The simmering domestic problems in Pakistan have begun to boil, causing major issues for the Obama administration. As the Taliban takes control of Pakistan and the fighting along the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders increases, President Obama faces a major world political dilemma.
The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan barely exists; that’s why the 20,000 US troops about to be deployed to Afghanistan will struggle as the Taliban escapes over the border to Pakistan, explains The New York Times, which also says:
The Pakistani Taliban are taking on the Pakistani Army in a battle that is the most obvious front of a long-haul strategy to destabilize and take over a nuclear-armed Pakistan.
64 Taliban fighters were killed yesterday in the Swat Valley, reports The Guardian. The Pakistan military launched air and ground attacks against up to 7,000 Taliban militants in a north western valley in Pakistan.
All reports highlight how civilian causalities will increase in Pakistan in the coming weeks. A humanitarian crisis is currently unfolding, says The Age. The paper says that the North-West Frontier Province could soon be home to 1 million refugees escaping from the Swat Valley.
The Taliban has invited Osama bin Laden to the Swat Valley to live with them, saying they will protect him from Pakistani and US troops, although there are currently 100,000 Pakistani military troops in the region. Pakistan President Zardari responded with a political bring-it-on in an interview with Spiegel: “it would be a great gesture if Osama bin Laden were to come out into the open in order to give us a chance of catching him”.
Meanwhile, while things boil over in Pakistan, the meeting in Washington between the US government, Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai is as much about “overcoming congressional resistance to the increased aid” as establishing solutions for dealing with Islamist extremists in the region, notes The Christian Science Monitor. Perhaps unsurprising considering that that the two proposed aid packages are worth nearly a total of $9.5 billion to Pakistan in the next five years.
The ball is now in President Obama’s court, says United Press International. Martin Sieff argues that although President Bush was responsible for many of the failed policies on Afghanistan and Pakistan, President Obama has failed to improve the situation. In fact, the situation is just getting worse under President Obama and President Zardari has no credible control over the worsening situation.
In fact, the credibility of President Zardari has been questioned by numerous media outlets, including in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Zakaria called the issues unfolding in Pakistan “probably the most difficult problem Obama faces”, which considering the current state of the global financial crisis, is saying something.