Start of the victory march? (Must Read)

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by Flint, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    Start of the victory march?

    Thursday, April 16, 2009
    Kamila Hyat

    The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor

    It seems more and more apparent that the Taliban are now winning. There is evidence of this everywhere; the distant sound of triumphant bugles – or whatever instruments the extremist use to mark victory--can sometimes be heard in the distance if we **** our ears.

    From Swat, where the ANP "deal" with the men of Maulana Fazaullah has meant they have effectively won in the area, the Taliban have fanned out to neighbouring Buner and Dir. Their promises to quit the area have not been kept. Local people have made attempts to fight them off, with limited success. They have received little or no support in this endeavour from the authorities. The federal government remained under extreme pressure to sign the Nizam-e-Adl regulation that would set up Qazi courts in Swat. President Zardari – who is reported to have promised the US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke that he will not put his name on the dotted line – is accused of sabotaging "peace" in Swat and blocking the provincial government's efforts to establish it.


    A dangerous divide seems to be cropping up. On one side we have the prime minister, backed by the Army chief, adopting a tough, anti-US line in recent statements and in their assertive response to demands made by US officials. This, of course, is to be welcomed, given that US engagement in the region since 2001 has fanned militancy in the tribal areas. The wisdom behind the drone strikes has been questioned in Washington and elsewhere. But is there inherent in the line being taken by the ANP, the prime minister and others an intrinsic acceptance that the Taliban represent the winning side and it is wise to line up with them rather than against them?


    Strategists in key corridors of power in Islamabad are said to be suggesting that Pakistan's interests lie in forming a front against India, with Taliban backing.
    The military's lack of success against the fanatical fighters in Swat, in Bajaur and elsewhere is thought to be a factor in this. So too is the forecast that the Taliban could regain control of Afghanistan, and as in the past they should be looked on as allies in that region and a means to counter New Delhi's influence in Kabul. In other words, the US and India would be cast in the role of "bad" guys, the Taliban projected as "good guys." The readiness to accept the insane order they have proposed for Swat is a sign of this new, and dangerous, mindset.

    Buoyed by it, the extremists are looking further afield, well beyond the tribal areas that had till now been their domain. There have been threats to schools in both Lahore and Islamabad. In Punjab the chief minister has taken note of these and advised schools to step up security, though he has not said what his own government intends to do to control law and order. There is talk of setting up CCTV cameras and security gates at entry points. Co-ed schools are stated to top the terrorist hit list; messages texted to parents seem to be intended to create panic. This, in the past, has been a ploy used by agencies. It seems plausible they are once more working in collusion with the Taliban.

    Coinciding with this is what appears to be a very deliberate act to undermine the government, and specifically the reconciliation effort announced by President Zardari just days ago, in Balochistan. The grotesque murder of the three nationalist leaders there was obviously intended to create a crisis on a new front. This has happened immediately, with riots wracking the country's largest province. It seems impossible to believe the events were not carefully contrived and put into place by experts. The intent seems to be to make Pakistan even more ungovernable than it already is.


    There is deepening suspicion that the country is quickly spiralling out of all control. Opinions to this effect have been expressed in the international press and voiced at key meetings. President Barack Obama has now pinpointed Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan as the most dangerous region in the world. In Washington, there is said to be a mounting sense of panic over how to handle Pakistan and whether Asif Ali Zardari, a man who has aligned himself with Washington, is the right person for the job. On his latest visit to a country he himself admits he struggles to understand, Richard Holbrooke asked many he met if they thought Zardari should be removed, and if so, how. The increased US interest in the Sharifs demonstrates the same line of thinking.

    The time has come to face up to some facts. At present, like players in a game featuring two teams, people seem to have been split into two camps. One side favours the Taliban, the other argues victory over them is possible only with US assistance. On this basis, they hold, it would be unwise to shunt out Washington. Pakistan at present cannot hope to win the war on terror alone.


    There may be in this some truth. But the fact also is that the US is reviled by most people in Pakistan. This is not true only of the increasing number who seem mentally ready to accept that a new kind of order must be ushered in, whether in Swat or elsewhere; nor do these numbers comprise of extremists like the "students" allegedly involved in a terror plot in Britain.

    Most ordinary Pakistanis loathe the US – for what its policies have done to their country, changing it over the past three decades almost beyond recognition -- and for their unjust strategies in the Middle East. But they also loathe and resent the Taliban. This was demonstrated in last year's general election when few votes trickled in for pro-militant parties and it has also been proven in the angry actions against the Taliban in Dir, Bajaur, Buner and elsewhere.



    We need leaders, then, who can recognise the potential power of people. They have the capacity to overcome extremists and to do so far more effectively than the Americans. Somehow they need to be brought fully into the fight rather than kept relegated to the sidelines as has been the case so far. Their need to be permitted to make their country their own, for after all it should belong to them and not either to the Americans or the Taliban.

    For this to happen, we need policies that are directed primarily towards serving the interests of people. Our political leaders need to align themselves with these citizens rather than striking dodgy deals with other forces. This has still to happen – and only if it does can Pakistan hope to escape the crises that threaten to overtake it and a situation in which extremist forces take hold of more and more facets of life in villages, towns and cities everywhere.

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  3. Soham

    Soham DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    This is so similar to how they spread in Afghanistan...
    Gather public support and start the march.
     

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