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'Swat deal shows how weak Pakistan has become'

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
April 14, 2009 09:47 IST
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As Pakistan ratified the peace deal with the Taliban in restive Swat Valley despite strong objections from the United States, an eminent American think-tank has warned the move would increase the tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

Stratfor, the US think-tank, also said the Obama Administration could even move to expand its unilateral airstrikes inside Pakistan.

'Not only will Pakistan see greater domestic turmoil as a result of the passage of this law, but the new regulation will further aggravate tensions between Islamabad and Washington, complicating Western efforts to combat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan,' Stratfor said.

'The United States may even move to expand its unilateral airstrikes and covert operations deeper into Pakistani territory,' it said, adding that the signing into law the peace deal with Pakistani Taliban would virtually convert the Swat Valley into a Taliban territory.

'The Nizam-i-Adl Regulation becoming law without the militants laying down their arms is thus far the most significant example of the Pakistani state's retreat in the face of a powerful jihadist insurgency,' Stratfor said.

'It underscores the extent to which the State has been weakened and the degree of incoherence within both the state and society regarding the jihadist threat and how to combat it,' it said.

Observing that this development will only boost the confidence of the Taliban and their transnational allies in Pakistan and beyond, Stratfor said: 'The Swat area effectively will become an emirate from which a wider Talibanization campaign can be launched.'

In many ways, this has already begun, with the Swat-based insurgents projecting power into adjoining districts such as Buner, Stratfor said.

Meanwhile, there was no official word from the Obama Administration.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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