By the sword
Bill Roggio has a fascinating post entitled The Rise of Talibanstan, which illustrates the truism that states which use terrorist organizations as proxies eventually wind up destabilizing themselves.
The Taliban and al-Qaeda provided an embarrassing scene for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as President George Bush visited the country last week. Eager to demonstrate Pakistan’s commitment to fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda ... the Pakistani military launched an offensive against a terrorist camp in Danda Saidgai, North Waziristan. The Islamists responded by murdering a U.S. diplomat in a suicide strike outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, as well as launching a counteroffensive against the seat of government in Miranshah, North Waziristan.
Despite the Pakistani military’s boasting about retaking the city and inflicting high casualty rates on Taliban forces, the military essentially lost control of Miranshah. The Taliban is openly is flaunting power in Waziristan, and boldly amassed hundreds of fighters to strike at one of the few government strongholds in the region.
The resurgence of the Taliban is often credited to their resilience in Afghanistan, however the truth is the Taliban is not very popular within Afghanistan proper. The Taliban’s power is derived from Pakistan, as it always has since its inception in the early 1990s. The fighting in Afghanistan is largely being fueled in Pakistan’s lawless border region, and Pakistan has proven unable to establish government control five years after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Daniel Byman, in his book Deadly Connections : States that Sponsor Terrorism, noted that state sponsors have always been aware of the danger of biteback. For example, Syria consciously strove to limit the power and influence of each of its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Palestine, sometimes setting one against the other in order to prevent any single one from becoming a threat to Damascus. But for Pakistan, the temptation to extend it's influence westward grew too great; it nurtured the Taliban as its chosen instrument without anticipating the danger to itself. Excerpts are from Byman's book from page 195 onwards.
The extent of Pakistan's role in the Taliban's creation and initial successes remains unclear, but as the movement gained strength it increasingly became Islamabad's favored paoxy. Pakistan's military and intelligence service provided arms, ammunition, supplies for combat, financial aid, and training. Pakistan also helped recruit fighters for the Taliban, often working with domestic religious associations. ...
Support for the Taliban went far beyond official government circles and included major political parties, religious networks, and many ordinary Pakistanis. ... Larry Goodson estimates that Pakistanis comprised one quarter of the Taliban's forces ... The JUI (Jamiat-e Ulema Islam) ... established religious schools that gave birth to and natured the Taliban and shaped its ideology. Parties like the JUI did not distinguish between Kashmir, Pakistan, and Afghanistan when pursuing their ambitions. Over time, these parties and privately run schools provided much of the manpower for the Taliban ... the "madrasa network" ... set "thousands" of recruits ...
The Taliban also weakened the Pakistani state ... encouraged both Pashtun nationalism and Islamic extremism in Pakistan itself, further fraying an already weak social fabric.
The Taliban's eviction from Afghanistan in 2003 had the effect of turning the Taliban's aggressive ferocity back on Pakistan itself. Although the war on terror is often described with the United States and its allies on one side there is in fact intense and armed competition for supremacy within the "terrorist" side. For example, Fatah and Hamas are contending for supremcy within the Palestinian Authority; and various factions both Shi'ite and Sunni are at each other's throats in Iraq. Wars normally end in a new legitimacy codified in peace treaties and constitutional arrangements. But terrorism, however perfect it may be as an instrument of war is the worst possible vehicle upon which to construct a peace. Countries which use terrorism as a primary weapon will be trapped in it.