Archive for the 'India' Category



Continuing Fallout from Bin Laden Raid: Growing Chinese Role in Pakistan?

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 5 months ago

The raid to kill Bin Laden in Abbatabad, Pakistan, like a nuclear blast, has fallout beyond the immediate event.

One of those effects is the apparent impetus for closer relations between Pakistan and China.

The Economist noted earlier this month that Pakistan made no secret of praising its relations with China in the aftermath of the Bin Laden raid.

PAKISTAN’S ambassador to Beijing, Masood Kahn, was this week fully armed with metaphors to describe the robust friendship between the two countries. “We say it is higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight, sweeter than honey, and so on.”

The relationship is indeed a geopolitical keystone for both countries. Pakistan serves as China’s closest friend both in South Asia and among Islamic countries. So close, indeed, that many suspect China has asked Pakistan for the valuable remains of the American stealth helicopter abandoned during the bin Laden raid. Meanwhile, China can help counterbalance Pakistan’s arch-rival, India, including in Afghanistan.

Pakistan seems keen to foster the impression that new tensions with America might nudge it even closer towards China. In his blustery speech to parliament on May 9th Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani struck out on an odd tangent to praise China as an “all-weather friend”, providing Pakistan with strength and inspiration. Not to be outdone, President Asif Zardari issued an effusive statement of his own about a friendship “not matched by any other relationship between two sovereign countries”.

Others have noted the attempts by Pakistan to curry favor with China as well.   The Wall Street Journal Online has this:

BEIJING—Pakistan’s defense minister said China has agreed to take over operation of the strategically positioned but underused port of Gwadar, and that Islamabad would like the Chinese to build a base there for the Pakistani navy.

Ahmad Mukhtar gave no clear timetable on the possible change at Gwadar, on Pakistan’s western coast, which is currently managed by a Singaporean government company. But his statement Saturday is the latest illustration of how Pakistan is portraying China as a powerful alternative ally and aid source if the U.S. scales down military assistance for Islamabad in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing.

On the whole, given the duplicity of Pakistan and the inevitable conflict in the Pakistani tribal areas, putting some distance between the U.S. and Pakistan may be beneficial in the long run.   In other words:  if you want to jump into bed with China, good luck with their cold feet.

Both The Economist and The Wall Street Journal Online note the decidedly ambivalent feelings about Pakistan by the Chinese.  The Economist cautions:

But if Islamabad is worried about falling out with Washington and hopes to get more out of Beijing, it may be in for disappointment. According to Zhu Feng of Peking University, such calculations based on “the traditional mentality of power politics” are misplaced. China’s robust, longstanding ties with Pakistan stand on their own merits, he says, and owe nothing to America’s standing in Pakistan. Both China and America want a stable Pakistan.

For all that, China’s dealings with Pakistan have always been conducted with one eye on India. Last year Beijing chose to supply Pakistan with two new civilian nuclear reactors, even though the deal appeared to violate Chinese non-proliferation commitments. It was a boon not only for Pakistan’s energy-starved economy. It was, as Mr Zhu points out, also a way for China to counterbalance a controversial nuclear deal reached earlier between America and India.

China and Pakistan have a lustily growing trade relationship, worth almost $9 billion last year. China provides military gear, including fighter jets and frigates. Some Chinese infrastructure projects in Pakistan have strategic implications. They include ports on the Arabian Sea and a proposed rail project which has yet to be approved, but which would arouse controversy, and Indian ire, by running through contested territory in Kashmir.

Still, China’s commitment to Pakistan has its limits. After devastating floods last year, America gave Pakistan $690m, 28% of all international aid. China’s contribution was a mere $18m. According to Andrew Small of the German Marshall Fund, an American policy institute, Pakistan may be “talking up the ‘China option’ beyond where the Chinese are willing to go.” China, he reckons, will be reluctant to tilt too far towards what might look like an anti-India alliance”. Despite border disagreements, China wants to keep its relations with India in reasonable order.

What is more, Pakistan’s chronic instability and its failure, whether by design or incompetence, to suppress extremism make Pakistan as hard a partner for China to trust as for America. “Sweeter than honey” may be plenty sweet enough.

The WSJ sounds a similar note:

China is eager to expand its influence in Pakistan over the long term, but is wary of the country’s chronic instability, which was highlighted late Sunday when a Pakistani naval base was attacked in the western port of Karachi, about 300 miles southeast of Gwadar.

Indeed.  In some ways, Pakistan and China are made for each other.  One is chronically unstable and in dire need of constant foreign aid while the other is infamously stingy and calculating in its foreign affairs.   May they enjoy each others’ company for many years.  We can certainly use the money wasted in foreign aid to Pakistan for better purposes such as freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil.

At the same time, there is no doubt that India feels the pressure of a nuclear Pakistan and nuclear China on its borders.   The U.S. has everything to gain by pursuing closer ties with India, the rising power of the Near East.   Trading Pakistan for India would be like trading Hillary Clinton for Sarah Palin.   I think we can live with that exchange.

But we should be under no illusions that, whatever happens to the American-Pakistani relationship, China is increasingly in the mood to flex its muscles in the region.   According to an article flagged at Hot Air, China has reportedly given the U.S. something of an ultimatum regarding any future border incursions into Pakistan:

Barack Obama says that if the US has another chance to get a high-value terrorist target like Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, he’ll make the same call as he did earlier this month.  Not so fast, says China.  According to a report from India a few days ago, China has warned that an “attack” on Pakistan will be taken as an attack on China (via Pundit Press):

In the wake of the US raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden, China has “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China”, a media report claimed today.

The warning was formally conveyed by the Chinese foreign minister at last week’s China-US strategic dialogue and economic talks in Washington, The News daily quoted diplomatic sources as saying. China also advised the USa to “respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity”, the report said.

Chinese Premier Mr Wen Jiabao informed his Pakistani counterpart Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani about the matters taken up with the US during their formal talks at the Great Hall of the People yesterday. The report said China “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China”. The two premiers held a 45-minute one-on-one meeting before beginning talks with their delegations.

The Chinese leadership was “extremely forthcoming in assuring its unprecedented support to Pakistan for its national cause and security” and discussed all subjects of mutual interest with Mr Gilani, the report said. Mr Gilani described Pakistan-China relations and friendship as “unique”. Talking to Pakistani journalists accompanying him, he said that China had acknowledged his country’s contribution and sacrifices in the war against terrorism and supported its cause at the international level. “China supported Pakistan’s cause on its own accord,” Mr Gilani said with reference to the Sino-US strategic dialogue where the Chinese told the US that Pakistan should be helped and its national honour respected. Mr Gilani said China had asked the US to improve its relations with Pakistan, keeping in view the present scenario.

It it difficult to believe that China would truly be willing to go to war over, say, a Predator drone attack or even a SOF incursion into the FATA, but uncertainty over China’s reaction to any future missions of a similar nature will only add to the difficulty of having an ally with whom you are, in some measure, at war.

