Today's Observer featured an excellent report by Jason Burke which contains some fairly significant developments in the Pakistan-Taliban-US relationship. According to Burke:
Taliban fighters and Pakistani government officials have agreed a controversial deal which will lead to a "permanent ceasefire" in the troubled northwestern Swat valley, threatening to create an outpost of militant rule and a terrorist haven only 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad.
Many are alarmed that the deal seemingly involves the reinstatement of sharia law in the region in exchange for peace, as well as at the possibility of the creation of a haven for pro-Taliban and/ or al-Qaeda militants.
Further in, there's an insight into the thinking behind the US drone strikes which, we learned this week, are being launched from bases inside Pakistan and which are likely to be "broadened in scope":
A list of 20 individuals was drawn up by the CIA and cleared with the Pakistani government in consultations last summer, despite public denials by Islamabad. Intensive strikes over recent months have pleased global intelligence services because they put al-Qaida "on the back foot", provoking damaging internal witch-hunts and forcing senior leaders to take time-consuming and demoralising security precautions.
Read the full article here.