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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Maloo Innocent: What Obama Should Do in Pakistan

...and most important, reason to be circumspect about escalating military force in the tribal areas is that it will almost certainly fail. The clans, subclans, and extended families that weave the complex fabric of Pashtun tribal society have endured hundreds of years of foreign invasions. Time and again, Persian, Greek, Turk, Mughal, British and Soviet invaders have discovered these peoples to be virtually unconquerable. Pashtun social values include loyalty (wafa), honor (nang), and badal, the Pashto word for taking revenge. Vendettas, personal and collective, have been known to last for generations. While U.S. missile strikes can certainly extinguish high-value targets, they also trigger collective armed action throughout the tribal agencies.

Obama's national security team must understand that the struggle for FATA would best be waged by bolstering Islamabad's ability to compete with militants for political authority in FATA. If his administration simply increases attacks from pilotless drones, it will only push more wavering tribes further into the Taliban camp.


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