Friday, November 21, 2008

Notes on the Central Asian War

Progress in reuniting and pacifying Pakistan continued today with the destruction of a school by government jet fighters. The two sides disagreed about whether or not Taliban fighters were in the school at the time. Assuming, as the government claimed, that they were, press reports did not explain why jets were required to reassert government control over the school.

Elsewhere, in Swat, it was reported that "dozens of hideouts and dens of Taliban were destroyed," and fighting is reported to be spreading from Bajaur and Swat to the neighboring Mohmand Agency.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) parliamentary leader Haider Abbas Rizvi asserted that the “whole of Pakistan is in the grip of terrorism,” including the enormous and highly volatile Karachi, a much worse description of the Pakistani situation than even the bad-news-prone media typically give. If true, that would present Pakistan with a far more serious challenge than it faces from marginalized mountain folk. Will urban Pakistanis soon see their own jets bombing their largest city, bringing back memories of the horrors of Fallujah? The thought surpasses imagination.
In Karachi, at the end of October, the Taliban were reported to have murdered an alleged police informer and slaughtered the victim's whole family. The Government's top advisor for interior affairs, Rahman Malik, has stated that terrorist networks are relocating from the border regions to Karachi to escape the pressure of the government's military offensive in the north. Sobering analysis by retired General Hamid Nawaz on security in Peshawar and Karachi is here.
Rizvi called for a series of social reforms, including micro-financing for agriculture and small traders and more safeguards for women. He also advocated reorientation of Pakistan's foreign policy away from the U.S. Such moderate calls to address underlying conditions come within a context of rising radicalization on all sides.

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