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FATA and NWFP Taliban India Security

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“A host of wandering Talib-ul-ilums, who correspond with the theological students in Turkey and live free at the expense of the people.......”

- Winston Churchill, 1898[1]

1. The present ongoing conflict in Pakistan's tribal belt and in Afghanistan has serious security implications for India. The Mehsuds, Wazirs and Afridis were the tribals used by the Pakistan Army in 1947-48 to attack the state of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to occupation of what is now called the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). The Pakistan Army again used them before and during the war of 1965. Zia-ul-Haq used them for suppressing a Shia revolt in Gilgit in 1988[2]. The same elements were again used to infiltrate into Kargil, leading to Kargil War.

2. If the US and other NATO forces fail to prevail over these Terrorist Tribesmen in the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt, these tribesmen, fresh from their victories in that region, would move over to Kashmir to resume their aggression against India. What we are now seeing in Kashmir is the beginning of the end of one phase of the aggression involving Terrorists of the 1980s vintage. We might see the beginning of a new phase involving better-trained and better-motivated Terrorists of the latest stock.

3. The tribal belt of Pakistan and Afghanistan was the chess board of the ‘Big Game' played between colonial powers. The British established ‘Durand Line” demarcating the tribal areas which could not be governed. The British encouraged raising and maintenance of militia in FATA and NWFP, so as to thwart the Russian designs in South Asia, especially India[3]. The area was kept as a buffer to the Russian empire which had reached up to modern Uzbekistan.

4. The militia tribesmen of FATA and NWFP, after the departure of British from the subcontinent, were utilised operationally for the first time by Pakistan in 1947 against India. This strategy highlighted the advantage of utilising non state actors as means of aggression. The tribal invasion of 1947 resulted in occupation of approximately 35% of J & K by Pakistan.[4]

5. Approximately 70,000 tribesmen attacked India in 1947 and were driven back up to LOC till ceasefire agreement in 1948[5]. These tribesmen after the attack dispersed back into tribal areas of FATA and NWFP. The tribal populace thereafter supported and participated in the resistance movement confronting the Soviets in Afghanistan. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988, and full attention of these insurgent tribes was shifted to India. The existence of these elements in the FATA and NWFP was not given due consideration by India till late 1980's when insurgency erupted in J & K. In past, the tribal militia had no name, but now to keep pace with the media and generate support, the tribesmen have assigned names/nomenclature to their organisations; the most prominent nomenclature amongst all of them being the Taliban[6].

6. The Taliban is an ideology which majority of insurgent groups find easy to imbibe. The various warring tribes in FATA and NWFP have come under a common umbrella of Taliban ideology in recent years. The main cause for this mass acceptance of Taliban ideology is due to large influx of Al-Qaida operatives post US led “War on Terror'.[7]

7. The resurgence of the Taliban and ongoing CI operations by Pakistan army, along with deteriorating situation in FATA and NWFP has major security implications for India. The proximity of North Indian frontiers to the conflict zone coupled with the current insurgency in J&K, the need of the hour is to redefine security policy and take speedy initiatives to put effective deterrent in place.


8. Statement of Problem.

Considering the continued aggressive attitude of the tribesmen from FATA and NWFP in the past towards India, their reorganisation under Taliban leading to current conflict in Pakistan may result in renewed and increased threat to the North Indian frontiers. The paper seeks to highlight that the Taliban are a threat in being for India's security.

9. Hypothesis.

There is an urgent need to identify the critical vulnerabilities of the Taliban and identify additional security initiatives that need to be undertaken by India.

Justification of the Study

10. The threat of Taliban from FATA and NWFP to North Indian frontiers has been underestimated. The tribes in FATA and NWFP have existed as militia and mercenaries for over 100 years; however they have been given nomenclature/name like Taliban only recently. The first organised offensive of these tribesmen into India was in 1947 to annexe the state of J & K. Thereafter, since 1990 these tribesmen have infiltrated into J & K state as foreign mercenaries / terrorists fuelling insurgency.

11. Considering the continued aggression and threat from the tribesmen from FATA and NWFP since independence of India, there exists a knowledge gap with regard to their origins. Relatively little research has been directed towards exploring their transformation into an umbrella organisation - the Taliban, probably because of the obvious difficulties with studying a covert organisation. The absence of a logical explanation for the existence of these aggressive tribesmen as mercenaries and militia has complicated the threat evaluation process. This study describes the Taliban phenomenon, elaborates upon their strengths and weaknesses. The study endeavours to predict the Taliban's future strategic course of action and recommends measures to counter their strengths and exploit their weaknesses in order to design a formidable CI/CT effort. The Taliban have emerged as front runner terrorist outfit in the troubled FATA and NWFP. The study of their ideology will also provide inputs towards their grand strategy and objectives. All these inputs will enable correct assessment of security threat to India and aid in development of strategy to counter this menace. The thesis may also be of interest to field operatives, helping them to understand their adversary.

12. Scope.

The history bears the testimony to the vulnerability of Indian sub continent to invasions from North Western Frontiers. The rise of Taliban in FATA and NWFP of Pakistan, their reorganisation and rejuvenation is of grave concern to India, which cannot be ignored. The paper focuses on the history, ideology and overall grand strategy of Taliban highlighting the impending threat to India and way ahead.

Method of Data Collection

13. The data for this paper has been collected primarily through secondary sources, the books available in the library. Some material has also been garnered from various college lectures. Periodicals and papers written by famous socialists and historians have also been referred to. Bibliography is placed at appendix A.

14. Tertiary sources include various articles compiled and published from time to time by renowned authors in various reference books and articles available from the internet.

Organisation of dissertation

15. It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner:-

(a) Chapter - I: Introduction. This chapter describes the purpose of the thesis and the statement of problem. It argues the need for developing a broader understanding of the Taliban in order to develop a better approach to deal with counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism efforts in the North Western frontiers.

(b) Chapter - II: The Problem Genesis. This chapter covers the historical perspective of the problem. The chapter brings out the circumstances leading to the genesis of the Taliban phenomenon.

(c) Chapter - III: The Taliban Organisation. Chapter III focuses on the structure of the Taliban. The chapter analyses their formal and informal layout and operational mechanisms. The leadership and decision-making processes of Taliban will also be highlighted to assess the motivation and beliefs of Taliban operatives to give a better understanding of their recruitment and human resource processes.

