The battle for Pakistan

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Sikh_warrior, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Sikh_warrior

    Sikh_warrior Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

    May 18, 2010
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    The struggle for control of Pakistan — soon to be the fifth most populous country in the world with the fifth largest nuclear arsenal — intensifies every day. The outcome is far from certain. The key player, Pakistan’s army, seems dangerously ambivalent about which side should prevail: the jihadist Frankenstein it created or the democratically elected civilian government it despises.

    The American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden on May 2nd accelerated the struggle underway inside Pakistan to determine the country’s future. Contrary to some assessments, Pakistan is neither a failed state nor a failing state. It functions as effectively today as in decades past. Rather it is a state under siege from a radical syndicate of terror groups loosely aligned together with the goal of creating an extremist jihadist state in south Asia. They want to hijack Pakistan and its weapons.

    Less than a hundred hours after the Abbottabad raid, Al Qaeda’s shura council, its command centre, announced the group was declaring war on Pakistan and the “traitors and thieves” in the government who had betrayed the “martyr shaykh” bin Laden to the Americans. It was ironic since many Americans suspect the Pakistani army was actually complicit in abetting bin Laden’s successful evasion of the largest manhunt in human history for 10 years. That both Al Qaeda and America distrust the Pakistani army speaks volumes.

    Since then Al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan have carried out their threat with a vengeance. Suicide bombings and other terror attacks have occurred across the country. The worst was an attack on a major Pakistani navy base in Karachi, a heavily guarded facility where both US and Chinese experts assist the navy. Two US-made P3 surveillance aircraft were destroyed in the attack. The assailants had insider knowledge of the base, and Pakistani security has arrested former naval personnel accused of helping the attackers.

    The Karachi attack illustrates the essence of the battle for Pakistan today. The militants support Al Qaeda, but were members of its ally the Pakistani Taleban. Their goal was to humiliate the navy. The navy fought back, but is riddled with jihadist sympathisers who help the militants.

    The Pakistani army is genuinely at war with parts of the syndicate of jihadi terror in Pakistan like Al Qaeda and the Taleban. It has more than 140,000 troops engaged in operations against the militants along the Afghan border. Some 35,000 Pakistanis including several thousand soldiers have died in the fighting since 2001, the equivalent of a dozen 911s.

    The army’s ambivalence about the jihad flows from its deep obsession with India. Pakistan — with American help — created the jihad in the 1980s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. But from the start the ISI, commanded by then dictator Zia-ul Haq and his ISI director general Akhtar Rahman, planned to use jihadi groups against India as well and build an international cadre of mujahideen to help fight India. Over the decades the “S” Department of ISI established close connections with scores of jihadi groups, becoming a state within ISI, which in turn is a state within the army. The army decides national-security policy with little or no input from the political establishment. The jihadist penetrations of the army raise persistent questions about the security of Pakistan’s nukes. According to a Wiki Leaked State Department cable, from September 2009, France’s national security adviser Jean-David Levitte told the American Embassy in Paris that France believes it is not secure. Levitte is one of the most astute diplomats in the world today, and he is almost certainly right.

    The policies that would help wean the Pakistani army off its obsession with India and jihad are well known. A concerted effort to end the Indo-Pakistani conflict is essential. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, despite Mumbai, is trying to do just that. But it is a hard challenge. Talks to resolve the relatively simple issue of the disputed Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest war zone at the roof of the Himalayas, failed again in May. The harder issue, Kashmir, will probably take years to resolve at best.

    But we don’t have years. Only a fortnight before the Abbottabad raid, General Kayani gave a speech at the military academy in the city, almost within earshot of bin Laden. In his remarks Kayani claimed the back of the militant syndicate in Pakistan had been broken and the army had triumphed. It is now clear he was badly mistaken.

    Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow at the Saban Center 
in the Brookings Institution and adjunct professor 
at the School for Advanced International Studies 
at Johns Hopkins University

    The battle for Pakistan

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