Counter-Terrorism: Withdrawing The Invisible Welcome Mat

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July 27, 2009: The Pakistani government has officially declared that it will no longer tolerate any Taliban (Afghan or Pakistani) on its territory. Mullah Omar (the last Taliban ruler of Afghanistan) and his lieutenants were specifically named as no longer welcome. Pakistan has long (since 2002) denied that it provided sanctuary for the Taliban, especially Mullah Omar and his aides. But it was an open secret that Mullah Omar was alive and well and living in Pakistan. He still is, for the moment.

The favorite hangout for Taliban leaders has been Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan (the southwest Pakistani province that is home to the separatist minded Baluchi people, who are ethnic cousins of the Pushtuns.) Pakistan did not want to stir things up in Baluchistan, by trying to round up the Taliban leaders, because that's where one of Pakistan's few big exports, natural gas, is found. Mullah Omar, and the most senior Taliban brass, stayed out of sight in Quetta, but lower ranking ones operated openly for so long, journalists no longer considered it news. If the Pakistani police suddenly start rounding up known Taliban leaders in Baluchistan, that will be news. But that hasn't happened yet, only threats to maybe do so.

 

 

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