Taliban takeover of Pakistan would be catastrophe for US, India: Washington Post

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: A resurgent Taliban is aiming to gain control over a nuclear-armed Pakistan, a development that would be a “catastrophe for the interests of the US and major allies such as India”, an influential US daily has warned.

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“During the past 10 days, Pakistan’s conflict with the Taliban movement has escalated toward full-scale war-and the extreme Islamist movement has mostly held the initiative,” the Washington Post said in an editorial Wednesday.

Noting that an attack against Pakistan’s army headquarters was staged with the help of a terrorist organisation from the country’s ethnic Punjabi heartland, the daily suggested that “the Taliban no longer aims merely at controlling the ethnic Pashtun areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan but at gaining control over a nuclear-armed state”.

“All of this is bad news for the United States, which has a vital national interest in preventing an extremist takeover in Pakistan and the destabilisation of the region stretching from Afghanistan to India,” it said.

“It’s curious that spokesmen for the Obama administration continue to talk down the Taliban threat and to describe it as unequal to that posed by Al Qaeda,” the Post said describing it as a “badly out of date” analysis.

“Al Qaeda, though still dangerous, has suffered serious reverses in the past several years, while the Taliban has gone from struggling for survival to aiming for control over both Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it said.

“Though it is not known to be planning attacks against the continental United States, success by the movement in toppling the government of either country would be a catastrophe for the interests of the United States and major allies such as India,” the Post warned.

Cautioning against a “strategy that would give up the US attempt to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan”, the Post said it would not only “condemn American soldiers to fighting and dying without the chance of winning, but it would also cripple Pakistan’s fight against the jihadists”.

“After all, if the United States gives up trying to defeat the Taliban, can it really expect that Pakistan will go on fighting?” the Post asked.