"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Zardari vows to root out terror from Pak

From South East Asia News.

In a reaction to last night's suicide attack on a hotel in Islamabad killing around 50 persons, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari said that the country will not be deterred by the 'cowardly acts of terrorism' and that the new PPP-led alliance government will purge their country of this "cancer".

Addressing his nation on TV late on Saturday, Zardari said that he was aggrieved by the losses in the massive bomb attack and that he knew how it felt to lose a loved one.

He asked his countrymen to 'turn their grief into power'.

The terrorists would bow before Pakistan one day, he said and added that those who had carried out the attack in the holy month of Ramazan were not Muslims.

The President said that the terrorists had turned the happy moment of the restoration of democracy into that of grief, and asked all political parties to unite against terrorism.

A few hours earlier, in his maiden address of the joint session of the Pakistan Parliament, Zardari said that Pakistan was passing through a critical phase and must root out all forms of terrorism and extremism from its soil."

We must root out terrorism and extremism wherever and whenever they may rear their ugly heads," he said and added: "Let everyone have an opportunity to make an informed judgment about the risks to our beloved country and about how we should move forward with responsibility and clarity of vision."

He also said that his country won't tolerate attacks by any foreign forces on its soil, though he didn't name any country. "We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism," Zardari said.

The text above should make jihadists cringe. While it has been stated that jihadists were after high-level American personnel in their attack, Zardari was also supposed to be at the hotel during the attack but was not. The jihadists were undoubtedly trying to get a twofor by taking out high level foreigners (American and British) and the Pakistani President too.

Zardari's response is noteworthy in several respects.

First, he touches muslims directly by stating attacking during the holy month of Ramadan was "not muslim" and "cowardly".

Second, he goes after terrorists directly stating they are a "cancer", vowed to root them out wherever they show their "ugly heads", and noted Pakistan is going through a "critical phase and must root out terrorism".

Third, he appeals to Pakistanis by stating the terrorists have turned the "restoration of democracy [in Pakistan] into grief" and asked Pakistanis to turn this "grief into power".

Fouth, he inspired nationalism by stating he would not allow "violation of our [Pakistani] sovereignty".

Finally, he brought it to the very personal level stating "he knew how it felt to lose a loved one".

All of these tied together should definitely make jihadists cringe. This high profile attack did not endure Pakistanis to Al Qaeda nor did it accomplish its tactical objective of killing high profile foreigners or harming Zardari. It will undoubtedly make normal Pakistanis, religiously fasting during Ramadan, wonder why Al Qaeda chose to attacks during this holy time. More to the point, the attack was triggered right when the hotel was filled with Pakistanis who would be eating their evening meal after fasting.

This attack could only hurt the jihadist's brand. Yes, it will make individuals fearful, but if the Pakistani military begins an all out offensive, with quite assistance from the US, the military can use this turbulent time, in which Zardari tells Pakistanis to turn their grief into power, to root out terrorists on its soil while maintaining to the popular support of the people.

The coming days and actions by the Pakistani government will be critical. It will be interesting to see if this great blunder by jihadists will be used against them as it should. If it is, we will see the populous rise up against jihadists in Pakistan. If it is not, we continue to see tacit support of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the FATA/NWFP regions.

UPDATE: South East Asia News Net is reporting the blast may have been meant for the Pakistani Parliament, not foreign dignitaries as orginally suspected.

The terror attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad was supposedly aimed at Pakistan's parliament where the entire civil and military leadership of the country had gathered to listen to the first address by President Asif Ali Zardari.

Right now, the only foreigner officially killed in the attack was the Czech ambassador to Pakistan. While a supporter of western forces in their global war on terror, the Czech republich is hardly a country with a reputation of going after jihadists.

It appears the intitial analysis is still correct. Strategically, the bombing of the Marriott hotel is huge blunder for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. They did not apparently kill foreigners they were after, they did not get Zardari, nor did they get Pakistani parliamentarians. However, they have brought their terrorist brand home in a way not seen since the assassination of Bhutto, which resulted in the PPP sweeping elections in this country. Now that the PPP is in power, its full force can be brought to bear upon Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In addition, Pakistan will now get much needed international support to help the newly elected democratic government against Al Qaeda. The US will be able to hide its support among the various players which will now flock to Pakistan's side, especially given Zardari's recent speech above. Both President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have expressed uninamity with Pakistan over the hotel blast.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban have given the Pakistani government a choice. Either submit to terrorism or fight it. It appears the Pakistani government will now take on these forces directly.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home