Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well as on trucks transiting the city to supply NATO forces in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says Pakistan remains committed to fighting terrorism (FT) using dialogue, development, and deterrence. Yet experts say after nearly ten months of effort, the government has done little to inspire confidence. CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey told CFR.org, "intellectually, both the civilian government and the military are committed to their plan, but in implementation they are falling short."
Pakistani security shortcomings include inadequate training and equipment, as well as a lack of mobility to fight insurgents in difficult terrain. Worries remain about the army's willingness to take on militants, a problem described (PDF) by Hassan Abbas, a fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The government's lack of control over the military and the intelligence service, the ISI, compounds problems. South Asia expert Bruce Riedel told CFR.org that Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari "has only notional control over the Pakistani army and the Pakistani intelligence services, which remain fixated on their eternal enemy, India, and which believe that India wants to create a client state in Afghanistan in order to encircle Pakistan." Of all the tasks the United States faces, persuading the Pakistani army to dismantle its militias "is the hardest," writes Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria and many other regional experts say pacifying and stabilizing Pakistan are critical to victory in the war in Afghanistan.