Pak preoccupied with India even as insurgent threat looms

December 31st, 2008 - 7:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Islamabad, Dec.31 (ANI): Many Pakistanis still view India as their real enemy and are far less concerned about the spread of radical Islam in their midst, the Washington Post reports.
According to the paper, the country’’s powerful army also appears to be more comfortable facing its conventional cross-border adversary to the east than waging a messy counter-insurgency campaign against fellow Muslims and Pakistanis on its own territory. Public opinion and military priorities in Pakistan appear to be focused more on the potential threat from India, a Hindu-majority, nuclear-armed state that has fought three wars with its rival, Pakistan, also a nuclear power, says the paper.
Mutual suspicion and hatred have resurfaced since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last month, which left more than 170 people dead and have been linked to Islamist groups based in Pakistan, it adds.
“The government is under a lot of pressure, and there are people who say the army has just been rented out to do America’’s bidding. That may have been true in the past, but today we are the major victims of instability caused by terrorism,” said Mushfiq Murshed, the editor of a scholarly journal here.
“More than 4,000 people have been killed in Pakistan in the last year alone. If this isn”t our war, I don”t know what is,” he adds.
Even if the recent shift of troops away from the Afghan border and toward India proves largely a symbolic gesture, however, some analysts here say they worry a thinning of military ranks in the northwest could give Islamist forces a chance to become more entrenched in the conservative, impoverished region less than 100 miles from the capital.
At the same time, they warn, the Zardari government and its backers in Washington must provide economic aid and better governance, as well as military punishment for insurgents, if they hope to enlist the people in the fight against militancy.
“We cannot afford to lose our focus on the war against terror, but you can”t just send in troops. You need to feed people and give them a reason to join you,” Murshed said. (ANI)

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