How Will President Obama's New Policy Tackle Terror?

The political cartoon in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn perhaps said everything that Pakistanis wanted to say about a new American policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A CIA drone flies above the tribal areas, but instead of firing missiles it waters a bed of terrorists. The message: The CIA and the military campaigns here help grow the militancy.

Across this troubled country, where the safest of places -- a mosque -- wasn't safe today, there is a hope that President Obama's new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan replaces firepower with brainpower.

For years Pakistanis and Afghans -- particularly the Pashtuns living along the border -- have been looking for their lives to improve, their children's education to increase and their vision of the future to change.

And so they latched onto Obama's call today for a tripling of economic aid to Pakistan.

"A campaign against extremism will not succeed with bullets or bombs alone," Obama said. "Al Qaeda offers the people of Pakistan nothing but destruction. We stand for something different."

Winning Hearts and Minds in Pakistan's Tribal Regions

The Pakistani tribal areas have long been neglected, residents and analysts say, short on electricity, short on schools, short on government projects. And that has allowed militants to thrive. The Taliban pay 16,000 rupees per month or about $200. Until recently, the paramilitary troops fighting them only received 10,000 rupees per month.

"There is no cell facility in Waziristan. There is no Internet facility in Waziristan. There is no free movement for people to come in and out," said Ayaz Wazir, who grew up in the southernmost tribal area and later became an envoy of the Pakistani government to the Afghan Taliban government in the late 1990s.

Wazir said residents who join the Taliban and send their children to madrassas often do so out of a desperation to feed or educate their families.

"Develop the area. Try and win the heart and mind of the people," Wazir said.

For Obama, the focus on development has less to do with encouraging tribal structures recently broken by the Taliban than it does in preventing the Taliban and al Qaeda from using the tribal areas as safe havens.

But the new policy walks a fine line between building up the tribes and killing Taliban who live in the same area and have the same ethnic makeup.

Anger at Civilian Deaths Caused by CIA Drones

CIA drones regularly drop missiles into the tribal areas, hunting for senior al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. And U.S. officials acknowledge the drone attacks will continue under the new policy.

The drones, while increasingly accurate, have also accidentally caused civilian deaths. And so while the United States tries to win the hearts and minds of the Pashtuns along the border, it will also be risking creating new enemies.

There is a saying in Pashto, the language spoken on both sides of the border: "If you take a revenge after 100 years, you've made haste." In Pashtun society, if a member of your family is killed, especially a woman, it is mandatory to hunt down and kill whoever spilled your family member's blood.

"Kill one Pashtun tribesman," a U.S. special forces colonel once told Newsweek, "and you make three more your sworn enemy."

Though U.S. officials do not think the drone strikes are a perfect solution, they say the attacks are the only way to catch suspected terrorists in the unforgiving terrain of the tribal areas, especially in places where the military has unspoken agreements with the Taliban not to attack each other, as is the case in Waziristan.

In Waziristan, says the regional government, the military has sponsored training camps where international terrorists train.

"The camps in Waziristan got state patronage," said Bushra Gohar, a senior vice president in the Awami National Party. "All these foreign extremist groups were able to operate from Pakistani soil."

U.S. officials privately confirm fears that Pakistani's military and powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, have played a role in sustaining militant groups in the tribal areas as well as in Baluchistan, the rural province in Pakistan's poor southwest. Those links are difficult to break, analysts say, because the Pakistani government believes militant groups present a bulwark against a hostile Afghan government and will help Pakistan when U.S. forces leave the region.

There also are many Pakistani institutions, analysts say, that benefit economically from the presence of militant groups.

"There are the elements that everyone knows about and they want to get dollars in the pretext of running the war against terrorism," said Malik Siraj Akbar, an analyst and the bureau chief of the Daily Times newspaper in Quetta.

No U.S. Aid Without Greater Cooperation

U.S. officials have put pressure on the Pakistani military and spy agency to give up their support for militant groups, but there is still a level of distrust. And so the new development aid flowing into Pakistan comes with specific conditions to be placed on the military establishment there.

"Increased assistance to Pakistan," said a briefing paper distributed to reporters as the president began to speak, "will be limited without a greater willingness to cooperate with us to eliminate the sanctuary enjoyed by al Qaeda and other extremist groups, as well as a greater commitment to economic reforms that will raise the living standard of ordinary Pakistanis, including in the border regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan."

While the main goal is to eliminate some of the sources of terrorism -- lack of education, lack of development -- there is an acknowledgement that many terrorists need to be killed.

And so while more Afghan troops are trained, the United States will be sending more soldiers to patrol the areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

In both countries, there is a great fear that will increase the levels of violence. Already, in some districts where U.S. soldiers have recently arrived, attacks are up 90 percent this year, the U.S. military said. In Pakistan, the fear is that the violence will spill across the border.

"There will be intensified militancy in the region because [militants] will try to counter that by increasing their own insurgency. And so you'll find that the level of violence in the region will increase and Pakistan will remain under pressure," said retired Gen. Talat Masood, a former Pakistani defense secretary. "Whether the increase in strength will help in trying to bring about stability in the long term, which means at least a year from now or more, is not so certain."

'The Sooner You Leave, the Better It Is'

Many Pashtuns, including Wazir, believe that neither side of the border can be pacified until U.S. troops largely disappear from the area.

"The answer to the problem is the approach where the presence of the forces there is reduced to the minimal possible time. The sooner you leave, the better it is. The sooner you leave, the sooner the peace will return to Afghanistan," he said. "You are taken as an occupational force. You are no more I'm afraid a helping hand in Afghanistan."

Obama's plan seems to acknowledge that, at least as a long-term goal.

The plan will send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan in the coming months, but only to train the Afghan National Army. Many Afghan residents trust the army and say if there were soldiers, they could easily replace Western troops.

"We will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country," Obama said.

That is a long-term strategy, one that commanders admit will take years. Until then, there is no guarantee more troops will mean more security. As one U.S. military official asked a reporter in Kabul recently: "It's going to get worse before it gets better, isn't it?"