“Yes, we have stopped the convoy from entering Mingora as it was a violation of the deal with us,” Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan told Daily Times.
“A convoy of eight army trucks transporting supplies to the soldiers in Swat was not allowed to reach its destination,” officials said. “A major collision between the Taliban and the security forces was averted after the provincial government’s intervention, urging the military to call back the convoy.”
The army pulled out even though the convoy was reportedly accompanied by helicopter gunships.
The back story behind the Taliban pull out from Buner itself is interesting. According to a number of sources, the Pakistani government only worked out an agreement with the Taliban after US threats to invade Pakistani territory if the government was unwilling to confront the Taliban:
A senior Pakistani official said the Obama administration intervened after Taliban forces expanded from Swat into the adjacent district of Buner, 60 miles from the capital.
The Pakistani Taliban’s inroads raised international concern, particularly in Washington, where officials feared that the nuclear-armed country, which is pivotal to the US war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and against Al-Qaeda, was rapidly succumbing to Islamist extremists.
“The implicit threat - if you don’t do it, we may have to - was always there,” said the Pakistani official. He said that under American pressure, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency told the Taliban to withdraw from Buner on Friday.
Notice if you will the way this unnamed source delicately put the matter - the ISI told the Taliban to withdraw...which implies that the lines of communication are open between elements of the Pakistani government and the Taliban, and not necessarily in an unfriendly way.
The Taliban pull out from Buner itself was not exactly a total one. They left behind a skeleton force to see that sharia law was implemented in the district as per their agreement with the Pakistani government, and to recruit and train new followers.
The government reportedly has launched an offensive to try and clear those troops out of the area..but they're staying strictly away from the Taliban controlled areas in Swat and as the blocking of the military convoy shows, the offensive is not exactly whole hearted and is still confined to paramilitary Frontier Constabulary forces rather than the army.
As I feared, it looks like the Obama administration is mulling over sending US forces to confront the Taliban on its home ground in Swat.
This would be a huge error in my view, a major expenditure of blood and treasure to no purpose. There's no doubt that we would 'defeat' the Taliban, but we'd be left to deal with an ongoing insurgency as they melted into the back country, an occupation and another exercise in nation building that would tie us up for years in an ungovernable basket case of a country where they really, really hate America as it is.
Far better to destroy Pakistan's nukes in a protracted strike and to pull out, I think.And perhaps to kidnap a few key scientists like AQ Kahn and get them in US custody while we're at it. I doubt Obama is anything like that sensible, unfortunately.