Pakistan’s Hopeless Predicament

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ejazr, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://atlanticsentinel.com/2010/07/pakistans-hopeless-predicament/

    Pakistan is key to the American strategy in South Asia. Caught between winning the war in Afghanistan and winning India as an ally—the United States’ two primary foreign policy objectives in the region—Pakistan is a pivotal but frustrating factor that threatens to undermine both.

    The Obama Administration seemed to recognize this fact when it began to regard Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the same theater of war. The Pashtun tribes forming the backbone of the insurgency move freely between the mountainous and porous border separating the two countries, making eastern Pakistan a dangerous breeding ground for extremism. The United States have no hope of subduing this threat as long as sanctuaries for the Taliban exist on the Pakistani side of the border, supplying and training assaults on coalition forces in Afghanistan.

    The Islamabad Government, since its inception, has largely left the tribes roaming along its eastern frontier to its own devices until, in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the United States on 9/11, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed to cooperate with the Americans and commit soldiers and resources to fight the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. As Michael Scheuer points out at The Diplomat, Musharraf, a career military officer, “surely thought US political leaders and generals would react as he and his peers would have reacted; that is, by destroying the attackers. Based on this expectation,” he notes, “and under intense US pressure, Musharraf provided more aid for the US war effort than any other US ally, NATO or otherwise.”

    Musharraf allowed the United States to gather intelligence on his soil and execute military strikes against suspected Taliban strongholds on Pakistani territory. “He helped destroy the Taliban regime,” according to Scheuer, “even though Islamabad couldn’t have had an Afghan regime more compatible with Pakistan’s national interests.” The general had to cope with mounting discord among his own military and intelligence establishments which had regarded the status quo as a perfect counterbalance to India’s influence in the region. Up to this very day, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency provides funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban insurgency.

    Pakistani support for America’s enemies isn’t stopping Washington from transferring hundreds of millions of dollars in “aid” to Islamabad in reward for fighting its war, if only in part. Serious efforts have been made. Musharraf sent Pakistan’s army into the Pashtun lands and throughout northern Pakistan, in Bajaur, the Swat Valley, and South Waziristan, it managed to defeat the Taliban who subsequently fled to the central and southern provinces of the Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. As Haider Ali Hussein Mullick wrote in Foreign Affairs earlier this year, the Pakistani army, with its officer corps predominantly Punjabi, is considered something of a foreign occupation force by many Pashtuns living near the border in the north. This has pushed Pakistan to the brink of civil war.

    The army’s offensives in the region have already killed several thousands of soldiers and displaced almost half a million people. The struggle between the Pashtun tribes and Islamabad was, until 2008, largely confined to the border area but has since spread into Pakistan proper, “bringing repeated bombings, ambushes, assassinations and commando-style raids to military and intelligence facilities, as well as to major cities like Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi,” according to Scheuer. He, unsurprisingly, concludes that, “The results of Musharraf’s understandable, if potentially fatal decision are wrecking Pakistan.”

    As America prepares for defeat in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s leaders know that this administration isn’t any more serious about winning the war than the last one. They can no longer afford to do Washington’s bidding but must prepare for the likelihood of a Taliban victory and possibly an autonomous “Pashtunistan” occupying the border region in the near future.

    Since America’s interests demand that it increases India’s role in Afghanistan—which is its best, if not only chance at establishing a semi-democratic, centralized government in Kabul—and since Pakistan will always regard an Afghanistan allied with India a threat to its very existence, Islamabad can only start working against the United States rather than with it.

    Scheuer predicts that Pakistan’s intelligence service will try to mend fences with Pashtuns on both sides of the border and compel them to undermine Hamid Karzai and his government in an effort to hurry NATO’s defeat and help the Islamists to retake power in Kabul. “This is the only long term result that meets Pakistan’s national security needs,” he believes.

    The army is likely to reduce its operations in the tribal areas in an attempt to end the civil war. Some efforts may still be undertaken to convince the Americans that Pakistan is on their side but Islamabad will be careful not to alienate the Pashtuns further. “This tack also will start to ease the deep discontent in the army over being tasked to kill Muslims for US infidels.”

    Should American aid finally disappear, Pakistan can turn to either Saudi Arabia, China, or both for support. The Saudis rather prefer an Islamist regime over an Afghan Government allied too closely with the West while the Chinese will jump on any opportunity to strengthen Pakistan as a counterweight to India’s rapid ascension. New Delhi may be able to persuade the Saudis otherwise as its own bilateral relation with Riyad is improving but China’s interference can only imperil an already fragile nuclear balance as Pakistan’s ties with Muslim fundamentalists will pose a constant threat to India’s security.
     
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  3. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

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    how is pakistan's existence threatened if india has influence in afghanistan ??..........is something i fail to understand.........

    instead of concentrating on development , the pakis are going crazy with their india obsession...........something that has completely destroyed the social fabric of their country ,as the very terrorists they harboured for attacking india are now carrying out bombings in pak itself...........and the fundamentalist groups that pak harboured to produce terrorists are applying their own laws ,or more correctly ,lawlessness ,in the countryside.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    There is nothing like 'Hopeless Predicament'.The only thing is that pakistan army and its elites got used to free money from the world over for 6 decades so they keep on engineering threats and blackmail.This has made them lazy only thing the people who suffer are the lower category ones for them PA and elites has used the islam to keep them down anyways they are cannon fodder for PA and elites.
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Our ‘Pakistani Muslim exceptionalism’



    Our Muslim exceptionalism has not been enough to bridge our regional differences. Instead, the use of Islam in national politics and discourse has been a cause of further divisions in our national polity

    That national identity remains evasive for most of us is a foregone conclusion. The Pakistani national identity, so carefully constructed over the years by the state, has largely failed to find any large scale acceptance to bridge our regional differences and shape us into one nation. It is hardly news to anybody that the people of Balochistan and interior Sindh feel alienated from the idea we call Pakistan. What is that idea of Pakistan? In this article I focus only on how I think this national identity has been relatively accepted. How have we, as individuals, internalised this articulation? My aim here is not to contest or corroborate the articulation of national identity based on religion in any way. Neither am I going to attempt to explain why this national identity articulated from above (read: the state) has been relatively more accepted in some parts of Pakistan and not in others. What I am interested in is how we imagine ourselves on the basis of that national identity.

