Zardari Report Card: Year One

It's been a tumultuous first year in office for President Zardri, though not one without progress. Following decades of economic misrule and appeasement of religious extremism, Zardari faced a significant uphill battle when he took office. At the time, many were ready to write off Pakistan as a "failed state," and conversations often turned to questions of whether Pakistan would be the first Islamist nuclear power.

While the road has been rocky, Zardari has managed to keep the ship upright, and in recent months has made progress towards greater democratization and cooperation with the world community. This has not come without significant political costs as Zardari faces a political opposition and media fueled by rumor and innuendo, as well as a ruthless political climate.

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Pakistani lawmakers to further investigate Gojra massacre

The killings in Gojra, Pakistan a month ago shocked the world; and the deaths of the Christians burned alive by Islamic militants highlighted the depths that the Taliban will stoop to in their quest to seize control of a country and force citizens to their backward views.

To its credit, the Pakistani government took swift action to defend Pakistan's Christian communities and to bring the attackers to justice. In the past, it would not be uncommon to see an immediate reaction by Pakistani leaders to appease the world community, while coddling the very extremists responsible behind the scenes. But the Zardari government has shown, yet again, that a new regime is in place in Pakistan, and real democratization is on the march.

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Pakistan Steps Up Fight Against Militants, Pushes Increased Democratization

Good news coming out of Pakistan, with advances being made on the military resistance to Taliban control and simultaneous democratization efforts in Islamabad.

After years of looking the other way, the Pakistani government has been taking it to the Taliban in a significant way. Today, Taliban leaders have finally confirmed that the terrorist leader of Pakistani Taliban Baitullah Mehsud is dead as the result of joint US-Pakistan operations. This is a huge victory and deals a great blow to the militant organization, throwing the succession fight into deadly chaos.

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Pakistan Taliban Infighting after the Death of Baitullah Meshud

From Dawn of Pakistan:

"According to sources, commanders Hakeemullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, the two leading contenders for the chief slot, exchanged hot words at the shura meeting in Sara Rogha over the choosing of a successor to Baitullah.

A shootout followed, leading to the death of Hakeemullah while causing life-threatening injuries to Waliur Rehman."

However, a government official in Peshawar said that both Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman had been killed in the clash.

The names of Hakeemullah, Waliur Rehman and 50-year-old Azmatullah Mehsud were shortlisted at a meeting of senior Taliban leaders from the Mehsud tribe, but a decision was put off following differences over who would succeed the slain leader.

There was no independent confirmation of the reported shooting. A Taliban commander denied that any clash had taken place.`There is a serious power struggle going on,' the government official said.

Hakeemullah had replaced Waliur Rehman as commander in Kurram. He belonged to a rival group led by Qari Hussain, widely known as the Ustad-i-Fidayeen (teacher of suicide bombers).

`I think the Haqqanis will now intervene to resolve the leadership dispute,' the official said, referring to Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of veteran Taliban leader Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Omar's point man for North and South Waziristan.

If these reports are true, then the Pakistani Taliban seem to be entering a period of fractious infighting. It's clear that the predator drone attacks are having an effect in disrupting the operations of the various Islamist groups operating in Pakistan and are causing dissension in their ranks.

The question still remains can we justify the number of civilian casualties that the reliance on predator drone engenders? While sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and unreliable with the numbers perhaps prone to exaggeration, independent reports suggest that more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, approximately 10 non-combatant civilians have also died. But Abdul Malik Mujahid writing in Truth Out back in May suggests that the civilian to militant kill ratio is on the order of 15 to 1.

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Nawaz Sharif Accused In Violence Against Christians, Warned Against Coup Attempt

The attacks on Christians in the Gojra region of Pakistan over the weekend shocked the world. Especially troubling was the reaction - lack thereof - on the part of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N. Today, though, new allegations have arisen that Sharif wasn't just silent, he may have been complicit.

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