Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times Online
February 27, 2008

Instead of firing and prosecuting teachers for child abuse, Oregon “passes the trash” on to other school districts.

KARACHI – As Pakistani politicians scramble to form a coalition government following last week’s parliamentary elections, there has been a surge in violence in the Swat Valley and in other parts of North-West Frontier Province, and on Monday a senior army officer was assassinated.

The indications are that whoever takes power in Islamabad – be it the Pakistan People’s Party or the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif or a combination of both – the real battle will be in Afghanistan between the Taliban and al-Qaeda-led militants and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its allies.

Army surgeon general Lieutenant General Muhammad Mushtaq Baig and seven other people were killed in a suicide attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. It was the most high-profile killing since the death of former premier Benazir Bhutto in the same city last December.

Apart from the Swat Valley, there has been an increase in violence, including bomb blasts, in the North Waziristan tribal area and Bajaur and Manshera agencies, after a brief lull in the runup to the elections. More than a dozen incidents have been reported.

The trigger for this appears to have been planned joint Pakistan-NATO operations in the region against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The militants aim to open up several fronts in Pakistan to dissuade the military from cooperating with NATO.

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