There's no simple quick way to get rid of Taliban and Alqaeda; the sure ways are probably too difficult to comprehend and act upon, given the mindset of Pakistani establishment and civil society.
The world now a days is too complex for grasping correct concepts through 'either/or' type of questions/answers, and one-step solutions to problems. To get to the right concepts, we should instead start thinking of multiplicity of causes and then classify these in primary/secondary terms. However, muslims generally, and Pakistanis in particular, seem to be too naive for any analytical thinking and only search for one-step solutions when it comes to socio-economic, political or religious issues.
What we see today is the result of this long standing neglect of the real issues that go in to the making of a modern day nation. However, some steps are quite apparent and should be taken. I'll try to list the ones of prime importance in the short, medium and long term.
Apart from Talibans, Pakistan faces a host of other problems like
Declining quality of higher education
Almost zero dispensation of justice (here I'm referring to the 99% of cases in Pakistani courts pertaining to murder, robberies, financial fraud etc etc of which we've lost focus amid the Justice Iftikhar restoration issue. Ironically this CJ spent years in top office and never addressed speedy resolution of pending cases; his focus throughout was on suo moto actions against govt),
Increasing lack of respect of law
Huge expansion of an unskilled work force totally incapable of working in modern production and service sectors
and the list can go on and on. All these factors are no less important than Talibans and it will be futile to say which one is more damaging over another.
On analysis of each of these inter-related problems, you'll find that to resolve one problem it is essential to resolve another. So the problem, whose solution is a precondition to the solution of the other, becomes primary with the other as secondary.
In practical terms we'll only be able to achieve anything if we find out the primary problem and then solve it so that the resolution of the secondary problems becomes possible. We don't have institutions to do this analysis in a structured manner, the essentials of political parties in successful nations, so people like us who are not trained for such analyses keep on debating without reaching anywhere.
My unstructured analysis identifies bad economy as our primary problem, resolution of which is essential to solve other problems which are equally important but have become secondary to it. This is the surest way to deal with the problem but that is long term and we cannot say the country will suvive long enough to do that given the present situation.
While Pakistani professionals, businessmen, engineers, doctors etc, etc forming our elite are fairly proficient in applying their analytical skills in their own spheres, they become totally moronic in religious and political matters where they only follow what the religious or political guru says. For example, even Edhi is facing funding problems because the madressahs' share of charity monies is increasing because the donors believe that their donations will assure their place in heaven.
What is actually happening is that people in the lower social strata (like Pathan youngsters in Karachi who used to put in honest hard work in low end jobs) are turning away from jobs as they find a living with more security in madressahs without doing any work. This in turn is lessening the useful work force and creating a class which these same elites must keep on supporting otherwise they'll be destroyed themselves. The result: Their own future is in jeopardy just because of a lack of capacity of applying their analytical skills in simple but important aspects of human existence.
So one way to stop this menace is to stop funding the religious charities. This will make people work for their living which will increase their learning through experience and increase national productivity too. The way things are, we're turning our people into parasites who produce nothing, live off the body which they eventually destroy. Taliban and Alqaeda work the same way: They produce nothing, live off the food, fuel and money generated by the Pakistan economy and then they're out to destroy it too. The way to deal with them is the way parasites should be dealt with and the first step is to stop feeding them. This is a medium term step but again we don't know if the country survives that long.
In the short term, there is a need to effectively deal with this presently growing insurgency. To do that it is necessary to find out the reasons for it and develop the counter insurgency strategy accordingly. Here is my viewpoint as to what the real causes can be:
During the Afghan war of the 1980s a host of Islamic fighters gathered from all over the world, particularly from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa into Afghanistan (and Pakistan) to fight the Russians. These people focused simply on fighting, and were left high and dry when the Soviet forces left Afghanistan. The new Afghan dispensation had no place for them as the governance was naturally handed over to the natives (for namesake) and the aliens were expected go back to their homelands. This was not workable as
They were not acceptable in their home countries and
after the success in the war their expectations were to rule their destiny and not become subservient to others' authority.
These groups remained in Afghanistan and soon discovered that with their armament and wealth, accumulated during the Afghan war, the best place to set up rule was Pakistan.
With its greedy political leaders and cattle like parliamentarians, it is easy to buy their way into power.
Being adjacent to Afghanistan, it is easy to apply militancy when needed.
With a big segment of civil society emotionally unstable and having a self destructive mindset, manipulating public opinion is easy.
This was a pretty workable thinking on their part and on track till 9/11 when Pakistan became the epicenter of American geopolitics. The original plans were no longer workable, so they adopted a new strategy of insurgency within Pakistan to carve out their area of influence (worst case scenario) or to take over the entire country (their best case scenario).
Given the above reasoning, the insurgents are not rag tag fighters but well equipped organized militias with its soldiers better paid than the Pakistan Army soldiers, operating to implement a well defined agenda. So the counter insurgency strategy, combining dialogue and force, has the following alternatives/ constraints:
The commonly propounded viewpoint that the Taliban are sincere misguided people, harming the country out of ignorance and should be brought into mainstream by counseling and offering some concessions, will not work.
To go for a total elimination of insurgency. This means a long term total commitment and efficiency of operations on the part of political parties, Army and the civil society. The downside is that if these are missing then the whole country will be taken over by insurgency. Given the incompetence of our establishment and self destructive mindset of our civil society, there are little chances of success.
To go for containment.
To concentrate the country's military strength and economic resources into effectively stabilizing and developing the country to the maximum practicable extent. Towards this end even let some areas go into the control of militants; in fact they've already gone and we should openly accept that. The underlying principle being that the militants should organize their own defenses against the US and NATO forces, and Pakistani resources barred for them. If the militants succeed against them, they will consolidate their rule in those parts. If they fail, the territory will fall back to Pakistan, devastated but governable..
These are no easy choices and the way forward requires a realistic assessment of the current situation. Given the capabilities of our establishment, option (3) is a realistic option to adopt in the short term.
Lastly, on the role of Army: Think tank has acquired a different meaning in Pakistan. Those whose job is tank oriented are also the ones to think about the country's survival, and they're the "think tanks". Those whose job should have been to think about the country lack the capacity to think logically. We're capable of reaching new heights when it comes to irrationality.
Just to remind you, we look more worried about Feverish Taliban, there is a SWINE-Flu in Baluchistan ------- A large scale Vaccination is required there