LONDON: The International Institute for Strategic Studies in its annual review of the world affairs has noted that President Asif Ali Zardari’s major challenge will be to gain the trust of stakeholders and build a consensus against terrorism.
At the release of the Strategic Survey 2008, the IISS Director-General Dr.John Chipman noted that to pursue the campaign on terror, President Zardari will prefer to balance the conflicting interests of growing US pressure for military strikes in the tribal areas with the Pakistan Army’s decreasing tolerance for such attacks.
He said in order to reduce public opposition to such a policy, President Zardari needs to build bridges with the major opposition political parties. He further mentioned that the new President’s top priority is to fight terrorism and militancy in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. “With the Taliban controlling large swathes of the tribal areas and increase in cross-border attacks taking place against coalition forces in Afghanistan, the US is now inclined to attack to defeat the Taliban,” he said.
The IISS Chief also observed that first ground assault by coalition special forces in the tribal areas on September 3 resulted in public outrage in Pakistan leading Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani to condemned them. Former British High Commissioner to Pakistan Sir Hilary Synott in response to a question put to the panel of experts, said the South Asian country face two immediate challenges of violent militancy and poor economy.
He contended US appears to be clearly impatient at the reported apparent lack of speed and vigour in tackling militancy by the Pakistani authorities and has therefore resorted to missile firing. Another expert Rahul Roy Chaudhry commented that the major political parties need to be included in consensus on moving forward in tackling militancy. “President Zardari has to make space for himself on these issues,” he remarked.
According to Strategic Survey, events in the year to mid 2008 left the world facing a range of geopolitical uncertainties as well as the gathering storm in financial markets and economies as it waited to know the identity and the foreign policy approach of the next US President. “His arrival could help to repair the damage to America’s standing in the world but the decisions that he will have to take on the difficult strategic issues facing him will still tend to invite controversy as much as they could inspire revived co-operation,” it concluded. -SANA