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Pakistan's war on terror

Pakistan's war on terror

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: May 14, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/176010/Pakistan's-war-on-terror.html

UN busybodies should keep quiet

The sight of tens of thousands of internally displaced people can be distressing - whether in Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Human suffering is not a pretty sight. But before we allow international do-gooders and busybodies who are the first to reach a war zone to distract our attention, we need to take a long, hard look at the objective situation that prevails and the causative factors. The flood of people fleeing Buner, Dir and Swat districts of North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan is no doubt a cause for concern. But it would be churlish to suggest, as has been done by the UN's representatives and Islamist parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami, that the Pakistani Army is to blame for this displacement of people. True, the all-out offensive that has now been launched against the Islamist thugs by the Pakistani Army could have been obviated had the Taliban been dealt with severely in the early days of the war on terror. Islamabad's duplicity, including the assistance provided by the Army and more notably by the ISI to the Taliban and other Islamic terrorist groups, in a futile quest to gain 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan and destabilise India, has contributed in no small measure to the raising of a monster whose evil shadow now looms large over Pakistan. The US cannot disown responsibility either: As Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari has pointed out, without being contradicted, the CIA collaborated with the ISI to create the Taliban. Unrestricted American aid running into billions of dollars, for which there has been no accountability till now, has kept the sponsors of the Taliban and their ilk in clover.

Ironically, US President Barack Obama is not averse to the idea of handing out more money without mandating a minimum level of delivery by Pakistan on its often repeated but unkept promise of fighting those who indulge in terror and seek to subvert the democratic order. Be that as it may, the fact remains that lawmakers in the US are becoming increasingly restless and have refused to be bullied by the Obama Administration into writing out a blank cheque to Pakistan. This, in turn, has led to the US putting pressure on Islamabad, demanding that it demonstrate its intention through action on the ground. Hence the Army's offensive, which has also been prompted by the Taliban violating the so-called 'peace deal' in Swat and moving to striking distance of Islamabad. Although late in the day, the offensive deserves to be welcomed, so long as it does not turn out to be a mere charade meant to please the Americans.

Seen against this backdrop, the displacement of people should not deter the Government of Pakistan. Once the war is over, they can return home. More importantly, they will not have to live in fear of the Taliban. This alone is compensation enough for their misery and sufferings. As a trader from Mingora says, "If the Taliban go, peace will return." But the Taliban won't just 'go', they have to be liquidated remorselessly. In the process, there is bound to be collateral damage by way of civilian deaths and displacement of population. The Government of Pakistan and the people of that country will have to accept this simple fact; not to do so and halting the Army operations would be tantamount to giving the Taliban a fresh lease of life. If the UN is uncomfortable with the fallout of the war on terror - one official has compared the situation to that which prevails in Darfur - so be it; its views are inconsequential and merit no more than contempt.


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