Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Reuters’ journalist Myra Macdonald travelled to Pakistan’s northwest on the border with Afghanistan to find that some of the Kiplingesque images of xenophobic Pasthuns and ungovernable lands may be a bit off the mark especially now when the Pakistani army has taken the battle to the Islamist militants. Here’s her account :
By Myra MacDonald
KHAR, Pakistan – I had not expected Pakistan’s tribal areas to be so neat and so prosperous.
These are meant to be the badlands, mythologised as no-go areas by Kiplingesque images of xenophobic Pashtuns, jezail musket in hand, defying British troops from rugged clifftops.
They are the “ungovernable” lands where al Qaeda took sanctuary after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan; the bastion of Islamist militants said to threaten the entire world.
Iraqis are voting today for a new parliament and despite the bombings in the run-up to the election, the over-all trend is down, according to the Brookings Institution. Not so in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre, America ‘s other war, which remains red-hot according to a country index that the Washington-based thinktank puts out for Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The index is a statistical compilation of economic, puiblic opinion and security data.
It’s quite instructive just to look at the numbers in the three countries. Weekly violent incidents in Iraq are about 90 percent less frequent than in the months just before the surge. Violent deaths from the vestiges of war are in the range of 100 to 200 civilians a month, meaning that mundane Iraqi crime is probably now a greater threat to most citizens than politically-motivated violence, Brookings says in its latest update.