The Great Debate UK

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Insurgency in Pakistan: what next?

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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."

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