New York, Sept 23 : The US administration must put its weight behind the new civilian government in Islamabad to bolster its efforts to strike against terrorists in its territory, to keep alive any realistic hope of wining the war against terror in Afghanistan and bordering tribal areas in Pakistan.
According to an editorial in the New York Times, newly-elected Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari should be extended American help to fight back militancy. It described Zardari as a political novice who faced serious corruption charges.
"He is an undeniably flawed leader, with little political experience and a history tainted by charges of corruption. But he deserves a chance, and American support, to fulfill his promises to bolster democracy, clean up Pakistan's intelligence services and work with the United States to defeat terrorism," said the editorial.
"We certainly share his alarm and his clear frustration that the Pakistanis are doing too little to defeat the extremists or stop their attacks into Afghanistan. But Mr. Bush and his aides should be just as alarmed about Pakistan's unraveling, and working a lot harder to come up with a policy that bolsters Pakistan's fragile civilian government while enlisting its full support in the fight against extremists."
It further said that if there was any chance of permanently rooting out extremists from the tribal areas, "that will have to be done by Pakistan's military", backed up with sustained programs for economic and political development.
The paper suggested that Washington must finally persuade Pakistan's leaders that this was not just America's fight, but essential to their own security and survival as a democracy. And, Pakistan's leaders must persuade their citizens, it added.
Any revised plan must do a lot more to avoid civilian casualties and support, rather than undermine, Pakistan's civilian leaders. Congress can do its part by approving a 7.5 billion-dollar aid package, intended to strengthen Pakistan's democratic institutions and its counterinsurgency capabilities.