Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
Colonel Harish Puri says it is incredible that the Pakistan Army allowed something as reprehensible as the public flogging of a teenage girl in the Swat Valley without lifting a finger, even though it coudn’t have happened very far from an army checkpoint.
For a force that is as professional as the Pakistan Army and which has fought valiantly in all three wars with India, and acquitted itself well in U.N. peacekeeping missions worldwide, such an “abject surrender is unthinkable,” he writes.
The Pakistan Army’s inability to jam militant radio broadcasts in the region that have helped spread their power around is equally incomprehensible, Puri, who is from the army’s Signals unit, says. (The United States has just begun a broad effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from making these broadcasts, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.)
Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is much talked about these days as the one national figure who could lean on Pakistan’s warring politicians to back down from a confrontation threatening the stability of the country. The question is over how he would intervene while maintaining a commitment to keep the army out of politics.
Most analysts have ruled out a coup for now and in an interview with PBS Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he believed Kayani was committed to a civilian government.
Maybe this always happens at times of national upheaval. But there is a surprising disconnect between the immediacy of the crisis facing Pakistan as expressed by Pakistani bloggers and the more slow-moving debate taking place in the outside world over the right strategy to adopt towards both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Reading Pakistani blogs since confrontation between the country’s two main political parties exploded and comparing them to international commentaries is a bit like watching men shout that their house is on fire, and then panning over to the fire station where the folks in charge are debating which type of water hose works best.