release of the US Defense Department funded Rand Corporation study - Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan "" coincides with a fresh massive US air strike in Pakistan's tribal region killing 27 people including 13 paramilitary soldiers.
This was the second US strike on targets in Pakistan's tribal territories in less than one month. On May 14, a US drone killed 12 civilians when it attacked a village in Bajore Agency. Consequently, Pakistan's alliance with the United States in the so-called "war on terrorism"- came under severe criticism in Pakistan's National Assembly last week during a debate on the May 14 US missile strike.
The latest incident has again heightened tensions between the US and Pakistan where it is being seen as an example of US aggressive tactics to pressurize Islamabad to abandon its current peace negotiations with the militants.
There are hardly two opinions that Pakistan is confronted by extremism, which it needs to address effectively. Pakistan did try to follow military approach, except for a brief resort to peace deals with the militants and lost more soldiers fighting in the tribal areas than the combined losses of the US and Nato forces fighting Talliban militants in the main theatre in Afghanistan. (Pakistan has deployed around 100,000 troops along Pak-Afghan border and suffered about 1,000 casualties while US and Nato forces stand at approximately 77,000.)
Yet the use of force did not help; instead, the Pakistani militants brought the fight right into cities, killing countless innocent people in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and some other smaller cities. The newly elected government has now decided to lay more emphasis on the other option and hold negotiations with the militants who are willing to lay down their arms. The government is convinced that the use of force over the past several years has failed to contain the tide of militancy and will not do so in the future. The new Pakistani government has been negotiating with Pashtun tribal elders to persuade militants in their areas to give up a campaign of violence.
On May 21, the NWFP (provincial) government signed a peace deal with the rebels in Swat where a bloody army operation was under way since November 2007. The Swat valley has witnessed a significant amount of calm and normalcy since the NWFP government signed the accord. The militants agreed to submit to the writ of state and end all subversive activities.
Another peace deal with Mehsud tribes was underway under which Pakistan army was to withdraw from the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan after Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud frees the remaining captured army and paramilitary soldiers. However, the peace deal was stalled after intensive pressure from US which is seeking the arrest of Baitullah Mehsud and resumption of military operations against the militants.
The latest US attack with 4,500-pound precision-guided bombs, apparently aimed at forestalling further peace deals, will only inflame passions among the masses in Pakistan who see the American military presence in the region a far greater threat to their country than Al Qaeda.
A comment by a prominent newspaper of Peshawar, Khabroona, perhaps best reflects the sentiments of Pakistanis: "These types of attacks actually instill hatred in the people against the US government, and consequently, more and more people are attracted to the jihadist ideology. After the tragedy of Sept 11, hundreds of people in Afghanistan were killed by the American attacks. Not only this, the American forces continued with the cycle of death and destruction and started another war in Iraq. Now, it is Fata's turn. Thousands of people in these regions have lost their lives since the US started attacking these regions. The trail of death and destruction continues. It is high time that people in the tribal regions united against the adverse conditions that they find themselves in and blocked the way to more death and destruction by the Americans."-