Where to now for Pakistan?

St Disibod

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After the storming of the Red Mosque, the position of General Pervez Musharraf's regime seems more tenuous than ever.

Violence has flared up in the North again:

BBC (see [url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6899621.stm said:
here[/url])]Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region say they have ended their truce with the government.

In a statement issued in Miranshah, the main town, the militants accused the government of breaking the agreement.

It came as Pakistan deployed more troops in the area fearing "holy war" after the storming of the militant Red Mosque last week that left 102 dead.

At least 45 Pakistanis, including soldiers and police recruits, have died in three attacks in the last two days.

Last September's truce ended two years of clashes and was aimed at stopping cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
The Pakistani press was quite biting in its assessment of the Red Mosque Operation:

[i said:
Islam[/i]]Levels of law and order in some parts of the country have fallen... After the Red Mosque operation, attacks on security forces in tribal areas have intensified... Can the situation everywhere be brought to normal through the use of force?
[i said:
The Post[/i]]The role of the security and intelligence services in the whole affair needs explaining as it seems incredible that the Red Mosque brigade was able to gather fighters and an arsenal of weapons right under the noses of the authorities in the federal capital itself.
[i said:
Ausaf[/i]]The entire nation is grieving... Only the USA wanted what happened and proof of that is that the storming operation was celebrated at the White House and Pentagon rather than at General Musharraf's HQ.
This all follows on after the violent clashes in Karachi in May of this year which saw about 40 people killed. In the northern tribal regions it appears some tribes are already trying to extend and fortify their positions in preparations for the power scrabble that inevitably follows the collapse of a government. The Red Mosque radicals, it would appear, were about far more than hardline Islam. The BBC Islamabad correspondant, Barbara Plett, reported that as well as kidnapping prostitutes the vigilante students also "championed the case of rape victims whose attackers were wealthy, powerful and above the law." This sense that the Taliban provide a sense of justice, as rough as it is, appears to have a strong appeal to many whose side the state never supports.

Already the US has transferred much of its reliance in this region to India in recent years- which seems crass as the conflict in Afghanistan rumbles on. I somehow doubt Musharraf can hold on without US patronage, he will just be left with the unpopularity association with the US necessitates in this region of the world with none of the military or financial support that it generally brings. Is the worst yet to come to Pakistan?
 


Catalpa

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St Disibod said:
After the storming of the Red Mosque, the position of General Pervez Musharraf's regime seems more tenuous than ever.

Violence has flared up in the North again:

[quote="BBC (see here)":1nfxnimy]Pro-Taleban militants in Pakistan's North Waziristan region say they have ended their truce with the government.

In a statement issued in Miranshah, the main town, the militants accused the government of breaking the agreement.

It came as Pakistan deployed more troops in the area fearing "holy war" after the storming of the militant Red Mosque last week that left 102 dead.

At least 45 Pakistanis, including soldiers and police recruits, have died in three attacks in the last two days.

Last September's truce ended two years of clashes and was aimed at stopping cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
The Pakistani press was quite biting in its assessment of the Red Mosque Operation:

[i said:
Islam[/i]]Levels of law and order in some parts of the country have fallen... After the Red Mosque operation, attacks on security forces in tribal areas have intensified... Can the situation everywhere be brought to normal through the use of force?
[i said:
The Post[/i]]The role of the security and intelligence services in the whole affair needs explaining as it seems incredible that the Red Mosque brigade was able to gather fighters and an arsenal of weapons right under the noses of the authorities in the federal capital itself.
[i said:
Ausaf[/i]]The entire nation is grieving... Only the USA wanted what happened and proof of that is that the storming operation was celebrated at the White House and Pentagon rather than at General Musharraf's HQ.
This all follows on after the violent clashes in Karachi in May of this year which saw about 40 people killed. In the northern tribal regions it appears some tribes are already trying to extend and fortify their positions in preparations for the power scrabble that inevitably follows the collapse of a government. The Red Mosque radicals, it would appear, were about far more than hardline Islam. The BBC Islamabad correspondant, Barbara Plett, reported that as well as kidnapping prostitutes the vigilante students also "championed the case of rape victims whose attackers were wealthy, powerful and above the law." This sense that the Taliban provide a sense of justice, as rough as it is, appears to have a strong appeal to many whose side the state never supports.

