PAKISTAN: Military action against Islamists may be inevitable

Stock Photo: Busy Pakistani Market

Stock Photo: thearg/john jackson

Pakistani state TV has reported a series of bomb blasts near the offices of government security agencies in the town of Sukkur have killed four people and wounded thirty others. Interior Ministry spokesman Omar Hamid Khan said the Inter-Services Itelligence agency’s regional offices were the primarly target. With the impending withdrawl of NATO/ISAF forces from Afghanistan, the United States is calling on Pakistan to clamp down on Islamic militants as unmanned drone strikes continue and the last NATO oil convoys make their  way from Pakistan to Afghanistan. Pakistani militants have a long history of targeting NATO oil tankers bound for Afganistan, with another two fuel tankers being destroyed by Islamist gunmen in late June.

According to analysts and government insiders, Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, after promising to engage Islamists in productive dialogue during his camplaign, may now be forced to bend to the will of Pakistan’s powerful military, and US foreign policy interests. Pakistan’s military views the Pakistani Taliban as an insurgent force, and while it may sympathize with the Afghan Taliban of whom many in the military view as freedom fighters, they are under intense pressure from the US to stop attacks originating and supported from Pakistan’s side of the border. Sharif, who was prime minister twice previously, was ousted in 1999 by a military lead coup.

Recent bombings in Lahore and Karachi have rocked the newly minted administration, killing President Asif Ali Zardari’s security chief, among others.

A report leaked to al-Jazeera earlier this month as part of a commission investigating the US special forces mission into Pakistan which killed Osama bin Laden has also proved a major embarrassment to both Pakistan’s military and government. While on one hand it accused the US of committing a ‘criminal act of murder’, the 336-page document also contained statements from many in the military who consider the elected government completely inept in dealing with security threats, and described an ‘understanding’ the military had concerning the use of American drone aircraft to attack Pakistani based Islamist militants.

External links: http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/23/pakistan-security-sharif-idINDEE96M0G220130723

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