Editorial : Timely reminder - Monday 25th April 2011

GEN Kayani`s speech to cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy on Saturday has at least had the salutary effect of once again focusing attention on the main threat to the country`s security: militancy. In recent months, since the Raymond Davis affair exploded in the most extraordinary of ways, it has seemed at times that all the US government and the Pakistani security establishment have been interested in doing is to hurl accusations at one another. At certain points, the fight against militancy has almost seemed beside the point. But by using strong language to describe the state`s successes so far in the `war against terrorism` — “(The) terrorists` backbone has been broken,” Gen Kayani told the graduating cadets at the PMA — the army chief has underlined what is really at stake. Whether the terrorists` backbone has indeed been broken or not is unclear. Indeed, in the nebulous world of insurgencies, the enemy may not even have a `backbone` that can be broken. But the fact remains that militancy is the greatest threat to the security of Pakistan and barring a multi-pronged strategy to fight it, the country will not be able to look forward to a stable and prosperous future. The army chief has issued a timely reminder about what is at stake.
Gen Kayani`s words also give hope that the security establishment, recognising what is at stake, will not allow matters to spiral out of control with the Americans. A pragmatic understanding of the threat militants pose inside this country can be matched with pragmatism on both the American and Pakistani sides about what can be achieved in Afghanistan. Neither the Americans nor the Pakistanis would want Afghanistan to descend into chaos again. And both the American and Pakistani side have some understanding of the threat that militancy can pose. Taken together, those two facts create space for working towards some resolution of the differences in the strategic perspectives of the US and Pakistan. And, at the very least, the facts would suggest that both sides are aware that a permanent rupture is not possible.
However, if Pak-US relations are not to desultorily roam the space between total breakdown and positive engagement, the US administration and the security establishment here will need to at least ease some of the immediate tensions in the relationship. Does the recent flurry of meetings between senior officials of both sides indicate that both sides understand the need to lower tensions in order to work on thornier strategic differences? Or does the public back-and-forth suggest moods are yet to soften? Looking in from the outside, it is hard to say.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/25/timely-reminder.html

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