In the Arena

Today in Pakistan

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Further evidence that the real threat in Pakistan isn’t a Taliban coup but national disintegration in today’s Times. Notice how the story is structured. The familiar problem is on top–the Pakistani Army is fighting the Taliban, with perhaps some success, in Buner. But down below, there’s this from Karachi, which has been experiencing an outbreak of inter-ethnic gang violence:

In Karachi, paramilitary rangers were deployed to stem the street violence. About 34 people have been killed and 42 wounded in the violence, which began when a group of gunmen opened fire on an outlying settlement in the north of the city, local news agencies reported. About 20 vehicles were set afire, local reporters said.

And this from Baluchistan:

Meanwhile, officials warned of a tense situation in the southwest, in Baluchistan Province, where the government has failed to calm public anger over the killing of three nationalist leaders.

In fact, it’s hard to find a part of Pakistan where there isn’t (a) a separatist movement or (b) Islamic extremists involved in terror attacks. This is, obviously, a matter of some concern, but it’s a situation that the U.S. can only influence at the margins. I’ve heard rumors that there will be some encouraging “developments” when the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan arrive in Washington next week. I’ll be curious to see whether these developments have anything to do with the situation on the ground or merely diplomatic niceties cooked up to convey the appearance of progress.

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