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Topics: Pakistan, Taliban, Afghanistan Pages: 13 (2317 words) Published: November 30, 2013
10/30/13

Pakistan’s Sharif is Under Siege | The Pulse | The Diplomat

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Pakistan’s Sharif is Under Siege | The Pulse | The Diplomat

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Pakistan’s Sharif is Under Siege

By Zachary Keck
October 29, 2013
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It’s been less than five months since Nawaz Sharif began his third term as Pakistan’s prime minister, but his honeymoon period is long since over. In fact, PM Sharif finds himself increasingly under siege from all sides, being challenged internally by Pakistan’s security services and the Pakistani Taliban, and externally by the United States, India, Afghanistan and possibly Iran.

One of the central themes of Sharif’s current term has been a desire to improve relations with India. “We want to move toward better relations with India, to resolve the remaining issues through peaceful means, including that of Kashmir,” Sharif said shortly after taking office.

One of the central challenges in realizing this goal was always going to be getting Pakistan’s military and intelligence service on board. Recent weeks have made it abundantly clear that Sharif lacks this support as cross border raids by thediplomat.com/the-pulse/2013/10/29/pakistans-sharif-is-under-siege/

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Pakistan’s Sharif is Under Siege | The Pulse | The Diplomat

Pakistani militants into India have skyrocketed. According to some estimates, there have been 150 violations of the Indo-Pakistan ceasefire agreement since 2003. 40 of these have taken place this month alone. The attacks and infiltrations are also affecting areas that have been relatively stable in recent years, such as the southern part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir State. These attacks are almost certainly taking place with the passive and most likely active assistance of the Pakistani military and border patrol. These attacks couldn’t come at a worse time as India enters into campaign mode ahead of the 2014 general election in that country. The prospect of a crushing defeat for his party by the nationalist BJP at the polls next year leaves Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with little room to maneuver. Although Singh probably genuinely wants to improve relations with Pakistan, he has been forced to take a hardline against these attacks, even singling out Sharif personally for criticism.

Sharif has also hoped to bring some internal stability to Pakistan. As part of his efforts to achieve this, Sharif has made a number of overtures to the Pakistani Taliban. Not surprisingly, Sharif’s efforts to reach out to the militant group have once again only emboldened it. Although the group rhetorically responded positively to Sharif’s call for talks, the last few months have witnessed the Pakistani Taliban increase its assassinations of Pakistani political leaders. The group has also renewed attacks against polio campaign workers, and continues to promise that it will free Pakistan from its antiIslamic democratic system and impose Sharia law. This leaves...
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