Wednesday, January 28, 2009

US missile attacks compromising Zardari

The continuing of US strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan could undermine the position of President Asif Zardari vis-a-vis the Army, Western defence experts have said.

They believe that the US-led military intervention is faltering in Afghanistan and can collapse unless a robust diplomatic strategy, involving tribal outreach and a more coordinated international approach, is adopted.

Launching the Military Balance, an annual assessment of global military capabilities and defense economics of 170 states in London on Tuesday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a group of American, Russian, British and Indian experts overtly aligned themselves to the emerging foreign policy pattern in Washington DC.

The survey warned that continuing US strikes against alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in the Pakistan’s tribal areas could undermine the position of President Asif Zardari.

“To effectively pursue the campaign on terror, he will need to balance growing US pressure for military strikes in the tribal areas with the Pakistani Army’s decreasing tolerance for such attacks,” the report said.

“He will have to ensure that the ensuing domestic political turbulence, heightened by the growing economic crisis, does not place his own Government at risk from the Army.”

The Obama Administration’s quick decision to deal with the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan through enhanced diplomacy backed by assured action seems to have provided the Western analysts a chance to rewrite their evaluations more or less in line with Washington’s new mindset.

The survey said that with the global economic crisis still unfolding NATO members would find it hard to commit more troops or resources to open-ended conflicts like Afghanistan, especially at a time when the US is increasing its commitment in Afghanistan, The News reported.

There is already a division among NATO allies as to what would be a “success” in that country, the report said, and noted that the Taliban insurgency had continued unabated throughout the past 12 months and has even forced the Western forces to adapt to changes in tactics without making much headway.

The report went as far as saying that the Western alliance lacks a clear strategy for the country, and suggested that the allies improve their efforts to define a common understanding of their objectives in Afghanistan, given that the absence of any clear strategic success threatens the long-term sustainability of the NATO mission.


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