What after Swat, wonders Pakistani media

May 16th, 2009 - 1:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 16 (IANS) The Pakistani military might succeed in eliminating the Taliban from the country’s troubled northwest but there is no word on future plans to restore tranquility in the area, an editorial in a leading English daily said Saturday.
Two other editorials contended that an all-party conference the government had convened on the military operations would serve little purpose beyond being a forum to let off steam.

“As the operation proceeds, there is a need to remember that taking people along is vital, as crucial as the actual strategy of fighting,” The News said in an editorial, adding: “We have still not heard of future plans.”

Holding that the people “must be given a picture of what lies beyond the bombs and the misery they have now been plunged into”, the editorial, headlined “Total War”, said: “Some light needs to be switched on so it can be glimpsed at the end of the tunnel.”

Failure to do so “would be a disaster and may even mean a failure of the war we are now fighting. As the PM (prime minister) has said, this is a total war. It can be won only if we succeed on all fronts at the same time,” the editorial maintained.

Echoing these sentiments, Dawn also wondered at the logic of calling an all-party conference merely to bring on board those political parties that were not represented in parliament.

“Even if an all-parties conference is welcome in theory, the government has left much to be desired in its implementation,” it said in an editorial.

“First, the timing. The military operation is already underway and parliament has already voiced its support, which incidentally also came only after the operation had begun.

“A far more sensible path for the government would have been to reverse the chronology of events: first sound out the political spectrum, then have a parliamentary session to debate the military operation, then plan for the expected IDP (internally displaced persons) crisis and only then have given the military the go-ahead,” Dawn maintained.

It also felt that the purpose of the all party conference should be defined more clearly.

“Is it meant to be a talking shop to allow the parties outside parliament to grandstand or is meant to achieve something concrete?” the editorial wondered.

Daily Times was equally harsh in its criticism, saying the all-party conference had been convened after a “strident demand” made “in retrospect” by the opposition in parliament.

“The APC (all-party conference) call was ignored when parliament supported the military operation last week. But after the refugees started pouring out of Swat and other places, the mood changed back to the APC. So what will be the intent behind the APC?” the editorial asked.

Holding that normally a government “risks” an APC when it knows that it will obtain a policy consensus out of it, the editorial questioned: “If this consensus is not obtained, what are the options open to the government?

“It can either ignore the APC and go against the ‘nay-sayers’ in it, relying more on its own popularity than on an all-parties support, or call off the operation. Will the APC be any help?” Daily Times maintained.

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