Apr 3, 2008

Pakistan-The unruly stepchild.

For all the millions we have sent to Pakistan, and specifically to Musharaf, we aren’t getting much of a return on our investment these days. With the new regime there being sworn in, the anti-american sentiment is running pretty high. Who can blame them for hating us? Being in the middle between Bush’s War on Terror and the tribal leaders who support the Al-Qaeda types can’t be a good place to be. From the TNR writeup:

To make matters worse, Pakistanis increasingly believe that they are paying the price for our war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistanis are interpreting the increasing terror attacks in the country as a direct response to the recent uptick in our bombing of Al Qaeda targets in the border areas. All of this means that a negative reaction to the arrival of senior U.S. envoys should not have been unexpected. Pakistanis believe that they are carrying out a democratic coup, sweeping away the illegitimate underpinnings of the Musharraf presidency, and are not about to take kindly to American efforts to shore up Musharraf or preserve his policies.

They want change–not just with Musharraf himself, but also with his policies for dealing with terror. The question for the U.S. is whether we can live with the change, and at the same time, manage it so that Al Qaeda and the Taliban not only don’t benefit, but also lose their sanctuary in Pakistan.

Change..its a good thing sometimes, but we really don’t know how Pakistan, a nuclear-laden country, will deal with America and the Terrorists yet. But the message is getting clearer as this part of the writeup notes:

One more irony: The big winner in the elections in the tribal areas was the Awami National Party (A.N.P.), which has long accused Musharraf and the Pakistani intelligence services of duplicity in its dealings with Islamist groups. The A.N.P. opposes talks with Al Qaeda and foreign militants because, as Afrasiab Khattak, the secretary general of the A.N.P., has said, “We don’t have a common language with them.” But the party does favor an approach that emphasizes dialogue with the local tribes, economic development and assistance to the area, and the use of the police rather than the military (except in limited circumstances) to bring peace to the provinces. If anything, Nawaz Sharif has been more outspoken about how to deal with terror, calling for talking rather than the use of force.

Talking to terrorists? What a novel approach! We, the universal we, will have to stay up to date with this situation as Bush's war in Afghanistan depends on how Pakistan deals with the Al-Qaeda strongholds in Waziristan.

Crossposted at Sirens Chronicles

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