A few weeks ago, a prominent Taliban leader in Pakistan called for a cease fire and offered to negotiate with the Pakistan government concerning ways to reduce violence in northwest regions of the nation. Over the weekend, an 18 year-old boy blew himself up at a jirga meeting where tribal elder were discussing ways to handle Taliban militants. At least 40 people were killed and 50 wounded by the blast. Several prominent tribal elders were among those killed. The blast occurred just as a group of tribal elders were discussing plans to raise an army in order to combat the Taliban.
The incident indicates confusion in Taliban ranks, are they interested in peace or are they still committed to war? There is no question this bombing will arouse anger among tribal leaders and ensure an army is raised to fight the Taliban. In the past, the Taliban has alternated between clever military tactics and a disastrous approach to public relations. The incident will undoubtedly increase acceptance among tribal leaders of the proposed US dispatch of 100 trainers to work with the Pakistan military on coounter-intelligence tactics. It may also result in more US troops being allowed to function in the northwest region.