Ahmed Rashid on the Purpose of Waziristan Offensive

Oct 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Uncategorized

In Ahmed Rashid’s latest piece “Waziristan or Bust,” the renowned Pakistani journalist and author of Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, grapples with the immense pressure Pakistan faces to succeed in its Waziristan offensive.

“The success of the offensive could be critical for the fate of Pakistan which is financially broke and politically paralysed,” he writes. He connects the financial crisis with the controversial Kerry-Lugar bill, “The army was furious that the government had agreed to US-imposed conditions, which only insisted that there be civilian control of the army, democracy be maintained and the fight against extremism continued. The army with its deep tentacles in the Pakistani media and among opposition politicians, whipped up a storm of public opinion against the deal.”

All this, he laments, was utterly ridiculous as the country was crying out for aid and assistance in the midst of the terror threats, poverty, and a generally harsh quality-of-life.

The fact remains that Pakistan has to pull itself away from the brink, and the measuring standard for just that will be this offensive. Its results will be telling, a trusted barometer for whether the Zardari administration can command the army and be supported by a public eager to end extremism.

Rashid notes President Zardari seems happy to talk peace and trade with India, aid in the stabilizing of Afghanistan and improve ties with Iran. He welcomes aid from the west so that his country can become stronger and secure. Yet, there is an intense backlash against his efforts, indeed, Rashid writes, “Zardari’s attempts to build up public support for these logical civil demands have been stymied because of public disillusionment with the civilian government.”

We can all agree stability can only happen when all sides come to the table, with an agreed upon set of priorities. A common plan to combat extremism whilst working out itnernal issues is the critical key to moving the country forward.

To Rashid and countless others, that looks like a tough hill to climb.

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