The possible assassination of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud by a US drone bomber last week was greeted by shouts of joy in both the US and Islamabad.
Military strategists from the US and Pakistani toured TV studios to announce “the beginning of the end of the Taliban”, saying that the rebel’s junior commanders were now busy fighting among themselves.
Most of the media happily bought the story, ignoring the widespread support the Taliban have in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.
Mehsud’s popularity came by fighting the government, the US, and wealthy landlords.
There is growing anger at poverty and hatred of the US, which rains down bombs from unmanned planes, as well as at the Pakistani military, which relentlessly shells villages in its bid to defeat the Taliban.
Millions of poverty‑stricken farmers have been forced to flee the fighting. The bitter anger they feel will not be lessened by the government’s talk of victory.
Those who predict the end of the Taliban will likely find that Pakistan’s deep pools of bitterness will soon find another uncomfortable expression.