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from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Insurgency in Pakistan: what next?

After last weekend's attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi, one of the questions being asked with a rather troubling air of inevitability was: where next? That question was answered on Thursday with a string of attacks across the country, including three in Lahore.

So now, what next?

Many expect the attacks to continue, as militants based in the country's heartland Punjab province unleash a wave of violence ahead of a planned military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in their stronghold in South Waziristan.  Few are prepared to predict either how much worse they could get, nor exactly how Pakistan will respond.

The blogger "Londonstani" at Abu Muqawama writes that, "the media, foreign and domestic, seems to be split between two narratives: 'Militants are getting stronger and we are stuffed' or 'This is the last gasp of militants who are about to be ground to pulp by the army'".

He argues however that "the downfall of militancy of this kind is built into its success. It can only really thrive when it is seen as a by-product of unpopular government policies, foreign occupation etc. But when the militancy gets powerful enough to pull off spectaculars like the operations today in Lahore, that's when the local population see it as a threat in its own right. When it starts looking like a realistic possibility (even if pretty distant) that Taliban types might soon be telling you how to live, ambivalence towards their activities falls away."

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan under siege: cricket becomes a target

"Everything is officially going to hell." The verdict of a reader quoted by All Things Pakistan said perhaps better than anyone else why the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore marked a defining moment in Pakistan's agonising descent into chaos.

Six Sri Lankan cricketers and their British assistant coach were wounded when gunmen attacked their bus as it drove under police escort to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.  Five policemen were killed.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

The Pakistan Army and “the history of the stick”

In his book on the Pakistan Army, South Asia expert Stephen Cohen quotes a senior lieutenant-general as warning the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto against using the military to control political opposition. "If you use a stick too often, the stick will take over," Cohen quotes the general as saying. "This has always been the history of the stick."

There's no sign yet of the Pakistan Army reverting to its usual role of wielding the big stick. But with the police out in force to quell protests in Punjab over a Supreme Court ruling excluding former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from office, the obvious question to ask is whether we are about to see a repeat of the old cycle in which security forces are called out to restore order and end up taking over altogether. Indeed, the Pakistan Army's first involvement in politics is generally dated to the 1953 imposition of martial law in Lahore -- where protests erupted on Thursday over the court ruling.  Sharif has blamed President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the late Benazir Bhutto, for the ruling.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

War clouds over South Asia

There is a strange dichotomy in Delhi at the moment. If you read the headlines or watch the news on television, India and Pakistan appear headed for confrontation - what form, what shape is obviously hard to tell but the rhetoric is getting more and more menacing each day.

Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani promised a matching response 'within minutes" were the Indians to carry out precision strikes against camps of militants inside Pakistan, whom it blames for the Mumbai attacks.

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