Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pakistan's web gets ever more complicated

from StrategyPage:
The United States has stopped "playing the game" of pretending that the Pakistani military does not control or cooperate with Islamic terrorist groups. Senior American commanders have told the public, and in closed meetings with senior American politicians, presented the classified information that proves this Pakistani involvement continues. It's no secret in Pakistan that this connection exists. The military began backing Islamic terrorists in the late 1970s as a way to cure the corruption that was crippling the economy, while also providing a weapon that could defeat India. The corruption is still there and India remains undefeated. In the 1980s, this move to Islamic terrorism became fashionable when the Russians invaded Afghanistan and Pakistan became a base for Afghan "holy warriors" who fought back. When the Russians left in 1989, Pakistan continued to back Islamic terrorist groups in Afghanistan (most famously the Taliban, which the Pakistani army created) and sustained the civil war there. This war was still going on when September 11, 2001 came along. It's still going on today, and it's still being sustained by the Pakistani military. The Afghans are not happy with this, they never have been. Afghans point out that Pakistan has been interfering with Afghan internal affairs since Pakistan was created in 1948. The Afghans want this interference to stop, and have been pressing the U.S. to help.
Now, the U.S. has come to agree with the Afghans. So do many Pakistanis, who are unhappy with the share of the national income the military takes for itself. Pakistanis are also disturbed that this military support of Islamic terrorism has backfired, and now Pakistani civilians are most often the victims. Meanwhile, it's obvious that the military, particularly the officers, live better than the vast majority of Pakistanis. Yet the army has never been able to defeat the Indians, or anyone else for that matter. The Pakistani military has been supporting Islamic terrorists for over 30 years and now some of these radicals are killing Pakistanis. The military denies any responsibility. This has long been a big problem in Pakistan, getting anyone to take responsibility. It always seems to be someone else's fault.
Now, this facet sounds like the late Roman Empire.  The people spent all this money on the vaunted Roman military machine, yet they couldn't defeat the expansionist Sassanids, couldn't protect the people from the barbarians raiding across the Rhine and Danube and even got pasted by the Goths at Adrianople.  All the army seemed to be good for was waging civil wars against itself.  Don't think this did not have a negative effect on the populace, wondering what precisely were the benefits of imperial rule (though they would eventually learn, but by then it was too late).
The Pakistani military responds to all this by portraying itself as a victim of Indian and American plots. When all else fails, there is always paranoia and denial. The Pakistani military denies all the American and Afghan accusations and dares the Americans to do something about it. The Americans have told Pakistan that if the Pakistani military does not take down the Haqqani Network, and assume control of North Waziristan (where Haqqani and similar groups have a sanctuary) the Americans would. Pakistani generals responded that American "boots on the ground" would mean war. At this point, the U.S. seems unconcerned about that. It seems to be a question of who blinks first. Will Pakistan finally take control of their military, or allow their generals to drag the country into another war they will lose? This is entirely possible, for Pakistani public opinion portrays Pakistanis as victims of all manner of local and foreign conspiracies. Most Pakistanis refuse to take responsibility for anything, preferring to play the powerless victim. Pakistanis don't like to admit that this attitude is self-defeating. But for most Pakistanis, this victimhood is more comfortable than trying to fix things. Meanwhile, the U.S. has told the Pakistanis that military aid will be reduced and the money transferred to civilian uses. But the U.S. wants more ability to ensure that the aid gets to its intended recipients, rather than being stolen by corrupt officials.
Afghanistan accuses Pakistani intelligence (ISI) of using Haqqani to try and destabilize the Afghan government via terrorist attacks on high-profile targets. Pakistan denies everything. Meanwhile, Pakistan is refusing to honor international arrest warrants for retired ISI officials, accused of responsibility for past support of Islamic terrorism.
Faced with the prospect of losing American aid, or even being at war with America, Pakistani diplomats are seeking a stronger alliance with China. But the Chinese are not willing to offer the amount of aid the U.S. provides, or the degree of military assistance. In the meantime, China is demanding that Pakistan wipe out Islamic terrorists from western China, who have been based in the Pakistani tribal territories for most of the last decade. Pakistan cannot do this, because it would mean invading North Waziristan, a sanctuary for pro-government Islamic terrorist groups.

So, Pakistan is trying to replace the US with China, except China wants the same thing the US wants, for Pakistan to crack down on its Islamists, which Pakistan is either unwilling or unable to do.

Rapidly becoming alone in the world, hated by its own people, unable to do anything effectively.  This is a picture of a state on the very edge of the abyss. 

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