Already the US has transferred much of its reliance in this region to India in recent years- which seems crass as the conflict in Afghanistan rumbles on. I somehow doubt Musharraf can hold on without US patronage, he will just be left with the unpopularity association with the US necessitates in this region of the world with none of the military or financial support that it generally brings. Is the worst yet to come to Pakistan?[/quote:1nfxnimy]

Possibly - but who would want the job anyway? Musharraf might be in an invidious position but he must know that there are few in the military that would envy his role right now.

The North West Frontier has always been semi autonomous and difficult to handle by the central Government - it was the same when the British ran the show there too.

I think a more likely scenario if he goes down the tubes is Pakistan fracturing into an Islamic version of Yugoslavia.

They say the Americans have a snatch team of indeterminate size ready to go if an Islamic takeover or a collapse of central government takes place in order to seize the Nukes and render them inoperable – now that could be a show stopper! :twisted:
 

Thac0man

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St Disibod said:
I somehow doubt Musharraf can hold on without US patronage, he will just be left with the unpopularity association with the US necessitates in this region of the world with none of the military or financial support that it generally brings. Is the worst yet to come to Pakistan?
He does not have to rely on the West for patronage. Any analysis of Pakisans foreign relations shows strong ties to China, both historically and increasingly recently. The Red Mosque can be painted any colour by the media, but the fact is Pakistan acted under diplomatic pressure from China. The students of the Mosque targeted almost exclusivley Chinese nationals commercial interests in Islamabad. The Red Mosques actions are only the most recent actions in an ongoing campaign by militants against Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

That said I am not 100% sure Musharraf can surivive a wide spread revolution. But then again I am not sure that is whats going to happen. The border regions have been inflamed for months with tribal groups at odds with foreign Taliban. There have also been threats from Iran because of anti-Shia actions by militants along its Pakistani border.

With India to the East, Iran to the West and Afghanistan/China to the north, could any full scale revolution against the Pakistani government manage to get the materials needed for a long term militarty campaign to topple the government? I dont think so.

What may have happened is that Musharraf will get the support of a currently critical Pakistani media, who would be well aware of what their fate would be if the Talibanist forces beat government. I would include all 'liberal' elements in Pakistani society in that statement.

The students of the Red Mosque may have succeeded in galvanising much support behind Mussharraf and also isolated their movement from outside help. If only all Islamic revolutionaries were so helpful. :roll:

ps. Managed to get through that entire post without mentioning America. Spooky! ;)
 

Jozer

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What the **** is he supposed to do when a bunch of religious loonies take hostages?
 

SPN

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From todays' Observer:

Failure in Afghanistan risks rise in terror, say generals : Military chiefs warn No.10 that defeat could lead to change of regime in Pakistan.

Britain's most senior generals have issued a blunt warning to Downing Street that the military campaign in Afghanistan is facing a catastrophic failure, a development that could lead to an Islamist government seizing power in neighbouring Pakistan.

Amid fears that London and Washington are taking their eye off Afghanistan as they grapple with Iraq, the generals have told Number 10 that the collapse of the government in Afghanistan, headed by Hamid Karzai, would present a grave threat to the security of Britain.

.....

'The consequences of failure in Afghanistan are far greater than in Iraq,' he said. 'If we fail in Afghanistan then Pakistan goes down. The security problems for Britain would be massively multiplied. I think you could not then stop a widening regional war that would start off in warlordism but it would become essentially a war in the end between Sunni and Shia right across the Middle East.'

.....

Ashdown said two mistakes were being made: a lack of a co-ordinated military command because of the multinational 'hearts and minds' Nato campaign and the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom offensive campaign against the Taliban. There was also insufficient civic support on, for example, providing clean water.

Ashdown warned: 'Unless we put this right, unless we have a unitary system of command, we are going to lose. The battle for this is the battle of public opinion. The polls are slipping. Once they go on the slide it is almost impossible to win it back. You can only do it with the support of the local population.
 

St Disibod

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Thac0man said:
The Red Mosque can be painted any colour by the media, but the fact is Pakistan acted under diplomatic pressure from China. The students of the Mosque targeted almost exclusivley Chinese nationals commercial interests in Islamabad. The Red Mosques actions are only the most recent actions in an ongoing campaign by militants against Chinese nationals in Pakistan.
I think you overestimate the Chinese factor in all this.

