Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stratfor's assessment of affairs in Pakistan: dangerous

I neglected to post Stratfor’s assessment of the situation in Pakistan as of the 13th. Any way you cut it, the decisions being made in Pakistan have ominous implications, not only for Pakistan but for the region and the rest of the world. Pakistan’s location on the other side of the globe can mislead those of us in the western world. In this world – when trillions of dollars are sloshing around the world in a day, and news reaches almost any location at the speed of light, and millions of dollars worth of fuel and other material goods are nourishing growing numbers of people around the world every day – in such a world no one can presume that the dominance of criminality in one country has little significance for the rest. What’s going on in Pakistan is serious.

From: Stratfor, April 13, 2009 12:38:55 PM PDT

Pakistan: A Peace Deal Becomes Law
April 13, 2009 | 1936 GMT

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on April 13 signed the Nizam-i- Adl (System of Justice) Regulation into law. Earlier in the day, Parliament overwhelmingly approved the regulation, which stems from a Feb. 17 agreement between the provincial government of the North- West Frontier Province and the jihadist movement in the Swat region that calls for a shariah-based legal system to be implemented in the area in exchange for an end to the insurgency. Islamabad had been hesitant to approve the deal between Peshawar and the Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Muhammadi (TNSM) ? the jihadist group based in the greater Swat region ? saying the central government wanted the TNSM militia to lay down its weapons before Islamabad endorsed the deal.

The Nizam-i-Adl Regulation becoming law without the militants laying down their arms is thus far the most significant example of the Pakistani state?s retreat in the face of a powerful jihadist insurgency. It underscores the extent to which the state has been weakened and the degree of incoherence within both the state and society regarding the jihadist threat and how to combat it. The expectation is that the deal will bring an end to the militancy in the greater Swat area, and that Talibanization can be confined to that region.

However, the TNSM has no intention of limiting its sphere of influence to the Swat region. Therefore, this development will only boost the confidence of the Taliban and their transnational allies in Pakistan and beyond. The Swat area effectively will become an emirate from which a wider Talibanization campaign can be launched. In many ways, this has already begun, with the Swat-based insurgents projecting power into adjoining districts such as Buner.

Not only will Pakistan see greater domestic turmoil as a result of the passage of this law, but the new regulation will further aggravate tensions between Islamabad and Washington, complicating Western efforts to combat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. The United States may even move to expand its unilateral airstrikes and covert operations deeper into Pakistani territory.
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