Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An appraisal of the situation in Hyderabad

I wish to start by expressing my heartfelt grief for those who have lost near and dear ones in this tragedy. I note with pessimism that an increasingly younger India is restless for some action by its government. As the older people sit and consider the options, they grow weary of the youngsters breathing down on their necks. Perhaps the young do not yet understand the need to abjure from Roman style blood sport - but the old know what sorrow comes from getting addicted to the habit of killing.

In the hope that I have the limited attention span of the youth, I point out the following. It is physically impossible to secure the country against attacks on soft-targets. To disperse security forces in that manner would be detrimental to national security. We must, therefore, focus what little resources we can spare from existing duties to cope with this situation.

The evidence suggests that an attempt at mass casualty terrorism was carried out in Hyderabad. The trail of evidence points towards Pakistan, however given the disproportionate presence of Pak-centric groups in the illegal arms trade and drug trafficing/financial networks it is not entirely surprising that such links have emerged.

The question now is about the intentions of the people who organised these events.

From what we see, the intent does not appear to be punitive. Mass casualty attacks by groups are usually carried out as a punitive or retaliatory measure for strikes on their top leadership or for behaviour that threatens the group's survival. India does not do such things, so I venture that intent is not punitive.

As things stand today in Pakistan, the Musharraf regime is rapidly crumbling. What little control it had over the actions of Jihadi groups is failing. The Jihadis are becoming more and more assertive, as you have all seen they are murdering Pakistani armymen in broad daylight - the method of execution is identical to that used in slaying non-muslims. For all practical purposes the Pakistani Army has lost all moral authority - it is seen as little more than an army of crusaders.

It is plausible that this attack was organised by someone in the hope that it forces India's hand in the events in Pakistan.

For example, a member of the Musharraf regime may have organised these attacks in the belief that it would poison India's relationships with the Jihadi groups and create the threat of an Indian invasion. Such a threat could in theory be leveraged by the Pakistani Army to promote its grip on power - remember the Pakistan Army projects itself as the only thing keeping India at bay - any confrontation with India works to its benifit.

Another possible scenario is that someone in a Jihadi group may have become convinced that Indian intervention was necessary to remove Musharraf, and to that end a deliberate provocation was slipped our way. Such a person would hope that in our anger with Musharraf, we would force him to do something, and that something would serve as the trigger for the anti-Musharraf coup that has been boiling away under the surface.

A third possibility is that an external power seeks to know what exactly India's cards are in the upcoming turmoil in Pakistan. India as you know has assiduously maintained communication channels to all segments of the Pakistani popultion. However as is typical of most PMOs, this PMO despite all the harassment has kept its views and intentions to itself. It is anyone's guess whether we support the Pakistan Army, the Jihadis, or some other brand of Pakistani politics.
The process of investigating the blasts could in theory reveal some of GoI's intentions. Such a revelation could possibly be the intelligence coup of century.

All three scenarios would have the perpetrators relying on India's cautious reluctance on intervening in Pakistan internal affairs as a crude escalation control.

While such matters are up for debate and investigation, it is possible to say with certainity what the consequences of these terrible events are. We are witnessing a polarising effect within Indian society. Muslims are increasingly identified as perpetrators without specific proof. It is one thing for a police officer investigating a crime to identify a perpetrator - this is part of his/her job. It is completely something else for random people to start point fingers without proof or investigation. That is prejudice. Prejudice exists everywhere and it is rearing its ugly head in this case too.

Allow me to extend the line of thinking proposed by Sri. Vikram Sood in his earlier article on the threat posed by Pakistan - i.e. the ability of Pakistan to intice communal polarisation in India. What Pakistan can do others can as well.

Another completely independent line of thinking is that an external power has chose to deliberately accentuate communal divides in India in a bid to influence a critical decision. As you all know crucial debates are underway on the nuclear deal with NPT states, and a concern has been expressed by India's muslims that getting too close to the US may be detrimental for India's relationship with the Muslim world in general. There is considerable hostility towards this suggestion already as Indians of all religions are suffering under the heavy prices imposed on carbon fuels by so-called Muslim states. A situation where further communal polarisation occurs is undesirable as it adds to the difficulty associated with the aforementioned discussion.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Nuclear Deal: Politics Takes Center Stage

I have been repeatedly asked to comment on the situation in India.

I can't comment on an internal political matter.

From a somewhat pale technical perspective, ultimately energy is energy, whether it comes from Saudi oil, Iranian oil, Chinese Uranium or Spent Fuel, or American/Australian Uranium, it is still energy.

Diversification is the ideal way of securing the proposed fuel bank and to that end *whatever* needs to be done... **will** have to be done. It is true that our American friends have suggested that they will help us seek out alternatives if there is a disruption, but why take chances?

I do wish to inform our neighbours that I am making a note of their desire to test. Ofcourse the foreign office statement was pretty clear that the test would in response to an Indian test and I make note of that as well.

It is very interesting to see Pakistan still talking like this. With each passing day - the exact price of indulging in bottomless "India-Hatred" is becoming obvious. The military - which prides itself on holding the Pakistani state together - is itself falling apart. And yet - the Pakistani establishment shows no signs of learning from its mistakes.

