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22 October 2007

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Arun

Excellent article! And it in some way is parallel to the advice from India's retired intelligence analyst, B. Raman:

If the US really wants to save Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal from the clutches of the terrorists, it would be wise enough to encourage a genuine transition to democracy without any favourites. Let the people of Pakistan ----and not the US policy-makers and academics---decide whom they want to be their leader in free and fair elections. Let the leader so chosen deal with the terrorists in his own independent manner.

Of course, there is the matter of how to hold free and fair elections. Contra FB Ali's skepticism, I think public attention and the recently energized Supreme Court just might be able to do it.

zanzibar

Thanks for this enlightening article. Many of us here do not really understand all the tribal and sub-surface currents in the volatile parts of Asia. Articles like this help give those who are interested some perspective.

I have always been most concerned about Pakistan since it has been the real home base for the jihadists - the operational center. Sure foot soldiers and financing have been provided by Saudi Arabia but the brains and the control have come out of Pakistan, IMO. It also seems there is some institutional support through ISI for these jihadist elements as they were used as proxies in the insurgency in Kashmir and to keep India off balance. I believe Musharaff was involved as military commander in using jihadists along with regular soldiers in insurgency and destabilization activities in India. From what I read at that time Clinton forced Sharif the then Prime Minister to withdraw Pakistani forces from India and that then led to the coup that brought in Musharaff.

Pakistan has all the hallmarks of becoming a failed and radical state. If it disintegrates it will be calamity for us. In addition to deployable nuclear weapons we have a well armed state with highly motivated jihadist elements who can unleash a lot of trouble in many parts of the world. One of the worst scenarios would be an uncontrolled conflict with India and both parties resorting to the use of nuclear weapons. The other would of course be the use of Pakistan as a base for nuclear proliferation - AQ Khan network on steroids as well as for terrorist activities against our interests and people. We would definitely face some significant challenges.

Its amazing how sensationlist our corporate media have become and as a result there is no longer any serious debate about the real threats to stability in the world which is so essential at this current juncture.

tequila

A very interesting article.

A question for FB Ali - do ethnic fissures in Pakistan extend to the Army? To what extent are the tribals seen as part of the majority Punjabi Pak Army, rather than just as Pashtun hicks? Or is it that the Army feels it is being used as a prop against fellow Muslims at America's bidding?

I guess the root of this is a basic anti-Americanism in Pakistani political culture. What is the root of this anti-Americanism? Is it due to a feeling of abandonment after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan? Deobandism run amok?

Thanks for your thoughts.

taters

Mr Ali,
Well done, sir. Keep 'em comin'!

Charles I

Tequila, no offense, but you have obviously drank the Koolaid. You answer your plaintive, self-reflective query as to the sources of Pakistani Anti-Americanism with:

"I guess the the root of this is a basic anti-Americanism in Pakistani political culture".

Like its a natural attribute of Pakistan: "A verdant south east asian country of air breathing, two legged, dark skinned, largely Muslim, anti-americans".

How we flatter ourselves that the rest of the world gives a rat's ass about our basic natures. So long as you don't piss upstream from me, or inhibit my God given right to consume what I want when I want, and to piss wherever I want, I don't care if you're a three headed martian or a one headed American.

How many times must people be reminded, that contrary to our conception of ourselves as latently, universally causational on a global scale just by breathing and the virtue inherent in our own navels, it just ain't so. Aside from the takfiri jihadi's who do innately hate our perceived mode of existence by virtue of THEIR misguided faith alone.


FB's article, page one, para 4, explicitly says what many many feel and perceive, which is all that matters in this context:

"
strong anti-US feelings . .. not directed against Americans but against the US government, . . .are based on what is perceived as its destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, its condoning the destruction of the Palestinians and Lebanon, its war on terror that appears to be a war on Muslims, and now its sabre-rattling against Iran."

I mean, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Palestine and Washington push scads of my buttons, and I'm on our side. A well televised obscenity can inflame the most jaded heart - and I know an obscenity when I see one. I would cheer - hell, I'd buy bonds - if SOMEBODY could forcibly or otherwise expel Israel from Palestine and secure statehood for that Ghetto of collective punishment.

Most people in the ME that hate the US have perceptions of discrete behaviours and actions they cite as hating, rather than America, or Americans per se, in their own right, merely on account of their existence. Hate the sin, not the sinner? Its not all about me, aside from a small percentage of censurious fundamentalists, but more often about the perceived impact of my BEHAVIOUR.


When Bush rallied the credulous with they-hate-us-'cause-we're-us, he perpetrated a pernicious, obfuscating fraud at the expense of your citizen's blood and treasure, to the severe detriment of your security. Sadly, its an all too easy sell. Fool me once, well, that's shooting fish in a barrel. Fool me into war twice in 8 years, that's black arts on a willing human canvas.

Cold War Zoomie

Two points stuck out for me.

Another widely held sentiment is strong anti-US feelings; these are not directed against Americans but against the US government, and are based on what is perceived as its destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq, its condoning the destruction of the Palestinians and Lebanon, its war on terror that appears to be a war on Muslims, and now its sabre-rattling against Iran.

