Pakistan — cracking under pressure

OUTSIDE elements continue to rule out a helping hand as Pakistan descends into its worst cycle of chaos since Musharraf bowed to Bush's "with us or against us" threat in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

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Published: Mon 11 Aug 2008, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:55 PM

As things stand now, years of battling alien elements along the difficult Afghan border have yielded little save mounting casualties, suicide violence spilling over into other provinces and an army on the retreat as militants gather material and psychological success. Yet practically all capitals that matter — Washington, Kabul, New Delhi — seemingly still prefer playing the political game, betraying little realisation about the wider region's fortunes in case Pakistan actually collapses.

Latest news reports suggest fresh successes for militants who have renewed their grip on key strategic locations, while raising fresh attacks on tourist towns of not long ago. Going by precedent, the government should not be surprised if the renewed momentum can prompt a rerun of the Peshawar stockade, when suddenly the centre was faced with a crucial provincial capital siege.

Ironically, the tragedy unfolds just when Islamabad is riddled in political webs of the ilks that have not been witnessed in decades. Both internal and external forces are pursuing deadly dangerous agendas with reckless abandon, undermining the credibility of the federation to hold more pressure. While not at it just yet, Islamabad might not be too far from the point where the proverbial feather can break the camel's back.

Falling upon lessons of history again, seasoned commentators' frustration is understandable as their warnings against undue outside pressure fall on deaf ears where common interests collide in the war-on-terror's dark alleys. For their own good, India, Afghanistan and America must be prepared to go out of their way to ensure Pakistan's stability and safety. Pakistan has juggled with the Afghan problem ever since Soviet troops landed in Kabul that fateful Chirstmas Day of '79. It understands better than most the costs of getting caught in the cross hairs of the narco, Kalashnikov and refugee onslaught.

As the menace of terrorism spreads, which India and the like would no doubt attest to now, the need to learn from others' experiences mandates much closer cooperation than politics of advantage permit. Kabul, Delhi and Washington must either take the pressure off Islamabad and help with its problems, or ultimately bear the responsibility of suicide violence spreading at a frightening pace.

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