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Pakistan: A Deepening Crisis

Published on: October 4th 2008 13:53:52
The spectacular destruction of the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad came as a sharp reminder to Washington and Islamabad of the threat posed by Pakistani militants. Responsibility for the blast has been claimed by the previously unheard of Fediyeen-i-Islam, one of many factions active in the Islamist insurgency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). As we have indicated previously, US officials regard the Afghan-Pakistan border region as one front in the war on terror. However, despite fruitful bilateral discussions between top US and Pakistani military officials, domestic anti-American sentiment represents a growing political barrier to on-the-ground cooperation. Washington commentators are increasingly exasperated at the inability of Pakistani elites to make the public case for greater foreign cooperation. Yet a clear undertone to President Zardari’s discussions with President Bush on September 23rd was Islamabad’s contention that current US efforts are proving counter-productive, encouraging further public support for the insurgency while undercutting respect for the state. In the absence of clear alternatives, the Pentagon remains committed to unilateral precision action within FATA. It is clear, however, that such measures are no longer adequate to the strategic challenges the insurgency poses to Pakistan political stability.

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