I was quite surprised when China entered the fray, because I was quite surprised China would lobby on behalf of its emigrants. But it seems that they did and with noticeable effect. But that forced Musharraf to guarantee more protection for Chinese nationals and there business interests, and it also probably meant he had to contain the trends embodied by the Red Mosque. But I don't think that meant he had to storm the Red Mosque.

I certainly disagree that the students isolated their support base. Perhaps their actions, and with them the army's response, has further polarised the country. But that is quite another thing.

Saying all that, I prefer Musharraf to the Islamic extremists. I think he presents a more favourable medium to the future than the Taliban would. But I do understand why the Taliban's base is growing: they apply their laws- as draconian as they are- across society. The students in the Mosque seemed to hit a chord in Pakistan by highlighting how the state only looks after an elite minority.

I do think there is more to this than China.
 

St Disibod

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From the BBC (see here):

Bomb at Pakistan lawyers' rally

At least seven people have been killed in a bombing at a lawyers' rally in Islamabad, Pakistani police say.
Ousted chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was due to address the rally in the capital, but was not present at the time of the blast, officials said.

Television footage showed blood at the scene of the explosion and several people lying motionless on the ground. Some reports put the death toll higher.

Police in Islamabad say that a suicide bomber was responsible for the attack.

A number of people were also injured in the explosion near a stage which had been erected for the rally close to the Supreme Court.
 

St Disibod

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The situation in the North appears to be deteriorating fast, the BBC has more (see here):

Pakistan troops killed in ambush

At least 17 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in an ambush by militants near the Afghan border, officials say.

The clash happened in the tribal area of North Waziristan about 25km (15 miles) from the town of Miranshah.

President Musharraf has again ruled out declaring an emergency. There have been a spate of attacks since soldiers stormed a radical mosque in Islamabad.

The mosque assault prompted militants along the border to scrap controversial peace accords with the government.

A military spokesman said that in addition to the soldiers killed on Wednesday, another 14 had been injured in the ambush in the Lwara Mundi area of North Waziristan.
I find myself nodding with the information SPN highlights. Paddy Ashdown was on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning suggesting that defeat in Afghanistan would be of greater consequence for the UK than defeat in Iraq (with the latter now appearing more of a 'when' than an 'if' in my view- it was de facto lost quite a while ago). Where Afghanistan goes Pakistan will likely follow- they are either stable or unstable together. Things are rapidly going downhill in Afghanistan, with NATO losing popular support and politicians, right up to Karzai, having to criticise allied troops to placate their base. The tipping point might not be far off- and that will allow regional conflict arc all the way from the Mediterranean to India. And that, I imagine, qualifies as something greater than a regional conflict.
 

St Disibod

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From the BBC (see here):

Dozens killed in Pakistan blasts

At least 33 people have been killed in two separate bomb attacks in Pakistan, officials say.

Twenty-six people are said to have died in the southern town of Hub, 35km (23 miles) north of Karachi, in an attack apparently targeting Chinese workers.

Initial reports said all the dead were Pakistani nationals.

Meanwhile, at least seven people were killed and more than 20 injured in a suicide car bombing at a police college in the north-western town of Hangu.

Police said the attacker blew his car up after guards tried to stop him crashing through the building's gates as recruits went out on parade.

The two explosions, at opposite ends of the country, are not thought to be related.
There are two big worries here. Firstly, Pakistan does seem to be slipping down the slope into becoming a failed state. Secondly, some of the bombings over the last few days are not really keeping with the type of attacks usually seen in Pakistan, or indeed Afghanistan traditionally. It seems more likely the techniques learned and developed in Iraq are being exported by terrorist networks. This was feared initially when suicide bombing went from being an extremely unusual event to an almost daily one in Afghanistan. Now as the technique spreads to Pakistan, can the defenders of the Iraq invasion still hold out for the good news apparently and persistently 'around the corner', or better still 'in the light of history'?

We have taken an isolated problem, Iraq, made it much, much worse for Iraqis and removed the slight virtue of isolation. Now Afghanistan is shakier than we thought it was, and Pakistan is becoming less stable by the day in large part as a result of Iraq.
 

