Monday, April 27, 2009

Not talking with Taliban in Pakistan speaks louder than the alternative

Let's face the simple facts, however counterintuitive they may be. There will be no settlement with the resurgent Taliban militant group, which is now trying to take over nuclear-armed Pakistan. We know from what they did in Afghanistan -- indoctrinating men, subjugating women, trying to wipe out a proud nation's long history. So news Monday that a radical cleric in the Swat valley was breaking off his services as a Taliban representative in negotiations with Pakistan's civilian government cannot be a bad thing. According to the Reuters international news service, Sufi Mohammad broke off negotiations with the government after Islamabad launched a military offensive against the Taliban in the lawless northwest region of Lower Dir. Swat and Lower Dir are part of the Malakand division, where Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former leader Benazir Bhutto, agreed in talks with Mohammad to appease the Taliban by allowing them to impose Islamic law. But violence has surged since then, prompting increased concern by Western nations fearing for the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weaponry. The West has been trying to convince Zardari to commit his army to fight the Taliban and stop their power grab. Zardari is scheduled to meet in Washington next month with U.S. President Barack Obama and Aghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai. Zardari tried to reassure Western nations on Monday that Pakistan's arsenal was not in danger of falling to the Taliban. "I want to assure the world that the nuclear capability of Pakistan is under safe hands," he told the international media, Reuters said. Mohammad caused an uproar last week by denouncing Pakistan's parliament, democracy and Supreme Court as un-Islamic, Reuters said.

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