Pakistan's military has responded to Taliban attacks with air strikes in the tribal belt near the Afghan border. But it lacks a comprehensive strategy for combating the militant group.
Testing the assumptions behind the headlines
Not so fast. Monday’s bombing raids came as a surprise because the government has not ordered strikes in North Waziristan since it signed a peace accord with a Taliban faction led by a local commander from the area.
But the latest attack doesn’t signal a full strategy shift just yet. Pakistan's government has denied that it is a full-fledged military operation. Moreover the government has long been unable to reach a consensus on the best way to deal with the Pakistan Taliban because of noisy opposition from mainstream parties and Islamist groups. This remains a stumbling block to any strategic rethink.
A more likely explanation is that the strikes demonstrate that when Pakistan's military is hit directly, as it was over the weekend, the government and the military will sanction one-off retaliatory hits. In this case, the strikes came after the Taliban staged two attacks that killed at least 35 soldiers.