Friday, June 20, 2008

Pakistan, Terrorists, and the Mohmand Frontier Region: America is to Blame

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

There's a photo in the International Herald Tribune, of some people engaged in a custom that's very popular in some parts of the world: burning an American flag.

It's pretty much the same photo I've been seeing for the last half-century.

The general appearance of the faces, clothing, and setting have changed, but the scene's essentials are nothing new. I'm pretty sure that, barring some catastrophe, fifty years from now another set of angry locals will be blaming whatever went wrong recently on the Americans.

There's a little more reason than usual for Pakistanis to be peeved today. Earlier this month, 11 Pakistani troops were killed, apparently by a coalition force. The soldiers were part of the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that has millions of American money coming its way for training.

Now the Pakistani military is threatening not to let its forces be trained in the American counterinsurgency course.

Pakistan and America still have different versions of what happened.
  • The Pakistani military says that Americans, for no reason at all, came and dropped bombs on its soldiers who weren't doing anything.
  • The coalition account is that their force was attacked in Afghanistan, followed the attacking force into Pakistan, and dropped bombs on the insurgents. And, they've got videotape of the incident.
I wrote about this before ("Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Skirmish: Diplomatic Protests and Videotape" (June 12, 2008)). As I put it then, "I get the impression that, the way things work in that part of the world, the 'anti-coalition forces' may have been the Pakistani troops."

Perhaps that's an unkind speculation, but that part of the Islamic world seems to be ruled by an odd combination of ancient customs, tribal allegiances, religious beliefs, and political expediency - not necessarily in that order.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.