I don't think we have much longer on this planet before the majority of anti-American sentiments turn to us voters. It appears Europeans made that leap in 2004 when we re-elected Bush. Perhaps the only reason more people still only aim their anger at our government is because they themselves have no power over the behavior of their own government, and suspect we operate the same. In many ways, we do.

Second, the fact that a close ally in hunting down the *original* AQ is crumbling under a variety of pressures never seemed to find its way into our news media. I would consider myself an "high information" voter type who tries to pay attention as much as possible, yet the first I heard of Bhutto was when the assassins struck.

How can we have so many news sources and so little news?

Makes me want to move to the Shetland Islands and herd sheep for the rest of my life.

FB Ali

Tequila

Most of the army is homogenous Punjabi. There are mixed units in which the subunits are homogenous. The ethnic differences are overshadowed by the common faith in Islam.

The tribal areas, though autonomous, have always been considered part of Pakistan, and the soldiers operating there feel they are fighting fellow Pakistanis. Here again, any ethnic strangeness is overcome by the common faith.

I have given the reasons in the article for the widespread anti-US feelings. Muslims in Pakistan, like Muslims all over the world, feel under attack by this US administration.

Minnesotachuck

A very insightful article, Col. It's unfortunate, however, that the piece is not available as an HTML web page, or failing that as a long quote on one of your blog entries. MS Word does support saving a dot doc file as HTML, and copy and "paste as quotation" works with most blog engines.

peggy

On HDNet, there was a report on Balochistan ... which I never heard of. Then I read about it in Farrukh B. Ali's article.

here's what was reported on HDNet "Dan Rather Reports" September 25th, 2007:

"the United States is sending billions to Pakistan to fight terrorism. But Pakistan's dictator has found another use for the money."
Episode Number: 232

transcript
http://www.hd.net/transcript.html?air_master_id=A4847

Balochistan is covered in the first part of the report
video
http://www.hd.net/drr232.html

J. Rega

Thanks for this. Has there been any further movement resulting form the Pashtun Peace Jirga which, if I recall rightly, argued for some formal demarcation and possible recognition of Pashtunistan?
From what I understand, the Pakistan government's political authority in the NWFP has all but collapsed. based on my own out of date experience it was not very great to begin with, the Army being the only governmental body that enjoyed nationwide, across the board support.
So, would the establishment of an independent Pashtun state be a viable territorial strategic option? I've often felt that part of the religious clamor coming from the tribal territories was more a localized form of religious nationalism, Pashtun, in this case, rather than Pak/Af.

Jose

I'm sure that with the crack foreign policy team under the current administration all these worries are under control.

I mean, the Middle East Peace Summit in Annapolis will be a success even though it has been moved back to April 1, 2008.

But by then, will have won the hearts and minds all Muslims in the Middle East and South Asian.

Just look how much success we are having by supporting Jundullah and Party for Free Life in Kurdistan:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/abc_news_exclus.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/world/middleeast/23kurds.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Once these groups achieve some success, I'm sure they will not turn on us like the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

The Balochi's will ignore Balochistan Province in Pakistan and the Iranian Kurds will ignore the Turkish Kurdish region.

All that plus the new Benazir Bhutto government in Pakistan will make this essay meaningless.

FB Ali

Zanzibar

You are correct in assuming that Pakistan (including its tribal areas) is now the main base of the jihadis, but you under-estimate the role that Saudi Arabia played, and still plays, in the worldwide jihadi campaign. While Pakistan may house the operational HQ and base, jihad central remains in Saudi Arabia. It is from there that the money and the ideological drive flow to jihadis everywhere.

We should also not forget the role that the US played. Initially, the Saudi religious establishment was merely using its vast financial resources to push its Wahabi ideology in the Islamic world. It was the US that used the fundamentalism that the Saudis were promoting on which to base a jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. The success of this led to a complete reorientation in outlook : the radicals in the Wahabi establishment now began pushing (and funding) jihad as the vehicle of their ideology, while the militants began to dream of bigger victories.

A good illustration of the dangers of playing games on fields you haven’t a clue about, and with players who have their own rules – and their own goal posts.

Charles I

hey tequila, Sorry I went off so fervently on you, I'm having a bad hair day

Jose

Col, this article is a little pessimistic.

I'm sure "W's" crack foreign policy team has everything covered.

Just imagine how we will win the hearts and minds of all Muslims throughout the Middle East and South Asian when on April 1, 2008 we finally settle the Arab-Israeli conflict.

America's support of Party for Free Life in Kurdistan and Jundullah will force Iran to see the light and stop producing nuclear electricity.

Those two groups will always be loyal Mujahideen for America's foreign policy.

The Iranian Kurds will only be interested in Iran's Kurdistan province.

The Balochi's will only be interested Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province.

The Pashto, who are not known for their fighting skills, will end their rebellion in the North-West Frontier Province.

Benazir Bhutto's new administration will provide the fresh, new outlook that Pakistan desperately needs.

Walrus

There are two obstacles to America having a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan.

