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Aijaz Ahmad: Pakistan army fights Talibanization of Pakistan, but mixed agenda in tribal areas (2 of 3)

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ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: The Real News Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad gave us his view on what exactly is the problem in Pakistan so far as this whole question of the US troops is concerned.

AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: Actually, in Pakistan there are two different problems so far as the Pakistani state is concerned. On the one hand, there are large forces in Pakistan which have committed to creating an Islamicist system inside Pakistan. This is an internal problem, and the Pakistan military seems to be quite determined to fight that out, militarily if necessary. The other problem is connected with the al-Qaeda and the Taliban and the war in Afghanistan. In this, the Pakistan government seems to have two or three different positions that I think need to be understood quite clearly. One is that there are foreign elements in Pakistan, not Pakistani, not Afghan, but other foreign elements, above all, a very large Uzbek contingent, in north Waziristan, which is a base for the al-Qaeda. And the Pakistan government is quite prepared to confront those people militarily, to go to the people in Waziristan and say to them, “Look, these are foreigners. They are destabilizing your region. They are destabilizing Pakistan. They are creating trouble for us in the world. You have to got rid of them. And if you don’t get rid of them, we will get rid of them through military means. Secondly, the Pakistanis are trying to create a situation in which they can take advantage of the differences between two major tribes in Waziristan, the Mahsuds and the Waziris. The Mahsuds have been hosting these foreign contingents, and they are much more the base for the more extremist elements connected with the al-Qaeda and the more extremist parts of the Taliban. The Waziris are not. What the Pakistani state is trying to do is to work with the Waziris. And they’re even undertaking major military action against the Mahsuds as we speak. Meanwhile, they’re trying to impress upon the United States, upon the West in general, that there really is no military solution, that Islamic extremism of a certain kind needs to be confronted. But there is also a Pashtun nationalism, which permeates both northwestern part of Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan, and they need to be brought in as a legitimate element in the political settlement in Afghanistan.


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Based in New Delhi, Aijaz Ahmad has appeared many times on The Real News Network; he is Senior Editorial Consultant, and political commentator for the Indian newsmagazine, Frontline. He has taught Political Science, and has written widely on South Asia and the Middle East.