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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 79

Waziristan : The State Retreats in Pakistan's Wild West

[b]Waziristan : The State Retreats in Pakistan's Wild West[/b]

By Alok Bansal

The announcement by the Governor of NWFP Khalil-ur-Rehman on February 23, that the government has suspended operations in North Waziristan Agency because it believes that tribesmen are capable of restoring peace and normalcy through their own customs and traditions, is the second retreat by General Musharraf in almost two months. After agreeing not to build the contentious Kalabagh Dam till every one was onboard, the recent decision to suspend operations in North Waziristan shows that the hold of the state is withering away in Pakistan. The analysis of headlines emanating from Pakistan is indicative of a country on the verge of a major crisis.

As far as Waziristan is concerned, if the tribesmen were capable of restoring peace and normalcy on their own, what was the need to get embroiled in a conflict, which most Pakistanis in any case view as someone else’s war? The fact is that despite committing over 70,000 to 80,000 troops supported by helicopter gunships, artillery and air force, the writ of the state in the region has been at best tenuous. The frequent incidents of violence make a mockery of the government statements that all is under control. The current statement merely legitimises the defacto position. In any case the top ranking Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have been moving in and out of the region with impunity and have led to accusations by US media that a section of Pakistani establishment is in league with Al Qaeda and Taliban, if not all.

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