Military analysts often stress how much Pakistan is doing already. The Army is overstretched patrolling the eastern border against archrival India and battling the Pakistani Taliban in the west, they say, and cannot open another front.
Since October, some 30,000 troops have cleared the Pakistani Taliban’s stronghold of South Waziristan and are now chasing the many militants who fled to nearby tribal areas – an effort that could take several months.
• Haqqani network
But after that, some analysts say the Army may turn its attention to the Haqqani network, moving carefully to avoid provoking the tribes in North Waziristan.
The alternative – to wait around for the US to leave Afghanistan and let the Afghan Taliban take over and remain a controllable asset – is “a little naive,” says Imtiaz Gul, head of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. He, Mr. Hussain, and other analysts believe the Army is not betting on that scenario.
“There’s no way around” acting against these factions, Mr. Gul continues. “It’s because of these groups there’s so much pressure on Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, the military is developing human intelligence in the tribal area that is critical for US airstrikes like the one that killed three people Friday – a tough undertaking in a place where “everybody knows everybody” and collaborators are actively hunted, Gul adds.
The Army can also use its high-level contacts within the Haqqani group to coax it to negotiate with the US about joining a powersharing government in Kabul that the US hopes can help stabilize Afghanistan.