World View: Pakistan Plans Large-Scale Military Attack on Taliban

This morning's key headlines from

  • Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban
  • Pakistan protesters end their blockade of the NATO supply route
  • Russian fighter jets patrolling the Ukraine border
  • Large pension company will leave an independent Scotland for UK

Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban

In a major policy reversal, the government of Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif is planning to launch a full-scale military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP). The attack will be focused in the Taliban strongholds in the tribal area that borders Afghanistan.

This is a reversal of a bizarre policy of trying to end terrorist attacks by "negotiating" and "peace talks" with the TTP. When Sharif was elected as prime minister in May of last year, he said that he would fulfill campaign promises by opening negotiations. But as soon as the peace talks were proposed, the TTP immediately started to impose conditions: TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be withdrawn from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the country. Furthermore, the TTP promised that they would continue terrorist attacks while the "peace talks" were proceeding. Finally, Sharif is tired of allowing the TTP to humiliate him over and over.

There's been no official announcement of when the military operation will begin, but an unnamed Pakistani official says that Pakistan already has 150,000 troops in the tribal region ready to "begin a full-fledged clearing operation." 

Pakistan's new policy is focused on restricting attacks within its borders. That means that militants who use Pakistan for a staging base to attack U.S. and Afghan forces in neighboring Afghanistan will still be allowed to operate, as long as they observe a cease-fire in Pakistan. The News (Pakistan) and McClatchy and Dawn (Pakistan)

Pakistan protesters end their blockade of the NATO supply route

The Movement for Justice party, which governs Pakistan's northwest province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) announced on Thursday that it was ending its blockade of the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan. This route was heavily used by NATO forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and NATO bases in Afghanistan. NATO was still able to use other, less convenient routes, but reopening this route solves a major headache for NATO as it tries to move equipment out in anticipation of the end of NATO's military actions in Afghanistan. 

The blockade was announced in November by the party's leader, Imran Khan, who is a former cricket superstar who has turned into a very anti-American politician. He claimed that the terrorist attacks in Pakistan were caused by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists, and he announced that the blockade would continue until the American drone strikes ended. The American drone strikes did end in December, at least for the time being, and that was given as a reason on Thursday for ending the blockade. 

This is a significant change of policy, because it's the end of the "hope and change" fantasies that were fostered by both Sharif and Khan in telling the Pakistani people that America was to blame for the Taliban's terrorist attacks in Pakistan. That was always pretty obvious anyway, since the vast majority of the attacks were on Shias and Sufis, whose extermination was completely unrelated to either American drone strikes or NATO's activities in Afghanistan. 

The change is significant also for the reason that it could lead to a conflict that could spiral into a larger war within Pakistan, which could then spiral into a wider war in the region. The bloodiest refugee crisis in the 20th century was the war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India. Generational Dynamics predicts that the partition war will be re-fought. It's now been over 60 years since that war ended, and all the generations of survivors of that war are gone. The time is ripe, and a new war could begin at any time. Daily Times (Pakistan) and AP and SATP (India)

Russian fighter jets patrolling the Ukraine border

A day after it was revealed that 150,000 Russian troops were massed on the border with Ukraine, Russian fighter jets began patrolling the border. Concerns are rising that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is about to begin, possibly with the objective of annexing Crimea to Russia, in the same way that Russia annexed two provinces of Georgia by means of an invasion in 2008. 

However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allayed all those concerns on Thursday by announcing that he had just spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who assured him that large-scale Russian military exercises near the Ukrainian border were previously scheduled and not connected in any way to the unrest in Ukraine. Voice of America

Large pension company will leave an independent Scotland for UK

With a referendum scheduled for September 18 for Scotland to decide whether it wants to separate from Britain and become an independent country, a large pension firm that employs 5,000 people in Scotland out of a total head count of 8,500 says that it's already making preparations to move some of its operations out of Scotland if the vote on the referendum is "yes." The company, Standard Life, is based in Edinburgh and has been based in Scotland for 189 years, so the loss would be significant. The announcement strikes a symbol blow against the referendum, which polls already indicate will be voted "no" in September. BBC

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Taliban, TTP, Pakistan Taliban, Movement for Justice party, Imran Khan, Partition, Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov, Scotland, Standard Life, Britain 

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