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Pakistan's tenuous gains on Taliban

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The United States has taken a dim view of Pakistan's propensity to negotiate rather than stick with a fight. It does not fit the American military's counterinsurgency mantra of "clear, hold, build," meaning: clear an area of the enemy, then hold it with security forces and truces to allow for reconstruction work.

Pakistan's military theory, called the "three Ds," reverses the order: dialogue, development, and deterrence.

"Instead of clearing the areas," the idea is to try for a negotiated settlement as "a very good starting point to then bring the militancy under control," says Rifaat Hussain, chairman of defense and strategic studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

So far so good in Bajaur, he suggests, so long as there's now a way to keep the Taliban out and bring development in.

Can tribes keep security gains?

The military plan for holding the gains is through a tribal security structure that has been used since British times. Under the system,bargains are struck with tribes to keep the military and police out of the territory in exchange for self-policing that relies on tribe-based posses called .

In recent years, the Taliban had disrupted this age-old security arrangement by targeting tribal elders who control these groups.. Now,the military hopes to revive it, accepting a pledge last month from tribal elders in Bajaur to keep the region clear and allow the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force, to backstop the effort.

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