Policy Alternatives  

 Definition of the Problem

Map of Pakistan

 History of the Taliban
Policy Alternatives

Costs and Benefits 

 Policy Recommendation


Policy Alternative 1: The United States and Pakistan stop cooperating to fight the Taliban.
             A major reason that led to violence and ongoing attacks is Pakistan ’s cooperation with the United States to eliminate the Taliban
militants along the borders with Afghanistan. The Taliban leaders have made it clear that they are not attacking but rather defending themselves against the Pakistani military and Musharraf’s “ill-strategy.” The Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar was quoted as saying, “Our main aim is to target the US allies in Afghanistan but the government of Pakistan's ill-strategy has made us to launch a defensive Jihad in Pakistan" (). Accordingly, it is possible that the Taliban militants could end their attacks against Pakistani government officials and security forces if military cooperation between the United States and Pakistan comes to an end. The United States has provided Pakistan with more than $10 billion since 2001 to help fight the Taliban and terrorism in Pakistan. Musharraf, following the attacks of September 2001, pledged to fight the Taliban and support the  United States in its efforts to capture Osama Bin Laden; the United States, in its turn, provides Pakistan with $3 billion annually in economic and military aid to enhance Pakistan's capability to fight the Taliban militants and prevent their cross-border attacks against NATO troops (Hathaway). 
            Hence, a cessation of financial and military cooperation between Pakistan and the United States could lead to a termination of attacks against the Taliban militants as Pakistan will receive no funds from the United States to finance its military operations against the Taliban and will be worried about the consequences of attacking the Taliban without support from the United States. Also, without pressure from the international community, Pakistan will be less likely to fight the Taliban militants, who will subsequently find no viable reason for attacking the Pakistani government and are most likely to take advantage of an end to the fighting with the Pakistani army.

Policy Alternative 2: The United States should cooperate with the Pakistani government and establish a long-term and inclusive partnership with all political parties, ethnic groups, and religious and tribal leaders in Pakistan.
It is important that the United States relieves pressure on Pervez Musharraf and cooperates with his attempts to diversify Pakistan’s strategy to fight the Taliban in Pakistan. Melissa Dell argues that even if Pakistan might be harboring the Taliban militants, the United States should still try to establish a long-term alliance with Pakistan. It is necessary that the United States seeks a long-term alliance with Pakistan based on partnership with all political parties and influential decision-making institutions, such as the army, and sets a strategy agreed upon by all Pakistanis that could efficiently counter the Taliban in the long-run (Dell 111). Instead of a top-down strategy that revolves primarily around military force, there should be a bottom-up strategy based on direct negotiations with the tribal elders and religious leaders in Pakistan in order to establish common ground with all constituent elements of the country. 
             Besides, it is a must that the United States stays neutral towards the power conflict in Pakistan and refrains from favoring any presidential candidate. Supporting individuals, such as Musharraf, is not a productive policy; a controversial leader with an unpopular political will could never bring real change. Benazir Bhutto, despite her willingness to fight extremism and establish democracy in Pakistan, was unlikely to bring stability and security to Pakistan. Drawing on the tribal traditions in South and North Pakistan and many other areas, cooperation with a female president is, in principle, unacceptable. 

Policy Alternative 3: The  United States should temporarily cease any unilateral missile strikes against Taliban leaders in Pakistan.
            It is crucial to end all unilateral missile strikes such as that killed Nek Mohammad, the Taliban tribal leader in South Waziristan, to allow for negotiations and establish trust with the tribal and religious leaders. The U.S. missile attacks against the Taliban militants in Pakistan leave innocent victims and provoke resentment and anger among the neutral population that does not sympathize with the Taliban militants. Also, the U.S. missile strikes lead the neutral population to join the Taliban and cooperate with its militants; the Taliban, on the other hand, uses the U.S. missile strikes to recruit more militants and legitimize its attacks against the Pakistani government. For the Taliban, the easiest way to recruit militants and gain support from the local and nonaligned population and other tribal leaders is to draw people’s attention to an “outside enemy.” 
            It is compulsory that the U.S. and Pakistani governments work to modernize the educational system, mechanize agriculture. More schools, hospitals, and roads should be built to promote trade and connect rural areas with urban areas. With adequate infrastructure and access to quality education, Pakistan could develop skilled workers, who are able to perform high-level jobs and meet the requirements and qualification set by the international work market, and attract foreign direct investment. It is the lack of employment, despair, and adequate education that leaves people insecure and vulnerable to being recruited by Taliban and Al Qaeda. It seems that extreme poverty and deprivation of the basic needs of life render life no better than death and remind people that social injustice is a tacit persecution that they have to retaliate against its perpetuators. This is why there must be aid programs that provide loans and vocational training to help poor Pakistanis create small-scale businesses that generate additional income and lead to less independence on direct financial aid in the form of cash. Such development projects could revive and develop the intellectual and social consciousness of the local population and foster a peaceful expression of spirituality and devotion to religion in Pakistan. Also, it will be extremely difficult for the Taliban to operate in Pakistan and recruit suicide bombers and militants.

