The apparent killing of Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud earlier this month in a US drone attack has left the group seeking to stabilize its new leadership and the Pakistani government wondering if perhaps its massive military offensive in South Waziristan, promised for months, might not be necessary after all.
The prospect has irked the US government, which has been pushing Pakistan to expand its offensive in Waziristan in tandem with their assorted military offensives in Southern Afghanistan. At the same time, Pakistani officials are considering making deals with parts of the TTP in an attempt to split the organization, which is “alarming” US officials.
The US has a long history of public opposition to Pakistan making peace deals with the assorted militant factions in its restive hinterlands. Most recently they came out angrily against the Swat Valley peace deal, and praised the Pakistani military when the deal broke down and an offensive drove millions of civilians from their homes.
At the same time the fact that the US is hoping to use a similar strategy of reconciliation with some factions in the Afghan Taliban can’t be lost on the Pakistani government, and will likely ensure that they take the complaints with a grain of salt. The Zardari government has been hawkish of late, promising massive offensives against the TTP, but the prospect of averting a full scale war across the increasingly unstable will likely be too tantalizing to reject out of hand.