Progress of Pakistani forces
RAY SUAREZ: Well, let's turn to that. A tremendous assault by the Pakistani army is under way, even as these bomb attacks are unleashed in the capital.
What can you tell us about the progress of the Pakistani army?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: The army officials say that the operation is going well. We have no direct access to the area. It's completely sealed off.
We do know that thousands and thousands of people are streaming out in trucks and cars to escape the assault. As you may recall, last summer, there was a similar campaign in the Swat Valley, in which hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. They have all now gone home, but a second wave is now fleeing from Waziristan.
The army says it's determined to go in and get these guys. It says it's having success. But we understand that, yesterday, a town that had been taken by the military was retaken by the Taliban. So, this fight is far from over.
RAY SUAREZ: A town retaken by the Taliban. So, even though the Taliban is heavily outnumbered by the Pakistani army, they're holding their own?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: Well, as in any insurgent conflict, you know, those who know the terrain and can melt into it have the advantage.
You know, the Taliban are a classic insurgency. They are mobile. They are very knowledgeable. They can melt in and out of these rugged remote mountainous hills and valleys, heavily forested area. A conventional army is really not trained to fight them.
RAY SUAREZ: But the Pakistani forces also have airpower, something the Taliban can't aspire to. Is the military command saying they're going to stick with this operation until they retake big chunks of South Waziristan? Are they there for a long time, or is this the kind of short-term attack they will eventually draw back from?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: They say that, this time, they're going in for the long haul. They waited a very long time to launch this assault. It had been expected for many months. And they had been saying for many months that: We're going in soon, we're going in soon.
But they waited. And when we talked to army officials about it recently, before this operation started, they said: We're taking our time. We're going to get it set up and we're going to do it right.
I think they know how much is at stake here. I think they know that, if they lose this territory to the extremists, that they may never regain their credibility.
RAY SUAREZ: What do we know about the Taliban army? Is it drawn from both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border? Is it mainly Pakistani? Do we know?
PAMELA CONSTABLE: I would say it's mainly Pakistani, although, as you know, the border is very porous. These are similar tribes, even related tribes, living on both sides. There are related groups with similar religious aims on both sides. So, there's lots of, you might say, insurgent traffic back and forth.
But the leadership is Pakistani, and the senior commanders are Pakistani. So, I would assume that the large number -- majority of their fighters are also locals.
RAY SUAREZ: Pamela Constable in Islamabad, thanks a lot for joining us.
PAMELA CONSTABLE: You're very welcome.
JEFFREY BROWN: Visit our Web site for more on Pakistan and Afghanistan. You can use an interactive map to find our latest reporting from around the world. That's on our World View page at NewsHour.PBS.org.