Resilient Taliban Drives Pakistan to Brutal Tactics

200,000 displaced in tribal regions as state battles militants
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2008 8:17 AM CST
Pakistani tribesmen brandish their weapons before their patrol along with security forces in troubled area of Daudzai near Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday, Oct 9, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
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(Newser) – In the lawless Northwest Frontier Province, the Pakistani army has been fighting the Taliban for 3 months for control of just a sliver of land. State forces had expected the battle to be a cursory victory, but the Taliban is stronger and more deeply entrenched—literally, in a network of tunnels that allows them to store arms and move undetected—than commanders expected. The New York Times reports from the mountainous region, where Pakistan has resorted to scorched-earth policies to rout the Islamic militants.

Pakistan's soldiers are trained to fight a conventional war with India, its perennial foe, but have no experience with the tactics of a counterinsurgency. In the town of Loe Sam, the army leveled the homes of 7,000 people and sent 200,000 fleeing to refugee camps—and still visitors must dodge sniper fire from the Taliban, who replenish their numbers with more men from Afghanistan. "You keep killing them," said one colonel, "but you still have them around."