Pakistan Fires Key Architect of Swat Peace Deal - Zahid Hussain and Matthew Rosenberg, Wall Street Journal. Pakistan's government fired an official who played a key role in crafting a peace deal that has given the Taliban control of the Swat Valley as militants partially pulled backed from a neighboring area they occupied this past week. The Taliban retreat from the Buner district back to their camps in Swat headed off what some feared was an imminent clash with the military. But government and Taliban officials said "local" Taliban were still in Buner, just 60 miles from Islamabad. The situation remained volatile and a growing number of Pakistani officials, foreign diplomats and analysts are saying it is only a matter of time before the Swat peace deal collapses.
In Pakistan, Guile Helps Taliban Gain - Jane Perlez and Zubair Shah, New York Times. Initially, Buner was a hard place for the Taliban to crack. When they attacked a police station in the valley district last year, the resistance was fearless. Local people picked up rifles, pistols and daggers, hunted down the militants and killed six of them. But it was not to last. In short order this past week the Taliban captured Buner, a strategically vital district just 60 miles northwest of the capital, Islamabad. The militants flooded in by the hundreds, startling Pakistani and American officials with the speed of their advance.
‘Stop the Taliban Now, Or We Will’ - Christina Lamb and Daud Khattak, The Times. America made clear last week that it would attack Taliban forces in their Swat valley stronghold unless the Pakistan government stopped the militants’ advance towards Islamabad.
Pakistan Troops Stare Down Taliban - Amanda Hodge, The Australian. Taliban militants began retreating last night from towns less than 100km from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, after the Government despatched hundreds of troops to face down the extremists. The weak civilian Government finally acted to stem the march of the Islamic insurgents, three days after hundreds of militants seized control of fresh territory in the North Western Frontier Province. The move came as the US warned Pakistan that its relationship with the nuclear-armed nation depended on the Government's ability to stem the Taliban insurgency.
Taliban Retains Grip on Pakistan District - Zulfiqar Ali and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times. Although recent headlines suggest that the Taliban has left Buner district, only 60 miles from the Pakistani capital, the facts Saturday told another story. Throughout the day, militants in black turbans with cloths over their faces could be seen brandishing automatic weapons in vehicles around the bazaars and on the main roads. Their stereos blared religious songs, and their presence was particularly evident at strategic locations such as key intersections.
Taliban Troops Make Tactical Retreat from Buner District - Saeed Shah, Daily Telegraph. Taliban fighters in Pakistan have begun a tactical retreat from a district just 60 miles from the capital Islamabad following an international outcry over their growing grip on parts of the country. The withdrawal followed an accusation from Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, that the Pakistani government was "abdicating to the Taliban".
Pakistan Warns Taliban to Fully Withdraw - Raza Khan, Washington Times. Pakistani Taliban officials said Saturday they have completely pulled out of a district 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad, but local officials said some armed militants were still holding their positions, forcing the military to warn that they could be expelled by force.
5 Killed in Afghan Governor's Compound - Associated Press. Three suicide bombers penetrated the governor's compound in Afghanistan's largest southern city Saturday, killing at least five police officers in the latest multi-pronged attack in the Taliban's spiritual birthplace. The three bombers were able to get past an initial security checkpoint in the governor's compound, and one bomber exploded himself at a second checkpoint, said Ahmad Wali Karzai, the president's brother and the head of Kandahar's provincial council.
Our Military Humiliation in Afghanistan is a Scandal and the Cover-up is an Even Greater One - Christopher Booker, Daily Telegraph opinion. One of the best kept secrets of our recent politics, thanks to the news management of the Ministry of Defence, was how our occupation of southern Iraq turned into one of the greatest humiliations in the history of the British Army. In the end, after our hopelessly ill-equipped and undermanned contingent had been forced to abandon to the insurgents the two main cities of the region, Basra and Al Amarah, the Americans and Iraqis had to intervene to take them back. Last Christmas, having failed in our mission, we were contemptuously ordered to leave his country by the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Now, it seems, the MoD is managing to hide the fact that something remarkably similar is happening in Afghanistan.
Sound the Alarm - Washington Post editorial. The Taliban raised fears in Pakistan last week by briefly seizing new territories near the capital, Islamabad. But in its own way, the Obama administration offered as much reason for panic about the deteriorating situation in that nuclear-armed Muslim country. In the course of just three days, the US secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the commanding general of American forces in the Middle East all publicly warned, in blunt and dire language, that Pakistan was facing an existential threat - and that its government and Army were not facing it. "I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.