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United they stand

Terror strikes,especially of the suicide bombing variety,are no novelty to Pakistan...

Terror strikes,especially of the suicide bombing variety,are no novelty to Pakistan,and the recent back-to-back bombings in Lahore and Peshawar were something the intelligence agencies had been expecting as the military offensive against the Taliban began yielding positive results. Daily Times’ May 29 editorial laid it out: “After the Taliban accepted responsibility for the suicide-bombing in Lahore,it is obvious they are feeling the heat of the Swat Operation….. Baitullah Mehsud believes in retaliation,and this time he was reacting to the beating his men in Swat are receiving from the Army. There is news about the besieged 4,000 militants there,which must have upset him a great deal…. Some of his best commanders have either been killed or taken prisoner. There are rumours Fazlullah could have been killed during the operation…. If we recall the attacks made earlier in the year,they were all less than perfect. That,of course,doesn’t take away from the damage done by the attacks. But it does indicate Pakistan can confront the Taliban if it resolves to do so.” The national and political consensus against Taliban has no precedent in Pakistan. The News,in its editorial on May 29 lauded the censuring of Taliban by all political parties. “What we should be doing is listening very carefully to the tone and nature of the condemnation of the attack by various political parties. We need to be hearing — loud,clear and consistent — repugnance at the loss of life,with no equivocation and wavering.”

Back in business

Nawaz Sharif’s vehement support to Pakistan’s judiciary seems to have borne fruit not just for him,but also for the country. Daily Times viewed in its editorial on May 28: “Pakistan has entered a new political phase of relative stability. Clearly,the Sharifs,the Zardari government and the judges were on the same political page.. Mr Sharif firmed up his position vis-à-vis the government by vowing to “unconditionally support the federal government.”

The News’ May 28 editorial welcomed this news. “The re-entry of Nawaz to parliament will offer the political process a boost by opening the way for more relevant debate and dialogue within the assembly. His performance will also be closely watched given the country faces a crisis,to solve which we need input from all quarters. This of course can happen only once the by-election is done with and won,but this seems only to be a formality. In recent weeks,the PML-N’s lion has been roaring ever louder.”

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Finally,the wait is over

Mariana Babar observed in The News on May 29: “With elections over,New Delhi appears to be realising the futility of rhetoric and posturing against Pakistan with chances growing that the summer of 2009 would see the melting of ice between the two neighbours.”The spokesman at the Foreign Office clearly stated that Pakistan felt encouraged by the statement from New Delhi,which spoke of joint action against terrorism. “It is encouraging that while commenting on the recent Lahore attack,the Indian Minister for External Affairs has hoped India and Pakistan can join hands against terrorism. We need to set up the procedure but things came to a stand still because of the Mumbai blasts,” he said.

Mild anger,however,surfaced in Dawn’s editorial the same day: “India needs to make up its mind on where it stands vis-a-vis Pakistan. Are we or are we not partners in the battle against militancy and terrorism? Or are we to remain perennial adversaries locked in a no-win situation that can benefit neither country? New Delhi hasn’t been terribly clear on this point,possibly because it had been caught up in electioneering where rhetoric does not always reflect facts. Even as Islamabad embarked on what was possibly its first truly coordinated effort to go after the Taliban,the response from New Delhi remained more or less Mumbai-specific. A change of tack was seen on Wednesday when the Indian foreign minister condemned the suicide attack in Lahore. ‘We hope Pakistan and India could join hands [sic together to fight this spectre of terror.’ Is any cooperation from India dependent solely on the outcome of the Mumbai case or is it still possible in the meantime to discuss other outstanding issues?”

First published on: 30-05-2009 at 02:10 IST
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