Trouble in Pakistan

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have quickly soured following a helicopter strike on a border post that killed three Pakistani soldiers last week. The incident prompted Pakistan to close an important border crossing for NATO supplies into Afghanistan. Criticism of the U.S. and NATO has dominated the news in Pakistani media even after the U.S. apologized for the incident.

 

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has recently accused some elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the terrorist networks in the country, thus undermining the war against terrorism by the U.S.-led international forces in the region. Recently, militants attacked 50 NATO supply trucks in Pakistan's northwestern town of Nowshera, the seventh attack in a short period of time. The U.S. has dramatically ramped up strikes with unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan's tribal areas in recent weeks.

 

But these are not the only stories that dominate Pakistani news. Reports about the human suffering due to the recent devastating floods, though they have all but vanished from Western newspapers, remain in the headlines in Pakistani ones. Terrorism acts are constant reminders of instability and insecurity for the average citizen, most recently punctuated by two blasts at a shrine in Karachi which left 9 dead and scores injured. The economy has tanked, inflation is at 18-20 percent, and the government seems to be helpless to do anything about it.

 

Pakistan is a troubled nation with deeply divided loyalties.

 

Even the once prestigious military establishment is now in trouble. A video purporting to show a group of Pakistani soldiers gunning down six blindfolded men in the country's troubled northwest has been circulating on the Internet for weeks. The troubling video has renewed long-standing concerns about military human rights violations during operations against the Taliban.

 

The war in Afghanistan has entered its tenth year. Many Pakistanis believe that “America’s War” has become their war. Fears are growing in Pakistan that the U.S. could bolster its drone attacks with a bombing campaign using fixed-wing aircrafts. This would most certainly increase Pakistani anger that could spill over into violence aimed at the thousands of Americans who are currently stationed in the country.

 

“The U.S. is trying to win its war in Afghanistan, through Pakistan,” says journalist Imtiyaz Mohammed.

 

He added that Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is in a major predicament of trying to appease the United States while also trying to calm down an angry population.

 

Meanwhile, Pakistan is currently ranked the 10th most failed state in the 2010 Failed State Index released by Foreign Policy magazine this summer. Just three places below Afghanistan.

 

But former President Pervez Musharraf attributes Pakistan’s woes to "failure" of governance.

 

"I would say failure of governance is the greatest threat today," said Musharraf, who has announced his return to active Pakistani politics from London where he has been living in self-imposed exile since the general election of 2008.

 

However, many Pakistani pundits believe that this announcement is no coincidence, and has the United States' markings all over it.

 

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