Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Crisis in Pakistan: Conclusion

Part 6 of a 6 part essay on the growing threat of the Taliban in Pakistan and how to combat it

There are some who believe that the Taliban has no chance of toppling the Pakistani government. There are others who believe that it is only a matter of time before Taliban militants follow in the footsteps of the other great revolutionaries of history and take over all of Pakistan. Both views are inaccurate, and resigning to either is a disservice to the victims of the September 11th attacks and the thousands of others who have died trying to prevent Muslim extremists from ever threatening the United States again. The reality is that, over the course of the past decade, the Taliban has grown stronger and stronger in Pakistan to the point that, despite still controlling a minority of Pakistan, the Taliban now poses a serious threat to the existence of Pakistan. It is also true that the Pakistani government, for a variety of reasons, has been unable to effectively counter the rise of the Taliban up to this point.

The United States must realize that, in the next few years, there is a realistic chance that the Taliban could destabilize or even take over Pakistan. It must recognize the international repercussions of either event, particularly the possibility of unaccounted-for nuclear weapons, and must begin to think about how to react to either event. However, President Obama and the United States must also continue to recognize that a Taliban takeover is not imminent, nor is it certain, and the United States must also realize that, while its influence is not as great in Pakistan as it is in other countries, it is not non-existent either. President Obama must exhaust every reasonable, feasible option to prevent the Taliban from going the extra 60 miles to Islamabad. He must be tenacious and resourceful, yet smart; he must be wary of damaging long-term relations and should not address this problem unilaterally, as did his predecessor. He must act within U.S. limitations, but he must act now; the window of opportunity provided by the Pakistani Army may not last long, and given how far the Taliban has come, it may be the last one.

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