The last month in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been particularly bloody with Taliban/al-Qaeda attacks against both hard military targets and soft civilian or symbolic targets. The Taliban are current engaging in two different methods of warfare one is Mao's rural insurgency which is what the Pakistani military and ISAF and Afghan's are fighting. The second is along the lines of Marighella's concept of of urban terrorism which was the basis of revolution was violence. That small groups of urban terrorists could disrupt the government so much that repressive measures would be brought against the entire population. This would cause the people to rise up against the government and cause its over throw. The problem is the method while used in Central and South America never worked.
The forms of warfare being used by the Taliban and its allies however are proving to be particularly gruesome and are taking an increasingly large toll on the civilian populations of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is exactly what the Taliban want by attacking the UN in Kabul they are trying to run out the groups that can actually help the people of Afghanistan. By attacking the police and military of Pakistan they weaken the institutions that people turn to for protection. The Taliban want to be seen as the only solution to the violence. Side with us and we will not kill you. This is a strategy that was used with a great deal of success in Vietnam by the Viet Cong who were able to set up a shadow government in areas where central Vietnamese governance was weak. As has already been seen the Afghan people have turned to the Taliban who have set up courts and a taxation process that is much more efficient than the central government.
To combat the urban terrorist in Uruguay the people of the country actually voted in a government that promised a harsh response to the terrorists. A brutal counter terrorist campaign followed. Far from being alienated by this, the workers of Montevideo applauded the governments actions.
While the current argument in the Washington, NATO, Kabul, and Islamabad is how to counter the rise of the Taliban. In my opinion there is not a single strategy that is going to work but will take a combination of things. To start with there needs to be an aggressive kinetic (shooting people) approach to kill as many of the Taliban, drug lords etc. as fast as possible and push them out of the urban areas. We saw this in Anbar province in Iraq it took a whole lot of fighting to get to the point the Sunnis awakened. Then a counter-insurgency strategy that uses the power of the tribes that will reconcile those that can be and force the other into the open. The tribes have been in place in this part of the world longer than any idea of a country has been. A comprehensive way to deal with the poppy production has to be take place. This can be part of the counter-insurgency plan as the growers now have to grow poppy or literally watch their kids starve to death or be killed by the drug lords. Once the people are protected the world needs to chip in and buy the cash crops at the same price as the poppy. Considering that heroin is a world wide problem not just a US problem. This would put the growers in a position to feed the country and two make a living. Once you can employ people they are less liable to plant an IED for $10.
The second problem and maybe the biggest one is the Federally Administered Tribal Area(FATA) of Pakistan. Until the Pakistani Army and ISI stop thinking they need the FATA and the jihadist groups they created as a strategic buffer against India the jihadi problem will never go away. India,Pakistan with the help of China if need be, have to finally come to agreement on the status of Kashmir. Pakistan also needs to realize there are no good Taliban and stop these back room agreements with the Taliban the situation in the Swat valley earlier this year should have been enough to convince them but alas it has not. The tribal areas are in the need of governance the British failed to do so and so has Pakistan this has got to end having a large portion of a country filled with people that have vowed to kill you is never a good idea.
Afghanistan and Pakistan present special problems to the world at large as these two countries have effected world history on a scale that is disproportionate to these size. It will take many years, many lives, much money, and patience. This is a fight however that has to be fought because a victory for the jihadis will only make future generations more likely to be attacked and if Pakistan falls the jihadis will have nuclear weapons which they will not hesitate to use.