Missing Consensus on How to Fight Extremists

ANALYSIS: Resisting consensus — Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi
Daily Times, October 19, 2008

The reports of the parliamentary debate on insurgency and terrorism show that polarisation, between the government and other political parties, is the major obstacle to evolving a shared political approach to these problems. The opposition parties appear to have seized the occasion to build pressure on the government rather than acknowledge the threat of extremism and militancy.

The civilian government and military leadership share the view that insurgency in the tribal areas and terrorist activities are a threat to Pakistan’s security and internal stability. The federal government describes counter-insurgency as Pakistan’s effort for internal stability and survival. The president and the prime minister have vowed time and again to fight against religious extremism and militancy. They have decided to take punitive measures against those challenging the writ of the state and support the army for using coercive power against the Taliban and other militant groups.

Public statements of the PPP-led government, the ANP and the MQM have reassured the military of having political backing for its operations in the tribal areas and Swat. This political support is more pronounced than it was during the Musharraf days: Pervez Musharraf supported the war on terrorism, but his co-opted PMLQ leadership shied away from public endorsement of counter-insurgency.

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