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Posts from — April 2009

Who will save Pakistan?

Military habits die hard. Recently former president of Pakistan General Parvez Musharraf was in India, wherein he unabashedly showered praise on army and security establishments. Praising the Army and the ISI at this juncture when both of them are getting exposed internationally for their duplicity, deception (of ally Americans) and dalliance with the very Taliban and extremists they are supposed to be fighting, gives the entire Pakistan scene a new dimension. The military is always there to exploit even the minutest mistake of the civilian government and make it as an excuse for the coup. Never ever have they let the government improve by trial and error method?

Weeks have passed since the deadly attack on Sri Lankan cricket team and Pakistani security agencies have no clue about the perpetrators of the attack. It all looks doubtful that the same agencies which boast of killing and arresting hundreds of Al Qaeda men cannot crack a case that happened at their heart. Besides there are too many similarities between the Lahore attack and the Mumbai attacks, which Pakistani security agencies of fearful of exposing. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has blown a huge hole in the Pakistan’s contrived smugness over the Mumbai event. The way the TV shots have shown to the world how these perpetrators walked in and walked out coolly in performing their assigned task and the nature of the attack and its consequences seem to fall into a pattern.

On the other hand the civilian government too has not been lived up to the expectations of the public. The authoritarian presidential powers have not been curtailed and nothing has been done to arrest corruption, rising terrorism, inflations, poverty etc. To get the military accountable to civilian rule is a distant reality.

There is a question mark on the civilian government and fears of a second coup so close to the end of the military rule, is underlined by the pace of events that seem to be a replay of what happened over a few years before Musharraf booted out Sharif. First it was Sharif as the PM who with army’s help got Bhutto dismissed and put Zardari on trial. Then the Army twisted Sharif’s arms when it upstaged him and sponsored the Kargil conflict after he broke bread with Atal Behari Vajpayee and India and Pakistan seem to be opening a new chapter in their strained relations at the initiative of the NDA Government in New Delhi in 1998. Finally when the Kargil adventure boomeranged on the Army and Nawab Sharief had to take the rap for something he did not authorise, Musharraf ticked him off and sent him into exile just as earlier Sharief had ensured Benazir Bhutto’s self-exile.

Army is an omnipresent entity in Pakistan. These generals are always on the lookout of the option to legitimise their ascent to the governing structure of the country. They work stealthily and effectively. As is being seen at present, a ground is being prepared to project the stability of Army in Pakistan. It is being said and written that in this era of political corruption and all kinds of ills, only Army is the stable single entity. This notion will be later enhanced more with over blowing of wrongs of civilian government. Ultimately a coup will happen and it will be sold to people as necessary to save Pakistan. What is to be seen is how the same civil society that had created a public opinion to end the military regime and bring back the civilian rule would now reassert itself and stop the slide to dictatorship.

Pakistan army can go to any limits to get the power back in their hands. There are accusations and even proofs of army getting involved in the business of terrorism with close collaboration of Al Qaeda, Taliban and others. Army uses their services to enhance its position and indispensability. The high level collusion between the militant Jihadis and people in critical positions of the administration is daily becoming more and more evident. After all it was present Army Chief of Pakistan General Ashfaq Kayani who was quoted by American journalist David Sanger that Taliban are strategic assets to his forces. When any country’s army has such a respect for a terrorist group, only God can save that country.

April 25, 2009   No Comments

Pak’s Uncertain Future

Farooq Ganderbali

Pakistan narrowly escaped from the certain entry into chaos and a possible civil war. With Asif Ali Zardari bowing to the demands of opposition parties, a major crisis was averted in this strife torn state. Nawaz Sharif, who was leading the long march, had threatened for a full time revolution if their demands were not met by the government. That revolution would certainly have been a bloodier one.

The pressure from people was too high for the weak government of Zardari to handle. Despite all efforts, the Government could not stop Opposition and lawyer long-marchers from converging on Islamabad on March 15. The protestors were in mood to relent and had decided for an indefinite sit-in on the main highway to demand the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Choudhary, whom the then President Pervez Musharraf had sacked on November 3, 2007, while imposing Emergency in the country.

When sense prevailed on Zardari, he sent Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to announce the reinstatement of Chief Justice Choudhary on the early morning of March 16. So an impending disaster was averted, but one wonders for how much time. This was an issue which would have not been started at all. Sharif and Zardari had long agreed to restore the judiciary, but later backtracked on his promises. “These agreements were not the Quran or the Hadis,” Zardari once said in his autocratic style.

