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Terrorism & Security

Pakistan attacks disrupt an expected postelection calm

Recent suicide bombings raise questions about the country's future after Musharraf.

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This weekend's violence underscores both that Pakistan is facing a new threat from a resurgent Al Qaeda and their Taliban allies, and that Mr. Musharraf's government has been unable to stop, the Associated Press reports.

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Militant attacks have increased sharply in Pakistan's border region in the last year.… Officials are worried the increasing instability is allowing al-Qaida to re-establish a presence in the border region…
The Pakistani army is having trouble dealing with the rising insurgency in part because the army is set up to defend Pakistan from outside invaders and not counterinsurgency warfare, [a U.S. military] official said.

The diminished sense of hope following the bombings was expressed in an editorial in The News, a leading English-language daily in Pakistan.

[O]ne can only pity the men and women who form the new government. The challenges they will face are many; none are easy to solve. But it is also important they do not flinch from the task of doing so. Holistic, long-term strategies to deal with terrorism must be put in place, tough decisions taken where necessary, tact used when apt — so that the ugly scenes of senseless bloodshed that stare out at us from television screens and from newspaper pages can be replaced by images that offer more hope for the country and for its people.

Concerns over how the new government will tackle extremism come as experts warn that continued support for Musharraf may only exacerbate tensions inside Pakistan, The New York Times reports.

The Bush administration's continued backing of President Pervez Musharraf despite the overwhelming rejection of his party by voters this month, is fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan with the United States.
That support has rankled the public, politicians and journalists here, inciting deep anger at what is perceived as American meddling and the refusal of Washington to embrace the new, democratically elected government....
Pakistanis say the Bush administration is grossly misjudging the political mood in Pakistan and squandering an opportunity to win support from the Pakistani public for its fight against terrorism. The opposition parties that won the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections say they are moderate and pro-American. By working with them, analysts say, Washington could gain a vital, new ally.

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