Be careful what you wish for

Pakistan News 0 Comment 1

The chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, has called for the army to pull back from areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) where peace had been restored.

On the face of it a not unreasonable request, but looking closer there are pitfalls. This is not the first time since 2007 when the army was first called in in Malakand division primarily to eject the Taliban from the Swat Valley; that there is a call for it to withdraw.

There was an operation to clear the Taliban in 2009 and since then the army has worked alongside the civil administration. The fundamental question relative to a withdrawal is — will the peace of today be sufficiently durable to be sustained, and what are the existing vulnerabilities that the state of peace has? Both of these questions need to be addressed with honesty and transparency, because if today’s peace becomes tomorrow’s chaos then the region is back to square one — again.

Imran Khan went on to say that the federal government was delaying the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with K-P, adding that the province was administratively and financially ready for the process. As ever with Imran he was short on the detail, but a military withdrawal and the merger of Fata and K-P are closely interlinked, and an expectation that pacified areas are going to remain at peace in the midst of what is going to be a lengthy and tense transition that will in all likelihood last between five and ten years has to be seen as remote.

In an ideal world there should be no need for the military to have intervened in the first place, but the civilian administration and the police were unable to roll back the Taliban. If both the police and civilian governance have been strengthened in the intervening years to the point at which they can carry the load without military support then by all means look at a military withdrawal, perhaps in a phased process that tests the strength and capacity of civilian agencies. Simply withdrawing the military risks the creation of a power vacuum, and trouble beckons.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2017.

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The post Be careful what you wish for appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Source: Tribune News | Be careful what you wish for

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