January 19, 2012: Last month, the Pakistan Army attempted to negotiate a truce with the Pakistani Taliban and found several of the larger factions willing to go along. But there were too many Taliban factions with too many different goals for such a plan to succeed. That was made pretty clear on January 5th when fifteen Pakistani soldiers were captured, and then killed, by one Taliban faction. It was later announced that this was done as revenge for the killing of a Taliban leader by Pakistani troops on January 1st. There are many other Taliban factions on bad terms with Pakistani troops.
The Pakistani Army hoped that the Taliban would be amenable to a deal that would allow the Islamic radicals to cross the border (without being hassled on the Pakistan side) to fight foreign troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban would also halt all terror bombings in Pakistan and the army would give the Taliban free passage to go where they pleased. But some Taliban factions still wanted to take control of tribal, and eventually lowland, areas and establish a religious dictatorship. Several Taliban groups are still fighting for that in Pakistan and they will not stop. The army blames hundreds of foreign Islamic radicals, who are generally unpopular, but who heavily influence some of the more radical and persistently violent Pakistani Islamic terror groups.
Aggressive army operations against the Pakistani Taliban in the last few years has reduced, but not eliminated, Islamic terrorism in the tribal territories (an area along the Afghan border containing 3.3 million people and most of the pro-Taliban tribesmen). Some terror attacks are made in the more populous, non-tribal, lowland areas of Pakistan, but most of it remains up in the mountains. Last year there were 3,034 terrorism related deaths in Pakistan, a 40 percent drop from 2010. But the inability of the army to shut down the Islamic terrorists completely is a great embarrassment. Apparently the embarrassment will continue.