RealNews

Pakistan Enters Dangerous Liaisons in Search for Osama bin Laden

They skirmished with the British army until the last decades of the Raj, tying down more troops than the rest of the Indian subcontinent combined, winning a respect in the early writings of Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill as the “Wily Pathans” and “Unruly Tribes” who could never be fully subdued. Now, 55 years after the newly independent state of Pakistan took over the North-West Frontier from the British, its army is going where white men feared to tread, hoping to win over the feared Afridis, Waziris and other Pushtun border tribes with a “hearts and minds” operation involving new roads, health clinics and schools in return for help in tracking down wanted al-Qaeda and other terrorists. It’s a brave decision. The British army learned in three costly wars with Afghanistan between 1838 and 1919 to leave the frontier tribes to their own devices, keeping a measure of loose control through locally raised militias known as frontier scouts and a network of political agents. Pakistan kept the system, administering the region as seven largely-autonomous tribal “agencies” under direct federal authority, in which tribal law applies to anyone who dares to step more than a few metres off the Khyber Pass highway and other major road and rail link. Full Story

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