It would appear that for the moment at least the TINA factor operates in favour of the Zardari/Gilani combine especially if they continue to occupy their offices without wielding any real power.
That the ISI patron is now becoming the victim of jehadi terrorism does not bode well for Pakistan, which now has to recast the agency’s role and organizational ethos to contain the Taliban.
Getting the hard core Taliban to concede the fight without loss of face is preferable to destroying them. The latter course is rendered risky by the linkages between the Afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban and Punjabi Taliban and their penetration of the Pakistani state and society.
Obama’s signal that the United States seeks to exit in 18 months will be viewed with scepticism by fence sitters in Afghanistan who will identify the victor as the one who endures.
The current change in the Chair of the NCA merely indicates the declining power of President Zardari and does not necessarily mean empowerment of the civilian government.
Not only will Pakistan have to take on all sorts of Pakistani Taliban, it will also have to end the network of jihadists in provinces like Punjab and Sindh if it really wants to get rid of the Islamist menace.
A disturbing aspect of the current phase of Islamist militancy in Pakistan is that the terrorist acts outside FATA and NWFP are not being staged by ethnic Pashtun elements but by local Punjabi cohorts.
In order to construct an operational nuclear device, terrorists need to obtain the requisite fissile materials - Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) or plutonium.
From its base in Pakistan’s Baluchistan, Jundallah has had opportunities to forge cooperative ties not only with the ISI but also with the Taliban as well as with the intelligence services of countries interested in stoking anti-Iranian activism.