Back in the 60’s, no onein Pakistan really thought “Pakistan would split into two”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bangladesh.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and once again a chunk of Pakistan has left the fold. Back in the days, it used to take a formal declaration of independence and a lot of deaths – in today’s modern world it’s pretty much the same, except the declarations are on TV and the internet, and the deaths by decapitation and stoning.
The NWFP was never really part of Pakistan from the beginning, and despite official denials all around, for all practical purposes it’s definitely no longer part of Pakistan. It was never governed by Pakistani law anyways, and scraped by on age-old custom, bullets and tribal jirgas. Men were men, sheep were sheep and women and the government stayed far away, out of sight, and if they ever ventured to do anything were slapped back in to submission double quick.
This state of affairs continued for a while, but there is a limit to the amount of power a bunch of old man with Lee Enfield rifles and a few AK-47 rifles have, but even that was enough to scare off the Pakistan government. The Taliban saw the obvious power vacuum, and have stepped in wholeheartedly, singlehandedly vanquishing both the tribal system and the remaining vistages of the Pakistan govt.
The Taliban, empowered by the American stooge government over in Afghanistan, where Karzai famously controls only the 10 square yards around him where American security keeps out the rest of Afghanistan, has infiltrated the NWFP and the tribal areas, brainwashing many of the residents in the process to their cause. All that NATO and the American army have succeeded in doing so far is provide training to the Afghani/Pakistani Taliban, and built up a fearsome fighting force. The veterans left behind from decades of fighting against first the Soviets, and now the Americans are the best of the best, willing and able to take on all comers.
The Pakistan govt. has given carte blanche to the Pakistan Army to take on the Taliban, but the elephant in the room is that when the Soviet and now the American army failed – The Pakistan Army doesn’t stand a chance. The other elephant, of course, is that the Pakistan Army always has complete control of whatever they do – the govt. officially handing over carte Blanche was just a fig leaf.
The Pakistan army, in yet another display of the breath-taking staggeringly stupid decisions they are prone to make, supported the Taliban for years – because they thought the Taliban would help them in any war with India, or provide some mysteriously fig leaf which they called strategic depth, whatever that is. Once again they’ve been proven wrong – not just wrong, but egg on the face embarrassingly wrong, as they gear up to fight the very people they trained, including parts of the Pakistan Army and the ISI.
For years, the rest of the world (and many Pakistanis) told the Army that they were wrong, but they never listened. Now that their mistakes have come back to haunt them, they continue dilly dallying about. They continue buying useless submarines and fighter jets to fight 20th century wars while the 21st century Taliban army decimates them on the ground.
There are those who would deny this, but “at best they lie to themselves”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/opinion/27aamodt.html?em&ex=1214798400&en=55e3196d3a7018e0&ei=5087%0A, or they just lie, period.
There are many parts of Pakistan where you can’t visit anymore, not of fear, but because of certainty of a number of very bad things. In Peshawar, many Peshawaris are no longer welcome in their own cities. The “foreign press is just beginning to report on what is going on”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/world/asia/28pstan.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all, and the first hand reports say worse is to follow. The local press says the whole “operation against the Taliban is a lie”:http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=15673, and first hand reports from the ground pretty much confirm that. The media “continues having severe doubts”:http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=15696 on the operation.
Traditionally, Peshawar was the most hospitable big city in Pakistan, where guests were treated like loyalty. Now, families living there for centuries tell their friends and family in other cities not to visit, and to prepare for their imminent arrival out of Peshawar.
Most countries don’t negotiate with terrorists. In the Pakistani twist to this internationally accepted strategy with dealing with terrorists, neither do we – we just give in to their demands. Even as the Army rolls in around Peshawar, the militants don’t seem too worried.