Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Pakistan challenge

Pakistan may be the single most important challenge for the next White House administration. The challenges are multifarious. Pakistan is suffering from severe internal crisis including the deteriorating national security, resurgent Taliban and Al-Qaeda, plummeting economic graph and fragile democracy.With the 'Asia policy change' on the cards, next American president is sure to bring new approach in his administration's Pakistan policy. Pakistan, a front-line US ally in its war against terror, has been under tremendous pressure to root out Taliban and Al Qaeda militants responsible for rising violence in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan. Also, the key to Afghanistan's security and the American interest across the border lies in tribal areas of NWFP and FATA. A scholarly report released last month emphasised that the US can not afford to see Pakistan fail, nor it can ignore the extremists operating in later's near lawless tribal areas. The country is at the centre of America's security concern and challenge. The American resolve to fight terror in the tribal land is evident from the increased attacks on the Pak-Afghan border. Thursday's missile strike underlines that resolve. But Pakistan has rejected the war against extremism. The Pakistani parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling an end to the military action and replace dialogue with it. The resolution backed by all parties said that the country is paying unacceptable price for fighting 'America's war'. There have been over a dozen attacks on the Pakistani soil since last month.Developments in past few weeks both on the security and economic front have push world's only nucleared armed islamic nation on the brink. The country is hit by the global economic slump and is cash strapped. The foreign exchange is dwindling and value of the rupee has fallen sharply. Key allies, America, China and Saudi Arabia all have rejected president Asif Zardari's demand for extra cash. The IMF is likely to agree to lend money but Pakistan will have to cut its defence spending by 30% over the next four years.Pakistan is at the crossroads. Any major terror attack or further economic vows would further push the fragile democracy against the wall. The country needs to take strong steps against the terror groups in order to get out of the current crisis. Senator barack Obama has made his intension clear about fighting America's war on terror inside Paksitan. While senator John McCain is not so vocal. However in any case, Pakistan would play a vital role in deciding American strategy in fighting terror in the region.Political developments in both the countries should provide a fresh opportunity to the respective heads of state and policy makers in fighting terror outfits and rescuing Pakistan's economy. However, Pakistan will have to exhibit strong commitment in uprooting Taliban and Al-Qaeda. And America, on the other hand will have to show restrain. It will have to halt its cross border attack and not jeopardise Pakistan's security and put Afghanistan at risk. A weak Pakistan would prove to be a disaster.

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