Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

The Pakistan conundrum


Helicopters fly past portrait of Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali JinnahWhen it comes to Pakistan, sometimes you want to be told what is going on; sometimes you want to stop and think for yourself.  But rarely is there a middle ground. Here are three very different pieces for those who are interested in this conundrum.

In an op-ed in Dawn Cyril Almeida tackles the perennial question of how far Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) controls the Islamist militants who helped end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, fought against Indian rule in Kashmir in the 1990s and this century turned first against the United States in 9/11 and then against Pakistan itself in a wave of suicide bombings.

“The evolution of Afghan jihadists of the 1980s to today’s suicide bombers via the Kashmir insurgency and the Taliban regime is an open secret and few question the role of the intelligence apparatus in nurturing that progression,” he writes. “Today, the problem is that neither the civilian elite nor the general public is convinced that suicide bombers are no longer under the control of intelligence ‘handlers’ who have guided the activities of militants for over two decades now.”

His editorial calls, perhaps paradoxically, for a new approach to militancy which is both nuanced and decisive. “Whatever course of action the incoming government takes will be fraught with difficulties. The key though is to act decisively. If the incoming government dithers, the coming crisis will almost make people yearn for the simpler days of a tussle between the presidency and the judiciary.”