(d) Chapter - IV: Analysis of Taliban. Chapter IV analyses the strengths and weaknesses of Taliban utilising the Commander's Estimate of Situation method. The Strategic and Operational Objectives are derived from research. These are analysed to determine strategic and operational Centres of Gravity. Finally critical vulnerabilities are determined, which will be utilised to develop Indian Course of Action to tackle the Taliban menace.

(e) Chapter - V: Taliban Threat - An Indian Perspective. This chapter brings out the national opinion on the existence of Taliban threat. The chapter highlights the vulnerabilities of India and its borders and the threat in being.

(f) Chapter - VI: Recommendations and Way Out. The final chapter gives a way out for overcoming the emerging Taliban threat. The chapter will suggest recommendations for planning effective CI/CT strategies to counter the Taliban strengths and exploit their weaknesses.



“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

- Sun Tzu[8]

1. Introduction. The study of background leading to genesis of Taliban will help in identifying the patterns of past actions of Taliban and aid in analysing current behaviour. This chapter will cover various aspects of Taliban history, highlighting the influence of ancient tribal warrior culture, the invasion by USSR leading to rise of Mujahideen[9], relevance of Madrassas[10] and their religious ideology, civil war following withdrawal of USSR forces, Rise of Taliban, the downfall of Taliban and current insurgency in the Afpak region. [11]


2. Throughout the history invaders have tried in vain to overpower the Pashtun dominated region of Afpak. The first recorded invasion of this region was by Alexander in 326 BC, thereafter a number of armies appeared on the scene including those of Persian Empire, Huns, Turks, Mongols, British, Russians and recent ones being the US troops[12]. The conquerors were either defeated or absorbed into the tribal culture of the Pashtuns thereby maintaining the independence of the region. Despite the apparent ease in conquering the Pashtun areas, no outside power has ever been able to completely subdue it. The tribal and military orientation has shaped the culture and outlook of the area. As Johnson writes, “A Pashtun is never at peace, except when he is at war.”[13] The people of this region have therefore for centuries been inclined to reject any form of strict authority even at the cost of discord and insecurity.[14]

3. The “Great Game” in nineteenth century shaped the current political landscape of the region. The Pashtuns had their first encounter with modern military power through three Anglo- Afghan Wars in 1839, 1878 and 1919[15]. Both Russia and Britain desperately tried to get a foothold in Afghanistan, but were unable to gain headway. Finally both parties agreed to create a buffer in shape of Afghanistan between their zones of influence. The international boundary known as Durand Line was drawn between British India and Afghanistan in 1893[16]. The Pashtuns continued to maintain strong ethnic and family connections across the international boundary. The British accorded the tribes on other side of border a semi - autonomous status that was maintained after creation of Pakistan in 1947 in the form of FATA[17].

4. The Pashtun areas on both sides of Durand Line continued to exist peacefully till 1973, when Zahir Shah's four decade rule ended. The instability after his departure resulted in emergence of Communist ideological People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan and it finally overthrew government in 1978. The Communist reform package, which included drastic changes in land ownership, new taxes, compulsory education for women, and participation of women in non-traditional roles in society, was resisted by traditional and orthodox religious elements of Afghanistan, led by the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan. As Larry P Goodson commented “These reforms struck at the very heart of the socio-economic structure of Afghanistan's rural society; indeed, their sudden nationwide introduction, with no preliminary pilot programs, suggest that this was their real purpose.”[18]Finally, Soviet Union deployed troops in Afghanistan in December 1979 to aid their communist ally against the Islamic militias and to counter the threat of radical Islamist power along its soft underbelly of the Muslim majority Central Asian republics. The Soviet involvement led to increased Mujahedeen resistance and calls for jihad.[19]

5. The ten year occupation resulted in Soviet 40th army loosing 13,883 personnel, plus 650 more in affiliated units. Despite heavy investments in men and material the Soviets were not able to gain unopposed access. Therefore after a long and costly counter - insurgency effort the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in Feb 1989, leaving a Communist Government headed by Najibullah.[20]

6. The exit of Soviet forces was followed by a civil war which resulted in overthrow of Najibullah's government in April 1992. The defeat of the communist government revealed the differences in the fractured alliances of Mujahedeen parties[21]. Each faction had its leader or warlord in a geographical region of the country with aspirations for power. In - fighting broke out among the warlords leading to widespread looting and rapine. This strife between the warlords and a war weary population set the stage for the radical ideas of the Taliban to so easily take hold in Afghanistan. “The Taliban mythology cites their creation as a reaction to the injustices that were perpetrated during the mujahedin era of Afghan politics.”[22]

7. The cadre of the Taliban emerged from the Pashtun refugee camps. It was there, in some of the Madrassas, that a selectively interpreted version of Islam, Wahabism[23], influenced students (talib) to adopt an ultraconservative approach to social issues and politics[24]. Despite differences with the fundamentalist religion espoused by the Taliban, the people gathered behind them because of promises to deliver peace by eliminating the menace of the warlords and narcotics. This tradition and the aura of a righteous religious student on the quest for peace gave students immense rapport with the Pashtun people. The popularity of the Taliban rapidly spread and they experienced continued success in consolidating power.

8. On 10 Nov 1994 Taliban seized Kandahar, the organisation gained religious legitimacy among the Pashtuns when their leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, wore the sacred cloak of Prophet Mohammad in public and declared himself Amir Al-Mu'minin (leader of the Faithful)[25]. This event can be considered turning point in the Taliban movement for providing it a charismatic leader, who could thereafter take advantage of the tribal religious sentiments of Pashtuns.

9. After the control of Kandahar, the Taliban progressed in quick succession and by 1997 controlled 95% of Afghanistan. The Taliban established order in Afghanistan, but it was of a fearsome medieval kind. The Taliban's government policy had become well known. Women were rendered anonymous, refused work or education. Justice was implemented by Islamic law. Television, music and photographs were banned. Gradually, the Taliban led by Mullah Muhammad Omar lost support of international community and afghan populace due to very strict enforcement of its version of Islamic law. Mullah Omar during his reign in Afghanistan interacted with Osama bin Laden and Taliban hosted Al Qaeda training camps.

