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Reporting and analysis

June 19, 2009

Pakistanis are in for a rude shock. $900 million, almost half of the $1.9 billion aid package that the US House of Representatives recently approved, has been earmarked for “a new secure embassy and consulates”. The remaining billion is separated into $400M in counterinsurgency aid and only $600M for development, less than half of what Senators Kerry and Lugar have been promising with their much-touted figure of $1.5B in non-military aid each year.

May 23, 2009

“So, it’s not okay for women to be touched by male doctors, but male executioners can hold hands and slap bottoms in front of milling crowds?” asked a Lahore-based lawyer in an April 6 op-ed in Pakistan’s English-language daily The News.

“Apparently only girls must be punished for their libido. Boys, after all, become men when they can ‘tap that’.”

He was referring to the video that surfaced recently of a woman being flogged by the Taliban in Swat, allegedly for contact with a man she wasn’t married to.... The frank, almost shocking nature of this piece showcases how Pakistan’s media offers a more open platform for debate than many Americans might have realized, one that is vital for building public support against Taliban ideology.

July 07, 2009

It seems logical that an army needs to be positioned for attack in case a key peace agreement falls through, and it is clear that the Taliban were continuing to disrupt the lives of Swatis before ... Gilani declared that the country was at war. But in the context of three failed operations conducted in Swat since November 2007 that had left locals skeptical about the army’s willingness to eliminate the Taliban threat, these discrepancies of just a few days become more significant than perhaps they should be in terms of shaping public perception.... More and clearer information would go a long way towards winning over a still-skeptical public burned by three failed Swat operations in the past.

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