Powerline Blog Calls It Quits On Afghanistan

BY Glen Tschirgi
3 years, 7 months ago

Normally I enjoy reading the posts by John Hinderaker at Powerline, but his recent post is an exception.  With a strange bit of melancholy or resignation, John argues that it is time to pack up and quit Afghanistan.   I will detail this in a bit, but suffice it to say that I found most of his arguments shallow and unpersuasive.

Even so, I would not bother making John’s post the subject of my own, but for two things that alarm:  (1) Powerline has one of the highest levels of readership in the blogosphere, so its opinions reach a lot of people, aggravating the damage;  (2) this recent post seems to be indicative of a growing opinion among conservatives (as shown by the large, positive response it has received so far).

So here goes.

Here are the reasons supplied by John Hinderaker for calling it quits.   After stating that he supports the initial attack to chase Al Qaeda out of its bases in Afghanistan, he sees the ensuing efforts differently:

Since then, for going on nine years, we have pursued a somewhat half-hearted peacekeeping/democracy policy in Afghanistan. The Bush administration was right, I think, not to devote excessive resources to Afghanistan, which is virtually without strategic significance compared with countries like Iran, Iraq and Egypt. Moreover, the country’s human natural and human raw material could hardly be less promising.

Afghans are not just living in an earlier century; they are living in an earlier millenium. Their poverty, cultural backwardness and geographic isolation–roads verge on the nonexistent–are hard for us to fathom. They are a tribal society run by pederasts whose main industry is growing poppies. If our security hinges on turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country, we are in deep trouble. But I don’t think it does; and, in any event, I don’t think we can do it.

In large part, our effort in Afghanistan has been devoted to protecting normal Afghans against extremists like the Taliban. But, as the current rioting in Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and elsewhere reminds us, there there may not be a lot of daylight between the Taliban and more moderate Afghan factions.

For Hinderaker, Afghanistan and its people are pretty worthless, to put it bluntly.  No “strategic significance compared with…Iran, Iraq and Egypt.”  The country is devoid of raw materials or human potential.  In his view, it is such a backward, black hole of inhumanity that any change is hopeless.   Even Obama, presumably, wouldn’t try to sell his snake oil there.  The rioting there over the Koran burning is proof of sorts, he says, that the country is hopeless.

I hate to say it, but this is just lazy, generalized thinking.

It is very tempting thinking, however.   There is certainly alot of things about Afghanistan that repulse our cultural sensitivities and it is indeed easy to see the depths to which the country has sank and believe it has always been this way, but this is not a reason for leaving, in and of itself.   It is just letting our prejudice show.  It is hard to remember as far back as the 1960′s, but Afghanistan had a functioning monarchy with a tolerable standard of living in Kabul and prospects for reform and political rights up until the communist takeover in 1978.   What Afghanistan has become, after 30 years of war, brutal totalitarian rule and the importation of strict, Islamic codes, is not what is has always been nor its eternal fate.

As for the claim that Afghanistan has no strategic value, that is at least a debatable point.  If we had a coherent and consistent foreign policy that looked at the broader interest of the U.S. in the region, Afghanistan has significance.   If, for example, we had a foreign policy that recognized the dire threat that the Iranian regime poses to the entire Middle East (and beyond), the ability to stage forces on both sides of Iran— in Iraq and Afghanistan– would enable the U.S. to effectively aid insurgents and opposition groups in Iran.

Having a presence in Afghanistan also gives the U.S. a key leverage point and access to Pakistan.  Like it or not, nuclear Pakistan is a major threat to the U.S. so long as it teeters on the edge of political instability and the possibility of the Islamofascists getting their nukes.   The U.S. has a natural affinity with India that could be cultivated into a strategic partnership in the region as a counterbalance to China and the growing Islamofascist threat in Pakistan.   Afghanistan is valuable to that partnership as well and we could be doing much more to involve India.

Hinderaker believes Afghanistan is worthless, a view not shared, however, by Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Muslims, the  Tsarist Russians, the British Empire and the Soviet Union.

I think that the heart of the problem for Hinderaker and other conservatives when it comes to Afghanistan is the notion of “turning this place into a reasonably modern, functioning country…”   In many circles, you can add in “democracy” to that list.   This has been the great mistake of our involvement in Afghanistan.

Our first and primary goal in Afghanistan should always have been to establish security, period.   Without security first, every, other goal is like piling up sand on the beach.   Security against the Taliban and Al Qaeda is a limited, achievable goal.   It is measurable victory.  And, once established, it creates the necessary space and stability for the kind of investments and social reforms that, over the long term, can make a real difference in the development of the country.  The problem for the U.S. has been that we have been way too ambitious, trying to establish security and establish a democratic government and re-build their infrastructure and make it into a “modern, functioning” country.

This is analogous to a man, near starvation, who is rescued and then force-fed a king’s banquet: it will kill him.   His shriveled stomach is not ready for that.   After such deprivation, he needs a little bit at a time, slowly and carefully. Afghanistan is the same way.   After over twenty years of ruin and oppression, we cannot descend upon the country and begin force-feeding it with hundreds of billions of dollars in aid for every conceivable project, no matter how well-intentioned.   We have almost literally been killing Afghanistan with kindness.   Funny how they don’t appreciate it.

The mistake that Hinderaker makes is looking at the process and concluding that the entire enterprise is worthless or hopeless.  They seem to have gotten discouraged because all of our ‘force-feeding’ has not brought a miracle cure.   Their answer, to throw the hapless man back in the desert to starve again, is absurd.  Rather, they should see our actions to this point in Afghanistan as the excessive blunder it has been.

If the U.S. had been single-mindedly pursuing security and the elimination of the Taliban since 2001, we might well have drawn down our troop levels there to some border outposts to interdict insurgents from Pakistan while leaving the interior to ANA forces that would have had almost a decade of solid training by now.   Even if you view the ANA as a hopeless project, at the very least we would have had time to establish local militias that would keep the peace in their locale and govern themselves.   We would not have diverted billions of dollars to a corrupt, central figurehead like Karzai.  All of these things feed the disenchantment that Hinderaker and others feel.

But just because mistakes have been made– even terrible mistakes– should not give way to careless analysis and spotty observations.   It should, instead, be a call for better policy.

When Hinderaker turns to the consequences of quitting Afghanistan his view is rather limited:

Is there a danger that if we leave, the Taliban will re-take control and, perhaps, invite al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to join them? Yes. However, it it not obvious that, after what happened in 2001, the Taliban will be quick to make its territory, once again, into a launching pad. If they do, one would hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops that we mounted in 2001 will be an adequate response. In any event, when it comes to harboring terrorists, I am a lot more concerned about Pakistan than Afghanistan.

The war in Iraq is over, and has been for some time. Our mission there has been a success; how important a success depends not on us but on the Iraqis. For a predominantly Arab country, Iraq is doing well. At this point, we have done about all we can do. Our troops are no longer in a combat role, and we should bring them home, and honor their victory, on schedule.

There are several problems in these paragraphs.