10. The attack on United States of America on 11 Sep 01 by Al Qaeda operatives and the Taliban's refusal to extradite bin Laden led to launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The operation resulted in rapid fall of Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The majority of Taliban fighters dispersed back into Afghan society, while its leadership went underground. [26]

11. In the Pakistani border areas with Afghanistan, the FATA and areas of NWFP, the tribal populace had supported the Taliban movement since its inception. The populace in these areas has been at odds with the Pakistani security forces since its independence.

12. The current problem of insurgency in Pakistan has roots in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when FATA was used as launch pad for Mujahedeen sponsored by Pakistan and U.S. These areas turned into hotbed of terrorism, which was further fuelled by Madrassas, continued supply of modern weapons from U.S and heavy influx of Afghan refugees. Once the Soviets were ousted from Afghanistan, majority of foreign Mujahideen settled in FATA and NWFP. The radical elements in FATA and NWFP supported the Taliban after commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom. Therefore Pakistani government became a target for its crucial support to OEF. Pakistani troops are heavily committed to FATA and NWFP, currently over 1, 00,000 troops are deployed to counter pro - Taliban terrorists[27]. On 14 Dec 07, the Taliban “movement” in Pakistan coalesced under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to form an umbrella organization called Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)[28], having allegiance to Mullah Omar.


13. The Taliban is an organisation and therefore dependent on environment. The environment in which they operate places constraints and also provides for opportunities. The major components of environment are discussed below.

14. Physical Environment.

The most important environmental factor is the physical terrain in which the Taliban operate. The terrain in Afghanistan, FATA and NWFP is very harsh and mountainous covering an approximate area of 270,000 sq miles. The harsh and inaccessible mountainous terrain is conducive for insurgent activities. The area also has inaccessible spaces which are governed by tribes that allow terrorists freedom of manoeuvre[29], while it makes organised conventional military operations ineffective and expensive in terms of troops and resources. The rugged geography has embodied the regions culture, which has remained unaffected by time.

15. Culture.

The culture is most important factor concerning the situation. The culture of area depends greatly on Pashtunwali code of honour that predates Islam and is specific to the Pashtun tribes.[31] The Pashtunwali is the traditional norm by which people of Pashtun tribes are expected to conduct themselves. A Pashtun must adhere to the code to maintain his honour and to retain his identity. If one violates this code they are subject to the verdict of Jirga.[32]

16. Religion.

The religion is another pillar of the Taliban, Afghanistanis are 99 % Muslim, consisting of 80 % Sunni and 19 % Shia[33]. In Afghanistan, Islam has been mixed with pre-Islamic beliefs and tribal customs of Pashtunwali[34]. The Taliban transformed the tradition to ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam. The basics of this ideology stem from Madrassas founded during the Soviet - Afghan war. The increased influence of Saudi Arabia lead to Madrassas shift to orthodox Islam which looks to “follow Salafist model and thoughts”[35]. The attraction of Salafi movement is rooted in its ability to provide a domain in which a resistance identity is created through discourses, symbols and everyday practices. Within this the members are required to organise themselves into small tight-knit communities that stand distinctly apart from open society. To some extent it can be identified as a sect, demanding complete loyalty, unwavering belief and rigid adherence to a distinctive lifestyle.[36] However as written by Rashid “The Taliban represented nobody but themselves and they recognised no Islam except their own.” The majority of Afghanistan's populace did not traditionally follow this interpretation of the religion but had to contend with its enforcement during the Taliban reign.[37]

17. Ethnicity.

The ethnic breakdown of Afghanistan and Tribal areas of Pakistan is as follows[38]:-

Ser No



























Table - 1

18. The Pashtuns have a majority in the Taliban Organisation, with minimal participation of other tribes. As a result during the Taliban rule and ensuing insurgency other tribes were targets of attacks. The coalition of northern tribes (Turkman, Tajik and Uzbek) made up bulk of the northern alliance troops that allied with US troops to overthrow Taliban in 2001.

19. Pashtun Tribal Breakdown. The Pashtuns are further sub-divided into several tribes and sub-tribes spread throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Pashtuns in Pakistan are larger in number than those of Afghanistan and are mostly concentrated in FATA and NWFP. These tribes are interconnected in a complex interplay of obscure genealogies, mythical folklore, historical alliances and conflicts, which makes it very difficult to differentiate and draw lines between the groups. However, there are five major tribal groups of Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are the Durranis, Ghilzai, Karlanri, Sarbani and Ghurghusht, with Durrani and Ghilzai as the most influential (Figure 3).[40]

20. Since 1747, the Durrani tribal confederation has provided the leadership within the Southern Pashtun areas. The trend started with Ahmad Shah Durrani, when he founded the monarchy. Ahmad Shah is considered the founder of modern Afghanistan because he was able to unite the factional tribes. The present President of Afghanistan is also from Durrani tribe. The traditional folklore connects the Durranis with the Sarbani tribal group.[41]

21. The Ghilzai tribal group, which is concentrated in the eastern Afghanistan, has historically been an arch-rival of the Durranis. Some of the important leaders of Taliban today, including Mullah Omar belong to this tribal group.[42]

22. The Karlanris are the third largest group of the Pashtun tribes and are referred to as the hill tribes. They occupy the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Waziristan, Kurram and Peshawar.[43]

23. The Sarbani are divided into two major geographically separated groups. The larger group is located north of Peshawar, while the smaller one is scattered in northern Balochistan. This group because of their links with the Durranis are considered part of the traditional aristocracy of Pashtun tribes.[44]

24. The last major group is Ghurghusht. These are settled throughout northern Balochistan.[45] Some factions of this tribe can also be found in NWFP.