Policy Alternative 4: The United States should negotiate with the Taliban and cooperate with the Pakistani Army and its approach to fighting the Taliban militants.
The United States should not rule out negotiations with the Taliban and should recognize the historical ties between the Taliban and Pakistan, on the one hand, and the hostilities between Pakistan and India on the other hand. Taking into consideration the historical and natural bonds between the Taliban and Pakistan, Pakistan is unlikely to eradicate the militant groups operating in North-West Frontier Province because the Taliban militants aided Pakistan in its quasi-war with India over Kashmir. No matter how significant the financial and military assistance that Pakistan receives from the United States, Pakistan is unlikely to eliminate a former ally, the Taliban, with which it formed a “brotherly and strategic” alliance that is deeply rooted in history.   
The Pakistani government is aware that any heavy-handed policy revolving primarily around military force against the Taliban is likely to dismantle the country and perpetuate a permanent state of instability that could lead to a civil war. Therefore, the United States should not dismiss negotiations with the Taliban and should recognize that peace and stability, internationally or domestically, never materialize without concessions and compromises by all sides participating in the process. If the attitudes of the Taliban are to be changed, it is necessary to believe that such change is plausible. On the other hand, war with India and the dispute over Kashmir could explode at any time; Pakistan is aware of such security threats and avoids any military confrontation with internal militant groups, be it the Taliban or any other group, that is likely to weaken Pakistan’s military capabilities. Drawing on the historical tensions and hostilities between India and Pakistan and the many wars they fought against each another, Pakistan’s utmost priority is to be able to deter a surprise attack by Indian troops. Pakistan could never sacrifice building and empowering its military force for fighting the Taliban, with which "the brotherly ties" can enable both (the Pakistani government and the Taliban militants) to solve any problems. 

Pakistan and the United States carry out a large-scale military operation against the Taliban, using cruise missiles and cluster bombs.
Negotiations with the Taliban were proven unproductive. Pakistan has launched negotiations with several Taliban militant groups. The first series of such negotiations culminated in a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban’s top commander in Waziristan, Nek Mohammed, in 2004. The agreement quickly fell apart because the Taliban militants killed eight tribal elders who were trying to broker peace deals with the Pakistani government. Another series of negotiations took place in 2006 after Baituallah Mehsud had captured about three hundred Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani government struck a peace deal with the Taliban and released one hundred of the Taliban militants held in government custody, and the Taliban freed the captive soldiers in exchange. This peace agreement also fell apart after the Pakistani army attacked the pro-Taliban Red Mosque in Islamabad (Gregory).
            The failure of negotiations with the Taliban calls for a military alternative based on cooperation between Pakistani and U.S. troops, on the one hand, and the NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan on the other hand. Before launching any military operation against the Taliban, Pakistan, the United States, and NATO troops should carry out an in-depth study of the geography of the areas where the Taliban militants operate to locate their training camps and block supplies and movement out of and into the tribal areas in Waziristan and North-West Frontier Province. The U.S. and Pakistani troops should coordinate with NATO and Afghan troops to distribute flyers to all residents living in the areas controlled by the Taliban and ask them take cautionary measures or leave before the operation starts. Then, theg Pakistani and U.S. troops, in conjunction with Afghan and NATO troops, should carry out a massive air strike on all the Taliban suspected hideouts, training camps, and strategic sites in Waziristan and along the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Air strikes should last three weeks and be accompanied by a firm blockade to Waziristan and the North-West Frontier Province. The next step is to send eight thousand U.S. marines and twelve thousand Pakistani troops into Waziristan and  North-West Frontier Province to eliminate the Taliban militants. Meanwhile, at least eight thousand NATO troops and ten thousand Afghan troops should move into Waziristan and the NWFP from the Afghan side of the border to eliminate the Taliban militants trying to cross to Afghanistan. All troops should stay at least eight years in those areas and continue to launch air and attacks against the Taliban militants.

Dell, Melissa. “The   United States  should Treat Pakistan as an Ally against Terrorism.” Dudley, William, ed. Opposing Viewpoints: India and Pakistan.   Michigan: Greenhaven Press, 2003.
Gregory, Shaun. “The Role of the Military in the Cohesion and Stability of Pakistan.” Contemporary South    Asia 6.1 (2007): 39-61
Hathaway, Robert.Leverage and Largesse: Pakistan's Post-9/11 Partnership with America.” Contemporary South Asia 16.1 (2007): 11-24.