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Possible good outcomes for everyone except the bad guys, that is.

There is strong local support for the government’s attack on islamic extremists in the North West Frontier province of Pakistan.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani said last week the army was aware of the gravity of the threat and would “employ requisite resources to ensure a decisive ascendancy over the militants”.

A quick defeat of the Taliban in Swat would allow the army to move on to tackle militant strongholds on the Afghan border, such as North and South Waziristan, part of a region from where the Taliban orchestrate their Afghan war and where al Qaeda plots violence. Public opinion is generally behind the offensive and quick success would reassure the many who are sceptical about the alliance with the United States. It would also bolster support for unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari.

But all depends on the willingness and ability of the government and military to move with sufficient force and determination to eradicate the Taliban before costs in life and cash, and strains on infrastructure to support refugees, become too great to sustain.

The problem, even now, is that many Pakistanis believe India (or Jews) to be a greater threat than the Taliban.

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