25. The primary sources and assets available to Taliban are religious militant outfits, human terrain[46] or manpower and opium trade. The analysis of Taliban resources can be carried out by determining the availability and quality. The religious militant outfits include Al Qaida and similar sectarian organisations. The Al Qaida provides vital support to the Taliban organisation. The support of Al Qaeda provided the Taliban cause legitimacy in a multitude of intercontinental terrorist organisations. The Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden pledged his support to Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban. Al Qaeda provides Taliban with assistance in form of financial support, manpower, technology (high end weapons) and training.[47]

26. The other strong supporters of Taliban include Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM), which is active in the FATA and Swat regions of NWFP. [48] There are other supporting insurgent groups from central Asia like Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

27. Few of the Madrassas in the Pashtun belt propagate radical version of Islamic ideology and therefore are convenient recruiting grounds for Taliban. The Leadership of Islamic movement has fallen in the hands of Pashtuns as they were able to oust Soviets. Since the Madrassas had played important role in Anti-Soviet Jihad, these institutions acquired reputation of both as recruiting grounds for Mujahidin and centres of learning.[49]

28. Human terrain. The human terrain [50] is most important asset for the survival of Taliban. There are approximately 28 million Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This large pool of Pashtuns provides recruits, support personnel, money, weapons and an intelligence network to aid in waging insurgency.

29. The Pashtuns have been amenable to Taliban, as they do not dominate the Kabul administration. The Pashtun mistrust of the government was further heightened by inability of Afghan Transitional Administration, as it could not protect Pashtuns from human rights abuses from the warlords and insurgents since fall of the Taliban government.

30. The people and recruits of Taliban after the fall of Kabul remerged with the local populace, providing outstanding and real time intelligence. With more than two generations of war-hardened inhabitants to select from, the Taliban recruited experienced fighters who know the terrain and can survive harsh environment. In addition a large amount of ordnance, weapons and ammunition, which were stored by Mujahedeen during Afghan -Soviet war; have fallen into the hands of Taliban. The human resource factor cannot be a permanent asset for Taliban due to the power struggle between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA) and Taliban.

31. Drug Trade. As per the western accounts, the revenue from drug trafficking and Opium trade in Afghanistan can be considered as an asset for Taliban organisation. The Afghanistan with its increased dependence on revenue from Opium trade has turned into a narco-state.[51] The record of 2006 Opium harvest was estimated at over $ 3 billion.[52] The following years estimates are even higher. Afghanistan currently produces 93 percent of the world's Opium trade and half of Afghanistan's GDP depends on the Opium trade.[53] The share of Taliban from the flourishing opium trade is not available. However, it is established that Taliban capitalise on the drug trade by taxing the farmers, landowners and drug traffickers.

32. Historically, on assuming control of Afghanistan, the Taliban agenda was to eliminate Opium trade[54], but now it has become essential for their survival[55]. The Opium serves three main purposes for Taliban:-

(a) It provides the populace an illegal economy to operate outside the umbrella of government, to the detriment of Kabul. The drug traffickers and the Taliban mutually support each other with weapons, personnel and funding in a concerted effort to destabilise the current legitimate Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA) government.

(b) It provides necessary funding for the insurgency.[56]

(c) It is primarily exported to the west (affects the western society), especially Europe, where 90 % of heroin supply comes from Afghanistan.

Other Environmental Factors

33. The other environmental factors that affect Taliban are the regional players in the South Asia, NGOs and Humanitarian agencies and presence of Coalition forces, which include Pakistani and Afghani soldiers.

34. Regional Players.

The regional players directly influence the Taliban as they have direct bearing on the overall political scenario affecting the movement. The area of influence of Taliban stretches across Central Asia to the Indian Subcontinent. This area is of immense strategic importance, its components share historical roots, affinities and enmities having overbearing influence on interrelationships and domestic issues. Most of the Afghanistan's issues considered as domestic are more likely regional in character.[57]

35. Pakistan.

The direct involvement of Pakistan in Soviet-Afghan war, in support of Mujahidin, along with United States of America and Saudi Arabia has created a complex legacy that is affecting Pakistan even today because of continuous turmoil and violence linked to the issue. Pakistan has critical interests in Afghanistan's stability because of close economic and cultural links. The stable Afghanistan provides for economic opportunities for Pakistan, as it ensures access to resource rich Central Asian region. The stability will also ensure stability in Pashtun dominated western Pakistan, where at present Taliban presence is destabilising the entire FATA and NWFP.

36. Months after the official beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, Al Qaeda and Taliban militants poured over Afghanistan's border into Pakistan and found refuge in FATA. The region home to more than 3 million Pashtuns was an ideal sanctuary. The tribes native to FATA adhere to the pre-Islamic tribal code of Pashtunwali, which by custom extends assistance to strangers who request protection. By spring 2002, less than a year after the initial invasion of Afghanistan, that sanctuary became even safer after President Bush decided to pull most of America's Special Operations Forces and CIA paramilitary operatives off the hunt for Osama bin Laden, so they could be redeployed for a possible war in Iraq.[58] All of these factors greatly alleviated pressure on the remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. Between spring 2002 and spring 2008, militants were able to consolidate their holdover north-western Pakistan. Baluchistan's capital, Quetta, is home of the Taliban's main Shura or council.[59] The Taliban's overall leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar has found refuge in the city.[60] The support of Pakistan to Taliban is considered essential till they gain strong foothold in Afghanistan. However few western writers contend that the Taliban have already taken control of 10% to 20 % of area in Afghanistan, and therefore no longer require sanctuary in Pakistan. The ISI has already drawn distinction between extremist groups focused on destabilising Pakistan and those primarily concerned with war in Afghanistan. On ground, the Taliban based in Pakistan (TTP) have taken allegiance to Mullah Omar, the supreme Commander of Taliban. Also Pakistan being a strategic partner of coalition forces, the pressure to cleanse the Taliban sanctuaries is mounting.[61]

37. Iran[62].

The proximity of Iran with Afghanistan has not resulted in cultural affinities, except in Herat area. Iran never gave importance to Afghanistan until Soviet invasion. Iran's primary focus was on the Persian Gulf region. Afghanistan is today strategically important due to concern that other powers might take advantage of weak state to menace Iran. The Iranian belligerence with Taliban is resulting from their Sunni outlook and prosecution of Shia minorities. At present Iran is interested in expanding its economic role in Afghanistan. A stable afghan state is beneficial to Iran in long run, so it opposes a Taliban led insurgency. However, there have been reports of Iran supporting the Taliban covertly.[63] Iranian actions may be due to close relations of IROA with United States of America. Because of US-Iranian incompatibility, the Iranian long-term strategic interests are in jeopardy due to sustained US presence in Afghanistan. Therefore, Iran may manipulate Taliban insurgency to its own advantage.[64] If this situation materialises, the Taliban may be able to overcome some key shortfalls (like advanced anti-air weaponry, guided missiles) and gain inroads into Shia groups in Afghanistan (mainly Hazara tribe).

