Mar 7, 2009

Pakistan facing internal ‘mortal threat’: Miliband

By M.Ziauddin
He said that Pakistan was facing a ‘mortal threat’ from internal militancy. According to Miliband Pakistan's internal instability was ‘a grave situation and... it has got worse’.
Miliband urged politicians to unite, saying: ‘I think that the degree of political disunity that exists at the moment is only contributing to the problem.’ He added that country's economic decline in the global credit crunch was also a major factor.
‘You’ve got the combination of a political crisis precipitated by the recent Supreme Court judgment, so democratic politicians are not coming together to fight terrorism. Secondly you've got massive economic uncertainty; this is a country now with a massive IMF loan. And thirdly, you've got a security challenge on a number of fronts. The western frontier that you referred to, the 2,400 kilometre border with Afghanistan; but also the attacks in the centre of Pakistan, those that claimed the life of Benazir Bhutto as Frank Gardner said, and obviously the most recent attack. So this is a very grave situation, and it's intimately linked to the situation in Afghanistan.’
He fingered Lashkhar-e-Taiba for the Lahore attack without directly accusing it of carrying out the bloody attempt.
‘I think one of the issues that I've been raising in my four visits to Pakistan, is the need for central and local government in Pakistan to work to replace those Lashkar-e-Taiba or at least their front organisations, welfare and educational organisations, with the arms of the Pakistani state. And this goes to, what I think is a core issue. Pakistan is a country that for 60 years, over the last 60 years, it's had about 31 years of military rule. At the same time, it spends less than half the amount of money on education as it does on the military. And there you have a recipe for people seeking a better life for their kids turning to madrassas and turning to extremism. I think that is the combination that needs to be taken on in the Punjab.’
‘Now the problem is you've got a central government in Islamabad and a local government in Lahore, who are now at loggerheads as the result of the Supreme Court judgment I mentioned. And that's why we are putting so much emphasis on democratic politicians coming together in Pakistan, because we worked hard alongside many Pakistanis for the restoration of democratic rule. It's now vital that whatever the political differences between President Zardari, between Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition, his brother who's the leader of the Punjab, or was the leader of the Punjab until last week, come together to unite against the mortal threat that Pakistan faces which is a threat from its internal enemies, not its traditional external enemies.’
When told that President Musharraf was holding or seem to be holding the line, but this (Zardari’s) government was failing Miliband disagreed and said: ‘I don't accept that, because a military rule cannot hold the line if it loses the confidence of its people, and I think that is what had happened in... especially in the later years of President Musharraf's rule; he'd lost the confidence of his own people, and you cannot fight a counterinsurgency if you do not have the confidence of the people.’

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