Pakistan on the Brink

The International Red Cross Committee has declared Pakistan the 'New War Zone'. The world’s largest humanitarian network has warned that the country is on the verge of catastrophe as it battles lawlessness and chaos at home and faces serious threats on external fronts.

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Published: Mon 6 Oct 2008, 9:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:08 PM

According to the Red Cross, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected in Pakistan’s restive tribal regions in the north. An estimated 250,000 people have fled the gunship helicopters, jets, artillery and mortar fire of the Pakistani army, and the intimidation and rough justice of the Taleban. Targeted by both the Pak-US military jets and the insurgents, people are literally caught in a hopeless crossfire.

The Red Cross warning, coming as it does in a New York Times report, wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — especially to the people of Pakistan. You do not really need an Ivy League expert to tell you what a mess the country is in.

It has been obvious to anyone who has a nodding familiarity with the South Asian country that has been a victim of the short-sighted policies of successive politicians and generals and the unfriendly actions of its friends and allies. This is what the people of Pakistan, its lately free media and civil society groups have been shouting from the rooftops for some time. But most outsiders have tended to ignore these warnings viewing the issue as something distant that really doesn’t concern them. For most of us, this is a war between America and Al Qaeda. This with-us-or-against-us battle may be between the good and evil — according to Bush — but this has nothing to do with us.

The world does not give two hoots how many innocents are caught in this expanding conflict along the Pak-Afghan border.

However, in light of the ominous warnings issued by the Red Cross, it may be time for the world community to pay close attention to what is going on in Pakistan and do everything to help the country pull itself back from the brink. Because Pakistan, the world’s only nuclear Muslim state, is too important a nation to be compromised.

And we are not merely talking about the US war on terror. If Pakistan goes under, it will have catastrophic consequences not only for the Central-South Asia and the Middle East but the whole world.

The West and everyone concerned must realise that they cannot win this war by targeting innocents. It’s actually counterproductive. More importantly, it’s about time the coalition seriously explored ways of peacefully resolving this conflict. British military commander in Afghanistan Brig Mark Clareton-Smith has warned the coalition it’s not possible to “win” the war in Afghanistan. This is something the Soviet Union realised a little late — a decade late and after squandering everything.

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