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The International Herald Tribune - August 20, 2008 In the end, President Pervez Musharraf went, if not quietly, with remarkably little strife. Pakistan's top civilian and military leaders, who worked together to orchestrate his long-delayed resignation, must continue that responsible cooperation in the months ahead. Pakistan's plight is far too desperate for any more destructive personal and institutional vendettas. The first challenge is to choose a new civilian president, free from any taint of corruption or complicity with past dictatorships. The presidency must also be stripped of the special dictatorial powers that Musharraf seized for himself, including the power to suspend civil liberties and rule by decree. Pakistan's newly elected leaders must also move quickly to challenge Taliban and Al Qaeda forces - who threaten their own country's stability - and the Pakistani intelligence and military officers who are in league with them. They must address a desperate food and fuel crisis and tackle the deeper problems of poverty, development and corruption that are feeding extremism and anti-American fury. For seven years, President Bush underwrote Musharraf's dictatorship. Now Washington must provide more effective and realistic support for Pakistan's fragile democracy. Congress should enact legislation sponsored by Senators Joseph Biden and Richard Lugar that provides for substantial increases in economic assistance and tighter monitoring of military aid. American aid can only make a difference if Pakistan's leaders are finally willing to face up to the country's problems. They must acknowledge a dangerous and painful truth: Key leaders of Pakistan's military and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency have long collaborated with armed Islamic extremists operating in Afghanistan, the Indian province of Kashmir and Pakistan's own tribally administered regions along the Afghan border. In their eyes, these extremists serve Pakistan's strategic interests. In reality, as The New York Times has extensively reported, these militants kill U.S. and NATO soldiers, Indian diplomats and Pakistani civilians. It will take personal courage and broad political support to clean up these forces and finally bring them under civilian control. Pakistan's leaders will better their odds if they stop pretending that the fight against terrorism is somehow America's problem and not Pakistan's. They will also have to stop pretending that ad-hoc cease-fires and bribes to insurgent leaders can roll back the Taliban threat. Pakistan needs to send its most elite troops into the troubled frontier areas bordering Afghanistan. It needs to spend its military dollars - many of which are provided by Washington - on counterinsurgency weapons, not F-16 fighter jets bought to challenge India. The United States must condition military aid on more focused and effective Pakistani counterinsurgency efforts and carefully monitor how that aid is spent. Wasteful military spending and political corruption has diverted millions of dollars that should have been invested in primary education, health care and agriculture. Pakistani allies like Saudi Arabia should also help pay for schools, health services and agricultural development and carefully monitor how their aid is spent. For seven years, the Bush administration enabled Musharraf - believing that he was the best ally for the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban. He never delivered on that promise. And Pakistan's people deeply resent Washington for propping up the dictator. With Musharraf finally out of the picture, it is time to focus American policy on his dangerous and dangerously neglected country.

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[ Asia ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Islam e democrazia ] [ Pakistan ] [ Subcontinente indiano ]

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[ Asia ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ] [ Islam e democrazia ] [ Pakistan ] [ Subcontinente indiano ]

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