38. Soviet Central Asian Republics.

The former Soviet Central Asian Republics also influence the current situation. Their ethnic ties with the non-Pashtun northern Afghanistan minorities have made them oppose the Taliban due its prosecution policies. These countries are also concerned about spread of radical Islamic militancy across their borders and these have been furthered by past support of Taliban to entities like Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Therefore, these states have strong reason to assist Afghan government against Taliban.


39. India traditionally had strong links with various governments in Kabul, except between September 1996 and 2001 when Pakistan supported Taliban was ruling Afghanistan. After the collapse of Taliban in 2001, India moved quickly into Afghanistan, besides its embassy in Kabul and consulate in Mazare-Sharif (both in Northern Afghanistan), India has reopened its consulates in cities of Kandahar (Southern Afghanistan), Heart (Western Afghanistan) and Jalalabad (Eastern Afghanistan). India has supported the Bonn process, which also resulted in bringing the Indian educated Hamid Karzai to the political forefront.[65] India is also making efforts to reach Afghan people by emerging as one of the largest regional and the fifth largest international aid donor to Afghanistan. The primary objectives of India's foreign policy in Afghanistan are[66]:-

(a) Negating the Taliban influence in the region.

(b) Securing Afghanistan as a trade and energy corridor to Central Asia.

(c) Curtail the spread of drug trafficking in the region.

40. Security Interest.

India's security interest primarily revolves around denying any political or military space to the ISI backed Taliban and other such fundamentalist groups, given their past record of not just indulging in fierce anti-India rhetoric but also extending logistical and moral support to anti-India militant groups within the Kashmir valley and outside. Indian support to the predominantly Tajik dominated Northern Alliance and its refusal for any negotiations with the Taliban are a part of this objective.

41. Drug Trafficking.

Afghanistan's poppy enters the Indian illegal drug market, through Pakistan. Although the supply of Afghan narcotics pushed in through Pakistan has swiftly dwindled from a high of 64 percent in1996-1997 to 5 per cent by 2002,[67] owing largely to measures such as higher border vigilance in the post-Kargil phase and fencing and electrification along the border, the nexus between Narco-trafficking and terrorism is helping militant movements in the region.

42. The regional factors influencing the Taliban are themselves in a state of constant change. These changes in strategy are due to the varying interests and inter-state dynamics. If Taliban are able to exploit actions of these players to their advantage, then the organisation's overall situation and available resource base can improve drastically.

NGOs and Humanitarian Aid

43. A large number of NGOs are operating in Afghanistan and rendering assistance to the populace. These organisations work with the government and United Nations, as a result are directly affecting the Taliban.[68] The NGOs and Humanitarian aid organisations are focused on supporting the rural populace. These organisations provide them economic assistance, emergency aid, agricultural development, education and social order.

44. The work done by these organisations is legitimising the IROA and seriously affecting the human influx into the Taliban due to economic empowerment and education. The Taliban have increased attacks on these organisations, as a result humanitarian aid efforts in southern and Eastern Afghanistan have been halted and most aid projects are focussed in peaceful areas of Northern Afghanistan. [69] The contrast in the aid to the people within the Pashtun belt and those in Northern area furthers the cause of Taliban. The NGOs are targeted because they are viewed as government and western agents. [70]

Taliban Strategy and Objectives

45. The Taliban's insurgency strategy is one of patience. They are conducting a classic "war of the flea," a type of warfare that causes the enemy to suffer the “dog's disadvantages: too much to defend; too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with. If the war continues long enough the dog succumbs to exhaustion.”[71]

46. The Taliban plan is based on gaining time with continual mobilisation of the religious public in Afghanistan and Pakistan that invokes the sufferings of Muslims the world over. The next stage will involve rallying of the Pashtun tribes through the Pashtunwali code and religious ideology by portraying their subjugation by the non-Pashtun government in Kabul. Thereafter they will aim for building confidence among Afghan and tribal populace in the Taliban organisation, while simultaneously decreasing the legitimacy of IROA and Pakistan government.[72] Once the Western forces and its supported government are expelled by military means, the Taliban hope to establish firm control over Afghanistan and western Pakistan, culminating in their version of Islamic State.[73] Therefore, the immediate objective of the Taliban today is the same as it was in the 1990's: to take Kabul and to build an Islamic Emirate based on Sharia.[74]

47. On-the-ground observations and reliable evidence suggest that the Taliban have an efficient leadership, are learning from their mistakes, and are quick to exploit the weaknesses of their adversaries. They are building a parallel administration, have nationwide logistics, and already manage an impressive intelligence network.[75]

48. The principles of war do not change. As Sun Tzu stated, “one must know their enemy.” This chapter analysed the factors that directly or indirectly shape the composition and conduct of the Taliban. The thorough understanding of these elements is important for countering the menace of Taliban. The research till now reveals that most important factors affecting the Taliban are culture, religion and human terrain. The progress of the paper will further delve into these factors to analyse strengths and weaknesses of Taliban to build a coherent counter strategy.



“The secret of all victory lies in the organisation of the non-obvious.”

- Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (AD 121-180)[76]


1. The chapter will highlight structure of Taliban organisation. The main elements discussed will be both formal and informal organisation[77], work and people (human resources). These elements interact and provide characteristic shape to Taliban organisation. There is very limited material available on the topic; therefore emphasis is on inferences from known facts and events.

2. The Taliban have different organisational structure at different tiers in their hierarchy. Before 9/11 episode the group operated in a conventional, central manner at its top and middle levels. [78]However, during insurgent activities, the organisation becomes flatter and gives local commanders more independence, so that they can adapt to demands of a complex environment and benefit from dispersing their forces into small units.

