Dealing with the Taliban insurgency

Issue 18 - Sep 2008
Ayesha Saeed

In the middle of the political circus of Pakistan, the war in the country’s backyard continues to be ignored. No, Pakistan is still fighting the war on terror and everyday newspaper headlines scream of more clashes between the state and the militants. The war is being ignored in the practical sense—Pakistan does not possess a comprehensive strategy to deal with the Taliban insurgency.

Violence has been raging in the tribal areas and Swat valley. Violence that is not just related to the war on terror, but adding to the mix is renewed sectarian strife in Kurram Agency. Stuck in the middle of this clueless war are ordinary people, who continue to suffer either as victims of fateful suicide attacks or as refugees in their own country. Recent military offensive in Bajaur created over 400,000 internally displaced persons. The state moved in to provide relief and support to the dispossessed only as an afterthought.

The response of the Pakistani government to the militancy has been marked with confusion, ad-hocism and lack of foresight. To be fair, the facts of the conflict do not allow a lot of leverage to Pakistan and consequently, its options are limited.

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