Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pakistan, India, Mumbai, Nuclear Weapons, and Pashtunistan: Simple This Isn't

Pakistan is massing troops near its border with India: presumably to keep India from invading. Pakistan's leaders: civilian, military, and otherwise, have some reason to worry. India has very good reason to believe that LeT, a terrorist group that's based in Pakistani territory, planned the attack on Mumbai. And Pakistan hasn't been jumping through hoops as fast as some Indian leaders would like.

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 Somalia

There 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
The ISI is Pakistan's own Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or Inter-Services Intelligence. The ISI is a pretty close match to the die-hard American liberals' view of the CIA: a state within a state, answerable only to itself, and financially independent of the civilian government and the military.

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 Sense

There'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 Consequences

My 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, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

A Reuters op-ed piece pointed out that Afghanistan might bring up the idea of creating Pashtunistan, if Pakistan keeps having trouble sorting itself out.

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: Background:


Ray Lightning said...

You pretty much missed the real causes of the Islamist threat.

Whenever the nation of Pakistan is in crisis, its strongest supporters have been hard-line Islamist parties, such as the Jamat-e-Islami. These parties have been instrumental from the very begining - of carving up a Muslim state in the Indian subcontinent and then patriotically keeping it alive. Not surprisingly, there are significant sections of Pakistani army who are hard-line Islamists.

On the other hand, seperatists from Pakistan have always been secular and liberal parties. The political history of Pakistan is a long sequence of assassinations (by the military) of these provincial leaders to shut down the feelings of linguistic nationalism. This started with the brutal suppression of the non violent Khudai-khidmatgar movement in the Pashtun areas. The Islamist crazies were supported the Pak military to violently murder non-violent people. This madness spread in Baluchistan (the former Chief Minister Akbar Bugti was murdered as late as 2006) and in Sindh (GM Syed was imprisoned for 30 years). Of course, the most significant of the assassinations were those of the Bhutto family from Sindh which has continuously argued for more provincial autonomy.

USA has long supported the bastardly relationship between the Pak Army (such as former presidents Zia ul Haq or Musharaff) and the Islamist crazies (such as Taleban). This served the US purposes for quite some-time. On 9-11 2001, suddenly the tables turned. Nowadays, USA is directly antagonistic to the Taleban. The puppet-masters of Taleban (the Pak army generals) have been putting an enormous charade of fighting these forces, where as they know that these very terrorists are essential for them to keep the NWFP under Pakistani control.

The recent Mumbai bombings are a strategic ploy to shift the attention of US army (and genuine supporters of thhe Pakistani army) away from the NWFP so that the Taleban get breathingg space. The winds of linguistic nationalism of Pashtunistan have been blowing quite recently in Peshawar. This is the antithesis of the Taleban, so they had the urgency of doing this mass-murder in Mumbai via the LeT. There has been strong media propaganda in Pakistan about increasing the stranglehold of the army (and its bastard children - the Taleban). In a time of crisis, no questions will be asked.

As a strategic move, the USA should push forward for two objectives (1) more provincial autonomy for provinces of Pakistan (2) more transparency in the Pakistani army and making it directly accountable to the Pakistani parliament.

Brian H. Gill said...

Ray Lightning,


I might have known that America would be at fault, somewhere in this.

On the other hand, you quite likely have points, about elements in the Pakistani army.

I see your current location is France.

What isn't immediately apparent to me is whether you feel a link to Pakistanis, to Indians, or to one of the groups within those countries and/or Afghanistan.

Since you refer to the "Islamist threat," my guess is that you're not a Muslim - but that is far from certain.

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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.