Formal and Informal Organisation

3. The Taliban organisation has constantly evolved to suit its requirement since its inception in 1994. Given the covert nature of the organisation, the formal and informal organisational features cannot be differentiated. However, its organisational characteristics vary by levels in the hierarchy. The Taliban organisation typically has a centralised planning and decentralised execution. The basic structure of Taliban organisation culled out from the open source media reports is as shown in fig 4.[79]

4. The Taliban as an organisation consists of specialised departments and operational forces under defined regional commanders. There is also informal coordination with the other radical organisations like Al Qaeda.[80] The coordination is mainly attributed to the common tribal and clan networks and above all common cause. The commonality is also in the supply chain of weapons and war material. In addition the covert presence of Taliban elements in the present government setup of Afghanistan under President Karzai cannot be ruled out. Their presence will influence the political decisions and provide vital intelligence to the organisation.[81]

5. The regional organisation of Taliban is similar to its overall organisation as depicted in fig 4. The regional commander exercises overall control over the local cells and factions of insurgents. The control and authority of the regional leader depends upon his status in the overall organisation of Taliban.

6. The local level of Taliban is an amalgamation of various freelance insurgent organisations. A large number of independent local groups continue to emerge in the Afghanistan countryside in addition to the formal recruits. Depending on the objectives and inclination, these groups align themselves with Taliban. The groups thereafter use the trademark name of the Taliban for their operations. These new entrants are required to support the strategic objectives of Taliban, whilst maintaining their independence. This ensures maintenance of interests of both parties and ensures preservation of sensitive tribal loyalties and territorial boundaries.


7. In Taliban organisation, Mullah Omar is the Supreme Commander and his leadership is unchallenged till date. His appearance with the Prophet Mohammad's Cloak has catapulted him into the realm of divinity. He in turn has declared himself leader of the faithful.

8. The highest governing body of the Taliban, the Supreme Shaura is chaired by Mullah Omar. The Taliban apex council is understood to have twelve members and three advisors.[82] The members of Shaura are assigned specific roles in addition to their position in the Shaura.[83]

9. Previously at the regional and local level, the leadership could not be defined definitively because each individual group leader strived to increase his influence. The Taliban leadership has perceived this flaw and has passed a decree, that in which a regional leader will be officially designated with defined geographical and tribal boundaries, with streamlined command structure to coordinate and control operations.[84] The regional Taliban commanders organise their elements into sub units based on territorial and tribal boundaries.


10. The strategic planning and flow of directives takes place from Mullah Omar and the Supreme Shaura to the regional commanders. The operations are decentralised and orders are passed onto the smaller sub units in the form of Fatwa or decree. These sub units act independently with minimum control. The sub unit leader carries out planning and execution of operations taking into account the local environment or situation on ground. The degree of freedom however depends on the nature of operation. For general operations the flow of orders is along a vertical line in a hierarchical pyramid as shown in fig 5.

11. In case of operations which require coordinated efforts, a complex information flow network comes into being. In this network the information is exchanged diagonally, vertically and horizontally. The speed of information sharing is very high and does not get restricted by disruption of few channels. The Taliban are therefore able to adopt swarm tactics for their operations. Couriers are utilised for delivery of verbal or handwritten messages.[85] The tribal linkages and loyalties are mainstays of this communication pattern and give it high speed and security.[86]

12. The Taliban use HF for tactical communication and internet to communicate in the settled areas and for propaganda.[87] Another form of communication is called Shabnamah (night letters) which are “declarations of intent” used to keep population under control.[88]

Human Resources

13. The human element of Taliban is complex, having deep roots in local culture and ethnic affinity. Therefore analysis to ascertain the loyalty of members to tribal affinities or to organisation itself is complex.

14. Recruitment and Training. There is no formal recruitment policy or mechanism. The induction of people is from two channels:-

(a) Alumni from Pro Taliban Madrassas.

(b) Local youth recruited based on coercion, glamour, desire for revenge, frustration with government, providing employment and religious sentiments.

15. The incoming recruits into Taliban have basic military skills due to the Pashtun warrior culture, where everyone is armed. The recruits are sent to training camps and imparted thorough on job training and also have to prove their ability within a ‘peer review system' typical of Pashtun tribal structure.


16. The Taliban have been very successful in achieving personal motivation of members, group interests and objectives of the organisation. The motivation factor can be explained as follows[89]:-

(a) The top leadership of Taliban and key commanders are motivated by their interpretation of radical Islam. These individuals take insurgency as means to fight the Western infidels and current government in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(b) The lower tier has thousands of local fighters and their support network. Majority of these young men are paid to carry out insurgent activities and are not ideologically committed to Jihad. These men are motivated because they are unemployed, disenchanted or angry with government policies.

17. The top leadership of Taliban identifies their struggle as defence of Islamic values and Pashtun culture. The leadership aims to establish the Caliphate on the lines of Islam that they believe is pure and based on earliest understandings of faith. The lower echelons are more a part of a social movement that wants to challenge the political status quo and economic deprivation. The Taliban keep their men motivated by offering monetary rewards for people driven by money, status for the people seeking power and glamour for the adventurous. The punishment to the erring individuals is also given by withholding finances, reduction in status, physical violence at the individual himself or his kin and alienation from the tribal society. In December 08, Taliban issued a code of conduct (Layeha) declaring the organisational ethics and rules to its members.[90] The sacking of one its commanders Mullah Mansoor Dadullah for violation of prescribed rules is one such example.[91]


18. The Taliban operations utilise the erstwhile Mujahideen tactics developed during the Soviet-Afghan war. They also show signs of Al Qaeda training influences in their tactics, planning and execution. The kinetic operations involve methods which are typical of rural guerrilla insurgency.

19. The major operation of Taliban is to ensure effective control over local populace. The approaches to achieve this are:-

(a) “Robin Hood” Method.

(b) “Bully” Method.

20. In the former method the Taliban focus on the concerns of the local populace, and provide security and speedy justice according to the tribal norms. This is aimed at fuelling the local sentiments in their favour by effective Information Operations (IO) campaign against the present government. The latter method of “bullying”, use and show strength on local populace is done to maintain order and control. In Afpak region there are a lot of areas where there is no presence of legal government, therefore the local population is forced to accept the Taliban presence and support their cause for personal safety. In most of the circumstance the Taliban use mix of both strategies.

21. Conclusion.

The organisational structure adopted by the Taliban is optimised for achieving maximum output from the operational environment, available resources and limitations. The analysis of their structure, recruitment strategy, operational tactics, planning and execution will be used for evaluating their strengths and weaknesses in the next chapter.



“There are in Europe many good generals, but they see too many things at once. I see one thing, namely the enemy's main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.”

