Pakistani Ambassador: The Swat Valley Will Be ‘Cleared’ of ‘Extremists’

By Spencer Ackerman 4/10/09 11:32 AM

Something that didn’t really fit into my piece this morning about Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani’s presentation yesterday with his Afghan counterpart, Said Jawad: Haqqani disputed that there’s any presidential support for the peace deal negotiated with the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley, which essentially left them in control of Swat two months ago. But as you’ll see, his full quote contains multitudes:

Pakistan has not done a peace deal with the Taliban in Swat Valley. Period. Pakistan has negotiated an arrangement, locally, with the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammedi of Swat. The president of Pakistan has not signed the agreement and not approved the agreement yet because he’s waiting for the TNSM to fulfill its end of the bargain, which was, essentially, to make sure that the Taliban — whose leader happens to be his son-in-law — they do not continue to use force. Since that has not happened, the agreement has not been enforced.

Here’s what I mean when I say that the shorthand about Pakistan is based on an assumption that Pakistan is unable to change. Pakistanis went to the polls on February 18, 2008. They elected a leadership that ran on the platform saying that fighting terrorism is our first priority. They elected the party of someone who was killed by terrorists for standing up against terrorism. So the people of Pakistan, quite clearly, have a preference for fighting terrorism. Does Pakistan have a complex situation, political and power equation? Absolutely. But at the same time I think we need to make distinctions and we need to understand how the various shades of grey operate in Pakistan. That said, we will make sure that the Swat Valley is cleared of the extremist Taliban and the violent extremists that have been operating there. There have been many reasons for us to respond. Recently there was a video shown on Pakistani television and it really galvanized the nation into recognizing that the Pakistani nation does not want to tolerate people that do not respect basic human rights.

There are military difficulties in different parts of Pakistan, and different parts of the Pakistani tribal areas, as well as in Swat, which we will be able to deal with much better when the capacity of our military is built to
the level where we can be an effective counterinsurgency force.

There’s a lot there. First, the Pakistani component to the Obama administration’s Af-Pak strategy is partially predicated on bolstering Pakistani counterinsurgency capability, and there’s a whole new fund established for it. Second, pledging to “clear” the Swat Valley of extremists has to sound like an encouraging sign to the administration. Third, as Bill Roggio notes, another interesting development is that the leader of the extremist TNSM, Sufi Mohammed, is blaming Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for the peace deal collapsing precisely because Zardari didn’t sign on to it. Haqqani is indicating that the Pakistani military needs a bolstered counterinsurgency capability before it goes back into Swat; we’ll see what happens when it gets some U.S. assistance in that regard