A Turning Point in Pakistan?

Last week, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a mosque during prayer time in the Dir district of Pakistan and killed more than 30 people.  Since then, more than 1000 villagers in the area have taken up arms against the the militant group and are seeking to drive them out of their territory.

Historically, the Taliban have been tolerated and sometimes even supported by Pakistanis in rural areas, but the mosque bombing could be a turning point in the ongoing conflict if it inspires large numbers of locals to fight the Taliban and not allow them to have a safe haven.  Those combating the militants would like support from the Pakistani military, which is carrying out a major military offensive in the Swat Valley where insurgents have taken root, but they are also wary of the army because it often uses heavy-handed tactics more suited for conventional warfare than counterinsurgency operations.  It remains to be seen how effective the army’s efforts will be.  Having more citizens actively assisting the security forces is a necessary ingredient for success in the long term, and to gain and maintain that assistance the army needs to embrace the use of more targeted strikes against its enemies in populated areas.

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