Juan Cole’s summary of the situation in Pakistan

Juan Cole in his blog, Informed Comment:

As Pakistani president Asaf Ali Zardari arrived in Washington for talks with President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, fighting intensified in Pakistan's northwest.

On Tuesday morning, Pakistani Taliban deployed a suicide bomber to attack Pakistani security forces near Peshawar killing 5 and wounding 9 persons, among them school children bystanders.

WaPo says that fighting had intensified Monday in the Swat Valley between the Pakistani Taliban and government troops, as well as in Buner, the district into which they recently made an incursion and from which the government has been attempting to dislodge them. So far some 80 militants have been killed in the Buner campaign, and 20,000 civilians have been displaced.

Tony Karon at Time explains that the Pakistani military establishment disagrees with Washington that the Taliban are an existential threat to the Pakistani state, and why.

Convinced that Pakistan's problems are in part rooted in economic issues, Sens. John Kerry and Dick Lugar introduced legislation Monday aimed at tripling US foreign aid to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is calling on Saudi Arabia to help Pakistan crush the Pakistani Taliban. The Saudis have developed a fear of the vigilante radicals that they once supported back in the 1980s, and spent 2003-2006 suppressing them at home, and perhaps by now Gates's idea makes some sense.

More here. Obama says Pakistan is toughest U.S. challenge: