It was one of the biggest risks that Obama had taken since his arrival at Oval office and if the latest reports are to be believed, it appears to have paid off. In February, 2009 Pakistan’s Government announced a peace treaty with Taliban and imposed Sharia Law in Swat Valley. While, the rest of the world feared that such peace treaty would have dire consequences to common people in Pakistan as well to the rest of the world, there was one man who was thinking otherwise. Barack Obama, instead of opposing the peace treaty, welcomed it. As we shall see, this was the biggest political gamble that a President of America could have taken.
As expected by all, the so called ‘peace treaty’ allowed Taliban to come out in open to propagate their agendas. The agenda was simple, be under the constant fear of death and follow as they say, whether it is Islamic or un-Islamic. By the end of April 2009, demographics of the Swat Valley had changed. Taliban was threatening to take over Islamabad and the Nuclear Weapons of Pakistan. The offences done by Taliban to common people were all over media. For once, the citizens of Pakistan started realizing that Taliban isn’t what they expected it to be. The negative opinion about Taliban gained momentum and people wanted the Pakistan’s Government to react.
Prior to peace treaty between Taliban and Pakistan’s Government, the Oval office was running out of ideas in combating Taliban. Though an ally, Islamabad was never too sure in going head to head with Taliban. Taliban had huge influence over local tribes in Pakistan and the common people shared positive sentiments about Taliban, resulting in a deadlock between Pakistan and US in combating policies against Taliban. When Obama took over Oval office, he had to do something to break the deadlock. It was a daring move which could have easily backfired. Allowing Pakistan, an ally of US, to do a peace treaty with Taliban had suicidal consequences, but at the same time it offered a game plan for US. The game plan was simple and it was based on the assumption that Taliban won’t be satisfied with just Swat valley. Let Taliban take over streets of Swat, let Taliban spread the fear among local tribes, let Taliban spread its control beyond Swat valley and let Taliban threaten to take over Islamabad. All this will only result in bringing the Pakistan’s Government to their knees to fight against Taliban with the support of US. And that’s exactly what happened.
In early, May 2009, Pakistan’s Military with the support of US government went into combat with Taliban fighters in Swat Valley. Over two hundred thousand people fled the war zone, resulting in a huge humanitarian crisis. By June 2009, about two hundred Taliban’s fighters were killed and the Swat Valley was brought back under Pakistan’s Military control. While the US shared their intelligence with Pakistan’s Army in regaining Swat valley, it also helped Pentagon to get vital information from Pakistan Intelligence agencies on whereabouts of prominent leaders of Taliban.
On 7th August 2009, Biatullah Mehsud, the leader of Taliban operations in Pakistan, was believed to be killed in CIA Missile strikes.
(Submitted to International Herald Tribune as Op-Ed article on 7th August 2009)