Justice Choudhary is seen as a man of principles, who never compromised on them. He didn’t care about dictator Musharraf and it was thus imperative for Zardari to think that Choudhary would certainly be a thorn in the flesh. Zardari had become the president of Pakistan by accident and he wants to benefit the most from this once in a lifetime opportunity. Zardari’s previous stint as a minister during the government of his slain wife Benazir Bhutto earned him a nickname of Mr. Ten Per Cent for his notorious underhand dealings. Now when God had provided him the entire Pakistan on a platter, it was obvious for Zardari to demolish every possible opposition.

Zardari first got rid of President General Parvez Musharraf, then he let the divide happen between his party and Nawaz Sharif which was later followed by curbs on freedom of ex-pression and media too was not spared. Zardari even got court orders for barring of political activities of Sharif brothers. It was clear that Zardari didn’t want any unkind word said against him, so Justice Choudhary too had to wait indefinitely, as per the plans of supreme head of Pakistan. But he miscalculated the power of lawyers and Nawaz Sharief, which ultimately put a brake on his zooming ambitions.

Gilani’s in his TV address also announced that his Government would petition to the Supreme Court to review its order of February 25 disqualifying Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif from holding an elected office. The quick action of government averted a dangerous confrontation which could have led to civil war conditions.

After this entire hullabaloo where one section feels a winner while as no one except the poor people feel losers. There is a million dollar question as to what will happen next? Will democracy take roots under the current crop of political leaders in Pakistan? Will the long fought after judiciary be any independent than it has been in the past six decades? And most important what will be the role of Army and ISI, who until now have remained mere spectators?

But there is more that meets the eyes. There is a poplar saying in Pakistan that the country runs on three A’s that is America, Army and Allah. So the arrival of peace during this period was not without the consent of these important elements. In fact it was not leader’s love for their country that they averted the confrontation, rather it was the pressure tactics of America and Army chief Ashfaq parvez Kayani, who forced the peace in Pakistan. Zardari belongs to a feudal clan which does not have words like forget and forgive in its vocabulary. Nawaz Sharif is not a feudal, but that does not make him less revengeful. At present the peace is more of a marriage of convenience than the permanent solution.

The real test begins now. Sharif wants presidential post to be stripped of all powers in accordance with 1973 constitution. Although Sharif has promised not to pressure on mid term elections, but he won’t relent on relegation of promises. If presidential powers are curtailed, Zardari will remain a mere puppet and Gilani will emerge as the most powerful of all. Being a cunning feudal lord Zardari will never let it happen and future is set to be courser than present.

Secondly the judiciary will be bombarded with cases of corruption by leaders, unconstitutional acts of Zardari, Sharif and Musharraf, human rights violations against army and so on. With new hope in independent judiciary, people will wish all of them to be fulfilled. But can this judiciary prove upto the mark? Will political leaders allow judiciary to dance on their heads with naked sword? If not what will people do then? If yes what will happen?

The future doesn’t seem to be too promising for Pakistan and it seems set for a roller coaster ride, come what may.

April 25, 2009   No Comments

Pak’s Cunning Games

By Farooq Ganderbali

Eager to show itself the victim of terrorist violence, Pakistan is trying all kinds of dirty games. Recently terrorists attacked a police academy in Lahore, wherein dozens of policemen were killed and many more injured. The ghastly act was the reminder of the place what Pakistan has been turned into. The terrorist attacks are becoming a continuous affair in Pakistan.

Ironically Pakistan government said that this attack is similar to the attack on Mumbai. One fails to understand how the two attacks are similar to each other. There is a lot of difference in selection of target and mode of execution. The Mumbai attack was the blatant terrorist attack on unprotected and unarmed civilians and Lahore attack was on well fortified police complex.

Basically Pakistan wants to prove that it had nothing to do with the attack on Mumbai hotels and these are isolated terrorists without any help from outside, who undertake such attacks. Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram rubbished the claim by saying that both the cases are totally different. Here Kasab has accepted that the attack was planned and he was sent with arms, after being trained in Pakistan. The terrorist had also accepted of getting help from some quarters of Pakistan establishment, India has already sent the proof to Pak government relating to the attack on Mumbai. Here it was a military attack, well planned in its attempt, which is clear by the fact that the militants came in a ship with the military weapons and goods.

