Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pakistan’s Need to Embrace Reality

Over the past few weeks, the reports coming out of Pakistan hopefully raised enough eye brows in the US to finally lead their closest ally in the ‘War on Terror’ to finally embrace reality. The schizophrenic policies of the Zardari/Geelani Government have taken both practical steps, yet exacerbated the same problems that have plagued the security of the Pakistani people for decades. Until the Government of Pakistan (GoP) finally embraces reality, security will continue to deteriorate for the majority of moderates who live in the country. Unfortunately, the dysfunction leads a majority of the world to assume that Pakistan’s chaos stems from a country full of radicals and Islamists rather than moderates and secularists. Fortunately, the truth remains the latter in this case, a reality that Pakistan’s neighbors and the rest of the world should be thankful due to the nuclear dynamic of the Pakistan dilemma.

Secret Talks with India

A story in Sundays Washington Post claimed that for the past three years, secret negotiations have taken place between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir Issue. Unfortunately, these talks were between the previous Musharraf led GoP, and came to an unfortunate end due to the ineffective and corrupt leadership of the Musharraf regime. Musharraf’s inability to affectively lead his country internally due to a decade of funding, training and supporting extremist elements as a policy of appeasement, rather than developing and embracing the majority secular and moderate population has led to the possibility of Pakistan becoming a failed state. Fortunately, the brain trust within the Pakistani establishment remains strong enough to hopefully survive the efforts of the extremists to take over the country through fear and intimidation, rather than through the Democratic process the Pakistani people love to profess as an example of good governance. However, the supposed breakdown of talks with India regarding Kashmir, and the nature of a deal that would have been acceptable by India, Pakistan and the Kashmir people is most unfortunate and sad.

Truce with the Taliban and Small Arms Distribution

Another example of dysfunction rests in the supposed truce between the GoP and the Taliban in the SWAT Region. Moreover, the recent report of the GoP, or at least a regional authority of the GoP in the SWAT region giving 30,000 rifles to local militias to combat the Taliban continues to be a reflection of the GoP’s inability to implement a consistent strategy resulting in the general public’s support for the government, fighting extremist elements and doing so without the necessity of creating another element of possible militancy. Finally, the GoP must take a robust approach at eliminating the rogue elements within the military and intelligence services that still support militant elements both within the SWAT region, as well as in the Kashmir region, which resulted in the Mumbai tragedy this past year. Until the GoP can get a handle on these rogue elements, no matter what strategy changes are made, the central government will continue to be undermined, resulting in continued failure and chaos.

Embracing Reality rather than Defeat

Should the GoP finally accept the advice that both the United States Government, as well as its neighbors Afghanistan and India regarding a robust proactive approach combating extremism, progress would result in a sustainable success. The continuation of the same policies of the past decade will undoubtedly result in a security situation mirroring that of Iraq from 2003-06. The bombing of a Shiite wedding this past week symbolizes Al-Qaeda’s desire to create the same communal rift in Pakistan between Shiite and Sunni Muslims as they did in Iraq. Moreover, having permitted Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to regroup and strengthen along the boarder of Afghanistan has once again been a decision that has haunted both the military and the central government.

The failure to eliminate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda following their retreat from Afghanistan remains a crucial mistake resulting in the current deterioration of the security situation. The same can be said for the GoP’s failure to once and for all dismantle the militant camps on the Kashmir border with India resulting in the Mumbai tragedy. Hopefully the Zardari/Geelani Government will soon come to accept and react to these realities rather than accepting defeat and putting the entire region at risk.

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