Fight for survival

Fight for survival

SECOND EDIT

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s promises to the US administration and the Pakistan’s army’s strong action against the Taliban in Buner and the Swat valley were complementary and mutually reinforcing. The simultaneousness of the two gave some credibility to the words and the action. There are still cynics who believe that the show of force was only meant to extract from the US the civilian and military aid that Pakistan badly needs. The aid was more than sanctioned, but the Americans, wiser from past experience, have attached a monitoring system to it. It seems unlikely that the military action is a charade. Hundreds of Taliban have been killed and lakhs of people have been displaced and all this could not have been put up to impress the Americans.
 President Obama and the US team are believed to have conveyed to Zardari that there are no easy options for Pakistan. It may also be no coincidence that reports about the US looking for a regime change in Pakistan appeared on the eve of the meeting. It was also conveyed that the threat to Pakistan’s existence exists within its borders and not beyond them. Zardari’s statement that some troops have been withdrawn from the eastern border and that he was keen to restart the peace process may be pointers to what transpired between the two sides. He was also candid enough to admit that the Taliban was created by the ISI and the CIA. The agreement to open a trade route between Afghanistan and Pakistan also has significance for India because it can set up an economic lifeline between India and Afghanistan and beyond. The presence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the talks underlined the fact the situations in Pakistan and Afghanistan have to be dealt with jointly, and not in isolation.
 The important task for the Pakistan government and the army is to sustain the momentum of the operations against the militants. This is not easy. There is already criticism within the country that the government is doing America’s dirty job for it. But the dominant view in the civil society is that the early gains should be consolidated and the drive pushed decisively forward. Unless the army lives down its past and takes the battle as one for the survival of the country, there is danger of an irreversible collapse of the state. There will be serious collateral losses and consequences but none worse than extinction of the nation.

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