Obama’s biggest challenge: Talibanisation
gravest challenge faced in the 100 days of the Obama
presidency has been the Talibanisation of Pakistan. The
Obama administration inherited the legacy of
Talibanisation from the Bush Administration but in his
brief period in office he has not been able to halt the
deterioration of the situation but watch its escalation.
Taliban though it has been the creation of the Pakistan
Intelligence Service (ISI) has its origins in
Afghanistan where it finally seized power and ruled, or
misruled but was driven out into the Hindukush range by
American and NATO forces when they refused to surrender
Osama Bin Laden who was being hosted by them.
years on, the radical Islamist organisation is not only
back staging attacks on Afghan cities but has also made
forays into Pakistan where it is threatening the elected
government of Asif Zardari.
stood by as the Taliban which was a problem in
that had only 20 million people and spread to the 170
million populous Pakistan which was a long standing
American ally has not been answered by American
administrations although analysts have provided many
reasons. And whether the process could be now reversed
in Pakistan which still has a democratically elected
government would be evident in recent weeks.
Taliban on the offensive
week the Pakistani government sent troops to repel
Taliban militants advancing towards
Islamabad. The militants were reported to be only 60 miles away from
the capital. Troops had stopped the advance killing 14
suspected militants but the Taliban were reported to be
holding an entire nearby town hostage. Meanwhile
security forces backed by war planes were on Tuesday
pushing into Buner District close to
occupied by the Taliban.
one year old Zardari government recently signed an
agreement with the Taliban to permit operation of the
Sharia Law in the Swat Valley after fighting an
indecisive war with the Taliban. The agreement was
supposed to bring about peace but soon after the
agreement was signed the Taliban commenced spreading out
into neighbouring regions and enforcing their law.
video showing a woman being flogged by the Taliban in
accordance with the Sharia Law caused widespread
revulsion among most Pakistanis and made the government
to call out troops.
Minister Zardari on Wednesday called upon the nation to
sink political differences and extend full support to
the security forces in their fight against the Taliban.
American President Barack Obama last week expressed
‘grave concern’ about the stability of
and urged the public to support the army offensive so
that Pakistan could remain a ‘moderate, modern and
democratic state.’ Earlier he had sharply criticised
Zardari’s decision to sign the agreement on imposition
of Sharia Law in the Swat Valley.
at the end of March in his Afghan-Pakistan policy (Afgh-Pak)
declared that the future of
is inextricably linked to the future of
and that the security of Afghanistan was the joint
responsibility of the world that required a sustained
effort to go after the al Qaeda and help economic
development of the region.
clear goal of the policy was: Disrupt, dismantle and
defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and prevent
their return in the future. The Obama plan includes:
Ordering 4000 more US troops into Afghanistan in
addition to the 17,000 increase he had ordered earlier
and the approval of two bills, one of $ 1.5 billion a
year for five years to build schools, roads and
hospitals in Pakistan and another that would create
‘Opportunity Zones’ in border regions to develop the
analysts are in agreement that the direction of his
policies are correct, they also point out to the
collateral damage that is being done by attacks of US
drones (unmanned aircraft) on suspected al Qaeda
hideouts. While the US claims that many leading al Qaeda
operatives had been killed in these attacks, both
Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are vehemently
protesting against the deaths of civilians.
attacks have caused widespread revulsion particularly in
Pakistan and youth are swelling Taliban ranks, it has
been widely reported. Obama has admitted that ‘a long
tough road’ is ahead but that he would not ‘blindly stay
on course’ and set clear standards for measuring
critics point out that the success of the Taliban can be
attributed very much to the muddled thinking and
policies of both the US and Pakistani administrations.
The Taliban as pointed out earlier was the creation of
the ISI but the Pakistan army was compelled to turn its
guns against it when the US declared war on the Taliban
and demanded that Gen. Musharaff follow suit.
driving out the Taliban regime, at the Bonn Conference
held to map out Afghanistan’s future, the US tended to
ignore the Pakistan army’s requests and instead went
along with the Northern Alliance of Afghan warlords.
Some analysts say that the US hoped that the Northern
Alliance would do the fighting on behalf of the
and that was why US forces in Afghanistan were not
increased at the commencement.
caused resentment in the Pakistan army which once again
allied with the Taliban and permitted them to cross the
border into Pakistan and see to the growth of the
Pakistan Taliban. The question now will be the extent of
influence the Taliban wields in the army.
it is presumed that the people of Islamic Pakistan would
sympathise with the Taliban and the al Qaeda, it has
been pointed out that at the last general elections the
radical Islamic parties contesting the Afghan border
regions were routed in preference to the traditional
parties, Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muslim League of
that Zardari is playing games with the Taliban or that
he has agreed to US bombing by drones in secret but
condemns it in public?
Afghanistan and Pakistan will be the toughest nuts for
Obama to crack.