1. As Charles alluded to: The overwhelmingly narcissistic culture of America which is fundamentally alien and threatening to most of the world, and particularly to religious fundamentalists

2. The fact that Pakistan's institutions are either artifacts of British rule or the product of the British values that have been taught for centuries in schools and thus absorbed - and these are secular institutions.

America understands neither, and therefore will continue to pursue the wrong solutions in the wrong place, at the wrong time because you don't understand the problem nor the situation.

For perhaps ten generations there has been an uneasy peace between the secular, British oriented semi democratic government in Islamabad and the fundamentalist tribal areas, the product of centuries of raids from the hills and regular reprisals - and America wants to upset that?

Who pays the price? Not America!

Attempts to send troops will be seen an attack on Pakistani sovereignty.

Attempts to shore up Bhutto and Musharaf will be seen as an attack on Pakistan's democracy.

The only solution I can see for American Diplomacy is:

a) A crash course in Kipling and the thousand odd memoirs of the British who served on the Northwest frontier.

b) A crash course in the game of cricket, after which the meaning of the phrase "it's just not cricket", as applied to Government, business and personal relations will become apparent.

c) Throw the entire weight of American support behind Imran Khan for President of Pakistan and preferably a good hockey player for Prime Minister.

robt willmann

The wide-ranging article by Mr. F.B. Ali gives us a pertinent point about Pakistani elections and confirms the violence in the Waziristan areas.

He informs us that rigged elections in Pakistan go back to the 1970's, a point not emphasized in the U.S. media. We should not be too jealous of Pakistan, however, since we can now easily have our own rigged elections in our "democracy", courtesy of the Help American Vote Act, which tries to impose electronic voting machines on our 50 states, and those machines permit unlimited, undetectable vote fraud.

Mr. Ali confirms that "Gen. Musharraf has sent in the army to seize control of the tribal
areas bordering Afghanistan, and bloody battles are raging there".

I was surprised when I read in an article on the Asia Times Online website that troops
had been sent to Waziristan not just to try to keep a lid on things, but to try to control that entire area. This amounts to an attempt to force tribes to submit to a central government who have never agreed to submit to anyone.

I don't know how accurate the articles are on Asia Times Online, but this is the one--

"Pakistan plans all-out war on militants", from October 19.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IJ19Df01.html

There are two other recent articles on the situation in Pakistan as well--

"Bhutto bombing kicks off war on U.S. plan", from October 20.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IJ20Df01.html

"U.S. forced into Plan B for Pakistan", from October 24 (by time zone).

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IJ24Df01.html

All the articles are by Syed Saleem Shahzad, who claimed to have been in the area at the time of the bomb blast near Bhutto.

From what I have read about the Waziristan tribes, this attack on them is ill-advised, to put it diplomatically. These are people who seem to take the concept of betrayal and a person's word of honor seriously. They don't play the Western legal game of legalistic writing and quibbling over the definitions of words in a written treaty or agreement.

Now not only has the U.S., and probably NATO, made an enemy of the tribes, but the current Pakistani government seems to be doing so as well.

Mr. Ali asserts that "Even if the army is pulled back into token operations the tribesmen
are so incensed that they may not cease fighting ...."

I remember a while after the Iraqi insurgency started I saw "Fast Talking" Tony Blair say
on television that it "must submit" to the government's demands. That is the mantra of all operators of central governments, which maintain their existence only through propaganda, coercion, and intimidation. But when some people refuse to be intimidated and kneel down, the whole game changes. The surprising defense of Lebanon in July 2006 by its home-grown militia Hizbullah is an example.

The demented desire of the governments of the U.S., Britain, and Israel to meddle
in and actually to try to control other countries, rather than facing their
own significant domestic problems, has created a catastrophe that has spread
from Afghanistan, to Iraq, and now to Pakistan. Each instance of meddling has failed, but the promoters of it, safe in their offices, desire to expand it to Iran.

My uneducated guess is that we are starting to lose the "great game" in Pakistan.

Walrus

Mr Willamannn. America does not even know what "the great Game" is. Who in America has sat on Zam Zammah? (apologies for spelling) Oh best beloved?

Clifford Kiracofe

<"jihad central remains in Saudi Arabia. It is from there that the money and the ideological drive flow to jihadis everywhere...It was the US that used the fundamentalism that the Saudis were promoting on which to base a jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan.">

FB Ali's excellent article and comments above go to the heart of several interrelated policy issues and the matter of blowback. Not to mention what do we do now...

Was the use of Saudi Wahhabism/"jihadi Islam" (and Deobandi variants) as a Cold War policy tool by the US in Afghanistan such a "bright idea" after all?

What about the subsequent US-Saudi-Pak creation of the Taliban circa say about 1993-94? The Clinton Administration refused to turn over documentation on this to the House International Relations Committee. Wonder why? Seems to me Ms. Bhutto gave a green light on this one at the time. Perhaps Hillary might explain this to the American people and give us an idea of her approach.

In the 1980s, a moderate North African country was threated by Wahhabi extremists. Source of the funding and support: Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This raises the issue of whether or not there is an officially sanctioned Wahhabintern out and about...

Arun

Walrus, I believe the problems Pakistan faces in its tribal areas are precisely because it continued British policies.

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