Meanwhile Taliban has without any fear claimed the responsibility of the attack. Taliban commander Baitullah Masood in a statement accepted that the attack on Lahore was done by Taliban for the cause of its ideology. This is also clear by the arrest of a terrorist who is a member of Taliban. Pakistan feels embarrassed to acknowledge that the group which was created by it has turned itself against the mother country. During the invasion of Afghanistan by NATO forces, Pakistan allowed Talibanis to settle in Swat valley and now have given right to rule the valley independently in Pakistan. It is well known that in Pakistan from very early years, the government at times has been under the hands of politicians and at times under the hands of military rulers who indulged in wars with India like one in Kargil. They have been continuing with their well documented policy of ‘bleeding India to death with thousand cuts.’ But little did they know that India is strong enough to ward off effects of any such policy. Pakistan’s sword proved to be the double edged sword which cuts its host more than its enemy.

There is an inherent struggle going on in Pakistan to save the country from being split into fragments. The civilian government has long lost control of the situation and army too is desperately trying to avoid the same. Recently General Kayani warned President Zardari to be very offensive to improve the situation of the country otherwise military will have to intervene. Sensing a chance army will be giving it a try to take control of the country by deposing civilian government. The only thing that worries army is that whether they will be able to control the Taliban monster on their own. So they are giving Zardari a chance to fail. It is clear from the recent evidences that Taliban is trying to come into rule in Pakistan which is a red signal for India and government is to be very clear in its policies regarding the Talibans in Pak. The Taliban rule of Pakistan will be last nail in its coffin and a worrisome factor for India too. But given the strength of India’s defences and society, the effects would be minimal. The subversive activities of such elements will be taken care of easily by our powerful armed forces.

April 25, 2009   No Comments

Pakistan’s Future In Jeopardy

By Farooq Ganderbali

The recent attack in Pakistan has clearly showed it to the world that Pakistan has become the punching bag for terrorists. The country is being repeatedly dealt with blows and in reaction it just swings from one end to other.

There is no war on Pakistan and nobody from outside is attacking it. The country is simply at war with itself. It has reached this point just by the ill gotten policies of its rulers. The sins of the past are visiting Pakistan. All the Frankensteins created by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence are now attacking their creator. Buoyed by gaining sway over Swat, the Taliban is on a high. And, they would try to advance deeper into Pakistan in a bid to establish their writ. In this, they would get ample support from groups like Al Qaeda, LeT and Jaish which espouse global jihad. This would destabilise the region and make it more insecure than it already is.

India has been drawing attention to the dangerous situation in Pakistan over the last so many years. All that India had predicted about Pakistan is coming truer in every respect. Even US is affirming to the fact and working in collusion with India to stabilise the region. While unveiling the US Af-Pak policy last week, President Obama announced annihilation of al Qaeda its principle objective. Days before Obama announced his government’s Af-Pak policy, AP reported that Afghanistan’s intelligence chief had accused ISI of helping Taliban militants to carry out attacks in his country. Afghanistan has repeatedly called on Pakistan to sever all links with the Taliban, which came to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s with significant support from the ISI.

Pakistan seems to be in no mood to change its policies regarding using terror as a tool of foreign policy. They have destroyed Afghanistan by using this tool and are now killing their own country. In spite of Pakistan now facing the brunt of terror attacks, ISI’s patronage to Taliban and motley terror groups it nurtured to bolster its anti-India mission of death by a thousand cuts is unlikely to wilt away any time soon. Even though the political establishment of Pakistan is uncomfortable about this truth about the ISI, they hardly have any control over the agency.

The assault yesterday on a police school and a wave of spectacular attacks underline Pakistan’s weakness and the danger posed by Islamist militants to the future of the nuclear-armed nation. Around 35 people were in this brazen attack which turned Lahore into a war zone capital.

According to terror experts the latest attack was a defiant message to US President Barack Obama, who has put Pakistan at the heart of the fight against al-Qa’ida, tripling US aid in a strategy that is aimed at reversing the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Obama recently termed the violence in Pakistan “a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.” He asked Islamabad to demonstrate its commitment to eradicating the extremists for the sake its own country.

The terrorists want to tell Obama and his Western allies they cannot be contained as Obama desired, and are still as powerful and strong as they have been for years now. The attack proves the weakness of the state institutions and shows that a mere half-a-dozen professionally trained terrorists can take anyone hostage and occupy any establishment they like.