First, as John admits, it quite possible (I would say likely) that the Taliban will allow Al Qaeda and its affiliates to set up shop again in Afghanistan.  For him to say, however, that we should “hope that drones, bombs and perhaps the kind of small-scale insertion of troops… will be an adequate response” is fanciful.

Those “drones” and “bombs” have to come from somewhere.  If we pull out, there will no longer be any bases from which to fly the drones and the “secret” bases in Pakistan will likely be closed down as well once it is clear to the Pakistanis that we are done.   As for the “small-scale insertion of troops,” I assume he is referring to the SOF and CIA teams that partnered with the Northern Alliance forces and rained down smart munitions on the Taliban positions.   Trouble is that there will be no Northern Alliance forces for these teams to partner with if we pull out.

Second, if the U.S. pulls its forces out as John suggests, there is very little likelihood that those forces will ever return again.  Even if the U.S. was capable of flying in sorties of long-range bombers and sending in cruise missiles, Al Qaeda has learned a thing or two since 2001 about nullifying the effects of long-range munitions.   Al Qaeda can expand into the remote areas of Afghanistan where the U.S. will be increasingly helpless to affect.  With the bombing option of little use, what chance is there that the American people will want want to re-commit troops after having gone through the national trauma of pulling forces out in disgrace? (And I dare anyone to say that doing so at this juncture would be anything other than a U.S. humiliation).  It is not going to happen.

Third, are we willing to face the unbelievable humanitarian crisis that will result when the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan?  Are we willing to accept into the U.S. as refugees the hundreds of thousands of Afghans that Hinderaker denigrates as “pederasts” and “tribal” and hopelessly backward?  We still have an ugly spot on our national honor from abandoning South Vietnam to the communist killers.    Anyone remember the Boat People?  The world well remembers how we abandoned the shia in Iraq to Saddam’s mass executions and tortures in 1991.   Are we willing to endure yet another flag of shame in Afghanistan?

Finally, the view espoused by Hinderaker and others is incredibly short-sighted.  Our best hope of eliminating Al Qaeda or keeping them disrupted is by having troops and bases in Afghanistan that allow us at least the option of ground action against their sanctuaries in Pakistan.   The only reason that we can even contemplate leaving Afghanistan is because we have not suffered any large-scale attacks since 2001.  That is remarkable in itself and should be kept in mind when contemplating withdrawal.

Our continuous presence in Afghanistan, while extremely problematic, deeply flawed and poorly run, gets at least some credit for keeping Al Qaeda on the defensive and ill-prepared to mount another large-scale attack against the U.S.    If, God forbid, Al Qaeda should pull off another 9/11-type attack and we can trace its origins to the Pakistani FATA camps, do you think we will want U.S. combat forces right next door in Afghanistan to go in and wipe out every, last camp and terrorist hideout?   You bet we will.   But if those forces are gone, our ability to make Al Qaeda pay (and to force our will upon Pakistan if they resist us crossing the border) is neutered.

(I cannot in good conscience leave off here without at least commenting on John’s statements above about Iraq.  As Herschel Smith has said on more than a few occasions, the U.S. achieved an incredible feat of arms in 2006-2007 by taking it to Al Qaeda and Sadr’s illegal militias only to risk most of those gains by hastily agreeing to a status of forces treaty with Iraq that severely restricted our forces there.   Since Obama’s election, the U.S. has been withdrawing troops at a pace that further jeopardizes our hard-won gains in security there.   Too much American blood and treasure has been invested in Iraq for us to simply throw up our hands and say, “Well, it’s up to the Iraqis now.  Good luck, we’re outta here!”  Iraq can and should be a major ally of ours in the most crucial spot in the Middle East.   We should be doing everything we can to ensure that we have a continuing military presence there as well as increasing diplomatic and economic ties.   We still have troops in Germany and Japan, for crying out loud.   How much more important is it to have troops or at least air bases in easy reach of Iran and the Persian Gulf — not to mention Syria and Israel?)

If the post by John Hinderaker is a real indication of the trends of conservative thinking (or the thinking of the public in general) then the U.S. is in big trouble in the world.

Can we save a few bucks from the budget by calling it quits in Afghanistan?  Sure, but even Hinderaker admits that the cost is comparatively small change.

Let me emphasize here that I do not advocate an unlimited and unconditional engagement in Afghanistan.   I have said before that if the U.S. is not serious about winning there, if we are simply using the precious lives of our combat forces as a political game or in some half-hearted program to get re-elected, then those forces should come home.   But the rational response to bad policy and poor management is not to shut everything down and hide under the bed at home, it is to recognize the problems and do something about it:  throw out the policy-makers and bad managers and implement a better approach.

It saddens me to think that John Hinderaker has gotten so discouraged with our Afghan policy that he would rather hide under the bed than use his considerable intellect to advocate for a better way.

India: America’s Natural Ally

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 11 months ago

More than two years ago when I (correctly) outlined the Taliban strategy for attacking lines of logistics, Steve Schippert and I were discussing (via e-mail) one potential alternative to my recommended logistical line through the Caucasus, namely India, from port (there are several capable of handling the flow of supplies) to Kabul, admittedly across terrain that is both Pakistani and Pakistani-claimed portions of Kashmir.  Nonetheless, if we were serious about the campaign in Afghanistan, it was an option if combined with strong political and military pressure on Pakistan to accept such an arrangement.  Furthermore, it would have been more conducive to security than the existing lines through Torkham and Chaman have been.

But partnership with India would serve many more useful purposes than mere logistics.  Austin Bay weighs in.

President Barack Obama’s looming post-election state visit to India is another indication of evolution and maturation — the incremental but genuine change measured in decades that marks the coalescing of U.S. and Indian global interests.

Media coverage has thus far portrayed the trip as either a presidential escape from an anticipated midterm electoral defeat or a multibillion dollar weapons-peddling expedition with the president as salesman in chief.

These near-term interpretations both contain a grain of truth, but they shouldn’t obscure the truly compelling story: the great U.S.-India rapprochement is one of the early 21st century’s major historic events. To illustrate, let’s go to the 21st century map of India, and view it and President Obama’s visit from the perspective of a Chinese admiral sitting in Beijing.

The Indian subcontinent physically dominates the Indian Ocean. China, seeking to assure a steady supply of raw materials and energy for its expanding economy, has invested a lot of time and money in Africa and the Middle East. Tankers carry oil from Sudan and merchant vessels cobalt from the Congo to Chinese ports. These ships pass through waters patrolled by the Indian Navy, which is a rather formidable and increasingly modern force.

Our Chinese admiral knows his history. China’s 1950 invasion of Tibet riled India. China’s military support of Pakistan and its clandestine encouragement of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program also irritate New Delhi. In 1962, India and China fought the Sino-Indian War along their Himalayan frontier. That war remains something of a “frozen” conflict politically, and given the altitude, literally. Despite negotiations, the border dispute is not quite resolved.

Should another conflict erupt, the Indian Navy is positioned to damage if not strangle China’s economy. Moreover, India just might have America on its side. For over two decades, American strategists have touted the logic of an Indo-American alliance based on linguistic and cultural connections, accelerating economic cooperation and — well, here’s the gist of it — an increasing interest in curbing Chinese hegemony in Asia.