- Napoleon Bonaparte[92]

1. Introduction.

This chapter will analyse the Taliban organisation using the tools of Commander's Estimate of Situation. The strategic and operational objectives will be put forth based on the available data. Thereafter the strengths and weaknesses will be highlighted finally leading to the Centre of Gravity analysis.

Taliban Objectives

2. Strategic Objectives.

The Taliban is a movement, operating effectively in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a joint ideological frame and a shared tactical expertise. The relative success of the Taliban stems from its ability to bring together disgruntled groups of people from a variety of local conflict settings, offering a common framework for political and military action. The Taliban is also linked to a larger transnational coalition of terrorist groups, of which Al Qaeda forms a sub unit. Starting out as a local protest, the Taliban has gone a long way, aided by some state support (notably from Pakistan) and increasingly massive isolation from the so-called international community. It has manoeuvred at the interface between localised grievances in Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the one hand, and the global holy war pursued by Al Qaeda, on the other.[93] The increased influence of Al Qaeda on Taliban has made the organisation part of the global Islamic struggle. Therefore the strategic objectives of the organisation keeping in view its international aspirations is to “Establish an Islamic Caliphate[94] in the regions dominated by Islam”[95]

3. Operational Objectives.

In 2001, when the Taliban was abruptly toppled, there was no armistice. The Taliban command hierarchy retreated to the frontier regions of northwest Pakistan. With the passage of time, left largely unmolested the cadres have regrouped and are reinforcing their hold in Afghanistan.[96] The most immediate aim and operational objective of the Taliban is to “Regain control of Afghanistan as it was before 9/11 and formation of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”. In an interview to Nic Robertson, CNN Senior International Correspondent, Zabiullah Mujahid, one of the two spokesmen for the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, said “We ask from the beginning and we say once again, one to enforce the Sharia law and Islamic government in Afghanistan, and to remove foreign forces remove from our country”.[97]

Critical Factors

4. Critical Strengths.

The critical strengths of the Taliban are as follows:-

(a) Organisation.

The Taliban organisation has an authoritarian structure with Mullah Omar and Shaura undertaking all strategic planning. The lower and middle tier leaders are more informal. The organisation and its widely dissipated sub-units are bound closely by the tribal brotherhood and Jirga. So far the unity of the movement has been ensured by strong personal links between leaders of individual networks. Such links were forged through long years of war and through some very difficult passages in the lives of these men. As a result, they tend to be quite stronger than one can estimate. The fact that the movement lacks a strong institutional framework should not therefore be construed as implying that external manipulation would be easy, or that playing ‘divide and rule' with different components of the movement is going to be a viable option.[98]

(b) Geographical Terrain.

The terrain in Afghanistan is treacherous and inhospitable, where many previous invading armies have been defeated. The terrain topology favours guerrilla tactics. The Taliban are battle hardened local tribals having very good appreciation of the terrain and are utilising it to their advantage[99]. As in words of Maj Joseph Mathews, a Battalion Operations Officer in the 10th Mountain Division “The sheer terrain of Afghanistan is much more challenging: the mountains, the altitudes, severity of weather, and the distances. That bears on an army. You can flood Baghdad with soldiers but if you want to flood the mountains you are going to need huge numbers and logistics. We as leaders have to realise that we cannot simply superimpose some of the things that may have worked in Iraq on Afghanistan.“[100]

(c) Human Terrain.

[101] The Taliban have exploited local populace effectively by focussing on the religious sentiments, low performance of current government, the intricate tribal bindings and culture. The Taliban have utilised their Information Warfare effectively and garnered support of the rural population through ‘Night letters' or ‘Shabnamah'.

(d) Religious Support.

[102] The popular belief in Afghanistan has been based on mixture of superstition, spiritualism, saint worship, mysticism and organised religion. Islam has therefore been mixed with pre Islamic beliefs and with tribal codes of Pashtunwali. The self identification of the population as being primarily Muslim has strong roots. In addition the society is highly conservative and is dominated by convention. The Taliban therefore have legitimacy within the Afghan society and garner its strong support. The global reach of Taliban also cannot be ruled out.The triumph of Pashtuns against the Soviet forces in late 1980's, projected them as the torch bearers of Islamic struggle for Caliphate. As a result they receive support in the form of financial aid and human recruits from all over the world.

(e) Financial Support.

As the Taliban gain power in Afghanistan and Pakistan, its money comes mostly from extortion, crime and drugs. However, funding for the broader-based Al-Qaida appears to be more diverse, including money from new recruits, increasingly large donations from sympathisers and Islamic charities. Afghanistan produces more opium than any other country in the world. The Taliban charge drug kingpins for moving the opium through its territory, estimated upward of $300 million annually. "With respect to the Taliban, the narco dollars are a major if not majority of their funding sources, and I think add in there as well extortion and kidnapping," said Juan Carlos, a former U.S. National Security Council adviser on terrorism[103] The large number of weapon caches post Soviet withdrawal and abundance of weapons in the Pashtun society also are a source of strength for the insurgent organisation.

(f) Legitimacy of Karzai Government.

President Karzai's unpopularity is at least partially attributable to the fact that, both within and outside Afghanistan, he is often viewed as a puppet of the US Government. The Taliban, who are at present focussing on grassroots and locally, have been quick to capitalise on this aspect of the government. In a recent interview Mr. Karzai was quoted as saying “If I am called a puppet because we are grateful to America, then let that be my nickname”. Being closely associated with the US, there is doubt about his intentions to represent the interests of Afghanistan in general and Pashtuns in particular, prompting the Taliban to declare his government as illegitimate.[104]

(g) Strategy.

Probably one of their biggest strengths is the ability to sustain the insurgency by using time and patience as force multipliers. This ability comes partly from the Pashtun culture, where feuds and enmity span generations and partly from the lack of a pressing timeline. By demonstrating their persistence, they intimidate locals from cooperating with foreign forces by implying a long-term enmity once the Coalition forces depart. The Taliban can continue fighting a defensive insurgency, needing to remain on the battlefield only until Coalition forces leave and then they can stage a full-scale return.[105]

5. Critical Weaknesses.

The major weaknesses of the Taliban organisation are:-

(a) Past Misdeeds.

The legacy of Taliban oppressive rule in Afghanistan has made a large percentage of population unfavourable to a return of Taliban rule. This probably is the main reason for Taliban maintaining major focus on human terrain control.[106]

(b) Tribal Resentment.

