I know it looks like a setback but I suspect this might be a smart move. Give the people of Swat sharia law, and see how they like it. Meanwhile, bolster your security forces in the area so they can pick up the ball when the Taliban has sufficiently alienated the populace. Risky? Sure. But better than losing Swat altogether.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for some damn reason disclosed in a hearing last week that the Predator unmanned aircraft being used by the U.S. government to conduct airstrikes in Pakistan actually are being flown from a base in that country. The Pakistani media raised subcontinental-wide eyebrows over this, noting that Ms. Feinstein is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Nightwatch's John McCreary sees little good coming of the senator's disclosure:
Unfortunately for the US personnel at the Pakistani base, they have now been identified as targets for the militants. US access to Pakistan also became vastly more fragile today. Moreover, the elected government has been weakened, possibly fatally. For example, if Zardari knew, then he deceived the Prime Minister, the cabinet and the National Assembly. Plus, the militant allegations stick that he is a US stooge. If Zardari did not know, then no one is in control of the government or the foreign military presence and some functionaries apparently believe they are immune from accountability. Expect demonstrations, as this news sinks in.
Meanwhile, old Pervez Musharraf claims that he is shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on at Rick's. The Pakistan Tribune reports that he told reporters that "there was no tacit agreement or understanding with the U.S. to launch drone attacks inside Pakistan." So maybe it was an explicit agreement? At any rate, please see the croupier to collect your winnings, general.
And the new president, Asif Zardari, tells CBS that "we are aware of the fact [that the Taliban are] trying to take over the state of Pakistan. ... So we're fighting for the survival of Pakistan." But in a concession to those forces, Pakistan reportedly is imposing Islamic sharia law in part of the Northwest Frontier Province.
(Hat tip: FP's Blake Hounshell)