Urban Pakistanis divided over military action in tribal areas: Poll

November 14th, 2007 - 8:09 am ICT by admin  
The poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the Maryland University shows that there is a division among middle class on whether a military response is the best answer to extremism.

A majority of Pakistanis feel that it is the US’ failure in Afghanistan that has pushed their country “into the global war on terrorism and has emboldened extremes on both sides in the process” the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported.

“Despite the increasing violence, many educated urban-dwellers - part of a growing middle class of moderate, educated Pakistanis - find themselves stuck in the middle of a war that they are still reluctant to embrace as their own, said reporter Shahan Mufti.

“People are viewing the Army’s fight against terrorism as an extension of America’s agenda in the region,” says Khalid Rahman of the Institute for Policy Studies in Islamabad.

“And, the government also seems to be using this as a chance to secure its own place” at a time when its own popularity is plummeting, he added.

Many feel that historic negligence of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and tribal areas is the root cause of the problem.

“The people in these regions have never really developed faith in the system,” says Asha Amirali, a political activist with the People’s Rights Movement of Pakistan, an Islamabad-based social justice advocacy group.

“They have lost faith in the politicians, and the judicial system at the grass roots is still impotent and disconnected from the rest of the country,” Amirali added.

The events in Swat have a haunting resonance to the Red Mosque episode in which around 200 people were killed.

“The way it was handled, it just created more hate and violence in the country,” says Khurram Jamali, an investment fund manager in Karachi.

Few felt much safer in the aftermath; major cities began witnessing their first suicide bombings. Leader of militant group in Swat Maulana Fazlullah publicly decried the Army’s operation then.

“At some level, I want the Army to act,” he admits. “But I am also worried about where the battle will appear next if the violence continues.”

“The public’s lack of ownership for the conflict has led to an emerging dialogue here as to whether meeting the Taliban threat with conventional military attacks will do more to incite violence than to quell it,” the daily reported.

According to the CSM, Pakistanis have come across such gruesome violence in the far-flung and autonomous tribal regions, but never in “settled areas” like Swat. (ANI)

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