Saying there were "dangerous international terrorists" hiding in Pakistan, the New York Times has suggested that among the "crucial things" that Islamabad could do was to "permanently shut down" Kashmiri terrorist groups based on its soil.
Islamabad for one "could permanently shut down the Pakistan-based Kashmiri terrorist groups that have survived past crackdowns by reopening under new names, with little interference from Pakistani authorities", the daily suggested Sunday in an editorial titled "The Wrong Battle in Pakistan".
But any of these efforts would stir up opposition in one part or another of the Pakistani military, the only constituency that Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, ever really cares about, the paper said.
So long as elections are brazenly rigged, opposition parties are banned and Washington's uncritical support remains guaranteed, Musharraf has little incentive to take up any of these vital challenges, it said.
When General Musharraf comes to the United States, he loves to be lauded as a leader in the war on terrorism. Back home, his government too often acts like a garden-variety military dictatorship, the American daily said.
"There are dangerous international terrorists hiding out in the mountain caves of Pakistan. But 79-year-old Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the Baluch tribal leader, politician and rebel, was not one of them," it said.
Now that Bugti is dead and the impoverished but energy-rich province of Balochistan is in an uproar after an ill-explained military operation last month, the last thing Pakistan needs is an upsurge in violence and repression in Balochistan.
"That would only be a distraction from far more important challenges, like developing a chronically underachieving economy; restoring a ravished democracy; and placing a dangerous nuclear weapons establishment, including exports of bomb-related technology, under firm and reliable civilian control.
"And there are far more crucial things that Pakistan's military could be doing than hunting down Bugti and his followers. For example, it could finally seal its scandalously porous border with Afghanistan, making it much harder for the Taliban to infiltrate into that country, the fighters killing American, NATO and Afghan soldiers.
"Not least, it could make a more serious effort to find and arrest Osama bin Laden, widely believed to have spent much of the past four and a half years on Pakistani soil," the New York Times said.