Sept. 11 and Islamist terrorist attacks in India forge another common cause. As for mutual economic interests, an Indian technician fixing an American computer from a call center in Bangalore is a telling indicator. The Indian government, unlike China’s, does not fear global connectivity.

Chinese admirals aren’t the only ones who see the implications of this strategic merger. Diplomats in New Delhi and Washington are quite aware of it.

Mention “alliance” and the U.S. in the same sentence, however, and India’s left-wing parties go berserk. Indian ultra-nationalists who still rail about British colonialism remain deeply suspicious of political entanglements with the U.S. — though there seems to be little objection to cooperating with other former British colonies like Australia and Singapore.

So “alliance” is a word Indian and American diplomats intentionally avoid. Three years ago, I interviewed James Clad — at the time the Department of Defense’s deputy assistant secretary for South and Southeast Asia — about the prospects for a formal U.S.-India defense alliance. Clad demurred. “We’re not looking for an alliance with anyone. … It (the word “alliance”) sends a wrong signal,” for alliances “figure a real or potential opponent.” It was a deft answer. Why provoke the Chinese admiral?

Clad now teaches at the National Defense University. This past week, he told a Reuters reporter, “The maturation of U.S.-India defense ties is steady … .” That was another deft answer, and accurate.

The relationship between India, the developing giant, and the U.S., the developed giant, is maturing — and Obama’s presidential visit is part of this long, involved and delicate diplomatic process that began developing as the Cold War ended. It is in both India’s and America’s long-term interest that this process continue.

Mr. Bay has it right concerning the natural ally that India makes, but he is wrong about Mr. Obama’s visit to India.  This visit is entirely in response to the poor mid-administration elections, and if the elections had gone differently he would have been stateside preening and pushing his agenda forward.  Don’t doubt it for a second.  Truth be told, India should be rather offended that this is Mr. Obama’s rebound choice rather than being an initial focus when he took office.

Michael Yon is wiser, more measured and less fawning:

After much travels through India, I believe we are natural allies. We have much to learn and gain from each other. India and the United States should do what is natural. We should deepen our ties. Our relationship must be sincere and bonded.

And again:

Why should we want an even playing field between India and Pakistan? Pakistan exports terrorism. India does not. Pakistan is sliding backward. India is moving forward. India is a natural partner with the United States. Pakistan will stab us in the back.

Well, and indeed has stabbed us in the back many times.  Pakistan is an unnatural ally.  More to the point, Pakistan is no ally at all, and the tenuous relationship is founded upon largesse.  A relationship with India would be natural.  In fact, a reciprocal defense relationship (i.e., U.S. comes to the aid of India, India does the same for the U.S., weapons and intelligence is shared, etc.), is the only solution to Chinese regional hegemony.  A security agreement with India would be in my estimation far more valuable than even the relationship we currently have with NATO.

Mr. Obama’s trip to India, which stupidly and arrogantly  involves a platoon of Marines in the Taj Mahal, is only significant in its usurpation of India for a “feel good” drug after a poor election cycle.  India deserves more respect than that, and the U.S. deserves a President that will understand allies and enemies for who they are.

Pakistani Pathologies

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 9 months ago

We have discussed before the notion of the Pakistani pathological preoccupation with India, coupled at least in part with its negligence to see the existential threat to its own state by the Taliban.  But every once in a while a report comes along that almost needs no other data, commentary or elucidation in order to demonstrate the point.  The Sri Lanka Guardian has such a report.

Waziristan is a rugged mountainous area in the remote part of Pakistan. Its inhabitants, tribal people, have been devout Muslims. Over the years they learnt to blend their centuries old tribal traditions with Islamic teachings and thus their life was shaped both by Islam and tribal traditions.

As fiercely independent people they maintained their own legal system based on tribal traditions for centuries and the Pakistani laws do not apply there. However their loyalty to Pakistan remain unquestioned .Under such circumstances the question is how come these peace loving people suddenly became radicals and militants to fight their own country’s armed forces killing their own Muslim brothers and sisters.

The answer lies in the shocking discovery by the Pakistani armed forces of sophisticated weapons, besides large amount of foreign currencies, from United States, NATO, Israel and India following recent military operations to flush out what the West describe as Pakistani Talebans. However the most startling discovery was the presence of uncircumcised, non Muslim, Talebans among those killed raising eye brows though everyone knows who they are and what they were doing in South Waziristan.

An Islamabad datelined report by Akhtar Jamal on Wednesday, 21 October 2009 disclosed that hundreds of militants from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other associated groups are equipped with most sophisticated American, Indian and German weapons.

The weapons in their possession included U.S. made M249 automatic machine guns, and Glock pistols, Indian hand guns, FN Browning GP35 9mmx19mm, Indian automatic machine pistols GLOCK 17 9mmx19mm, Indian machine guns Heckler & Koch MP5A3 9mmx19mm, Indian made Sterling L2A1 sub machine guns, Israeli licensed Indian made UZI 9mmx19mm sub machine guns and German Walther-P1 pistols.

Pakistanis in general believe that the “Americans are not interested in Pakistan or its people despite their so called generous aid packages. The American strategy in Pakistan is to put Pakistani government against Pakistanis, provoke civil war and plunge the country into chaos to neutralize its nuclear arsenal that has been US neoconservatives’ urgent priority”.

Under the circumstance Pakistanis consider America to be the greatest threat, worse than the arch rival India, to their sovereignty and independence .They are aware that already a map showing a truncated Pakistan has been in circulation and the ever growing collaborations among India, Afghanistan US, Europe and Israel …

Recently, in the officer’s mess in Bajaur, the northern tribal region where the Pakistani Army is tied down fighting the militants, one officer told a visiting journalist that” Osama bin Laden does not exist”. It was something extremely exaggerated by Anglo American war mongers to justify their conspiracies to destabilize Muslim countries and loot their wealth. This is the reason why Pakistanis suspect that the wave of disappearances, torture and death squad assassinations in Pakistan are also “made in the US”.

Meanwhile American mercenaries were accused of bombing and killing innocent Pakistanis in their drive to put the Pakistani armed forces and the people of South Waziristan against each other in their design to do what they did in Iraq and Afghanistan-aggravate the conflict.

It is worthy to note that ,according to a former employee, Erik Prince, the founder and the boss of Blackwater, world’s most powerful mercenary army, accused in court papers of seeking to wipe out Muslims, views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the planet. These Blackwater mercenaries are in Pakistan and many suspect that they were behind most of the deadly attacks blamed on the Pakistani Taleban who promptly denied responsibility.

Thus the name of the game is same-destabilize Pakistan in the way Anglo American warmongers destabilized and virtually turned Iraq and Afghanistan into wastelands under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile in a report presented to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday 26 October 2009, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston described US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law …

It is common knowledge that India wanted to destabilize and partition Pakistan from the day it came into being in 1947.India played a crucial role in breaking up Pakistan and creating Bangladesh in its eastern wing exploiting the blunders of the Pakistani’s ruling elite.