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St Disibod said:
We have taken an isolated problem, Iraq, made it much, much worse for Iraqis and removed the slight virtue of isolation. Now Afghanistan is shakier than we thought it was, and Pakistan is becoming less stable by the day in large part as a result of Iraq.
I don't think a real link exists between Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, not one that is the root cause anyway. Targeted suicide bombing was already in use under the Taliban, limited only by a lack of targets (or news worthy targets). Most of the problems Pakistan is now facing are the result of the previous governments cultivation of extremists for export. These extremist problems include Shia separatists in the north, Iranian expats in Baluchistan, Islamic militants in northern Kashmir, Pashtun Taliban who straddle the Pakistan/Afghan border and foreign militants who fled Afghanistan after the American invasion of that country (not Iraq). The last two of those had receieved generous sponsorship from the Pakistan government.

Mussaraff is having to deal with that mess and it is not the responsibility of the US to help alievate that internal pressure in Pakistan by allowing the Taliban vent into Afghanistan. No more than it is the responsibility of the Indian government to invite Kashmiri militants into the disputed territories they hold.

Many Arab Muslim countries (like Jordan and Syria) would suffer a huge increase in internal stability, simular to Pakistans, if they cracked down completely on militants in their own state. How to deal with the problem of these states stability and that of their neighbours, while at the same time quelling Islamic militancy is not an easy task.
 

FutureTaoiseach

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There but for the grace of Allah goes Turkey and then the EU. :?
 

Shaneofski

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Friends of mine started making plans to flee overseas a few months ago. It is really difficult to determine what's behind the latest violence in Pakistan.

I suspect that the attack, which took place near my house in Islamabad on Tuesday at the venue for a rally in support of the Chief Justice, was actually carried out by the ISI.

Really hard to know what power plays are going on here.

The Chinese are now regular targets. A convoy of Chinese engineers in Hub was targeted by a suicide bomber today, 29 killed.

If you ask Pakistanis, some will say that the US wants the Chinese out, others will say that India wants the Chinese out. This attack may also have been carried out by Balochi insurgents who are determined to disrupt the extraction of natural resources from the area.

With regard to Balochistan, the Balochis are not Iranian ex-pats, in fact there are few ties between the Iranian and Pakistani Balochis.

We're in for a turbulent 12-18 months in any case.
 

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Shaneofski said:
With regard to Balochistan, the Balochis are not Iranian ex-pats, in fact there are few ties between the Iranian and Pakistani Balochis.
I was referring to the recent(ish) incidents of attacks (and kidknappings) in Iranian Baluchistan which Iran claims are fuelled by Baluchistan militants within Pakistan. So I do stand corrected, the militants are not "Iranian" ex-pats so to speak, but many do come from the Iranian side of the border and operate in Iran. I can't find a link right now, but I believe recently Iran threatened to deal with Baluchistan militants on the Pakistan side of the border if Musharraf did not act to rein them in.

This movement, though Baluchistan nationlist, does illustrate the complexity of Pakistans problems. The Baluchistan province alone involves rival political, nationalist, tribal and religous factions and affects natural resource exploitation (gas poiplines etc), development and Pakistans foreign policy with Iran and even India. Further afield Pakistan has claimed that Baluchistan militants are funded by a rival Gulf state which wishes to hinder the development of Quetta as a premier (and hence rival) trading port - so yet another layer of complexity.

If that level of intractable complexity is repeated throughout Pakistans regions (which it seems to be) a difficult 12 - 18 months may be unfortunitly rather optimistic.

The recent mass simultaneous repatriation by both Iran and Pakistan of Afghan refugees suggests that the forthcoming upheval was perhaps anticipated by both. Though the trigger would have been anyones guess.

Shaneofski, as someone close to the source of this, do you believe that Baluchistan independance may be the price of Pakistans future stability? I only have the scant information that Western media deems news worthy to go on.
 

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Shaneofski said:
I suspect that the attack, which took place near my house in Islamabad on Tuesday at the venue for a rally in support of the Chief Justice, was actually carried out by the ISI.

Really hard to know what power plays are going on here.

The Chinese are now regular targets. A convoy of Chinese engineers in Hub was targeted by a suicide bomber today, 29 killed.
Suspician falling on the ISI was a natural development, but from what I can see the influence of the ISI on militants in Pakistan is waning. This is perhaps what has caused the recent escalation as the missions of both have recently diverged to become a head on collision.

What many people underestimate is the aid China can lend Pakistan in both finance and material terms to help supress the current problem. But that will not by itself provide a solution.
 

