In an article published in the Indianapolis Star, Lee Hamilton writes that Pakistan's underlying economic weaknesses and the global financial crisis had devastated the country. "Between July and October, the rupee lost a quarter of its value. Foreign-exchange reserves have dwindled to dangerously low levels.
Pakistan has sought assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the extent of 13 billion dollars to avoid defaulting on its debts," he writes and adds: "President Asif Ali Zardari is yet to demonstrate the capacity to tackle Pakistan's toughest challenges. He lacks popular support to wage a campaign against the Taliban. He must carefully balance his country's strategic alliance with the US and widespread public hostility to the US."
He further writes that the dispute over Kashmir lingers on, while the reach of the Taliban increasingly extends from the Tribal Areas into Pakistan and its cities. From their tribal agency base, the Taliban have launched deadly raids on the US and allied troops in Afghanistan, where their presence is growing.
"The US needs a comprehensive plan to promote stability in the region with integrated security, political and economic components.
Even then, the US cannot achieve success and eliminate terrorist sanctuaries in the Tribal Areas without Pakistani help.
The US needs to discreetly help Pakistan defend traditional forms of tribal governance and the elders who could form the backbone of indigenous resistance to the Taliban. In dealing with the Tribal Areas, the US must differentiate its enemies," concludes Hamilton in his article.