Three decades later today India, hand in glove with American installed Hamid Karzai’s puppet regime, has 14 consulates in Afghanistan from which RAW operates The US has turned a blind eye. Pakistan has stockpiles of evidence against Indian consulates in Afghanistan used to fund terrorism in Pakistan through Baitullah Mehsud’s TTP as well as Brahamdagh Bugti and his Baluch Liberation Army-BLA.

According to Pakistani daily DAWN, a dossier containing proof of India’s involvement in “subversive activities” in Pakistan was handed over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh during their meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2009.The dossier, broadly covering the Indian connection in terror financing in Pakistan, is also said to list the safe houses run by RAW in Afghanistan where terrorists are trained and launched for missions in Pakistan. The dossier also mentions an India-funded training camp in Kandahar where Baluch insurgents were being trained and provided arms and ammunition for sabotage activities in the Pakistani province.

Confirming the Indian support to TTP in Pakistan the Foreign Policy magazine said: “the Indians are up to their necks in supporting the Taliban against the Pakistani government in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The same anti-Pakistani forces in Afghanistan also shoot at American soldiers getting support from India which should close its diplomatic establishments in Afghanistan and get the Christ out of there.”

“Afghan officials have also confirmed that India is using Afghanistan to stir trouble and destabilize Pakistan and Afghan security agencies are unable to stop Indian intervention due to absence of centralized government mechanism”, said Afghan Government’s Advisor, Ehsanullah Aryanzai on sidelines of Pak-Afgan Parliamentary Jirga at a local hotel on April 2, 2009.

The RAW is operating out of U.S. bases, Erik Prince is a Christian crusader on a mission to kill Muslims (rather than a clever businessman), the U.S. is funding the Mehsuds (while we also killed Baitullah by a drone strike), the U.S. (who already has quite enough nuclear weapons) is after Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, UBL doesn’t exist but is a fabricated figment of our imaginations as a surrogate for a war that is really designed to destroy Pakistan – and so on – and on – and on.

One wonders when the author is going to claim that he was abducted by Martians and taken for interrogation by green men with big heads.  This is so bad that it should be embarrassing, and I actually wonder why the Sri Lanka Guardian published it, except to demonstrate the extreme pathologies that reside just next door in Pakistan.

Pakistani Obsession with India

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

In The Afghanistan Strategy we discussed one problem with the administration plan, namely reliance on more money being a precursor to Pakistani operations against the Taliban.  Some powerful people in Pakistan don’t really believe that the Taliban are a threat to Pakistan’s stability, and still believe in using them as a counterbalance to what they see as the real threat: India.

This obsession is so severe, so embedded, and so thoroughgoing that the U.S. policy makers do not understand it and have not yet adequately incorporated this characteristic of Pakistani culture and politics into the calculus for moving forward with stability in Asia.

Case in point.  The PakTribune recently carried a stunning commentary on the relationships of the various intelligence forces involved in Pakistan.  It is simply so breathtakingly incredible that it bears at least partial reproduction below.

It is now getting clear as to why FATA has been declared most dangerous place on earth. After making series of allegations that FATA is the main breeding ground where militants and suicide bombers are trained for launching into Afghanistan; where the entire senior leadership of Al-Qaeda and Taliban is housed; and from where possible attack on US homeland would take off, so far not a single training camp has been located in FATA, nor any high-profile militant leader nabbed or killed. This is in spite of continuous hovering of spy planes and next door US-NATO troops equipped with latest state-of-the-art surveillance and detection gadgets breathing over Pakistan’s neck, and RAW-CIA-Mossad agents having infiltrated into FATA in big numbers. If CIA controlled drones can hit suspected houses, madrassas and Hujras based on intelligence, why have they been unable to detect so-called training sites and the top wanted leaders? Why have the drones not taken a pot shot at Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah if the US considers Pakistani Taliban a threat?

The fact is that whatever has been said about FATA is pack of white lies uttered with sinister designs. All sorts of harrowing stories were cooked up to justify drone attacks as well as ground raids in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. Blatant lies are similar to the WMD falsehood to justify invasion of Iraq. Why not Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan or for that matter India which has become the hub-centre of extremism and terrorism been added to the list of most dangerous places?

Stop here.  In order to get the full force of the cultural obsession with India in this commentary, let’s rehearse a bit.  The RAW (Research & Analysis Wing, India’s intelligence services), the CIA and the Mossad are said to be in cahoots with each other.  Literally, the intelligence services of the U.S., India and Israel are claimed to be working together in Pakistan!  Israel doesn’t have its hands full with Hamas and Hezbollah, and even has the time to involve their assets in Pakistan.  Why would something like this come to pass?  Keep reading.

Other than the militants, which the US is keen to eliminate, Pakistan army and the ISI also continue to remain in CIA’s firing line. CIA is deliberately leaking out stories in US leading newspapers while CNN, Fox News drum beats scandalous news on electronic media to malign the two institutions.  The allegations made against the two institutions range from collaboration with the Taliban and playing a double game. The themes played are: One, the army is either incapable of dealing with militants or is soft towards them; Two, the army has surrendered FATA and Swat to the Taliban; Three, the army uses the Taliban as a weapon to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan; Four, the army is not under civil government control; Five, the ISI trains, equips and launches militants into Pakistan to hit Afghan-Nato targets.

Well, this is a fairly comprehensive and accurate list of the problems endemic to the Pakistani military.  A hit dog always yelps, as the saying goes.  Continuing:

The CIA and ISI have always enjoyed cordial relations. The Afghan war against the Soviets brought the two very close to each other. This closeness got reinvigorated when Pakistan volunteered to become the frontline state against war on terror. The two sailed along smoothly till as late as 2007 after which there was a sudden shift in CIA’s attitude. This change in attitude occurred after ISI learnt about CIA playing a double game in FATA and Baluchistan by providing all out assistance to RAW to destabilize the marked regions. When ISI became cautious and started to take protective measures, it irked CIA and started to distance itself. CIA’s relations with Pak army and the ISI became strained when the army-ISI outspread details of drug trade in Afghanistan in which CIA, RAW and Mossad were deeply involved … It transpired that CIA assisted by India was sponsoring multi-billon dollar Afghan drug trade. The duo banks on $3 trillion worth of drug money each year, generated through heroin production and its subsequent sale across the world. Drug money is used by CIA for carrying out covert operations in the world. RAW utilizes drug money for running tens of training camps, for recruiting and equipping agents and suicide bombers and funding dissident elements within Pakistan.

The scenario has now become rather twisted.  The CIA-RAW-Mossad coalition is supposedly involved in the drug trade in order to raise money for international operations.  That the very source of income would be in jeopardy if the destabilization occurred from CIA operations doesn’t matter.  The fact that the CIA would be involved in something (i.e., funding the Taliban with drug money) that ran contrary to the objectives of the Army and Marines in Afghanistan doesn’t matter.  Consistency, according to this author, must be the hobgoblin of little minds.