St Disibod

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Thac0man said:
This is perhaps what has caused the recent escalation as the missions of both have recently diverged to become a head on collision.
Can things diverge into a head-on collision?

Seriously, I take on board your points on the complexity of all this. Pakistan is hardly without its own woes, and then you have to consider the influence of neighbours and those further afield.

But I do feel suicide bombings are speeding up the descent from relative order. And I do feel the growth in these is largely owed to Iraq. The ideology underwriting them was of course in place long before, but Iraq is bringing more people into the fold and providing a massive training ground for jihadists. But alternative explanations I am sure are readily at hand. This website (Radio Free Europe) offers some sense of the growth in suicide bombings in Afghanistan, but cuts its recording off sharply in January 2006. But just look from December 2005 to 2006 and one sees how suicide bombing mushroomed as a technique of insurgents in Afghanistan. This influence now appears to be leaking into Pakistan. I think there is a connection, but I have little in the way of proof- just a matter of post hoc ergo propter hoc really.
 

Shaneofski

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Another suicide bombing. That's 3 today. This time in Kohat Army Cantonment, at least 15 dead. This brings the total today to over 60 dead.

To clarify, the point I was making earlier on is that, while there is serious tension between the army and Islamic militants, and the fighting in Waziristan and with separatists in Balochistan is very real, the particular attack on the Chief Justice and the PPP increases the chances of the army, under Musharraf, remaining in power.

For this reason, I would be inclined to suspect that the ISI had a part to play. In fact, there is no real evidence it was a suicide bombing.
 

Shaneofski

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Thac0man.

I visit Baluchistan every couple of months, normally staying in Quetta. Balochistan is under occupation basically. The military is holding on to the province for the gas.

The gas from Balochistan is indispensable to the Pakistanis, their economy would collapse without it. They will do anything to hold on to Balochistan.

At the moment Balochistan is relatively quiet.

Pakistan is not in danger of losing the province right now.

However, if the army becomes over stretched in the North/Punjab, the country could fall apart at the seams, and they could lose Balochistan. I don't think independence for Balochistan would bring stability to Pakistan.

In relation to the Balochis/Pakistanis launching attacks inside Iran. To the best of my knowledge, they are US backed Sunni militants, sent to destabilize the country, to "prepare the battlefield" so to speak.

I'm sure you've seen this map:
http://www.yabdoo.com/users/476/gallery ... p68700.jpg
 

Helium Three

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Shaneofski - hi again.

Two questions for you:

Why are the Chinese in particular now such targets eg near you in Islamabad and in the NWFP? Why are they attracting more trouble (so it seems) than other foreigners? They hardly have a monopoly on what the extemists would regard as 'immorality' for example?

and what is the story with the map on yabdoo - whose ambitions does the second map reflect?

Beatha agus Sláinte
 

Shaneofski

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The Chinese. Ok, here goes.

1. The Chinese have an enormous interest in Pakistan. They are heavily involved in exploration, construction and engineering. All the workers building the new port in Gawadar are Chinese. This doesn't make them particularly popular with the locals. On the one hand, they are complicit in the robbery of Balochi resources, mainly gas. At the same time, they are perceived as taking work from local labourers and entrepreneurs.

2. China has a big problem with Islamic militants in the areas bordering Central Asia. Chinese special forces cross into Pakistan and deal very harshly with the Chinese militants they capture here. They operate here with impunity.

3. The Chinese, are for the most part Godless capitalists.

4. The Chinese are allowed to behave as they like in Pakistan, and are involved in illegal sale of alcohol and prostitution.

5. This is a long shot. The US and India have an interest in damaging relations between Pakistan and India, for strategic reasons. It is possible that attacks on Chinese are orchestrated by spooks.

The map is from the Armed Forces Journal. It puts forward a territorial solution which the author believes would lead to peace in the Middle East.

See the article below:
http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899
 

Helium Three

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That's very instructive - thanks.

The AFJ piece reminds me - I paid a visit recently to what is now an Egyptian war museum in northern Sinai - in 1973 it was a major Israeli command post and was overrun in the early hours of the war that year. Fortified base on elevated ground fairly close to the Canal. Guide tells me his biggest visitors are Egyptians, followed by Israelis - no surprise there - and then come the Chinese. They aren't checking the place out for the scenery I suspect.

BTW did you get any flak over the cricket world cup result?
 


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