Feature

Pakistan’s Taliban pushback

Is Pakistan’s tentative Taliban counteroffensive enough to stave off the Islamist insurgency?

President Asif Ali Zardari has finally “struck back” at the “growing Taliban insurgency” threatening Pakistan, said the Toronto Star in an editorial. The Taliban took advantage of Zardari’s “ill-conceived” surrender of the Swat Valley to seize areas close to the capital. With the Taliban too close for comfort, Zardari has belatedly sent in commandos and military aircraft to retake the seized Buner area.

Unfortunately, there’s “profound doubt” about the Pakistani military’s loyalties, said Greg Sheridan in The Australian. Many troops sympathize with the Taliban, and the military doesn’t want to risk its popularity by killing fellow Pakistanis. Add in Zardari’s “pathetically weak” government, and nuclear-armed Pakistan is the “worst and most dangerous security situation in the world.”

Ten thousand "ragtag" Taliban fighters can't defeat Pakistan's "well-equipped, very professional 550,000-strong" army, said Pepe Escobar in Asia Times. Besides, “semi-literate” insurgents could never crack Pakistan’s nuclear codes. So why the “hysteria”? The U.S. gets a new “ûber-bogeyman,” Pakistan gets more military aid—and impoverished Pakistanis get nothing but violence.

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