Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan – a list too long

childPakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi had a good post up last week attempting to frame the many different challenges Pakistan faces in trying to deal with terrorism.  Definitely worth a read as a counter-balance to the vague "do more" mantra, and as a reminder of how little serious public debate there is out there about the exact nature of the threat posed to a nuclear-armed country of some 180 million people, whose collapse would destabilise the entire region and beyond.

Zaidi has divided the challenges into counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and counter-extremism.

Counter-insurgency is focused on targeting militants holed up in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on the border with Afghanistan, with attention directed most recently on U.S. pressure to tackle militant hideouts in North Waziristan.  Pakistan has resisted U.S. pressure to move faster in launching military operations in North Waziristan, in part because it says it needs time to consolidate gains made elsewhere in FATA -- itself possible only if adequate governance can be introduced into areas cleared by the army.

"Thus far, Pakistan has fought the insurgency in FATA and earlier, last year, in Swat, using two instruments: negotiation, and conventional military warfare, including ground troops and aerial strikes. This is not how you fight an insurgency. That is how you fight India. To use a hackneyed and tired metaphor in Islamabad, you can’t keep using a jack hammer to try and kill agile, determined and poisonous flies. The approach to the FATA insurgency is all wrong," writes Zaidi.