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The Wrong Battle in Pakistan PDF Print
Written by New York Times   
Sunday, 03 September 2006 00:00

Now Mr. Bugti is dead and the impoverished but energy-rich province of Baluchistan is in an uproar after an ill-explained military operation last month. After a week of contradictory government statements, the only things now clear are that Mr. Bugti’s body was buried in the rubble of his blown-up mountain hideout, and that antigovernment fury in the restive province is at a new pitch of intensity.

The last thing Pakistan needs is an upsurge in violence and repression in Baluchistan. That would only be a distraction from far more important challenges, like developing a chronically underachieving economy; restoring a ravished democracy; and placing a dangerous nuclear weapons establishment, including exports of bomb-related technology, under firm and reliable civilian control.

And there are far more crucial things that Pakistan’s military could be doing than hunting down Mr. Bugti and his followers. For example, it could finally seal its scandalously porous border with Afghanistan, making it much harder for the Taliban to infiltrate into that country the fighters killing American, NATO and Afghan soldiers. It could permanently shut down the Pakistan-based Kashmiri terrorist groups that have survived past crackdowns by reopening under new names, with little interference from Pakistani authorities. Not least, it could make a more serious effort to find and arrest Osama bin Laden, widely believed to have spent much of the past four and a half years on Pakistani soil.

Any of these efforts would stir up opposition in one part or another of the Pakistani military, the only constituency that Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, ever really cares about. So long as elections are brazenly rigged, opposition parties are banned and Washington’s uncritical support remains guaranteed, General Musharraf has little incentive to take up any of these vital challenges.

When General Musharraf comes to the United States, he loves to be lauded as a leader in the war on terrorism. Back home, his government too often acts like a garden-variety military dictatorship.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 September 2010 03:27


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