We needn’t go any further with this commentary.  No doubt this author has his sources inside the Pakistan Army.  And no doubt these sources also believe their fantasies, at least to some degree.  The sad part is that Talibanization of the NWFP, FATA, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad continue unabated while the Army concocts elaborate schemes and fairly tales to convince themselves that they have an evil neighbor.  In fact, they do.  They just happen to fear the wrong one.  Until we understand this aspect of Pakistani politics, we are operating from an impoverished perspective.

India and the West: Profiles in the Politics of War

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

In Miliband Encourages Terrorism we covered the recent visit to India, the connection drawn by Miliband between the Mumbai attacks and the solution to Kashmir, and the hardening of the Indian world view as a result of this political pressure.

Continuing with but expanding on this same theme, Professor M.D. Nalapat of Manipal University gives us a raw reaction to the Miliband visit and the message he brought.

Someone forgot to tell Britain’s foreign secretary and would-be prime minister, David Miliband, that the Union Jack no longer flies over New Delhi’s Viceregal Palace, now renamed “Rashtrapati Bhavan,” or “Head of the Nation House.” During his visit to India last month, his hosts found Miliband’s conduct and views so offensive that a relatively junior official from the External Affairs Ministry was trotted out to insist that India did not need “unsolicited” advice.

The official was referring to Miliband’s motif during the visit – that New Delhi ought to make concessions on Kashmir so the Pakistan army would assist NATO with more sincerity and efficacy than it has since the 2001 NATO-Taliban war started in Afghanistan.

Clearly, Miliband is unaware of the dynamics of decision making in a democracy. He appears to view India in the same league as China, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, in each of which a single institution – the Communist Party, the army and the monarchy, respectively – calls the shots.

Were Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to follow Miliband’s peremptory advice – enabling the Pakistan army to gain through diplomacy concessions that they have thus far been unable to wrest by jihad – not only would domestic politics in India be inflamed to Bangladeshi proportions, but the Wahabbis that control the Pakistan army would be able to recover some of the ground they have lost with regard to public opinion and moderate civil society.

As for Afghanistan, Miliband has fallen into the same delusion as did former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2001 – that the Pakistan army is interested in the defeat of the Taliban. In reality, so dense are the linkages between the army and the Taliban that the lower ranks would sabotage any order from the generals to seriously do battle with the jihadists, should any of the top brass give such a command …

It is ironic that elements in so many NATO states would like to see India punished in Kashmir for achieving precisely what the alliance has itself failed to do in Afghanistan, which is to beat back the jihadists. In 2001, this writer suggested to friends in the U.S. administration that it was India rather than Pakistan that would be the more desirable ally in the War on Terror. But George W. Bush chose Pakistan. Fortunately for him, he will be on perhaps the second volume of his memoirs before the consequences of this error of judgment become evident in his country.

The Captain’s Journal has discussed the Pakistani duplicity before too, and it’s time to update this perspective with more recent observations, but first we’ll briefly rehearse some background.  In Joint Ingelligence Centers, we warned against the use of isolated joint intelligence centers due to the difficulty of force protection.  But we assumed that these centers would actually be conducting aggressive and meaningful intelligence gathering.  As it turns out, this assumption may be false, and thus far these centers have not been successful due to the Pakistani forces.

Some U.S. military officers say mistrust among the staff of a new intelligence outpost in Afghanistan’s remote Khyber Pass is limiting its effectiveness.

While officers remain hopeful about the Khyber Border Coordination Center, the security situation along the critical supply lines in the area remains dicey, the Washington Post reported Monday.

NATO, Afghan and Pakistani troops man the center with the goal of reducing Taliban activity and keeping trade and military supplies moving.

Along with language and logistical issues still being worked out, there has been some grumbling that the Pakistani contingent has been less than enthusiastic about cracking down on guerrillas and local bandits.

“There’s a hell of a lot of lip service,” said one U.S. officer who remained anonymous. “The Pakistanis talk a good game but don’t play a good game.”

This perspective of Pakistani intentions isn’t dissimilar to that of Professor Nalapat.  In fact, it’s a fairly safe bet that India’s current administration is not only confirmed in its intention to combat terror within its own borders, but that it’s message to Miliband was only a warmup for the same thing for the U.S. administration.

India has warned US President Barack Obama that he risks “barking up the wrong tree” if he seeks to broker a settlement between Pakistan and India over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

MK Narayanan, India’s national security advisor, said that the new US administration was in danger of dredging up out of date Clinton administration-era strategies in a bid to bring about improved ties between the two nuclear armed neighbours.

“I do think that we could make President Obama understand, if he does nurse any such view, that he is barking up the wrong tree. I think Kashmir today has become one of the quieter and safer places in this part of the world,” Mr Narayanan said in an interview with CNBC TV18.

“It’s possible that at this time there are elements, perhaps in the administration who are harking back to the pre-2000 era.”

The message is consistent, whether from the administration in India or Professor Nalapat.  Kashmir is a success for India.  Jihad has been beaten back, and to suggest that it be placed on the bargaining block is a reversion to the politics of previous administrations.  It simply won’t be acceptable.

A one final note, as a favor to Medvedev who recently pledged two billion in financial aid, the only remaining air base in central Asia, Manas in Kyrgyzstan, is soon to close, making air supplies to Afghanistan much more difficult.  Yet consider a map of Jammu and Kashmir, and the possibility of sea transit of supplies to India, truck transport to Indian-administered Kashmir, and then overflights to Afghanistan.

India may indeed be a far better and more productive partner in the global counterinsurgency in which we are engaged than Pakistan.

Miliband Encourages Terrorism

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

Sanjeev Miglani with Reuters gives us the news about the visit of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband to India.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband may yet end up achieving the opposite of what he intended in India when he called for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the interests of regional security.

To some Indians, linking the attacks in Mumbai - which New Delhi says originated from Pakistan – to the issue of Kashmir is not just insensitive, it is also a wake-up call. The lesson they have drawn is this: for all the world’s sense of outrage over Mumbai, India will have to deal with Pakistan on its own, and not expect foreign powers to lean on its neighbour in the manner it wants.

Miliband’s visit was a “jarring reminder to India to stop off-shoring its Pakistan policy,” writes Indian security affairs analyst Brahma Chellaney in the Asian Age. He then goes on to call for a set of measures including a military option short of war to weaken Pakistan …

But this may well be a pointer to a stiffening mood in India as it heads into an election that could bring the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party into power. And then all bets would be off as to what would be India’s policy towards Pakistan.

Over the weekend, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani gathered a bunch of military chiefs, security analysts and party bosses, and the verdict from that meeting was India had been too soft on Pakistan.

“After Mumbai, any self-respecting government would have adopted a much more robust response which alone could compel Pakistan to not only bring to book those behind the incident but also to wind down the infrastructure of terror,” the BJP said in a statement. “Instead India adopted the mildest of response, not like an emerging global player.”

Thanks to Miglani for a good report.  So that the import of what Miliband has done in India doesn’t escape, let’s rehearse a bit.

