Situation in Pakistan spinning out of control: Stratfor

* Intelligence service claims Musharraf’s regime has been replaced by a civil-military hybrid
* Country is being torn apart by extremism

WASHINGTON: The use of suicide bombings has allowed religiously radical forces to reach beyond their NWFP strongholds and strike with impunity at the core of Pakistan, including urban centres, and as it is, things are spinning out of control, according to a commentary released on Monday by Stratfor.

The Texas-based news intelligence service notes that along with the rapidly deteriorating security situation, political instability has only grown after the elections, which failed to quell the political unrest that severely weakened not only President Pervez Musharraf’s hold on power but also that of the army.

Civil-military hybrid: “Musharraf’s regime has been replaced by a civil-military hybrid which lacks the willingness and/or the ability to take on the threat posed by extremism and militancy. The fact is that the civilian government and the country’s military establishment appear to be losing control of the situation,” the analysis maintains.

Stratfor writes that by opting to negotiate with the “jihadis” from a position of weakness, the Pakistani authorities inadvertently are sending a message to every armed non-state actor of any worth in the country that all the “jihadis” have to do to make the government more pliable is use their weapons. This signal has led to the spread of the Taliban in Pakistan. Any pause in militancy is not because the state has succeeded in containing the insurgency; rather, it is because the jihadis have made a tactical decision to pause in keeping with their strategy. While the jihadis are brimming with confidence, judging from the way Islamabad is randomly oscillating between negotiations and military operations, the government does not appear to have a discernable policy for dealing with this situation, according to the analysis.

Religious extremism: The problem, Stratfor argues, is actually far larger than an intelligence failure. Many of Pakistan’s senior and military officials are caught up in Pakistani society’s conspiracy theories about the causes of the growing chaos in the country. There is a national lack of acknowledgement that the country is being torn apart by religious extremism. What is even worse for Pakistan is that its “jihadi” problem is a geopolitical issue rather than a strictly political one. The Pakistanis cannot deal with it at a time of their choosing, which explains the United States’ increasingly aggressive attitude in dealing with the situation. US airstrikes in the country’s tribal areas have become an almost “daily occurrence”, and it is only a matter of time before Washington escalates its unilateral military operations deeper into Pakistani territory. A year after the Lal Masjid operation, Pakistan appears to be spinning out of control and it is difficult to say with any clarity what will happen in another year, other than that there does not appear to be much out there to counter the current trend toward anarchy, even if the military steps in.

By Khalid Hasan
Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Source: Daily Times

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