Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Dept. Of Bitter Ironies, Pakistan Edition
You'll remember that one of the accusations Pervez Musharraf made against the Pakistani judiciary was that it interfered in the struggle against Islamic militants. Specifically, he claimed they had released militants who had gone on to engage in further attacks. Well, today the Pakistani army released 25 Islamic militants, in return for the release of 213 army personnel held captive by the militants in South Wajiristan.
It also appears that CentCom commander Adm. William Fallon's mission to Islamabad in the hours preceding the declaration of martial law included an offer of military assistance, in the form of US troops on the ground, to the Pakistani campaign against Islamic militants on the Afghan border. Musharraf rejected the offer due to the negative impact it would have on Pakistani public opinion.
Update: Via Noah Shachtman over at Danger Room comes this NY Times report that the prisoner exchange was part of a larger "peace agreement" between Pakistani forces and Baitullah Mehsud, a local militant leader. According to the Times, the Pakistani will withdraw from the area, turning patrolling duties over to Mehsud's militia. In other words, given the choice between outsourcing the job of containing Islamic militants to American soldiers or to Islamic militants, Musharraf chose the Islamic militants.