Despite their deep understanding of the human terrain, the Taliban challenge the traditional tribal structures of the Pashtun by shifting power from the elders to the clergy and the youth. This creates innate resentment from the tribal elders and maliks, some of whom consider the Taliban a long-term threat to the tribal institutions. The opposition of tribal leaders is one of the main threats to the Taliban organisation.[107]

(c) Radical Islamic Ideology.

The Taliban interpretation of Islam is not in harmony with the Afghan Islamic tradition, nor does it coincide with most of the regional ethnic group's more tolerant views. This gives the Afghanistan and Pakistan security forces an opportunity to turn the population against the Taliban. Coupled with their religious interpretation, is the Taliban's dominantly sectarian outlook and alliance with extremist sectarian outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba, which seriously hampers their ability to expand into other ethnic and sectarian communities.[108]

(d) Social Divisions.

The Taliban and other jihad advocates often claim that they believe in the concept of a common Muslim Ummah (community) and reject the division of their religion into groups based on ethnicity, language, geographical borders and tribes. In practice, this is easier said than done. In tribal societies such as that of the Pashtuns inhabiting Pakistan and Afghanistan, even ideologically-driven radical Taliban and jihadist fighters show loyalty toward their own tribe and local commander.[109]

(e) International Support.

The lack of international support and recognition of the Taliban due to their association with terror networks is a disadvantage for the organisation in the international arena. Their association with terrorism raises serious questions about the Taliban's chances for acceptance should they wish to acquire official power at some stage, and creates problems for any negotiated settlement, as most nations will probably not negotiate openly with a group labelled as sponsors of terrorism.[110]

Centre of Gravity (COG)

8. Strategic COG.

The strategic Centre Of Gravity (COG) for Taliban is their relationship and support from the world's Muslim population. Without active support from a considerable numbers of the Muslim population and the passive support of a greater number, the Taliban would fold. They rely on popular support for both their recruitment and freedom of action. Their consistent message to the Muslim world has been that West intends to invade Islamic territory and slaughter Muslims in a new crusade.[111]

9. Operational COG.

The research has analysed and determined two Operational CsOG of the Taliban, which are as follows:-

(a) Leadership.

The strong and uncontested leadership of Mullah Muhammed Omar is the COG for Taliban. The divinity status of Mullah Omar further strengthens his position as the supreme leader of the Taliban. The towering personal aura of Mullah Omar has kept all ranks of Taliban in control, enabling organisation to operate as a disciplined force. As Kenneth Ballen of Financial Times puts it “According to the Taliban leaders and fighters I interviewed over the past year and a half, the seminal event in sealing Mullah Omar's authority as their unquestioned leader occurred in April 1996. Then, in the dusty southern Afghan Pashtun stronghold of Kandahar, Mullah Omar donned, from a religious shrine, the holy relic of the cloak of the prophet Muhammad. “[112]

(b) Support of Pakistan. Second operational COG is the covert support of Pakistan government to the Taliban. The Taliban, Al Qaeda and other factions together have their leadership residing in the FATA and NWFP regions of Pakistan. This support is essential for the Taliban organisation to recruit, train and regroup.

10. Further analysis of CsOG has been limited to following three most important critical capabilities of the Taliban organisation:-

(a) Organisational Ability.

(b) Justification of the Cause.

(c) Insurgence Ability.

11. These Critical Capabilities have been individually examined leading to deduction of Critical Requirements and Critical Vulnerabilities. The analysis in the tabulated form is placed at appendices B, C and D respectively.

12. The prime vulnerabilities of the Taliban from the analysis of Critical Capabilities can be summarised as follows:-

(a) Supply routes.

(b) Cash flow.

(c) International support.

(d) Manpower.

(e) Absence of successor to Mullah Omar.

13. From an Indian perspective the vulnerability of supply routes and absence of successor cannot be addressed at present. They fall with in the purview of coalition forces that are fighting the Taliban in Afpak region. The supply routes from Pakistan to Afghanistan need to be choked by the coalition forces. This will require greater involvement and genuine intent from Pakistan. The rhetoric of coalition forces concentrating on Osama bin Laden, is aimed at settling score for 9/11 episode. Instead a more realistic approach should be focussed on Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban. Further analysis of the coalition policy and present strategy is beyond the scope of this paper. From the Indian perspective, the strategy should at present be aimed at targeting the financial supply, be a partner in the International effort against Taliban and put deterrence in place to desist local populace from supporting the Taliban cause.

14. Conclusion. The Taliban may also be aware of their earlier vulnerabilities and have adapted to environment. For example, before 9/11, the Taliban strictly banned music, CD shops, television, and internet, but now use those same media to propagate their messages. It is unclear if this is due to a change in basic ideals of the organisation or temporary necessity. Similarly, they have almost reversed their stand on poppy cultivation, which they earlier declared to be un-Islamic. Another example is acceptance of suicide attacks as a major tool, in contrast to the Islamic and Pashtun cultural values.[113] Likewise, the Taliban media outlets now occasionally attempt to project the movement as having extra-regional aspirations which contrasts with the earlier confinement within Afghanistan.[114]



“We wish we had carried out this attack on the embassy ... since India has been the enemy of the Islamic Emirate.”

- Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban Spokesman.[115]


1. The Talban have emerged as a force to reckon within Pakistan. Their formidable presence, an estimated 3000 fighters in Swat Valley, as claimed by President Asif Ali Zardari during his visit to Washington, predicts a long drawn battle for Pakistan's security forces.[116] Should the Pakistan Army fail to contain their spread, as is much feared, it could pose a serious challenge to other countries in the neighbourhood. The crumbling of the frontline of the global war against terror sounds an alarm for the Indian state as well, for it to be prepared and respond effectively in times of crises.

2. While it may be too early to speculate about the unfolding Taliban threat, it is however important to examine a few plausible scenarios as far as India is concerned. Hypothetically, the threat could unfold in two major ways. One, it could manifest as heightened infiltration attempts along the Line of Control, as witnessed during the late 1990s, when militants from the Pashtun belt infiltrated in significant numbers and proactively engaged the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. And two, it could evolve as a secondary effect due to increased violence and instability in Pakistan

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