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

New York

Pakistan names new intelligence chief in military reshuffle

From M & C.

Pakistan has appointed a new chief of the country's main spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in a major reshuffle of the senior military leadership.

Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed ISI director general, according to an army statement issued late Tuesday. He will replace Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj, a loyalist of former president Pervez Musharraf, who resigned in August to avoid impeachment.

Army Chief General Ishfaq Parvez Kayani also appointed, with the approval of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a new chief of general staff and replaced four of the nine corps commanders. The move is also to strengthen Kayani's grip over his forces.

The reshuffle comes at a time when Islamabad has intensified its push against the Islamist extremist Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border.

One can only hope this reshuffle is intent on making the Pakistani military more prone to battle isurgents as opposed to siding with them. Given that these appointments were approved by PM Gilani, it appears they are being done to do just that, namely, weed out individuals supportive of isurgents and bring commanders in to battle insurgents. The US did something similar in Iraq until it came up with the Petraeus/Odierno combination in Iraq which changed the way American forces battled insurgents in Iraq.

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Pakistan minister: govt won't negotiate with 'terrorists' in new counterterror policy

From Yahoo via AP.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Monday that Pakistan's new government will not negotiate with "terrorists" even as it seeks talks with some militant groups....

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has offered talks to militants ready to renounce violence.

But in remarks that could ease concern in the West that the new government will be softer on al-Qaida, Qureshi said that offer excluded groups that Pakistan considered terrorists.

This is the first official word from Pakistan's new government on how it will deal with terrorists. On first apparence, his policy seems similar to Musharraf's. While meeting with British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, PM Gilani stated,

In a separate meeting, Gilani told Smith that Pakistan would follow a "multi-pronged" strategy against terrorism and extremism, his office said in a statement.

Gilani urged the international community to address root causes of terrorism in "unresolved political issues" and economic disparities.

Once again, we hear the term "multi-pronged" strategy. This stategy was first introduced by President Musharraf on 17 January 2008 when addressing PTV’s weekly interactive programme ‘Aiwan-e-Sadr Sey’ on the “Challenges confronting Pakistan and the way forward.” In detailing his new strategy, Musharraf said the country currently faced three major challenges; terrorism and extremism; transition to democracy and need to sustain socio-economic growth.

It seems the new government in Pakistan may not be so different from Musharraf on their approach to terrorism. In addition, the new government may very well realize what Musharraf and the Pakistani people in general are realizing -- namely, they created the Taliban which supported and continues to support Al Qaeda in the tribal regions in Pakistan. Withdrawing support from the Taliban and Al Qaeda is bringing terrorism to directly to Pakistan, not only in the tribal areas, but in Pakistan cities as well.

I have often stated in this blog one of the best approaches Pakistan's new government could take is to lead the charge in socio-economic growth in the Pakistani tribal areas which Musharraf enacted late last year. Most significantly, the bureaucratic machinery for socio-economic growth in the tribal areas was implemented last year with the development and implementation of Tribal Agents, District Coordinaing Officers, and Regional Coordinating Officers under the leadership of the Provincial Governor. This structure would allow the tribal framework in the tribal areas to not only be included in the decision making and financing of growth in this region, but also to maintain this all important tribal alliance which this region has come to depend upon.

Musharraf guaranteed Pakistan's transition to a democracy, even at his own personal risk politically. Musharraf should be allowed to lead the charge on the military front with General Kayani.

If successful against terrorism, the new government could claim credit and reap its benefits. If unsuccessful, the new government could blame Musharraf. This situation is the best of both worlds for the new government.

It appears from the statement above from PM Gilani, he is going to pursue the same course as Musharraf developed later last year. While military action will, in the near term, potentially slow as the new government feels its way in its new position of authority, I expect to see an increase in military action shortly against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The new government will see what they can change with negotiations. The Taliban and Al Qaeda will fail to keep their ends of new agreements, just as they did with Musharraf. This time though, Pakistan has in place a "multi-pronged" strategy to deal with terrorists in the tribal regions. When military action again starts, one will see a revitalized national army ready to take the fight to terrorists.

The battle will come. Make no doubt about it. Extremists lost wholesale in the latest democratic elections. Businessmen won. Sharia law and extremism is bad for business. The two will eventually clash.

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