Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pakistan Consumed by Violence as Taliban Power Grows

Susanne Koelbl and Sohail Nasir, Der Spiegel Online: The Taliban's power in Pakistan continues to grow and it now has entire towns under its control. Under US pressure, the Pakistani army is fighting the Islamists -- with limited success. Pakistani intelligence says the Americans are doing more harm than good...
Pakistan has become synonymous with the threat of terrorism to the world. Americans like Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are urging the government in Islamabad to practice "aggressive leadership," and they want the Pakistani army to crush and kill the extremists on Pakistani soil. The United States sees the prolonged offensive by Pakistani armed forces in the Swat Valley as the prelude to a long and bloody conflict.
The new strategy stems from General David Petraeus, the head of United States Central Command. As he did in Iraq, Petraeus, a cool-headed intellectual, intends to stop the "spiral downward" in the war zone which American strategists are now referring to as AfPak. If Petraeus has his way, the Taliban and al-Qaida will also be defeated in Pakistan, which they repeatedly use as a safe haven after fighting in Afghanistan. For more than two months, the Pakistani army has been battling a leader of the radical Islamic Taliban in the Swat Valley.
In return, the Taliban is expanding the combat zone, leaving a trail of blood with attacks across the entire country, from Kashmir in the north to Karachi in the south. Pakistan is not collapsing, but it is being consumed by violence and undermined by the fear that anyone, at any time, can fall victim to the next attack...
The Taliban is intent on destroying the country's traditional order and marginalizing tribal leaders and politicians, landlords and mullahs. It is motivated, not by religion or faith, but by the desire to dominate the region...
How much longer can Pakistan endure? (more)
LSB: Remind me again - how many nuclear arms are in Pakistan?

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