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A Fight for Existence

Pakistan faces a battle over its very existence in the war with the Taliban.

Pakistan today finds itself in the midst of a deep crisis. Crises are not new to Pakistan but unfortunately, the present situation is not merely a clash of politics or even between organs of the State, as between the civilian government and the military. Rather, Pakistan today faces a crisis of the State itself. For the first time since its formation, the Pakistani state is in real danger of being overrun and overturned. The Taliban, who are leading the charge, combine within them a credible military threat, with politics which offers a millenarian solution to popularly perceived injustices.

It is indicative of the nature of the challenge that every time the Pakistani state claims victory over the Muslim fundamentalists, they seem to emerge stronger. It was only a few months back that the Pakistan army claimed that they had cleared the entire Swat valley from Taliban control. More recently, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed. Yet again, despite these apparent reverses, the Taliban are increasing the scope and audacity of their attacks. In the past couple of weeks, the Taliban have launched coordinated attacks on the Pakistan army headquarters, on police stations, markets and educational institutions. These attacks have achieved their twin purpose of showing off the Taliban’s growing strength and confidence, as well as spreading fear and panic among Pakistan’s security services and common citizenry. Reports from Pakistan indicate that there is a general sense of fear and foreboding among people, city streets and markets are empty, all schools, colleges and universities are shut and nobody knows where the next terror attack will take place but everyone is certain that it will take place.

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