Time running out for Pakistan: NYT

April 6th, 2009 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New York, April 6 (IANS) With Pakistan’s politicians apparently unprepared to take up the new US strategy of a partnership to defeat the Islamist insurgency, analysts in Washington and Islamabad have suggested that the South Asian nation could collapse in six months to a year.
In a news analysis from Islamabad published Monday, Jane Perlez of the New York Times suggests “time is short as US presses Pakistan, a reluctant ally” as “Pakistan’s politicians and people appear unprepared” to take up President Barack Obama’s new strategy.

Officially, Pakistan’s government welcomed Obama’s strategy, with its hefty infusions of American money, hailing it as a “positive change.”

But as the Obama administration tries to bring Pakistanis to its side, large parts of the public, the political class and the military have brushed off the plan, rebuffing the idea that the threat from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which Washington calls a common enemy, is so urgent, the Times said.

“Some, including the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the president, Asif Ali Zardari, may be coming around. But for the military, at least, India remains priority No. 1, as it has for the 61 years of Pakistan’s existence,” it said.

How to shift that focus in time for Pakistan to defeat a fast-expanding Islamic insurgency that threatens to devour the country is the challenge facing Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to the region, as they arrive in Pakistan for talks early this week.

Some analysts in Islamabad and in Washington are already putting forward apocalyptic timetables for the country, the Times noted.

“We are running out of time to help Pakistan change its present course toward increasing economic and political instability, and even ultimate failure,” said a report by a task force of the Atlantic Council released in February. The report gave the Pakistani government 6 to 12 months before things went from bad to dangerous.

A specialist in guerrilla warfare, David Kilcullen, who advised Gen. David H. Petraeus when Petraeus was the American commander in Iraq, offered a more dire assessment. Pakistan could be facing internal collapse within six months, the Times cited him as saying.

General Petraeus, in Congressional testimony last week, called the insurgency one that could “take down” the country, which is home to Qaeda militants and has nuclear arms.

Even before the insurgency has been fully engaged, however, many Pakistanis have concluded that reaching an accommodation with the militants is preferable to fighting them, the Times analysis said.

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