At the moment Pakistan is the center of war on terrorism. Now there are reports that terrorists have been marching towards Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. On the way to Islamabad, the terrorists have played a havoc with the lives of innocent people. They have destroyed villages. More than 4000 people have been killed in the fighting only in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border. The situation is still critical.
According to newspaper report, US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke warned on Sunday that no other place in the world today faced a more dangerous situation than Pakistan.
In an interview to CNN, Holbrooke said that Pakistan also faced a ‘very difficult economic situation’ and needed immediate help.
‘This is a really dangerous situation in Pakistan today and we are focused on this very heavily,’ said Holbrooke.
Asked if the terrorist threat could cause Pakistan to collapse, the US envoy said that President Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistani leaders too conceded that it was a very dangerous situation.
‘Swat is not in the tribal areas. It is only 100 miles from Islamabad … it is like East Hampton and Manhattan … people from Islamabad went to Swat for holidays … it is really an extraordinary situation.’
‘Pakistan mattered to the national security of the United States; ‘These are the people who can attack Mumbai, who attack Islamabad, Holbrooke said.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, told ‘CBS Face the Nation’ that Pakistan needed to ‘really focus in on what is a threat to their own stability and what is a threat to the security of the world.’
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, however, told ABC News that the Obama administration had put ‘in place a policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan area that will change that area’ and bring stability to the region.
Axelrod said the biggest threat confronting Pakistan was the ‘growing hegemony of the Taliban and allies of Al Qaeda’ and urged Pakistanis to realise how serious this threat was.
Ambassador Holbrooke termed the current situation in Pakistan as ‘very perilous’ and claimed that the militants operating from Swat and Fata had already increased their reach to Punjab. ‘There can be more terrorist attacks in cities like Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi,’ he warned.
According to an editorial comment, if anyone was ever focused on the developments in Hangu, a town within the administrative jurisdiction of the NWFP, he/she could have predicted the latest violence committed there by the TTP warlord Baitullah Mehsud. The violence against the Shia of Hangu had gone on but without moving the conscience of anyone in Pakistan. On Saturday, a suicide bomber drove a van full of explosives into a security checkpost in Doaba on the outskirts of Hangu, killing 27 security personnel.
Mr Baitullah Mehsud is angry at Pakistan for fighting the American war against his Tehreek-e Taliban in general, and for not stopping the American drones from attacking his area in particular. He says he can do more. He has already threatened Lahore and Karachi and doesn’t have to boast about hitting Islamabad because he can do it easily without offending the population there, a large chunk of which follows the spiritual message of Maulana Abdul Aziz, the custodian of the Red Mosque who has just been released on bail by the Supreme Court on grounds of “insufficient evidence”.
In fact, Mr Baitullah Mehsud doesn’t have to mount a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan. He has already won most of them and is now challenging the establishment to “follow the people” and not the Americans. The ANP government in the NWFP has sued for peace and won a kind of “reprieve of the defeated” while confronting the “liberal” community with the reality of what is happening on the ground. The government in Islamabad wants to fight the war against terror but has told the international community that its perception of threat is different from theirs.
Islamabad described its position on the threat of terrorism quite clearly when it told the Americans recently that it can actually reject economic assistance if it comes with conditions that are not in line with its “national interest”. There is also a gradual streamlining of the perception of threat between the ruling party and the army on the one hand and the opposition and the army on the other. The opposition has its ears close to the ground, anticipating political trouble before the incumbent government completes its five-year term. There is, unfortunately, a large section of opinion on how not to fight terrorism. And terrorism here doesn’t simply mean confronting Mr Mehsud.
This gelling opinion is based on the threat coming first from India and then from America. There is a lot of incomprehensible mishmash of thinking here but this is how the scene is set. Baitullah Mehsud is asking Pakistan to abandon the Americans or at least get them to stop the drone attacks on him. In Pakistan, it is increasingly being said that Baitullah Mehsud is being paid by both America and India to mount terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. To what end, one may ask? The conspiracy-theorists’ answer is apparently simple, “to destabilise Pakistan”. And why is the US doing it? Because, say the conspiracy theorists, the US is ganged up with India to reduce Pakistan to the position of a lackey of hegemonic India. And, of course, all that anticipates the conversion of South Asia into a pro-American bastion against China, according to these people.