Washington, May 6 (ANI): An expert on South Asian affairs has said that the United States needs to do everything it can to help stabilize Pakistan, while recognizing that Washington's best efforts alone will not be sufficient for the task.
Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, also says that Pakistani leaders also must step up to the plate and demonstrate they are fully committed to bringing peace and security to the region and are willing to stand up to Taliban advances in their own country.
"Given the fluidity of the current political situation, the U.S. must also develop contingency containment strategies that guard against the possibility of terrorists gaining access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal," she says in a testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Admitting that developing and implementing an effective U.S. policy toward Pakistan is one of the most complicated yet important foreign policy challenges the Obama Administration faces, Curtis says that Pakistan is in the midst of societal and political shifts that are challenging its leadership's ability to maintain stability and even raising questions about the potential for an Islamic revolution in the country.
"Pakistan has long suffered from ethnic and sectarian divisions in different parts of the country. But the more recent threat from a well-armed and well-organized Islamist insurgency pushing for the establishment of strict Islamic law in the country's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) adds a new and more dangerous dimension to the country's challenges," she adds.
While ruling out the collapse of the Pakistani state, she says the government's surrender of the Swat Valley is a major victory for Islamist extremists seeking to carve out pockets of influence within the country.
"Islamabad's decision to allow the implementation of a parallel Islamic courts system in the Malakand Division of the NWFP (including Swat Valley) demonstrates the weakness of the Pakistan government and military in the face of an onslaught by Taliban-backed extremists seeking to take over parts of the province," she said.
The Pakistan military, she says, has surrendered to militants in the region. The closing of the civil courts in Swat Valley several weeks ago has belied the Pakistan government's claim that the establishment of Islamic courts in the region would not usurp state authority.
Events over the last two weeks, however, may have finally awakened some Pakistani officials to the downsides of the Swat peace deal and in the final analysis, it will be up to the Pakistani military to decide how much of the country will be ceded to the Taliban. (ANI)