Non-Random Thoughts on Pakistan

Current concerns about internal security in Pakistan are valid, but there are reasons not to assume that federal governance will collapse there, or that internal strife would make Pakistan’s nuclear weapons significantly more vulnerable to insurgents/terrorists.

The Taliban in Pakistan effected at least a putative tactical retreat this weekend, lessening some of the pressure building in the northern part of the country with their advance in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP).  The Taliban had pushed into the Buner district of northwestern Pakistan, only 60-some miles from Islamabad, after consolidating a position in Swat, where the authorities of the semi-autonomous NWFP had agreed to imposition of shari’a law in February.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other international observers, called last week for a more robust response from Pakistan’s central government, and many have attributed the Taliban’s confidence in the push into Buner to perceived weakness from the Asif Ali Zardari government in Islamabad (a perception created largely by the government’s effective ratification of the shari’a law “peace deal” in Swat on 13 April).

A Taliban spokesman explained the retreat from Buner as a gesture of good faith to show their “commitment to make the peace deal [with the NWFP authorities] a success.” Continue reading “Non-Random Thoughts on Pakistan”