Sunday, September 21, 2008

The time for cooperation is now

Tensions have been exacerbated between the US and Pakistan in recent weeks, after US special forces crossed into Pakistan to pursue Taliban militants who use the "sovereignty" of northwestern Pakistan to their advantage. There are two things that Pakistan needs to realize...first of all, the NW regions are anything but sovereign territory of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Much of the area is a "no-go" zone for the Pakistani security forces, and the Taliban is able to operate freely. Second of all, while the Taliban leaders claim that their fight is directed at America, the violence--the bombings and terror attacks that continue to rock the country--are going to continue as Pakistan remains on the track of democracy. The election of Benazir Bhutto's widower...Asif Ali Zardari, angers Baitullah Mehsud and Uncle Ayman just as much Pakistan's cooperation with the US. A Taliban mini-state in the northwest and a democratic Pakistan will never be able to cooperate together.

So the point is, as long as the US and Pakistan refuse to cooperate and draft a real plan to finally crush the Taliban safe havens, this will continue to happen...

This horrific attack against the Marriott Hotel killed scores of people--including two Americans and the Czech Republic's ambassador to Pakistan. Dozens of Muslims celebrating the breaking of the fast (during the month of Ramadan) were also killed, proving once again that Muslims and westerners alike are in this fight together. As can be seen in this photo, the hotel is said to be in danger of collapsing, and we can only pray that no one else is trapped inside.

Pakistan has already lost control of its sovereignty, and its time for Pakistan's leaders to realize this. Perhaps no one knows better than Asif Ali Zardari...who lost his wife, Benazir, to these people last year. Pakistan should immediately join up with NATO and launch a joint-operation into the lawless frontiers, and at the same time, an aggressive political campaign must be put together to convince the tribal leaders in Pakistan's northwest that the terrorists they are sheltering--Bin Laden ,Zawahiri, and Mehsud--are Islam's greatest enemies. It would be similar to the effort that brought Iraq's Anbar province away from the grip of Al-Qaeda, and back under the control of Iraqis. But in the end, breaking ties with the US will NOT free Pakistan from will only make it weaker.

Pakistan's steps to solving terrorism:

I believe Pakistan could make headway in fighting terrorism and regaining control of its north provinces if it followed steps like these.

-Continue the ongoing operations against the Taliban...but not alone. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and NATO should sign a joint agreement to move freely in pursuit of extremists across the border. The rugged mountains make this hard enough as it it is--the diplomatic BS is only tying things up and benefit the Taliban, who have no respect for any of that anyway.

-Convince the Pakistani people that terrorism is Islam's greatest threat, not the US. Iraq has run a series of anti-terrorism public service announcements on TV, and has had great success in turning the tide on "Islamic" fundamentalism.

-Work to improve relations with Afghanistan and would be a tremendous blow if Al-Qaeda and their affiliates realized they have failed in their efforts to keep the region divided. Recent events--the Marriott attack, the serial bombings in major Indian cities, the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul--are clearly meant to cause political chaos. India and Pakistan are historic enemies, but in today's dangerous world, they face a common enemy.

-Don't give up the fight...savage acts of terrorism like the Marriott attack are going to continue, unfortunately. It is important that Pakistan and its allies move against the Taliban and don't pull back. Zardari is right to label terrorism as "a cancer", because if left unchecked, the cancer of terrorism will eventually consume its host--in this case, Pakistan's new democracy--and replace it with an enemy regime on the scale of the 1979 revolution in Iran.

...this last suggestion is for the US and Pakistan's critics who claim Pakistan "hasn't done enough in fighting terrorism...

-Stand with Pakistan and its people! Pakistan is a victim of terrorism, even more so than America. This is why I get so angry when I hear American politicians criticize Pakistan for failing to confront terrorism from the safety of their offices in Washington. Musharraf's government repeatedly tried to go after the Taliban, but the campaign of violence directed at major Pakistani cities these last two years is what I believe led to his eventual collapse. The Taliban cannot confront Pakistan's military, but they can turn the tide of public opinion by directing their attacks on the Pakistani people. Saturday's attack on the Marriott was not the first...last year, a suicide bomber killed a hotel guard who bravely prevented the terrorist's entry into the building.

Accusations by India and Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, that Pakistan is supporting terrorism against their countries are certainly adding fuel to the fire. Pakistan's intelligence agencies have unfortunately been infiltrated by Taliban sympathizers, but the Pakistani government and its people are suffering just as much as their neighbors. In closing I will quote Bob Marley..."unite for the benefit of your people".


K said...

"Musharraf's government repeatedly tried to go after the Taliban, but the campaign of violence directed at major Pakistani cities these last two years is what I believe led to his eventual collapse."

Good but very sad post.

I disagree that the Musharraf government collapsed because of the Taliban. I think it collapsed despite the terror threat. I think Musharraf maintained dictatorial powers for so long because so many (including the U.S.) were terrified of Pakistan without his tight military control.

We have this same fear in KSA, Jordan and Egypt.

Bhutto was promising because she was neither an appeaser to terrorists yet she was still committed to true democracy.

We will see if her widower can commit to that same balance.


C.H. said...

When Bhutto returned, I think that many were hoping she would be able to "phase out" Musharraf after joining in a coaltion with him...a careful transition from military rule to democracy.

Now it is up to her husband...he knows what his country is up against.

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