Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pushing for visa-free travel with India, and has gone to the extent of saying Islamabad might do it unilaterally if New Delhi is not prepared to go the distance.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
One of the most interesting results in Pakistan's general election last February was the victory of the secularist Awami National Party in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) after six years of Islamist government in Peshawar. In a province where the Taliban and other Islamists had made heavy inroads, the vote for the ANP and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) seems to herald a turn toward some form of secularist democracy. “The greatest achievement of this transition to democracy is the rout of religious extremists who wanted to plunge Pakistan into anarchy,” Najam Sethi, editor of the Daily Times, wrote in his post-ballot analysis. “It is the rise of liberal democracy … that will help solve the problem of religious extremism in Pakistan.”
from India Insight:
Are militants, or even hawks within the Pakistani establishment, trying to undermine the peace process with India, now that President Pervez Musharraf has removed his uniform and civilians are squabbling for power?
When former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the late Benazir Bhutto, agreed in March to form a coalition government in Pakistan, the words of the 19th century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli seemed apt:
U.S. ambassador Anne W. Patterson, in a speech reported by the Pakistan press, said last week that the depth of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, especially among the middle-class, had surprised her. Pakistan’s long-term interests were aligned with those of the United States, and those opposing U.S. engagement in the country had a limited understanding of how the partnership based on economic assistance had changed the lives of Pakistanis, she told a meeting in Karachi. For added measure, she said that the “ïncreasingly prosperous middle class” would be the first to suffer if hardliners gained ground.
With a five year-ban on playing for Pakistan and a $3.65 million defamation suit slapped against him by the country’s cricket board chief, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has his hands full, even by the standards of his tumultuous cricketing career.
After asking last month whether the media should be more positive about Pakistan – the comments on the whole seemed to suggest we should be, while not being blind to the risks– it was interesting to see that Malaysia’s top lender, Malayan Banking, had no such doubts.
(Luke Baker is with the U.S. army in eastern Afghanistan)
The snows have largely melted in the Hindu Kush and the high trails over the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan are once again passable. What’s more, Tehrik-e-Taliban’s leader, Baitullah Mehsud, looks like he may secure a peace deal with Pakistan’s new leadership, including the possibility of Pakistan’s security forces backing off from attacking his hideouts in South Waziristan.