Most sources in today's Western press focused their coverage more heavily on an incident that occurred yesterday - when Islamist militants attacked and seized a small Pakistani army fort near the Afghan border. According to the LA Times, "Although the fighters did not gain significant ground in the attack Tuesday night on Sararogha Fort, they did further erode confidence in the U.S.-allied government's ability to control the frontier area where the Taliban and Al Qaeda flourish." The news agency cited Talat Masood, a retired general who is now a political analyst, who said Wednesday, "The militants are now challenging the army openly. They have become very bold and are consolidating their positions." The NY Times reported that Tehreek-i-Taliban, "an Islamic group that is sympathetic to the Taliban," said that it had carried out the attack and had killed 16 soldiers and captured 24. The newspaper added, "Militant groups operating in the tribal region formed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan the Taliban Movement of Pakistan last month, to coordinate their activities and wage a joint struggle against Pakistani forces."
An article in Pakistan's Daily Times newspaper reported today that Pakistan is "taking a more welcoming view of U.S. suggestions for using American troops to train and advise its own forces in the fight against anti-government extremists." The news agency cited U.S. commander of U.S. Central Command Adm. William Fallon who said Wednesday that "he believes increased violence inside Pakistan in recent months had led the country’s leaders to conclude that they must focus more intensively on Qaeda hideouts near Afghan border." Fallon said expanded U.S. military assistance to Pakistan would include a U.S. training program for tribal groups in the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas).
Fallon's statements yesterday are extremely significant given the same tribal model that is currently being applied to Iraq. The organizations, known as the Awakening Councils (or interchangeably in some provinces as the Concerned Local Citizen Groups), has turned predominately Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda in Iraq, and has subsequently been hailed as a success. The question, however, is could such a model be applied to Pakistan? Are there inherent differences in Pakistani tribal culture that may not allow such an approach to take root?