    Our imagination of ourselves revolves around what I have come to call ‘Pakistani Muslim exceptionalism’. An overwhelming majority of us are Muslims in official records. But that is an identity that we share with only a billion other Muslims all over the world. There is nothing exceptional about that. So, we have constructed a whole new set of characteristics about us that seem to set us apart from other Muslims in the world. This exceptionalism, particularly, consists of us imagining Pakistan as a fort of Islam and the Muslims in it charged with the distinct aim and objective of securing Islam from all internal and external threats. The creation of Pakistan is almost articulated as a divine intervention or at least something that had divine patronage. As per this theory, Pakistani Muslims must then prepare themselves to fight against a host of conspirators who are there to harm them. These conspirators usually appear in the form of American Imperialism and Hindu Zionism (sic) that are eagerly helped by the ‘real’ Zionist, aka the Israeli state. All three forces are conspiring against not just a Muslim nation but also against a nation-state that was founded as the last bastion of Islam. Nobody can and has been able to forward any proof for it, a fact that has largely been ignored. But then the requirement of some verifiable evidence is largely redundant. What is important is that people imagine themselves as the argument directs, since this achieves two objectives. First, it keeps the narrative of ‘Islam under threat’ alive and, second, in our context it allows us to imagine our exceptionalism because it lets us think of ourselves as different from the other one billion Muslims against whom these three forces do not seem to be conspiring with as much gusto. Many can rightly ask: so what?

    The institutions vested in keeping this myth of our exceptionalism alive achieve two purposes. First, to defend Pakistan’s nationalism one does not have to construct a secular argument. Once the narrative of ‘Islam under threat’ gains currency, it becomes easier for people to internalise and connect Islam with Pakistan and hence nationalism with Islam. Second, it allows all such institutions, namely the Pakistan Army, to justify their continued presence in the national polity at different levels.

    Let’s look at it this way.

    The army has historically, particularly during the post-1977 period, exercised control over domestic affairs through its dictates over the country’s foreign policy. With its institutional discipline and complete monopoly over the use of violence, it presented itself not only as the sole guardian of the country’s honour but also of its internal and external ideological frontiers. It has, as a saviour of Islam in Pakistan, turned a simple priest (maulvi) into a warrior-priest with the priest’s students as his foot soldiers. In retrospect, the choice of allies seems quite apt; people who are indoctrinated to see the higher purpose of life in saving the honour of religion can easily be convinced that glory lies in defeating “Satan” and embracing martyrdom. Hence, non-state actors were armed to the teeth and used in the Afghan war during General Zia’s dictatorship and later to keep the enemy engaged in Kashmir and ensure strategic depth in Afghanistan. All this in the name of safeguarding religion and, hence, the honour of the country — or so goes the official history. However, our great military strategists either conveniently chose to ignore or forgot about the fact that these jihadists-cum-militants were ideologically motivated. Their ideology transcended the idea of the nation-state whose honour they were trying to protect. Perhaps, as a sad tragedy of history, this causality revealed itself to the jihadist but only in reverse! To them it is not the nation-state Pakistan that defines Islam for itself; it is Islam that must define the nation-state that Pakistan ought to be. Also, it is their version of Islam that is of more importance here. Therefore, there is a problem when the jihadi mindset does not see the government of the day implementing its interpretation of religion in the country. In a well-functioning state and a democracy one would expect such ideological differences to be sorted out during elections. However, that is not the case in our Islamic Republic. Remember we armed them to fight a war and then forgot to take the weapons back. It is precisely because of their military strength that they have come to challenge what at least Hobbes would argue belongs solely to the modern nation-state — its monopoly over violence or use of force. The point being made here is that our Muslim exceptionalism has not been enough to bridge our regional differences. Instead, the use of Islam in national politics and discourse has been a cause of further divisions in our national polity.

    This is not the only narrative of history. But I strongly believe that it is one of the many plausible narratives of our history and nationalism. What is sad is that after 63 years we have so many reasons to believe that there is nothing exceptional about our exceptionalism. That, fortunately or unfortunately, we are rather ordinary people — much like people living everywhere else. That in the name of progress our nation and its state-sponsored nationalism only has to show several “indigenously” made missiles and atomic bombs, a fighter aircraft, a tank and a military that prides itself in being a real estate developer. Also, a large part of Pakistan refuses to buy our Pakistani Muslim exceptionalism by simply refusing to equate Islam with Pakistan. Is it not time that the state and the army are made to relinquish their power to define our nationhood? Let people of several different nationalities living within the geographical territory called Pakistan define it for themselves. Whether religion should play a role in it should be secondary. However, as our history shows, this is easier said than done.
     
  6. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    It's about their 'strategic space'.

    It's not meant to be a coherent narrative anyways.

    I absoloutely agree with you, it is all a bunch of bogus tripe.

    You have to be very, very careful about what issues from the pakistani media's mouth. They will blame the world for their entire flaws, but never seek to correct 'em from within.

    The best propaganda, after all, is convincing the other guy he's doin the propaganda.

    And that, I think, sums up the 'hopeless predicament'.
     

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