Thoughts on the Hostage Situation
Just my two cents.
I was surprised by the fact that the militants were able to get inside and get hostages, because I thought the establishment would have been better prepared for something like this. Some reports indicated that GHQ was a likely target. No matter what Kaira says, this was clearly a security lapse, and Pakistan can’t afford more of those. Thank God the casualties were limited.
I was glad that the bloodshed had lessened and that things had quieted down a little, but the past week has been a harsh reminder that we’re not through yet with the Taliban. The South Waziristan operation is pretty vital. I’m no analyst but I feel that though the militants are still pretty strong, they’re nowhere near as strong as they were before. For one, as a US analyst pointed out, this is evidence that the militants don’t enjoy the same level of support in the ISI that they used to. So this might well be desperation (the official government line). Obviously this is related to the upcoming operation in South Waziristan…and if so, the case for it being desperation is stronger. The best chance of TTP’s survival was gritting it out in the next operation, but with renewed civilian support for the army (and correspondingly, less civilian support for the militants), this seems like a show of bravado. Not that they won’t stick to their guerilla roots and grit it out – but it’ll be harder now.
That’s my major reading from this – more people than ever before are publicly coming out against the militants, as well as supporting the army offensive (as Ahsan correctly points out). That is positive on several fronts, I think. Raises the army’s morale and sends out the message to the world that the Pakistani PEOPLE do NOT support the Taliban.
For example, compare Hillary Clinton’s statements from April and October.
“I don’t hear that kind of outrage and concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan.”
“..this shows the continuing threats to the Pakistani government and the very important steps that the civilian leadership, along with the military, are taking to root out the extremists and prevent violence and direct assaults on the sovereignty of the state.”
I see a lot more confidence in Pakistan. Yes, I know she’s a politician and that her statements are carefully designed to elicit certain responses. But I also know that the ground situation in Pakistan has changed considerably from April to October (or at least seems to have changed), and the world has noticed that.
What troubles me the most is not the security lapse (although of course it can never happen again!) – it is the lack of government response. Where are the condemnations from the President and Prime Minister? The only responses I’ve been able to find from Zardari and Gilani so far are congratulations to the commandos and ‘satisfaction’. Positive remarks, yes. But there should be more than just remarks. They should have used this opportunity to send a strong statement to all the stakeholders – Pakistanis, the world, militants, and more.