Recruiters in this Afghan refugee camp don't wait for graduation before sending kids to the front lines.
Nearly a year ago, Pakistani security forces acting on U.S. intelligence arrested the Taliban's senior leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, brother-in-law and No. 2 to the reclusive, one-eyed Mullah Mohammed Omar. Now the Taliban have finally anointed his successor.
When Richard Holbrooke took up his assignment as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan early last year, trying to lay the foundations for long-term stability at the epicenter of the Obama administration's tremulous policy, he knew as well as anyone that his mission was close to impossible.
In recent weeks, Pakistanis could be forgiven for thinking that the military, which has ruled for half of the country's 63 years of independence, had come back into power. Television news has been filled with footage of Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visiting some of the country's 6 million flood victims as Army helicopters dropped food and water and made rescues in isolated mountain villages.
Pakistan's ongoing support of the Afghan Taliban is anything but news to insurgents. Many of them readily admit their utter dependence on the country's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, not only for sanctuary and safe passage but also, some say, for much of their financial support. One officer offered an unverifiable estimate that Pakistan provides roughly 80 percent of the insurgents' funding.
Under intense U.S. pressure to drive deeper into the jihadist havens of North and South Waziristan, Pakistan is trying to clear the area its own way. The country's military chiefs dread the losses their troops would suffer against entrenched militants in the tribal badlands, but something has to be done, if only to stop the erosion of public support for the government.
In an eerie echo of those brief, heady days in Saigon, U.S. officials are crowing over the discovery of nearly $1 trillion worth of mineral wealth in Afghanistan. According to The New York Times, Pentagon officials have mapped "huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium."