The United States has given the signal that its troops are ready for launching an operation against terrorists in tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border. Now, this is not clear whether it will be a full-scale war or administrative action. The corrupt politicians of Pakistan are still busy in a power game, but parts of the country have already been taken over by the terrorists.
Now President Bush has the justification for another war in the world. But it is still not clear whom Bush wants to fight. If he wants to fight a war against tribesmen, the tribesmen are not ready to fight against the US forces. This problem of terrorism can be solved through effective administrative measures. Pakistan can do this. I think the US must pressure the rulers in Pakistan to fulfill their duties instead of going to war.
An editorial comment of The News International stated that according to three US lawmakers, commandoes from their country are all set to conduct raids inside Pakistan if the perception that Pakistan is not doing enough to bring its restless tribal areas under control persists. The three Texas Congressman, who recently visited the region, were given a briefing on the overall security situation in the area. In separate interviews to a Houston-based newspaper, the Congressmen stated that the US would conduct 'hot pursuits' across the border into Pakistan if attacks on its forces from FATA areas were not halted. They also held the next strike within the US would emanate from this region. The warning from the Congressmen is in tune with earlier US indications in the wake of increased attacks on US-led forces inside Afghanistan that it is growing impatient with what it perceives as Pakistan's failure to control militancy in its lawless tribal areas. According to Washington, there has been a 40 percent increase in such attacks over the past few months. For June, the US casualty toll in Afghanistan was higher than that of Iraq.
When seen through the narrow lenses with which Washington views its policies, such concern is understandable. But if it hopes to one day overcome terror and see the threat of attacks on America vanish, Washington needs to take in the broader picture. The fact that Afghanistan today is not a sovereign nation is in many ways adding to militancy in the area. The fear, even if it is as yet a mercifully remote one, that Pakistan too may relinquish its sovereignty only adds to the growth of militancy and support for the violent cause extremists espouse.
Now that it is perfectly clear what the US is planning, with the possibility of a raid to capture Osama bin Laden also being mentioned, Pakistan needs to review its performance and re-think strategy. The US intelligence firm, Stratfor, has warned that the civilian government and military establishment appear to be losing control of the situation. It has also pointed to a lack of acknowledgement of the fact that militancy threatened to rip the country in two.
This lack of acknowledgement of the scale of the threat is a very real cause of concern. Certainly, the militant threat is today the most acute crisis Pakistan faces. It must find a way of showing it is capable of tackling it. The likes of Baitullah Mehsud and Mangal Bagh must be defeated. Islamabad must keep in mind the very real possibility of a US entry into its tribal areas on a larger scale if it itself does not display an ability and a will to defeat militancy. As we all know, aerial raids along border areas are an almost daily event. A bigger incursion would spell doom for Pakistan and this is a scenario it must, at all costs, seek to avoid.