USA is Deeply Concerned about Pakistan and Swat Agreement
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent – SEOUL TIMES
|Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan located 160 km/100 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.|
The USA is deeply concerned about recent events in Pakistan. This applies to the deal which was reached between pro-Taleban Islamic militants and the central government of Pakistan. This relates to the implementation of Sharia Islamic law in the Swat valley. Also, the USA is worried about the impact of this agreement because it would appear that the Taleban will have a free reign to cause mayhem in Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan. So can America and Pakistan come to terms with each other or will both nations drift apart?
Before focusing on current relations between America and Pakistan, it is important to look at the bigger picture. After all, for regional nations, notably Afghanistan and India, the current agreement between Pakistan and pro-Taleban forces is a disaster. This applies to terrorist training grounds sprouting up throughout north-western Pakistan.
Both Afghanistan and India, and Iran, have witnessed the negative consequences of pro-Taleban forces throughout the region. This applies to rampant narcotics, the persecution of Shia Muslims in Afghanistan, which led to a major influx of Shia Muslims into Iran, terrorism, and the persecution of women blights the region. So America is not alone in fearing the worse.
Therefore, the American special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is very alarmed about the recent agreement. He is very worried that this agreement may become binding and that central forces have surrendered to radical Sunni Islam. Holbrooke stated “It is hard to understand this deal in Swat,” and that “I am concerned, and I know Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton is, and the president is, that this deal, which is portrayed in the press as a truce, does not turn into a surrender. He further added that radical Islamists in Swat “are murderers, thugs and militants and they pose a danger not only to Pakistan but to the US as well.”
NATO is also alarmed by recent events because they fear that Sunni Islamists will make the most of the current signed agreement with the government of Pakistan. Therefore, NATO spokesman, James Appathurai, commented in Brussels that “We should all be concerned by the situation in which extremists would have a save haven. Without doubting the good faith of the Pakistani government, it is clear that the region is suffering very badly from extremists and we would not want it to get worse.”
Yet clearly NATO members are very worried, however, they don’t want to upset the applecart by rebuking Pakistan too much. For many NATO members believe that Pakistan and NATO need to strengthen their relationship in order to stabilize the region. Given this, NATO wants to build bridges with all regional nations and clearly this organization does not desire to raise tensions with Pakistan.
The United Kingdom also expressed reservations but via a more moderate and diplomatic tone. Therefore, the British High Commission in Islamabad issued a statement with regards to past policies. The British High Commission stated that “Previous peace deals have not provided a comprehensive and long-term solution to Swat’s problems.” This is indeed true because in the past other deals have been made yet in the long-term the same instability remained.
However, to the government of Pakistan, they deem this agreement to be a temporary measure and a vital policy in their fight to create greater stability. Also, the government of Pakistan faces many other internal problems and from the point of view of the government of Pakistan, this policy is both realistic and needed. Therefore, the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, claims that the current measure is merely “an interim agreement” and that stability is badly needed.
Also, leaders in Pakistan can point the finger at NATO and American forces in Afghanistan. After all, it is apparent that the Taleban and their allies have a strong military and political base in Afghanistan. So if NATO troops and American forces can not rule Afghanistan and free this nation from radical Islamic forces, then how do you expect Pakistan to rid itself from the same enemy?
Alternatively, regional nations and America now know that the central government of Pakistan is in crisis. For once a nation allows a different legal base to exist on the grounds of being unable to crush this opposing force, then clearly a slippery slope is happening. Also, radical Sunni Islamic militants have closed down female schools and imposed draconian laws in parts of north-western Pakistan. So it would appear that the government of Pakistan is unable to protect the rights of women or to create a law which is binding to all the citizens of Pakistan.
Even worse, from an American perspective, this agreement is likely to further boost radical Sunni Islam because now they know they can have their own “special state within a state.” Therefore, in the future they may branch out into other parts of Pakistan in order to further challenge the central government. Also, Islamists will have freedom to implement not only draconian laws, but more alarmingly Sunni Islamists will abuse the agreement and build even more military training grounds. This inturn will infringe on Afghanistan once more.
President Obama, therefore, faces a very serious problem because he clearly believes that the greater global threat is not Iraq, but is Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan. Yet how can the American government and Pakistan come to terms on this agreement? It would appear that a dangerous situation is arising in Pakistan and either the leader of this nation is “playing cat and mouse” or he firmly believes that he had no alternative choice? Irrespective of which, it is clear that relations with America will continue to fray.