Pakistan Appeases Militants, Endangering Itself And U.S.

February 19th, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Pakistan Appeases Militants, Endangering Itself And U.S.

USA Today
February 19, 2009
Pg. 8
Our View

Deal allowing Islamic law in key area emboldens Taliban, al-Qaeda.

For months, Taliban militants have instituted a reign of terror in the valley of Swat, a former tourist mecca once known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan." The militants have burned girls' schools. They've beheaded policemen. They've whipped people in public squares.
And how has the Pakistani government responded? By sending in the armed forces to crush the Taliban? Unfortunately, no. Instead, Pakistan is giving in to the militants, allowing fundamentalist sharia law in the Swat Valley in return for promises of a cease-fire.
Pakistan should know better. Past agreements with leaders in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan haven't paved the way to longer-term peace. The deals instead have provided the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies with havens from which to mount attacks into Afghanistan, and now to push farther inland to the Swat Valley, which is just 100 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
The message from those agreements couldn't be plainer: Appeasement doesn't work. Give an inch, as the saying goes, and they'll take a mile.
This stunning move by Pakistan has major implications for the United States. After 9/11, Pakistan chose to support the U.S. fight against Islamic extremists. In exchange for vast amounts of U.S. aid about $12 billion to date it insisted it was cracking down. The Swat Valley deal, along with Pakistan's worrisome recent decision to release rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan from detention, represent a wake-up call to the real nature, and hazards, of a flailing friendship.
The greater foothold extremists gain in Pakistan, the greater danger there is for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The ultimate nightmare is that extremists gain control of Pakistan's nuclear secrets or weapons.
Pakistan insists that the Swat agreement is a smart strategic move, that government troops will remain there and that the most brutal extremes of sharia law will not prevail. It instead needs to face the truth, which is that Pakistan's fight against Islamic extremists has long been ambivalent. Pakistan helped foster the religious extremists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s in the first place. Its intelligence services are riddled with Taliban sympathizers.
What Pakistan needs to grasp is that military pressure has to be kept up, including unmanned U.S. missile attacks in the tribal areas where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders are thought to be hiding. Such strikes, which sometimes kill civilians by mistake, stir up anti-Americanism in Pakistan. Even so, they are the best of bad alternatives.
Doing deals with militants isn't always to be avoided. In Iraq, the United States co-opted Sunni leaders of the Awakening Movement who gave up their insurgency and turned against al-Qaeda allies. The Obama administration will likely try something similar in Afghanistan, even as it sends 17,000 more troops there. But such deals have to be part of a broader strategy, coupled with aid that can make a difference in people's lives. Pakistan's government is notorious for promising benefits but failing to deliver.
Swat Valley residents voted secular officials into power last year. The aim has to be to return the region to what people actually want, not to subject them to medieval brutality. That won't happen by appeasing a terrorizing minority.

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Indians are so treacherous -- Richard Nixon