Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the Taliban in Pakistan and what a nuclear Iran means for Israel.
Let Pakistanis deal with the Taliban
Regarding the April 24 editorial, "A Swat down for Pakistan – and Obama": The editorial contends that, "The deal reveals a strange unwillingness by Pakistan's 500,000-strong Army to confront the violent jihadists that pose an existential threat to this country's democracy, just as Al Qaeda's headquarters in Pakistan still pose a threat to the West." It is not as if the Pakistan Army has refused to fight these thugs. It was the Zardari administration, egged on by their secular-nationalist coalition partners, the Awami National Party, that negotiated and then advocated for a peace deal with the Taliban in Swat.
Moreover, the Pakistan Army cannot be expected to bomb Pakistani civilians in the hunt for militants. In such a battle, the progress has to be slow and measured to ensure that civilians are not harmed so that more do not embrace militancy as a vehicle of revenge. Moreover, a national consensus has to be built to effectively address the problem of militancy. Fortunately, the Taliban's own utterances and savage practices have done wonders for building a national consensus against these barbarians.
Regarding the recent incursion of the Taliban into Buner, the writers state that, "Pakistan then responded weakly by sending some forces back into the area, while the Taliban, having made its point about its potency, appeared to make a strategic retreat." This completely ignores the local population's resistance against the Taliban, the statements by General Kiyani and a broad spectrum of political voices, as well as civil society in general, uniformly condemning the Taliban as reflected in the English and Urdu press, all of which contributed to the Taliban beating a retreat from Buner.
Pakistan and Pakistanis realize the threat that the Taliban and other jihadi militants pose to the country and are poised to deal with the situation.
As Adil Najam of Boston University correctly pointed out during a recent interview with NPR's Robert Siegel, that there is little the outside world can do to improve the situation in Pakistan, but there is a whole lot that they can do to make it a lot worse. At this time, the population and the military are focused on the Taliban problem and there is broad consensus on battling this menace. There must not be any interference from outside parties which would only serve to take the focus off this problem and lead to yet another wasted opportunity to eradicate militancy from Pakistan forever.
Middle East politics don't mix with nukes
In regard to the April 24 Opinion piece, "The danger of an Israeli strike on Iran": Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel will do whatever is necessary to avoid living under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear capability. It's a shame that he has in mind military action, rather than strengthening Israel's support for the establishment of a nuclear-free Middle East, as called for by the UN General Assembly.
Israel possesses, for the foreseeable future, overwhelming conventional military superiority in the region and Iran understandably objects to being treated as a special case with regard to nuclear nonproliferation.
Iran's complete and verifiable cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation will surely come, provided that Washington also formally commits itself to a policy of no first use of its nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Walt Rodgers can stipulate many "why not" conditions but fails to come up with clear alternatives to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He should provide solutions to the terrifying prospect of a nuclear Iran. It is easy to analyze, but much more difficult to be a constructive problem solver.
Walt Rodgers seems to forget that, while the US still is a superpower and one of Israel's strongest and most influential allies, it is Benjamin Netanyahu's sole prerogative and responsibility, as Israel's elected prime minister, to ensure his country's safety.
It is Israel, not the US, that is directly threatened by Iran's nuclear weapons; it will be Israeli citizens, not American citizens, who will suffer the consequences of any nuclear attack in the region. Let us make our own decisions.
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