While US special envoy Richard Holbrooke cheered Pakistan’s ongoing military offensive in the Swat Valley as a sign the nation had “turned the corner,” he predicted that the nation would once again face destabilization when the US surge into neighboring Afghanistan picks up speed.
“I don’t want to be alarmist here, but I’m predicting some massive influx,” Holbrooke admitted, saying NATO would coordinate with the Pakistani forces so they can protect their borders. The surge will mostly focus on the southern portion of Afghanistan, neighboring Pakistan’s restive tribal areas.
The warning echoed similar concerns from Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Michael Mullen last month, when he touted the surge to the Senate while admitting that “we may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan.”
The Pakistani military has been dedicating considerable manpower to an invasion of the Swat Valley, driving millions of civilians from their homes in a conflict with one of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s smaller branches. Though the military claims to be making considerable progress, violence in and around the valley has continued, and civilians are still fleeing. It will be difficult for the Pakistani military to continue fighting the war across its northern region even without the influx of support from Afghanistan.