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The State Department has stated in a cable from Peshawar, Pakistan, that it is skeptical about eventually winning the military struggle in Pakistan’s badlands, saying peace talks go nowhere and murderous militants control key towns.
A long cable from the consulate in Peshawar also says eight years of airstrikes, military patrols and added checkpoints have had little effect on securing the border with Afghanistan used by Islamic militants to attack U.S. troops battling the Taliban.
“The borders are porous,” the cable states. “Taliban and militant extremists are constantly crossing the border with Afghanistan and engaging in terrorist and smuggling activity. The rugged terrain makes it difficult to patrol and control the border.”
A consulate officer wrote the cable to inform Washington and U.S. commanders about the cast of characters controlling Waziristan, a key tribal border region, as a prelude to an upcoming Pakistani military offensive, its fourth since the summer of 2009. The tribal areas are infested with al Qaeda and Taliban militants who want to bring down the government in Islamabad, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The U.S. thinks Osama bin Laden moves within the region.
The offensives have proved inconclusive, with the military making some gains and the U.S. killing a key militant, Baitullah Mehsud, by a drone missile attack. But the main enemy groups remain in place.
The State Department cable helps explain why, revealing the stranglehold that militant militias exert on towns and tribes.
His successor and cousin, Hakimullah Mehsud, is just as ruthless. He masterminded a 2008 suicide bombing of a jirga (peace conference) that, the cable stated, “killed over 50 tribal maliks [leaders] and broke virtually all organized resistance to TTP control.”
The State Department consulate branded such jirgas as futile.
“Our contacts from [South Waziristan] have uniformly dismissed them as entirely cowed by Baitullah and irrelevant in mediation,” it said. “The deaths of over  other Waziristan maliks over the past four years appear to have sapped them of the willingness to confront Baitullah in any way and rendered them essentially placeholders in the jirgas for sake of form.”
The cable included a long list of towns controlled by the TTP.
The other key tribal-area militant is Jalaluddin Haqqani, a close ally of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, who controls an army known as the “Haqqani Network.”
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