Oct 19, 2009

Analysts Fear Pakistan's Days Numbered

Joseph FarahBy Joseph Farah

Nuclear-armed Pakistan's days may be numbered as the Taliban and al-Qaeda appear to have joined forces to oust the increasingly fragile regime of President Asif Ali Zardari, an administration that does not even have the full support of the Pakistani military, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

The ongoing wave of terrorist attacks and what security analysts believe to be a lukewarm response from the Pakistani military suggests that the Islamist militants believe they are gaining an upper hand to oust the government and establish Shariah law in Pakistan.

There are a number of reasons to suggest that the situation in Pakistan has become increasingly uncontrollable, especially in the Pashtun tribal belt and in Punjab as guerilla warfare appears to be aimed at the state of Pakistan itself.

Despite enhanced physical security at sensitive facilities, the Islamist militants are able to attack with explosive-laden vehicles and commando-style assaults against well-fortified and well-guarded fixed establishments. A recent attack on the Pakistani Army headquarters in Rawalpindi in which the attackers were dressed in army uniforms underscored the vulnerability of these facilities.

The attacks appear to be centered not just on well-guarded facilities but on locations of those who are supposed to be doing the guarding. Specifically, attacks have increased on police stations, the Manawan Police Academy and the commando school at Bedian on the outskirts of Lahore which apparently belongs to the army's Special Services Group.

The attackers are using more suicidal methods, as well as hand-held weapons and explosives.

"Suicide attacks involving explosives-laden vehicles continue to take place against convoys of security forces, but commando-style attacks against well-fortified and supposedly well-guarded fixed establishments of the army and the police are taking place with increasing frequency to demonstrate the ability of the terrorists to attack with ferocity despite supposedly enhanced physical security," said B. Raman, security analyst with the South Asia Analysis Group.

"Poor intelligence, poor investigation, poor physical security in establishments of the security forces, including in the army's GHQ, poor access control, poor road security and poor morale and motivation as seen from the failure or reluctance of the security forces personnel to give a chase to the surviving terrorists and capture them continue to be the bane of Pakistan's counter-terrorism mechanism," he added.
There is the sense that senior political and military leaders continue to behave with a certain nonchalance as if they are the masters of the situation despite the repeated attacks, security experts say. Concern also is mounting since the Pashtun tribal belt has already deteriorated and the non-tribal areas of Punjab, the second largest province in Pakistan after Balochistan, is starting to deteriorate.
"Seriousness and determination in dealing with the situation are totally lacking," Raman added.

Related Links

The Battle for Pakistan - Wall Street Journal
US, Pakistan agree to disagree on Waziristan offensive - Christian Science Monitor
Iran blames Pakistan and west for deadly suicide bombing - guardian.co.uk
Pakistan vows to target Taliban leaders - WA today
Pakistan civilians flee as offensive continues - CBC News