May 6, 2009 7:24:50 pm
Warning of “real and present danger” to the survival of the Taliban-infested Pakistan,an influential US lawmaker has compared that country to an individual whose “pants are on fire” but is not aware of it.
“Let me be blunt. Pakistan’s pants are on fire. That bad of course,but things are actually much,much worse,” Gary Ackerman,the Democrat Congressman from New York,said at the hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,where Richard Holbrooke,Special US envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan testified.
Ackerman,Chairman of the South Asian and Middle East Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs,told Holbrooke that Pakistan’s leaders rather than recognising and moving to address the urgent danger to their Constitution and country,instead seem convinced that “if left alone … the Islamist flame will simply burn itself out. That hope is,at best,folly,” he said.
“Tragically,neither President (Asif Ali) Zardari nor former Prime Minister (Nawaz) Sharif appear to recognise the scope and seriousness of the crisis that their country is in or of the necessity of setting their personal or party political fortunes aside in order to meet the danger.”
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Observing that Zardari has said the right things regarding counter-terrorism about how to fight against al- Qaeda and the Taliban,Ackerman alleged that in practice the government’s response has been “slow,weak and ineffective” as recent events have shown.
Given the past record of Pakistan,Ackerman feared another military coup,if the situation further deteriorated.
“Whatever the rationale or the reason,the fact is Pakistan’s political echelon has not yet risen to meet the moment. Historically one could expect that if the political situation remains as unstable as it is now,and if neither leader moves beyond the narrow political concerns,that the Pakistani military might again emerge as the only institution capable of saving the state,” he said.
With the insurgents a mere hour’s drive from Islamabad,Ackerman said: “I suspect that among the senior officers of the Pakistani military in particular those with connections to the ISI that bedrock belief is still that Pakistan’s real enemy is India remains untouched by events.”
Ackerman said Pakistan’s government,its military,and most importantly its people must come to realise that the militants and terrorists they nurtured and supported for decades to fight in Kashmir and to antagonise India have now turned on them.
“There is a real and present danger to Pakistan’s survival,but it comes from inside,not outside,the country. The fire is real,and they need to respond.”
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