Miliband has taken the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, recently conducted out of Karachi, Pakistan, and connected them to the solution to Kashmir.  This is simply breathtaking.  In order to placate Pakastan and ensure regional stability, Miliband counsels coming to an understanding over Kashmir.

But the fact that such a tactic would encourage exactly the opposite escapes Miliband.  We have discussed the Pakistani duplicity before, where the ISI and Pakistan Army has used and is currently using the Taliban as a buffer for what it sees as its real enemies, Afghanistan and especially India.  Coming to a “mutual understanding” over Kashmir, especially as it relates to the connection of Mumbai with Kashmir, would only encourage the strategy of use of the Taliban and the terror tactics they promulgate.  When success is achieved, the action is confirmed.

Regardless of whether a mutual understanding is achieved over Kashmir, the connection of it to the Mumbai attacks is the worst possible foreign policy imaginable for Britain or any Western country.  And what Miliband accomplished was not the connection of Kashmir to Mumbai, but rather, the hardening of India and its worldview.

Nice job.  The law of unintended consequences.  Learn it.  As for Miliband, the Brits have an administration that perfectly follows in the footsteps of Neville Chamberlain.  Chamberlain didn’t think about unintended consequences either.

Pakistan Redeploying Troops to Indian Border

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

Pakistan is beginning troops movement away from the North West Frontier Province towards the border with India.

Pakistan began moving thousands of troops from the Afghan border toward India, officials and witnesses said Friday, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors and possibly undermining the U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The country also announced that it was canceling all military leave in the aftermath of last month’s terror attack on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai.

Glenn Reynolds speculates that this is the effect that the Mumbaiattacks were intended to produce.  Most certainly so, and The Captain’s Journal forecast this effect one month ago.

While the new Pakistan administration sees the need for the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda, the Pakistan Army mostly doesn’t and wishes not to be fighting their own people. The Army also has an almost pathological preoccupation with India, and the rumblings in India over the Mumbai attacks have given both the Pakistan Army and the Tehrik-i-Taliban the perfect cover to end their cooperation with the U.S. and NATO over the Taliban safe haven in the Pakistan FATA and NWFP.

This has long term ramifications for the campaign in Afghanistan, but the most serious ramification is a short term one having to do with lines of logistics.  Recent large scale attacks on NATO supply lines through Khyber (in Peshawar) were newsworthy for their magnitude and scope, but the chronic persistence and results of these attacks is the important story.

For NATO the most serious problem is not even the depots in Peshawar but the safety of the road that winds west to the 3,500-foot Khyber Pass. The route used to be relatively secure: Afriditribesman were paid by the government to safeguard it, and they were subject to severe penalties and collective tribal punishment for crimes against travelers.

But now the road is a death trap, truckers and some security officials say, with routine attacks like one on Sunday that burned a fuel tanker and another last Friday that killed three drivers returning from Afghanistan.

“The road is so unsafe that even the locals are reluctant to go back to their villages from Peshawar,” said Gul Naseem, who lives in Landi Kotal, near the border.

The largest truckers’ association here has gone on strike to protest the lack of security, saying that the job action has sidelined 60 percent of the trucks that normally haul military goods. An American official denied that the drop-off had been that severe.

“Not a single day passes when something doesn’t happen,” said Shakir Afridi, leader of the truckers’ group, the Khyber Transport Association. He said at least 25 trucks and six oil tankers were destroyed this month. “Attacks have become a daily affair,” he said.

This means that the potential logistical supply via Georgia being pursued by the Pentagon takes on urgent importance.  The upcoming Obama administration might have to make some tough decisions regarding Georgia.  “Georgia is the center of gravity in this plan, and our willingness to defend her and come to her aid might just be the one thing that … saves Georgia as a supply route.”

Russia has thrown down the gauntlet regarding her intended future and what she considers to be her near-abroad.  “In the latest of a series of combative moves by the Kremlin, a senior government official in Moscow said the Russian military would commission 70 strategic missiles over the next three years, as part of a massive rearmament programme which will also include short-range missiles, 300 tanks, 14 warships and 50 planes.”

The nexus of Vladimir Putin’s aspirations, the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, and the future of the Russian near-abroad has been all but ensured by the Taliban program to interdict supplies in Khyber, and more specifically by less than a platoon of well-trained teenagers who inflicted terror on Mumbai for three days in late 2008.

Prior:

U.S-Georgia Strategic Partnership

The Logistical Battle: New Lines of Supply to Afghanistan

The Search for Alternate Supply Routes to Afghanistan

Large Scale Taliban Operations to Interdict Supply Lines

More on Lines of Logistics for Afghanistan

How Many Troops Can We Logistically Support in Afghanistan?

Targeting of NATO Supply Lines Through Pakistan Expands

Logistical Difficulties in Afghanistan

Taliban Control of Supply Routes to Kabul

Interdiction of U.S. Supplies in Khyber Pass

The Torkham Crossing

Taliban and al Qaeda Strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Pakistan Turns Attention to India, Ignores Radicalization Within

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

In Pakistan Declares Baitullah Mehsud Patriot we warned that the Taliban and even the power structure within the Army might use the Mumbai attack in India to turn attention away from the Taliban and towards India.

While the new Pakistan administration sees the need for the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda, the Pakistan Army mostly doesn’t and wishes not to be fighting their own people. The Army also has an almost pathological preoccupation with India, and the rumblings in India over the Mumbai attacks have given both the Pakistan Army and the Tehrik-i-Taliban the perfect cover to end their cooperation with the U.S. and NATO over the Taliban safe haven in the Pakistan FATA and NWFP.

The cultural milieu is amenable to this persuasion to distrust India.

Fateh Khan doesn’t know much about the fight against terrorism. He doesn’t know much about the attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last week, either. But if there is one thing the Pakistani taxi driver feels sure about, it’s that after three wars, India — not terrorism — remains the No. 1 threat to his country.

“Every Pakistani is clear that India is the enemy state,” Khan said. “Pakistan has always tried to live at peace with India. But India has not tried for peace.”

As we forecast, the Taliban are indeed using the Mumbai incident as a means to turn attention away from themselves and towards India, even offering to assist the Pakistan Army in a fight with India.

Taliban fighters battling Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border volunteered Tuesday to fight alongside the army if war breaks out with traditional foe India over the Mumbai attacks.

Analysts say the offer is meant to fan the flames of anti-Hindu sentiment and draw support away from Islamabad’s fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the tribal regions close to Afghanistan.

The government, which is appealing for calm, has not responded to it.

“That is what they would love, to see the attention of the Pakistan army shift from the tribal areas to the eastern border with India,” said defense analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.

The Taliban’s offer came in a video recording by its deputy chief, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, that was made available to reporters Tuesday.

“If India launches a war on Pakistan, we will divide the fight into two parts. The air defense will be the responsibility of the military, and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan will fight the war on ground,” he said. “If it makes a mistake to attack Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Taliban will defend Pakistan and Islam.”

Pakistan still doesn’t understand the internal threat posed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban.  Brothers in religious persuasion – maybe or maybe not.  But they are certainly not interested in Pakistan staying status quo in the future.