In most of Pakistan major cities urban terrorism is in vogue. The Lahore police academy attack was similar to March 3 assault on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, in which seven members of the cricket squad were injured.
The second attack in the Lahore area this month indicates that the net of violence is spreading.

According to media reports these terrorists have killed 1700 people in less than two years in Pakistan in number of attacks. And the intensity and frequency is increasing with every passing day. The terrorists pose a direct threat to Pakistan’s state and society. Such attacks again prove that there seems to be lack of governance in Pakistan.

These repeated attacks show total failure on the part of the Government’s law-enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies. Pakistan’s future is at massive risk.

Pakistan shelters a number of extremist groups, spanning banned Islamist organisations like Lashkar e Toiba in the east, to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida in the west.

Top officials in the US, Pakistan’s key ally, have openly accused elements in the country’s powerful intelligence agency of abetting al-Qa’ida.
The sooner Pakistan understands the dangers from terrorism, the better it will be for them. World can enhance its security to minimise the effects of terrorism emanating from Pakistan. But with isolated Pakistan, it will be just an implosion in waiting. The state will collapse like a pack of cards. The country that was born for the cause of religion will be undone by the extreme elements of the same cause.

April 25, 2009   No Comments

GARRULOUS RAHMAN MALIK’S SOFT UNDER BELLY

Garrulous Rahman Malik, Adviser on Interior Affairs to dapper Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, has perfected his refrain. India, he keeps telling anyone who is willing to lend ears, is not cooperating in investigating Mumbai attack case. He takes pleasure in public lament that India is not giving answers to the questions raised by Islamabad.

Lately he has picked up a new talking point. India, Afghanistan and Russia (not necessarily in that order) are responsible for the inferno that Balochistan has become, he is saying.

Rehman’s outburst in Pakistan Senate on April 22 was typical of the genre – rhetorical, bluff and bluster in full measure.

India is supporting Balochistan National Army (BNA) campaign for secession, he thundered. And came up with a ‘sensational’ disclosure – that India was involved in the kidnapping and later execution of three Baloch activists early April. Pak media, particularly the Urdu press, lapped up the charge as a stick to thrash India

Like in the Mumbai fall-out case, the Baloch charge also did not stick. And the great helmsman of Pakistan’s internal security had egg on his face. All those who had lapped up his outpouring have run for cover.

Obviously, Malik has become a victim of turf war which is peculiar to Pakistan and is not getting an update, if not a briefing, from the ISI sleuths.

Here are the details.

Read them, you will know Malik’s and his master’s mindset of targeting the neighbours to cover their feet of clay.

Ghulam Mohammad, Chairman, Balochistan National Movement (BNM), Sher Mohammad Baloch, Vice-President, Balochistan Republic Party (BRP) and Lala Munir Baloch, General Secretary, Baloch National Front (BNF) turned up at the Session’s Court in Turbat (Balochistan) on April 3 in connection with a shooting case slapped on them last year. They met their lawyer, and appeared before the Judge, who granted them an interim bail.

In a happy frame of mind, the three Balochi leaders returned to the lawyer’s chamber in the court premises. Suddenly from nowhere more than a dozen persons walked in and whisked them away in waiting cars. These vehicles, four in all, have had no number plate. So, the vehicles are untraceable. The intruders were dressed like any other civilian.

The lawyer suspected the abduction to be the handiwork of ISI. He immediately rushed to Turbat Police Station but the police refused to entertain his complaint. He turned to the Sessions’ Court with a Habeous Corpus petition. The judge heard him in patience but declined to entertain his plea saying the case did not come under his jurisdiction.

Turbat Bar Association picked up the case and its President Fida Hussain, shot off a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Iftikhar Choudhry, for suo motto action. Five days later, on April 8 to be precise, even before the CJP could react, bodies of the three missing Baloch leaders were found at Pidrak, 35 Kms away from Turbat.

The bodies were badly mutilated, almost beyond recognition. Post-mortem report said they were killed on the very day of their arrest and the bodies were thrown off a high place, may be a helicopter.

Malik was repeatedly interrupted as he indulged in his wild allegations not only by Senators from Balochistan but also other provinces. They took serious objections to his claim that ten thousand Balochis were trained in Russia and that they are now actively indulging in terrorist activities in Balochistan. PML (N) leader Zaffar-ul-Haq cautioned Malik against loose talk and told him that he could end up creating new enmities for Pakistan.

