Feb 21, 2009
An alarming dimension
PRESIDENT Obama widens missile strikes inside Pakistan, says a report published in New York Times. It also tells that the intensification in US drone attacks represents a broadening of the US campaign inside Pakistan. While his administration might be of the view that these attacks are central to the fight against militancy, the reality is quite different. Drones are not only generating a severe backlash against the government and the army, but also creating unity among different militant groups. Consider the deal struck in Waziristan on Friday. Three militant groups namely Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of Baitullah Mehsud Group, Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group and Mullah Nazir Group have sunk their differences and formed an alliance to fight their opponents. Threatened by these attacks, they expressed concern over what they believed were the intentions of President Obama and President Zardari about them. The US missiles, which are now becoming quite frequent, are provoking more and more people from the tribal areas to rise against Washington. It is the Pakistani government that has to face the wrath of the tribals. What is more the militant networks turn these attacks to their advantage by making recruitments. President Obama by following in the footsteps of his predecessor has dismayed many. The intensification in missile strikes coupled by the plan to send more troops to Afghanistan are a sad commentary on his promise of change made during the electoral campaign. Little wonder his popularity graph has come down to 67 percent. The new US administration must realise that the continuation of Bush's policy of missile strikes would further deteriorate the situation. As the alliance among the rebel groups in Waziristan show these aerial raids would fuel militancy rather than curb it. It is a war in which hearts and minds would have to be won over.