Pakistan launches massive assault against the Taliban

In case you missed this story on a quiet Saturday night, Pakistan has started a huge assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan threw more than 30,000 soldiers into a long-anticipated ground offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban strongholds along the Afghan border yesterday, following two weeks in which militants have killed more than 175 people across the country. Early reports suggested the advancing troops were meeting fierce resistance from Taliban fighters.

The United States has been pushing the government to carry out the assault in South Waziristan, which it must now attempt to complete before the onset of winter snows in early December.So far there is not much news coming out of the region other than the expected reports of initial minor causalities. I did find it somewhat telling the difference between U.S. and British coverage. The guardian UK article was short and factual, with a headline of:

Pakistan launches all-out assault on Taliban with an extra 30,000 troops

The LATimes has basically the same story but goes with the headline of:

Pakistan launches risky offensive into Taliban-Al Qaeda stronghold

The author seems focused on possible failure.

The challenges are daunting: The military will face unforgiving terrain along the Afghan border that has long been viewed as a possible hide-out for Osama bin Laden, as well as a battle-hardened enemy likely to respond by stepping up bloody attacks across the country. The government believes that more than 80% of the terrorism inflicted on Pakistan originates in the region.

Analysts foresee the potential for a countermove that relies on Punjabi militants to unleash a wave of terrorist strikes in the capital, Islamabad, and Punjab’s largest cities, Lahore and the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Analysts say the government has widespread support for the offensive among Pakistanis. However, ensuring support from the tribal groups that live in the Waziristan region will depend on the level of civilian damage inflicted by the offensive, as well as how thousands of Pashtun villagers fleeing Waziristan are treated as they seek refuge.

Amnesty International reported Friday that 90,000 to 150,000 South Waziristan Pakistanis had fled the region since July, when the military began bombarding Taliban hide-outs in the area.

Support for the war could also diminish if militants answer back with a new wave of terrorist strikes in Pakistan’s major cities, analysts say.Perhaps the LA Times article is just being more thorough, but I can’t help but notice it is also more pessimistic. The Guardian isn’t exactly known as a haven for the conservative voice so if you managed to push the “the war on terror cannot be won” meme stronger than they do that is quite the accomplishment.

I wonder if the Pakistani government consulted with John Kerry before starting the attack?

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