Pakistan: An Anti-Insurgency Report Card
THOSE who work in development have an accepted practice for evaluating the performance of a project: after polling stakeholder perceptions, a `report card` is issued classifying success or failure against measurable indicators.
It is a pity Pakistan has no such document to show how it has fared in countering insurgents since October 2001.
The task of evaluation becomes more difficult when grading the impact of the internal counter-insurgency on external relations. In this case, that would mean taking the perceptions of our neighbours into consideration. How do they think we have fared? The opinions of the Afghans, Indians and our putative ally the US would be relevant.
Arguably, Pakistan may have achieved greater, albeit temporary, success against the insurgents internally; yet from the point of view of our allies, our efforts rate poorly since they accuse Pakistan of supporting insurgent groups. In this sense, we have placed ourselves under bigger problems externally.
Who is responsible for this situation? It is a fact, for instance, that insurgency reared its head in Pakistan after the US attack on Afghanistan in October 2001. After that incursion, militants took refuge in Fata and Pakistan`s various cities. Controlling the insurgency became difficult when the actions of militaries on both sides of the border resulted in militants shifting from one jurisdiction to another.
It could be argued that military offensives do not actually reduce the number of insurgents, except marginally, but shifts them around and that is misinterpreted as success.
This dilemma in anti-insurgency operations is vividly portrayed by the case of Swat`s militants when, led by Fazlullah, the hard-core fighters took refuge in Afghanistan`s Kunar province. Since the US had earlier withdrawn from that region, it became a strategic safe haven for the Afghan and Swat militants.
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