Pakistanis questioning action against Taliban: Pakistani paper

May 12th, 2009 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 12 (IANS) Pakistani citizens are guarded in their support of the anti-Taliban military operation in the country’s restive northwest but are beginning to ask awkward questions about the manner in which it is being conducted, an editorial in a leading English daily warned Tuesday.
Today, The News said, “there is guarded support from the common man, but questions are beginning to be asked - where are all these dead Taliban for one?”

“Why is artillery being used to attack the Taliban rather than infantry who can then hold the position they have just taken? What is the physical state of the centre of towns like Mingora and why can’t we have a couple of ‘embedded’ correspondents who can write a pooled dispatch for the English and Urdu press every day?

“We do not need to compromise our forces nor our military planners, but we do need to persuade an ever-sceptical public a little better than is currently the case,” the editorial, headlined ‘The invisible war’, maintained.

Such a situation had arisen because saturation media coverage notwithstanding, “surprisingly little” was known about the military action, the editorial said, urging the military and the politicians to be “a little more forthcoming” about what actually was happening.

“Operational considerations notwithstanding, it may be in the interests of both the military and the politicians who issue their orders to be a little more forthcoming than they currently are,” the editorial maintained.

“We know surprisingly little - in fact beyond official daily briefings almost nothing - about the war with the Taliban.”

TV channels show stock footage of Cobra helicopters and armour being moved on flatbed trucks and the very-capable army spokesperson gives a daily update in measured tones “that tell us next to nothing of substance - and is not backed up by any battlefield reports or even still-pictures of our army in action”, the editorial pointed out.

It also noted that while there is no overt news blackout on the fighting in Swat and elsewhere, “there is clearly tightly-managed access to and information-flow outwards about the situation on the ground”.

It also conceded there were good reasons for this: the Taliban being a sophisticated enemy, well-armed and equipped, capable of using electronic intelligence and skilled at news-management themselves, it would be “foolhardy in the extreme” to reveal the precise positions of the troops.

At the same time, the editorial contended that a key factor in winning the war “is winning the hearts and minds of the general public. Of convincing the common man that the war now being fought is a just war, is our war and we are fighting it for the greater good”.

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