Pakistan in quandary over how to deal with rising militant threats
There appears to be little consensus over meeting multifaceted challenges that are driven by varying agendas.
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In sharp contrast to this detailed settlement, an Army unit was deployed in a different part of the tribal belt on the same day after a group of 400 militants, also identified as Taliban, took over a local police station after Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani vowed "to fight terrorism and extremism with [an] iron fist."Skip to next paragraph
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"The problem in Swat is different than the problem in Peshawar, which is different than the problem in Waziristan," says Mr. Sehgal, referring to three of the hot spots along the north and northwestern regions of the country. Sehgal, who had served in the tribal areas as part of the Pakistan Army, says militancy and terrorism pose different problems: Some militants might battle armed forces in the tribal areas, but they would not necessarily plant car bombs in marketplaces in cities. "While they all probably agree that they don't want American forces around, it doesn't mean they can't be dealt with in different ways," he says.
But the government, says Talat Masood, a security analyst and a retired lieutenant general in the Pakistan Army, "is shying away from making any hard decisions." The Army, he says, is not being given clear instructions or a mandate from the government, which seems to lack direction in the face of a multifaceted challenge.
"There seems to be no coordination between the different security agencies, and they will not succeed out there without a coordinated effort," he says.
Pakistan's dilemma also deepens as the Taliban gain strength in Afghanistan. In Pakistan's security establishment, "there might still be some elements who think that not every Taliban is a bad Taliban," says Mr. Masood. The Taliban, in conventional Pakistani military strategic planning, had been considered an asset in Afghanistan, as India had supported the Northern Alliance, which opposed the Taliban when they controlled the country, and who helped bring the current government to power. But now that the Taliban seem to have turned their crosshairs on Pakistan, analysts say, this notion is losing currency.
"It may be time to look at the situation in Pakistan through a lens of Northern Ireland, and not just the war on terror," says Mr. Abbasi, the editor. Pakistan, he says, is fighting a unique fight through a difficult period in the war on terror. "A lot of these problems are home-grown," he says, "but so far we haven't come up with any good home-grown solutions – and that's the only way to win this for us."