U.S. Will Get Less Help From Pakistan Than It Wants

Pakistani sources tell Time that the Pakistani military will forgo a ground assault on the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) in South Waziristan, despite entreaties of U.S. officials who want Pakistan to strike the group after its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed by a missile from an unmanned U.S. drone August 5, which signaled a promising development in the fight being waged against the Taliban. Pakistan's end of the anti-Taliban war is a complex issue: American commentators have wondered if President Asif Ali Zardari is up to the role the U.S. wants Pakistan's army to play, and Pakistan's intelligence agency is said to have a complicated history with Taliban warlords.

Politically, the question in the U.S. is about domestic support for the war in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is expected to soon offer a bleak assessment of efforts there ask President Obama to spend more troops. It's unclear whether that will create a big stir, but, as the U.S. perceives Pakistan's border region as a haven for the Taliban, impressions that Pakistan isn't doing enough may hurt support for the war overall. Then again, U.S. drones seem to be doing a good job.

Pakistan's plan is to entice elements of the TTP back into the fold through deal-making; as Afghanistan's government conducts Taliban outreach of its own, reconciliation could become the watchword of the military/intelligence/diplomatic campaign to solve the Taliban problem.