The Pakistani Taliban, an extremist movement that apes its older Afghan Taliban cousin, is centered in Waziristan. The Pakistani Taliban previously was split, with a powerful group led by Baitullah Mehsud at odds with rival warlords Maulvi Nazir and Gul Bahadur. Among the three, they control North and South Waziristan with little interference from the Pakistani state.
While Mehsud has targeted Pakistan itself in a vicious campaign of violence and is accused of being behind the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Nazir and Bahadur sent their men to fight alongside other insurgents in Afghanistan.
The alliance, reached in the last couple of weeks, means they have settled their differences and have committed to re-direct their efforts into the Afghanistan campaign, according to officials and locals from Waziristan.
The three factions formed a new grouping calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of United Holy Warriors. The move directs attacks away from Pakistan and focuses the warfare against international and Afghan forces, especially those stationed in southern and eastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border.
"It's of concern to us when we see a grouping like that," said a Western security official in Pakistan, who couldn't be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. "This can't be ignored."
Just as we are reinforcing our troops in Afghanistan, so do they appear to be reinforcing theirs. And with little challenge from the government Pakistan, they are free to focus on Afghanistan to our detriment.