What has gone wrong with Malik and his ilk?

Handling his first case (as Advisor, Interior Affairs) which was a fall-out of Mumbai’s 26/11, Malik sounded very reasonable. In fact, he clean bowled everyone when he admitted that Afzal Kasab, the lone survivor of ‘Mission Mumbai’, was, indeed, a Pakistani. He also announced the arrest of several other LeT operatives for their involvement in the attack on Mumbai.

Malik’s perestroika was short lived though. Because, he soon returned to the old habit of India bashing and to the allegation that India was not forthcoming with requisite information. A smoke screen for wriggling out of the commitment to arrest all the accused in Mumbai case.

Patently unfair it may be to lay all the blame for these roll backs at the door-step of Malik. Not only he but also others who matter and even media are dictated to by the Army and the ISI as to the position they should take on any given issue of interest to the Pak establishment.

A group of Pakistani journalists said so in so many words while on a visit to New Delhi to attend a media conference on April 15. Beena Sarwar, Rahmullah Yusafzai, Sayeed Minhas and Muniba Kamal said the Army and the ISI dictate a stated position with regard to terrorism and India. They fully concurred with Nirupama Subramanian, the Hindu correspondent in Islamabad, who said that the Pakistani media was generally sympathetic to India in the immediate aftermath of 26/11but suddenly changed their tone of reporting after a briefing given by the ISI Chief.

Rahman Malik and his masters in the Zardari government may prefer short memories. May also like not to see beyond the immediate though the Mr Five Percent regime had promised a clean break with the past. It had even apologised for all the past ‘sins’ in Balochistan.

The turn of events show the regime change has seen no change in the work culture and work ethics of the notorious military intelligence agencies, which continue to treat Baluchis as adversaries of the State and blame them as agents of foreign intelligence agencies. This is precisely how Pakistan had lost a part of its landmass, which became Bangladesh in 1971.

April 24, 2009   No Comments

WHO IS AFRAID OF TALIBAN

spreading-influence-of-taliban-from-dir-to-swat

President Asif Ali Zardari’s ratification of the Nizam-e-Adle regulation in Swat and Malakand areas of the NWFP has formalised Taliban control over these regions. The peace agreement was signed on February 16 between Sufi Mohammad, leader of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and the Government of NWFP. Sufi Mohammad further clarified in a press conference on April 15 that the new Sharia law will protect the Taliban cadres accused of killings from prosecution and Qazi verdicts cannot be challenged in any other court including High Courts and the Supreme Court. Muslim Khan, the Taliban spokesperson, has also indicated that they may not lay down arms. Doubts expressed on the tenability of the accord are perhaps coming true.

Having tasted victory, the Taliban is already looking beyond Swat and Malakand. Hundreds of Taliban cadres, hailing from Swat and Bajaur, moved to parts of lower Dir and targeting to reach upper Dir. They have killed the District Police Officer and a former District Nazeem and began training new recruits in parts of Lajbok, Gal and Benshahhi and in the areas bordering Asmar and other parts of Afghanistan.

The Taliban from Swat have also taken a number of areas in Buner; mosques in several villages were converted into recruitment centres to urge the youth to join their ranks. Buner, with a population of over half a million and area of 1865 Sq Kms, fell easily despite a spirited but unequal resistance by local people, without any help forthcoming from Security Forces.

The geographical expansion of the Taliban offers some clues to their ‘road map’ to expand to the north towards China and Central Asia, to the west to Afghanistan and to other parts of Pakistan. Haripur, to the south-east of Buner, appears to be the next obvious move for the Taliban once they have consolidated in Buner. To the east of Buner is located Manshira and to the west Madan. The two areas are easy to capture which will then clear the way to control the Karakoram Highway as for north as Chilas, the strategic route to China.

It is no surprise that the Chinese are seriously worried about plans of East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), aided by other militant groups in the NWFP, and have been demanding action from the Zardari Government. In February this year, Meng Jainzhu, Chinese Minister for Public Security, met President Zardari during his visit to Shanghai to impress upon the Pakistani leader of the Chinese concerns and need for action.

Beijing despatched a Special Envoy last month (March) to Islamabad to discuss the threats posed by the ETIM. Realising that the Zardari Government has no control and the Army is not wiling to fight, the Chinese have reached a separate understanding with the Government of the NWFP to prevent the Taliban and the ETIM marching towards China.