We have discussed and detailed the Talibanization of Karachi, and Peshawar was essentially Talibanized a half year ago.  The extent of Taliban influence is now even expanding to Lahore.  But a vivid indication of just how deep the dark underworld goes into the Pakistan power structure is seen in the recent execution of a former Pakistani General.

A top former Pakistani army officer, who was the brother-in-law of Indian-origin novelist and Nobel laureate V S Naipaul, was murdered after he “threatened” to expose Pakistani Generals for ‘deals’ with Taliban militants, a media report said today.

Major-General Faisal Alavi, a former head of Pakistan’s special forces who was murdered last month in Islamabad, had named two generals in a letter to the Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani and had said he would “furnish all relevant proof,” the report said.

Alavi, brother of Naipaul’s wife Nadira, did not live to fulfil it. Aware that he was risking his life, Alavi gave a copy of the proof to a Sunday Times correspondent and asked him to publish it if he was killed.

Four days later, he was driving through Islamabad when his car was ambushed by another vehicle. At least two gunmen opened fire from either side, shooting him eight times killing him and his driver, the paper said.

The letter from Major-General Faisal Alavi is available in PDF format.  The rot runs deep within Pakistan, and yet the attention of the country, much like that of the taxi driver, is squarely on India.  Pakistan is currently in dire danger and may cease to exist as a viable democracy, and yet the Pakistan Army wants to fight with India and the population is, generally speaking, willing to suffer the Taliban and acquiesce to their rule.  It is a dark day in Pakistan, and while very few signs of real resistance to the Taliban are forthcoming, time is short to stem the tide of radicalization of an entire nation.

Prior: Games of Duplicity in Pakistan

The Mumbai Attacks and American Imperialism

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 11 months ago

While some speculation exists as to the possibility that the attacks in Mumbai are from home-grown terrorists, it appears that there was at least some involvement by foreign fighters, and specifically, from Karachi, Pakistan.

The terrorists who carried out multiple strikes in Mumbai yesterday landed on Indian shores on a boat that had set sail from Karachi before anchoring in one of the many barren islands in the Rann of Kutch along Gujarat’s coastline.

The 25-30 terrorists then used smaller boats to reach the Mumbai shores the same day they struck at 12 locations in the country’s financial capital. “They landed at Sasoon dock (off the Gateway of India) and reached the metropolis using rubber dinghies. We have information about their route, which we would share in time to come,” said the Special Secretary (Internal Security), Mr ML Kumawat.

The attacks have exposed India’s 7,516-km-long vulnerable coastline. It has shown that terrorists can create a Kargil-like situation along India’s coastline to harbour terror modules in the 1,200-odd barren islands and attack over 200 sensitive strategic installations spread across the country.

There is also a certain shock and dread among Indians that accompanies this attack.

India’s cities are no strangers to indiscriminate terror attacks. Such attacks have occurred regularly, and with steadily increasing frequency, in recent years. Mumbai, India’s financial capital, has been targeted before …

So what is new about Mumbai, November 2008? The obvious novelty is the use of frontal assault tactics instead of timed explosive devices.

This is new in the urban Indian context. There was one notable exception – an attack by a five-man squad armed with rifles and grenades on India’s Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001.

The attackers were narrowly prevented by alert staff from gaining access to the building, where hundreds of parliamentarians and ministers were attending a session.

They were gunned down near the entrance by security personnel after an hour-long battle. Nine guards and parliament stewards also died.

This attack led to the crisis of 2002 between India and Pakistan.

The Indian government blamed Pakistani religious radicals, and embarked on a major military build-up on the border with Pakistan, to which Pakistan responded with its own mobilisation.

The stand-off eventually wound down later in 2002 after months of tension and brinkmanship.

But frontal assaults, usually carried out by two-man teams firing semi-automatic rifles and lobbing grenades, were the favoured tactic of the insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir between 1999 and 2003 …

The tactic is thus not without precedent, but the mayhem in Mumbai may nonetheless mark a new chapter in the evolution of urban terrorism in India.

Bombs planted in markets and on commuter trains kill and maim working-class and middle-class Indians.

The gunmen who attacked two luxury hotels, and a fashionable cafe frequented by visiting Westerners, have brought the “war” – as they see it – to India’s elite class, and to affluent Westerners living in or visiting India’s most cosmopolitan city.

Analysis

There might be a sense of sympathetic understanding among Americans, as if we’ve seen this before with 9/11 and understand all about the war being brought to one’s doorstep. But when thoughtfully considered, this sentiment doesn’t stand the test of reasonableness, or even magnitude, for what could have been or what could be in the future.

This analysis doesn’t minimize the suffering of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, or the magnitude of effort and commitment to respond to the initial or delayed affects of 9/11. But considered analysis forces the conclusion that there is a nontrivial chance that we haven’t seen the worst yet. The so-called Hamburg cell, at the direction of al Qaeda command, attacked symbolic targets, but left face-to-face confrontations in the streets for engagements they had hoped would come later by other jihadists.

They fundamentally left important (and remarkably soft) infrastructure unmolested. Terror would be multiplied in the future by fighters targeting women and children in shopping malls. A few hundred fighters would cause untold death among innocent and unprotected civilians, and cause terror on a heretofore unparalleled level. New York is still far away from the heartland of America. The local shopping mall is not. A few hundred fighters could cause tens of thousands of deaths.

Furthermore, the basic infrastructure still functioned after 9/11, even if the economy suffered for a period of time. Targeting the right (relatively unprotected) medium or high voltage transformers on the electrical grid of America would literally shut down industry and business in America. These are components that don’t sit on the shelves in great numbers and which must be fabricated, and upon losing the electrical grid, the power wouldn’t even be available to manufacture these components, at least for weeks or months. What is now easy to Google and purchase over the internet would become very scarce upon thousands being destroyed. Granted, this would take involvement of more fighters than were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but Mumbai is in significant trouble over much fewer fighters.

Targeting the right infrastructure could lead to economic consequences more catastrophic than 9/11 by an order of magnitude or more. And hence, it takes a special naivety to dismiss so easily the issues surrounding so-called American imperialism, as if the actions of a “meddling” armed forces must necessarily be evil because they are anticipatory rather than reactionary.

There are certainly unintended consequences to American imperialism, and the practice of fighting wars on soil other than our own is a costly affair, both monetarily and in terms of the human sacrifice. But there are also unintended consequences to isolationism too, and one such consequence might very well be that the sacrifice is even more costly when the fight is in one’s own back yard.

The ones affected by tactics described above might be constrained to reconsider just who the evil one is after such attacks: the leader who meddled in the affairs of other nations, or the leader who failed to anticipate the danger and dire consequences of failing to act before the terror came to our own shores.

Postscript: In anticipation of the charge that articles such as this give the terrorists ideas, it isn’t the terrorists who need ideas. They already know which targets are hard and which ones are soft. Before making the charge, the reader should consider the question, “why is it that I don’t want to hear this information?” The terrorists already know it.


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