Don't get me wrong: I'm not 'for' Pakistan or 'against' India. I think India is a stable democracy, and that Pakistan is a mess.
Pakistan: It's Better Off than SomaliaThere are places that are in worse shape than Pakistan: Somalia, for example, where pirates in the north and religious fanatics in the south are making the alleged government in Mogadishu look really bad.
All the same, Pakistan has a long way to go, before a sensible person could call it a stable country.
From what I've seen:
- Pakistan has a civilian government that is, just barely, able to control parts of the major cities, most of the time
- Pakistan's military isn't quite under the control of the civilian government
- And neither of them have much to say about what the ISI does
It's quite possible that the ISI supports the LeT, a terrorist group based in Pakistani territory. The LeT was almost certainly responsible for the Mumbai attack.
India, Mumbai, LeT, and Pakistan: Crazy Talk and Common SenseThere's been crazy talk on both sides, blaming the Mumbai attack on Hindu Zionists and/or Hindu terrorists bent on disrupting investigations of their activities (I'm not making this up).
And yes, there are Hindu terrorists. We don't hear about them in America all that much, since their focus seems to be driving Muslims out of India - for now. I make the point from time to time that the War on Terror isn't limited to Islamic crazies, or to the Middle East.
Indian leaders must feel the urge to something, anything, to make it look like they're 'really doing something' about the Mumbai attack. A calm, methodical, serious investigation into a case of international terrorism isn't all that exciting. And the diplomatic process of getting another country to hand over its citizens to a (possibly revenge-crazed) judicial system is even more boring.
When one of the countries involved is Pakistan's patchwork of tribal leaders, an elected government, a military that's used to running things, and a rogue intelligence agency, progress is even more plodding.
I could understand it, if Indian leaders decided to make themselves look good (in the short run) by invading Pakistan. It would be stupid, but that hasn't stopped national leaders in the past.
Pakistan's recent troop movements might be a belligerent gesture: or a sensible response to a potential, but very real, threat.
On top of everything else - Pakistan and India both have nuclear weapons. Cheerful thought. Those two countries blasting away at each other with A-bombs isn't what the world needs.
India, Pakistan, LeT and ISI: Beware Unintended ConsequencesMy take on the situation is that the civilian government in Pakistan has little to no control over the tribal areas of the territory, and that they're involved in a turf war with LeT, the Taliban, and assorted terrorists, over who gets to control what parts of the land between Afghanistan and India. And that India is, by threatening military action against the civilian government, inadvertently helping the wrong side.
Pashtunistan sounds like a noble idea: re-uniting the Pashtuns, whose homeland was divided in 1893 by the Durand Line. The 1947 remake of international borders left the new country of Pakistan with the British-made Durand Line - something that Afghanistan's leaders don't particularly like.
Afghanistan has pushed for Pashtunistan, a true homeland for a divided people - and, I suspect, controlled by Afghanistan.
It might work, but I can see how some Pakistanis might not like the idea.
The reason I brought up Pashtunistan is that many parts of the world, including the 'Stans,' are still recovering from the enthusiastically clueless nation-building of the treaty of Versailles. Although I think that having a Kurdistan and Pashtunistan sounds like a good idea, I also think that it's best to take America's approach with Iraq: treating national leaders with respect, and offering help while they set up stable countries, instead of telling them how to do it.
News and views:
- "Pakistan sends 20,000 troops to Indian frontier"
TimesOnline (December 27, 2008)
- "SCENARIOS-What war with India could mean for Pakistan"
Reuters (December 27, 2008)
- "Pakistan: Analyst Discusses Controversial 'Pashtunistan' Proposal "
GlobalSecurity.org (January 25, 2007)