It's time to deal with Taliban

It’s time to deal with Taliban

November 24, 2008

In part two of our conversation with Tariq Amin-Khan about Obama’s vision for Pakistan, Senior Editor Paul Jay asks the question, what do the people who live in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region want? Tariq believes that the Taliban were at a very low level of popularity in the region, and Pakistan at large, until the recent increases in military activity in the region. As a result the Taliban, and those advocating for Sharia Law, have become an undeniable social and political force in the area, and should be dealt with democratically instead of militarily. Tariq points out that parties advocating for Sharia Law were never a strong political force in Pakistan prior to the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, having never garnered more than 8% in previous elections. Meanwhile, Tariq advocates for the use of resources to reconstruct and deliver basic education to the region, not more military operations. Meanwhile on Pakistan’s eastern border, Tariq agrees with the Obama position that the United States can play a role in a solution to the Kashmir conflict, but the solution must give a level of autonomy to the Kashmiri people and thus avoid awarding power to either Pakistan or India. Tariq also explains that Pakistan was deeply divided on the news of Obama’s election victory between those who believe in Obama’s message of hope and change, and those who blame him for US military activity inside the country, remembering that it was Obama in 2007 that was the first major US politician to advocate for US attacks inside…

Obama’s vision for Pakistan

November 12, 2008

When Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 US presidential election last week, people around the world rejoiced, another sign of a clear global rejection of the Bush presidency and of a belief that Obama would be a better inheritor of US global influence than McCain. Pakistan faces a devastating economic crisis, a president lacking credibility with much of the population, a growing Taliban presence, and numerous civilian deaths resulting from US predator drone strikes inside the Pakistani border. Obama’s top adviser on Pakistan, ex-CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, believes that the US should broker a deal between Pakistan and India over the disputed Kashmir territory, thus allowing Pakistan to dedicate its 600,000+ standing army to its border region with Afghanistan instead of its longtime focus on India. Tariq believes that this plan is impossible because it denies realities of the situation, namely that the Pakistani military, the true seat of power in the country, would never allow such a shift in policy to occur as the opposition to India is their raison d’etre and any deal over Kashmir would necessarily be on India’s terms and thus be an admission of Indian hegemony in the region. On another point, the goal of the plan is to free-up more military resources in order to eliminate the Taliban. This is a strategy which Tariq believes is not workable. Tariq emphasized, as he has previously on the Real News, that any successful solution to confronting the Taliban requires a policy based around economic development, not military operations. During…