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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/29/09

Obama Almost Done with The Job

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People in all parts of Pakistan, particularly in tribal areas, have welcomed the new US strategy for winning the war on terrorism and restoring peace in the world. Now US President Barack Obama has really been playing the role of savoir for the whole world. At least the people of tribal areas have been considering him as their hero and savoir. They fully endorsed the statement of Obama that Al-Qaeda is a cancer, which spreading to the whole of Pakistan very rapidly. Yes, Al-Qaeda is a cancer, which is now incurable through medicine. Now it can only be removed through surgery.

Pakistani forces have been conducting operation in whole tribal areas for removing the cancer, but so far the result is almost nil. There are many reasons for failure of Pakistani security forces, but the one reason is very prominent. There are still officials within the system of Pakistani government, who do not want to control this cancer. They want to spread the cancer to the whole country. Now they have been trying to break the country, as they see no role for themselves in a peaceful Pakistan. Just look to Bajaur Agency where the security forces have carried out a big operation killing thousands of people, besides destroying half the agency--but the terrorists are still roaming freely. Taliban purported spokesman Mulvi Omar has still been issuing statements to the media. Pakistani media have still been giving space to the statements of these terrorists.

The rulers of Pakistan have still been playing the double game. Though they have welcomed the new US plan,there are indications that they are still non-serious in the task of eliminating the terrorism. The same is the case in Afghanistan. Afghan government has also praised the new policy. There will be no denying the fact that rampant corruption, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is the main cause of terrorism. Here I will produce the editorial of a leading newspaper of Pakistan about the US new plan for war on terrorism.

PRESIDENT Obama unveiled his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan yesterday, resetting in broad strokes what America's goals in the region are and how it hopes to achieve them. The new goal: 'to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future'. To achieve this, the president unveiled a series of initiatives that combine military punch with aid and development expenditure. Signalling that the era of 'blank cheques' was over, Mr Obama also made it clear that while his country was willing to spend more blood and treasure, much was expected of the Pakistan and Afghan governments. Reportedly, his administration will set tough and very specific benchmarks for the two countries, though these have not yet been firmed up.

When speaking of Pakistan, the US president chose his words with particular care. Al Qaeda and affiliated militants were a threat to Pakistan as much as to the US, the president said, citing the thousands of Pakistani lives lost, including Benazir Bhutto's, in recent years to terrorism. But his emphasis was clear: the US expects Pakistan to do much, much more against the militants' safe havens along the Pak-Afghan border. Privately the US will no doubt share what military steps it expects Pakistan to take, but publicly Mr Obama emphasised the aid and development side. The president urged Congress to pass the Kerry-Lugar bill, which will give Pakistan $1.5bn a year in non-military aid for five years, and RoZ legislation intended to provide economic opportunities in areas affected by militancy. This much was already expected. New was the president's hint that more money could be expected from the IMF, World Bank and the Friends of Pakistan forum scheduled to meet in Tokyo next month. However, there were no specific commitments. Interestingly, though unsurprisingly, Mr Obama made no reference to drone strikes inside Pakistan. But that's where the rub lies: Mr Obama's carrots to Pakistan may be more than cancelled out by the military stick he has chosen to wield. And the president must also be careful about the strings attached to the promised aid, for the more transactional the US-Pak relationship continues to look, the less the security establishment here may be inclined to cooperate.

The truth is, Mr Obama is feeling his way through a diabolically complex problem and is reaching for solutions where there are no obvious answers. Consider his case for reconciliation talks in each Afghan province with 'moderate' elements among the militants. Even among the experts, there is no consensus on who these elements are or indeed what would be the terms of such talks even if they can be identified. The only thing that is clear after yesterday is that the Afghan war is now definitively Obama's war.

        Source: dawn.com

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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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