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Birdcage: Pakistanis Between The Falcon and The Ostrich

The angry waltz continues between the agressive Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance of Islamists (including elements of the ISI) and an increasingly cowering Musharraf government, the latter seemingly fearful of confronting that which already confronts it with ire.

Like a predator falcon, the Islamists prefer to do battle but begrudgingly and patiently engage in the dance while the storm gathers. Likewise, the intimidated government of Pervez Musharraf clearly prefers to dance. Fearful of confronting the falcon's talons, Musharraf's governmental ostrich buries its head in the sand.

Trapped in the closed birdcage with predator and prey, the Pakistani people not inhabiting the lawless tribal regions sit powerless observers. Their predicament can be clearly observed in today's editorial, Who Will Fight This Talibanisation?, in Pakistan's newspaper The News.

Tank and the Jamia Hafsa episode should serve as a wakeup call to the government. It must act decisively now. The future is only going to get bleaker unless madressah and national curriculum reforms are carried out and the overt display of religion in national life is curtailed, to levels normally found in other Muslim countries such as Malaysia or the Gulf states. As for civil society, and those who think they are non-extremist (i.e., progressive, liberal and/or moderate), they better stand up and speak against the extremists or risk their very existence and way of life coming under a permanent threat.

Against the desperate wishes of an ostrich too fearful to raise its head, the falcon only circles tighter...closer...menacingly sizing up the Pakistani people's sole protector-turned-prey.

Storm clouds approach on the horizon, growing darker, deeper and more ominous by the day. There will be a storm. Only initiative remains to be decided.

The clock ticks for The Falcon and The Ostrich.