Will Iraq playbook work in Pakistan?
One tribal leader vows to raise a force of 600 to help fight an Al Qaeda-linked tribe in Waziristan.
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"[The Federally Administered Tribal Areas – FATA] continues to be of grave concern to us, both in the near term and in the long term," Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing last Friday. "It's having a significant impact, not just in Afghanistan.... There are concerns now about how much they've turned inwards, literally, inside Pakistan."Skip to next paragraph
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Some US officials say that the problem is bad enough that it could warrant inserting Special Forces on the ground in Pakistan's tribal belt. That move remains controversial for the operational risk it poses to American troops and because of the possible diplomatic fallout. President Pervez Musharraf has resisted even the suggestion of such a plan, saying the US military would "regret" any such insertion.
Other plans have called for more direct US support of tribal factions against Al Qaeda.
Even Nazir is an unlikely ally. Young and battle-hardened, he endorses the same radical Islamist ideology as the militants he's promised to fight, and has pledged his allegiance to Mullah Omar, the Taliban's founding spiritual leader.
But Nazir is also violently opposed to Mehsud, who hails from a rival clan, the Mehsuds. The two men parted ways last year when Nazir forcefully evicted hundreds of Uzbek militants under Mehsud's command. While Mehsud openly favors Uzbek militants, the Ahmadzai Wazir's – Nazir's tribe – have seen the foreign militants as a scourge that has brought unwanted bloodshed to Waziristan.
The new Nazir militia, promised to number 600, is expected to be more defensive than offensive, analysts say, protecting areas outside Wana from Mehsud's forces. Mr. Yusufzai says the new deal is a sign of how desperate the military has become: "[Nazir] wants Taliban-style rule. [Giving him money and arms] "will destabilize the whole area.."
Others counter that the security situation in FATA demands a new approach. "This is the situation, that we have to deal with the lesser of two evils," says Brig. (ret.) Mahmood Shad, the former secretary of security for FATA. "As compared to Baitullah Mehsud, [Nazir] can be considered [the] lesser evil."