A report released to Congress today warns that the Pakistani government still has “no clear path” toward defeating the insurgency in its tribal areas, beyond sustaining a deployment of over 147,000 troops in the areas. Even then, they are struggling to “hold” areas after they’ve been cleared.
The report also insists that the US war in Afghanistan cannot “wipe out” the Taliban there either, unless Pakistan is able to control their side of the border, and details Pakistan’s “concern” about letting US troops operating on the ground in Pakistani territory.
Interestingly enough, the report could well have been written with exactly the opposite take, as Pakistani officials have long maintained that they cannot win the war in the tribal areas until the US is able to control the Afghan side of the border.
On both sides it seems to be the case that offensives drives the insurgency away from a region, only to crop back up when the attack is over. Neither nation has the ability to occupy the entire region permanently, which means there is always someplace to flee to.
Indeed the US admitted in December that it wasn’t even theoretically possible to secure the border between the two nations, which is largely mountainous and sparsely traveled. In this context the report seems to be more about blaming Pakistan for the reality of an unwinnable war than anything.