Leading article: Progress in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

As if to counterpoint the Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari's plea in London yesterday for help in the fight against terror, a suicide bomber detonated an explosion that killed 33 and injured dozens of others near the garrison town of Kohat in the north-west of the country.

The attack, claimed by a group calling itself Lahskar-e-Jhangvi al-Almi, seems to have been in retaliation for the death of a religious leader killed in Pakistan's latest drive against the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in its border regions.

It is as well to be reminded of the cost to Pakistan of its campaign to rid the country of militant forces in the tribal areas. A year ago, if a Pakistani president had come talking of Western obligations to his country, he would have been sharply lectured (and was) about Pakistan's failures to suppress extremism, the links between its security services and the Taliban and its role as a training ground for Western Islamic jihadists.

Today some of those charges could still be made. Corruption in the government still appears to be rife. Democracy is still tentative. Most of the tribal areas remain virtually independent of the writ of Islamabad while the connections between the security agencies and the Taliban remain. But it is also true that Mr Zardari, despite the charges of corruption, has done better than predicted both to restore democracy and to take on the extremists in his country. Over the past year Pakistan has launched a series of campaigns in the tribal areas with some initial success. More could be done, no doubt. Islamabad has yet to root out the main Sunni extremists groups such as Lahskar-e-Jhangvi or to get a real hold on the schools and training grounds of militancy. But the country's Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, is surely right to counter, as he does in today's Independent, that Britain needs to do more to control its own radicals before blaming Pakistan.

Extremism is a common problem now and, as President Obama has recognised, it is in Pakistan as much, if not more, than in Afghanistan that the world needs to put the lid on it. Islamabad deserves recognition for what it is already doing, along with more help.