Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
Probably the best possible conclusion to this week’s Afghanistan-Pakistan-U.S. trilateral talks didn’t come from Washington. Last night, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani went on television to pledge that the military will drive the Taliban out of Swat. Whether the Pakistani government will be satisfied with a Taliban presence in the tribal areas remains to be seen.
But the Pakistani newspapers Dawn and the Daily Times report that the government’s decision enjoys broad, if caveated, support. Dawn:
Despite reservations by some mainstream political parties on the Prime Minister’s announcement, there is general consensus that the growing Talibanization needs to be tackled effectively. Many believe the government should use this opportunity to take the battle against militancy to its logical conclusion.
The Daily Times:
The government has been forced to take military action against the Taliban to restore its writ, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz General Secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhgra said. Talking to a private TV channel, Jhagra said the government made utmost efforts for the enforcement of the Nizam-e-Adl Regulation but “the response from the other side was not encouraging thus forcing the government to launch a military operation”.
It’s natural that there be some reservations among political leaders. Leaving aside the prospect of challenging the Zardari government, the military is basically charged with an operation that will create a lot of civilian casualties, internal displacement and anxiety for an unknown duration. The evident fact that there’s as much support as there appears to be for the operation testifies to Pakistani resolve — which most in the U.S., and in the Obama administration, began the week doubting.