Inseparable by geography, Pakistan and India are Siamese twins that have emerged together from the womb of history. For better or for worse, their futures will always remain inextricably tied together.
Today, one of the two is in deep trouble. The ferocious militant fanaticism of Pathan tribals, once sequestered in the mountains of Waziristan and Swat, has migrated down into the plains and across the country. Every city of Pakistan has been attacked, some repeatedly and without respite. With threats, abductions, beheadings, and daily suicide bombings, extremists have drastically changed the way Pakistanis live.
Just a couple of months ago, Pakistanis had heaved a sigh of relief. A brief lull in terrorist attacks had followed the army's successful operation against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat, and the killing by an American drone of TTP's supremo, Baitullah Mehsud. Some hubris-filled "analysts" - who incessantly chatter on Pakistan's numerous private television channels - claimed that the TTP had been mortally wounded. But they were dead wrong.
Islamabad is now a city of fear as the TTP retaliates. Traffic crawls past concrete blocks placed across its roads as helmeted soldiers peer suspiciously from behind their machine-guns. Restaurants barely function, and markets are deserted. Still, the attackers appear unstoppable and, as in Peshawar, they have paralyzed the city. Some attacks are more spectacular than others, but even the outstanding ones are forgotten once the next one happens. Explosives inside a car blow up over a hundred shoppers in Peshawar's crowded Meena Bazaar; a suicide bomber detonates himself in the girls' cafeteria of the International Islamic University in Islamabad; three simultaneous attacks hit police institutes in Lahore; school children are shredded by ball bearings from a suicide bomber's exploding jacket in Kohat,...