04bd6ff333188210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2009-Q2No easy solution to the Talibanf3bd6ff333188210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____No easy solution to the TalibanResistance to the Pakistani army's advance in Swat and Mingora has been lighter than it anticipated. However, the Taliban have never stood their ground in the face of a larger, better-equipped force, preferring instead to melt into the populace and fight another day.<p>Resistance to the Pakistani army's advance in Swat and Mingora has been lighter than it anticipated. However, the Taliban have never stood their ground in the face of a larger, better-equipped force, preferring instead to melt into the populace and fight another day. This is not to say that there were no violent repercussions to the assault. Responsibility for a series of bombings throughout the Northwest Frontier Province was claimed by Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), the patrons of the Swat Taliban. Yesterday's attack on the police headquarters in Lahore was probably the handiwork of the TTP as well.</p>
<p>However, the weak resistance put up by the Swat Taliban is not simply due to the nature of their preferred tactics. All is not well in the ranks of the Taliban leadership. It appears that a nascent alliance among the major Taliban factions has fractured almost as soon as it was formed. Last February, a shura council was formed in the tribal areas that united the TTP and two other Taliban groups that had previously been at odds.Now there are reports that this alliance no longer exists. Mehsud dreams of a Taliban state in Pakistan, the others wish to concentrate on foreign fighters in Afghanistan. The lack of support for the Swat Taliban from their ideological cousins in the tribal areas lends credence to reports of schism within the Taliban.</p>
<p>Indeed, the Swat Taliban sound increasingly desperate. Muslim Khan, their spokesman, has offered a ceasefire with the Pakistani army. Sufi Mohammed, the nominal head of the Swat Taliban, has pleaded for a reimposition of the peace agreement that his organisation had previously violated, leading to the current offensive.
While the Malakand division may soon be out of Taliban hands, they are far from defeated. The question becomes what to do next. It is tempting to hope that Pakistan will continue its offensive into the heartland of the Taliban, but this could prove disastrous. A fractured Taliban leadership would not long be so when faced with a common enemy. The tribes would join ranks to fight the invaders, as they did the last time Pakistan sent the army into their territory. However, doing nothing is also not an option. With the TTP determined to impose its ideology on Pakistan by force, Islamabad must do something. What that would be is much less clear.</p>