Sunday, May 20, 2007

Confrontation at Lal Masjid: A Pakistani Bluestar in the works

It appears that the confrontation at the Lal Masjid is slipping into a Pakistani version of Bluestar.

It may be recalled that Op Bluestar in 1984, was able to check the slide in the security situation, however both actions deeply alienated the Sikh population and the deeply controversial operation still inflames passions among people today.

The tactical success of Bluestar was limited by the availability of actionable intelligence to the conflict resolution team. At least a part of this failure was due to the demoralisation of the Punjab Police and the infiltration of Bhindranwale sympathizers into the ranks of the local administration and political groups. The ineffectiveness of the Punjab Police effectively blinded the conflict resolution team and led them down a path which prevented a surgical solution of the dispute.

In Pakistan, the conflict resolution team will have to rely on support from ISI and their role in this matter has been dictated by their interest in keeping good offices with the various Jihadi groups. It is unlikely they will approach the provision of intelligence support to this operation with any degree of enthusiasm. And so any operation of this nature is going to quickly run aground, even if the ISI just assumes a passive agressive posture.

The analogy between Maulana Abdul Aziz and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale grows. It may be worthwhile for the old hands re-read Bulbul Brar's book at this point to see what other similarities pop up.


At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I still feel that the Lal Masjid drama has been staged to scare Musharaff's western audience into providing support to him on the Chief Justice issue and more broadly restoring democracy (whatever that means in Pakistan), the upcoming elections and the issue of him retaining his dual positions as COAS and President.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

The drama is always staged but often poorly scripted. The parts where violence occurs can be poorly choreographed.

The situation in Lal Masjid has reached a stage where the open defiance of Musharraf's authority by the Lal Masjid leadership can no longer simply be ignored.

If Musharraf's people are to successfully resolve this issue and perpetuate their grip on power, they have to effect a surgical conflict resolution.

The key to achieving this surgically is having detailed intelligence of the situation on the ground inside the Masjid.

Without the ISI's enthusiastic support Musharraf's boys can't organise a takedown without **heavy** collateral damage.

Ghazi and Aziz know this and hence are seen marshalling their forces nationwide.

In the showdown, Ghazi and Aziz will lose and probably die. That is a foregone conclusion. The psychological impact of their martyrdom, well that is up for debate but the I imagine that sections of the ISI are not averse to letting Musharraf's boys get banged up a bit. After all how else will they learn not to go about doing things with the proper consultations.

A long time ago, on the disreputable forum, a model was drawn up where the polarisation inside Pakistani society would reach a peak and the Army of Islam and the Army of America would go to war with each other and the ISI would place itself at the fulcrum of such a conflict. By deliberately controlling the flow of information the ISI would decide which way the balance would tilt in each battle.

It appears such circumstances have come to pass.


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