Public support for counter-terrorism - Mehlaqa Samdani

analysis: Public support for counter-terrorism — Mehlaqa Samdani
Daily Times, April 7, 2009

The Pakistani government has been unable and unwilling to prevent drone strikes on Pakistani soil. However, large-scale protests and coordinated civil society campaigns against them could compel the US government to review its policy

The popular mobilisation that led to the reinstatement of Chief Justice Chaudhry must now be directed towards calling for greater government accountability with respect to terrorism in the country. The Pakistani people should demand at least three things of their leadership: the development of a national policy against terrorism; a public debate on the policy; and its pursuit in compliance with the rule of law.

Over the past year, the current leadership’s strategy to combat terrorism has alternated between large-scale military operations and peace negotiations, neither of which has succeeded in the absence of a unifying, integrated vision to combat militancy.

Peace agreements concluded by the provincial government often lack support of the military and federal government. There is also often little coordination in establishing negotiation criteria and enforcement mechanisms in the pre- and post-negotiation phases.

Soon after the ANP-led government signed a peace agreement with the Tehreek-e Taliban’s Swat chapter last year, the military began a bombing campaign against the TTP in the tribal belt, hence jeopardising the ANP-brokered deal.

Similarly, the recent agreement between the ANP and the TNSM is also shaky with President Zardari apparently having refused to sign on to the Nizam-e Adl regulation. Hence, the government appears, and often is, divided, giving the militants an edge.

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