The Chinese assessment that Zardari Government and the Army are of no help to prevent the expansion of the Taliban is a dangerous trend.

According to sources, the Chinese government did not ask Army’s help when two of the Chinese Engineers were kidnapped by the Taliban, but used their own contacts in the tribal areas to negotiate their release. China has been operating mines in these areas and has built up a network of contacts and informers in the area. This speaks volumes of the kind of control the Government and the Army of Pakistan have in this region.

The Army and other Security Services have meekly surrendered to the Taliban, whom they consider a “strategic asset” for their larger game plans in Afghanistan. The American CIA has made available to selected journalists transcripts of taped conversations of Army Chief General Kayani, who reportedly stated that the Taliban/Al-Qaida commander Jalaluddin Haqqani a ‘strategic asset’.

The Army is treating the Taliban leaders as heads of the Government with all due VIP treatment. On April 3, when Maulana Fazalullah, the leader of Swat Taliban, led the Friday prayers at his home village Mandirai, he was warmly received by several military officials and the District Administration.

According to Farhat Taj in the daily ‘The News’ on April 13, those who prayed behind Fazlullah were Brigadier Tahir Mubeen, Syed Javed Hussain, the Commissioner of Malakand region, and Danishwar Khan, the man in charge of operation Rah-e-Haq. He raised a valid point of seeking an explanation from the army, why its commander in Swat was offering namaz behind the terrorists who killed soldiers and police men.

A recent article in Dir Spiegel, the respected German Daily, has summed up the Pakistan Army’s attitude towards Taliban thus: “The military avoids serious confrontation with the extremists. Many officers still do not see Taliban as their enemy. Pakistan’s true enemy, in their view, is India… Quite a few officers say that the fight against terrorism in the north-western part of the country is being forced upon them by the Americans and that they are fighting the wrong war…. A Pakistani two-star general candidly explained the mindset of his follow military commanders… noting that although the Army is fighting the Taliban, it also supports the militants….”

Although the Army is leaking out such signals that they are not fighting the Taliban as they do not consider them the enemy, the real fact also appears to be that Army’s fear of losing war with the Taliban. Since the creation of Pakistan, the Army propagated an “existential” threat from India and the need for an unquestioned supremacy of the Armed Forces. This “myth” perhaps explains the reason for unquestioned submission of the people whenever they usurp power in military coups. The Pak Army is afraid of this “myth” being exploded.

The Army’s operations against the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in the year 2007, at the instance of the Chinese, has for the first time pitted the militant groups against the military. While the Pakistan Army’s decisive defeats in the 1971 War with India, when they lost their Eastern plank, and the Kargil war could easily be explained by the military through an internal psychological warfare, they would not be able to explain and survive a similar defeat at the hands of the Taliban who are fast expanding.

Where as the Army fear of loosing a battle with the Taliban, the civilian leaders shiver even talking about the militants fearing that their arms can be pointed against them. When President Zardari sought the cover of Parliament to ratify the Nizam-e-Adle regulation, peoples’ representatives cutting across parties, despite reservations against it, remained silent during the debate. Irfan Husain, in his article in the Dawn on April 11, quoted a senior journalist in Islamabad saying that when reporters seek an interview with Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League (N), they must first agree not to ask any direct questions about the Taliban. He opined that “being a canny politician, Nawaz Sharif does not wish to alienate his core support among reactionary elements.”

The people at large have, meanwhile, become a hostage in their own country as neither the Army and security forces nor the elected civilian leaders are ready to protect them from the marauding Taliban and other militant groups. Their patience appears to be running out. In a protest organised in Lahore on April 10, against Taliban’s public flogging of a 17-year old girl in Swat, one of the popular slogan was: “Pakistan kay do shaitan: fauj aur uskay Taliban” (Pakistan’s two demons: The Army and its Taliban).

This may be an ominous sign that the Army is feared of. During long years of military rule, the top echelons of the Army officers have enriched themselves and have no desire to fight, particularly the internal enemy.

With Pakistan appears to be fast falling into the hands of the Taliban, the time perhaps has come for all the neighbours and the countries beyond to take urgent measures to prevent the Taliban striking close to their borders. China, India, Iran and Central Asian countries may have to take fast and coordinated measures to address the issue and secure their borders. The time is running out.

The article first appeared at Policy Research Group site: www.policyresearchgroup.com

April 18, 2009   No Comments