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Pakistan: Chaos, near-collapse and survival

June 05, 2009 17:07 IST

Pakistan will not collapse immediately and the Taliban will not take over the trouble-torn country, an analysis by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has predicted.

The analysis differs with the views expressed by many experts and the United States media, which has often predicted the imminent collapse of the nation.

The analysis further assures that terrorists will not seize control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and Shariah will not be imposed across the nation, in spite of the Taliban's threats.

However, the report warns that the troubles plaguing Pakistan are likely to worsen, and may end up devouring the nation in the not-so-near-future.

The analysis tries to predict the course of the nation's future in the next five years by focussing on the issues that have haunted it in the past.

The report squarely blames the current crisis on the Pakistan military's practice of fostering extremist elements. It alleges that the army secretly welcomed Taliban militants, who were fleeing the United States attack on Afghanistan in 2001, and gave them refuge on Pakistani soil.

By the time Pakistan realised the folly of its double game, it was too late. While United States intensified its pressure to crack down on Taliban militants, the resurgent group zeroed in on their foster nation to continue their activities and impose their version of the Shariah law.

The Taliban took their first steps in this direction by forming the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the movement of Pakistani Taliban, in 2007, says the report.

The TTP, through a wave of suicide attacks and attacks against the security forces, managed to take over as much as ten per cent of Pakistan's territory in its frontier provinces.

Even though the Taliban went around imposing a strict version of the Shariah, flogging women, bombing schools, imposing a dress code on men and a tax on non-Muslims, the Pakistan government and army remained mute spectators.

It was only after the Taliban took over Swat and Burmer, and moved dangerously close to Islamabad, that the Pakistan government finally panicked. When Taliban leaders like Sufi Mohammed and Muslim Khan declared their intentions of taking over Pakistan, the government, under extreme pressure from United States, finally decided to take action.

The Pakistan military has finally launched an operation against the Taliban. Lakhs of people have fled Swat after the clashes broke out. But it is bound to be a long and hard fight, says the bulletin, as it is a difficult task to flush out the militants holed up in the treacherous terrains of Pakistan's border areas.

The analysis predicts that the fight between the Pakistan army and its friend-turned-foes might stretch for a long period of time. Retaliatory violence by the Talibans, in the form of suicide attacks and kidnappings, are bound to escalate.

It points out that the United States should engage India, China and Iran to help out Pakistan, as the regional issue might blow up into a global threat.

The bulletin also advises the Pakistan government to clamp down on the clerics who preach extremism and divisive politics, and ensure that madrasas don't turn into traning camps for terrorists. Pakistan should also address the needs and aspirations of its common citizens and initiate economic reforms, it says.

The bulletin also stresses that Pakistan should accept India and United states as its partners, not adversaries, in its fight against extremism.