Pakistanís new normal

The book quotes the Peshawar-based Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy's 2009 study, which found the population favoured the drones because they eliminated terrorists who threatened their lives. The book refers to the Peshawar Declaration (December 2009) signed by "political parties, including ANP [Awami National Party], civil society organisations, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, teachers, tribal labourers, and intellectuals of FATA and NWFP, following a grand tribal jirga in Peshawar". It said: "If the people of the war-affected areas are satisfied with any counter-militancy strategy, it is drone attacks that they support the most".

Several Pakistani army officers have gone on record saying that the drones were helpful in their campaign against the Taliban. As Sharif arrived in Washington, a local newspaper disclosed that the drones had operated under an agreement between the US government and the Pakistan army, at first from bases inside Pakistan and with Pakistani direction.

Pakistan needs a lot of help, not only from America, its largest donor, but also from the entire international community, including India. It needs to build capacity to counter terrorism, which rides on top of Islamic extremism in the country. It needs funds to raise professional manpower to face the urban violence of the Taliban as well as common criminals who use Taliban techniques. It will need training that is no longer available inside Pakistan because of the ideological bent of the military and other law-enforcement forces.

Pakistan must strive to end its regional and global isolation, and reach out for international help, which is still forthcoming because a Taliban victory will result in al-Qaeda rule in a state possessed of nuclear weapons and populated by people steeped in Islamic extremism. Because of the media hype triggered by LoC incidents, Sharif was helpless at the UN, where he challenged India rather than terrorism. But his resolve to normalise and improve relations with India survives and will also survive the current pre-election state of political emotion in India.

... contd.

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