Even today the LHCBA seeks to appoint Dr. A. Q. Khan as the President in place of Musharraf. The Pakistani establishment still believes that projecting this nuclear taveez (talisman) in the face of its people is going to somehow protect Pakistan from the apocalypse that it is headed towards. Somehow by shouting the word "NUCLEAR" in a crowded room - Pakistan will become immortal.

It does not pay to insult death like this.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lal Masjid: Feudalism v/s Democracy

Too much is being made about the Judiciary and its role in challenging Musharraf. I was asked questions about the seriousness of this Judicial activism by people I expected would know better and that is why I am posting this up here.

The Judiciary today is largely a vehicle for feudalism in Pakistan. After independence the feudals (most prominently the Punjabi clans) seized control of the government. Through that control, they made absolutely sure that their large land holdings and unhealthy labour practices were protected from the reach of the law. The feudals established a firm grip on legal affairs ensuring that no one would be able to truly challenge their economic or social power bases.

A small fraction of the feudals used the capital generated in this fashion to set up industries and a few of these did very well. Yet others leveraged their industrial production to set up banks and engage workforces in the urban areas of Pakistan. The feudals of Pakistan used the social position to secure the access to information in both the agricultural and industrial centers. If you wanted a job - you had to get a feudal family to sign off on it - otherwise you had a minimal chance of success.

However as the urban populations of Pakistan grew in the last 50 years, the power of the agro economy shrank. Initially this shrinkage was small, and could be ignored or compensated by investments in industrial activity. It was in this period that the feudals appeared to have a very tight hold on power in Pakistan. However over the past 30 years, the power of the agro economy has shrunk dramatically. The Heroin boom (of the 80s and 90s) and the rising level of industrialisation have to some extent diminished the influence of the feudal elite, but it is mostly the growing population of Pakistan that has marginalised them.

You see neither the agro-economy nor the meagre industrial sector can adequately employ the people of Pakistan. There are some 60 million men in Pakistan and most of them are unemployed. Without employment either agricultural or industrial, the feudal political models cannot function. A very serious threat has emerged to the success of this model. Things have reached a point where Pakistanis openly talk about applying for jobs in India.

In the last 20 years, the feudals attempted to use their presence in the Army to try and deflect all this excess manpower into all manner of narco-trafficing inspired Jihads. To that end they enlisted the entire Army and the religious elite of Pakistan. Now the shortcomings of this policy are in plain sight.

The Army has become a power unto itself - as Ms. Ayesha Siddiqa Agha describes in her books - the Army is now allocating large amounts of land, water and power resources to **itself**. You may be a big Chaudhary somebody-something but you have to stand in line behind a no-name Army jamadar to get anything you want. Bizarrely enough, the Army with its perverse sense of right and wrong, is creating a kind of land and resource reform by taking away the exclusive right of the feudal classes to decide who gets what piece of land, or how much water or how much electricity.

The religious leaders are now in possession of military resources that far outnumber those of the fuedals. The feudals relied on control of key shrines and control over small-arms trafficing to create a small military force. With the madrassas becoming amouries, and students becoming soldiers, the feudals do not have an effective muscle. Man for man, gun for gun, the Islamists are better organised and equipped than any feudal army or political party. In a straight shootout - the feudals would lose - quite possibly as was recently demonstrated in a high profile assasination in Islamabad itself - the feudals' own security guards would turn their weapons on their so-called lords. I am sure the Army could protect the feudals in a pinch... but you have to pay big-time for that protection. And what do when a feudal falls afoul of an Armyman? I am sure Moonis from Lahore can tell us loads about that.

So why not pay the Jihadis themselves.. you ask?... an interesting question indeed that I am sure many feudals might consider.

Ofcourse then there is the awam, who the feudals see as slaves. The awam today, in the grip of a pervasive fear - thanks to the continuous propaganda of the last 30 years, they think more like a qaum and less like an awam. Will a quam invite a bunch of feudals to be their leaders? if the feudals invite themselves, will the quam accept it? Especially when they accepted a Fauji leader on the premise that the feudals were a bunch of complete shits to begin with? Or will they prefer a Jihadi? This is a question the quam will be asking itself.

Under such circumstances, will the "free and fair" election serve as a way of deflecting Islamist sentiments into more mainstream political action?

If all the feudals seek to do is to return to the seat of unaudited power under the guise of an American sanctioned democratic exercise - will such a government be any more effective at curbing Islamism than say that other American inspired democratic government - the Maliki regime in Iraq? how will they be more representative than Musharraf's referendums?

Will a nation of 60 million Islamic men who hate Musharraf because he killed a high ranking Islamic cleric, now blithely accept a woman as their Prime Minister? Do people remember what Pakistanis used to say in the 90s ... "please pray for Pakistan, we have a woman Prime Minister".

Will the Punjabi feudals accept a Sindhi Wadera as their leader? What exactly is one to make of Ghulam Mustafa Khar's refusal to accept the return of Benazir?

Questions.. Questions... Questions...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Lal Masjid: An attempt to split the MMA

The Grand Jirga organised by the Karzai government and the US ended with Qazi Hussein Ahmad and Maulana Fazl ur Rehman publicly stating their displeasure with the proceedings. Both went on record to say that the only way to solve this problem was for the US to leave the region.

Not long after this, according to Hamid Mir Chaudhary Hussein attempted to get Maulana Fazl ur Rehmaan to support the extension of the present national assembly (essentially the continuation of the PML-QA's position in national affairs). Fazl refused to settle for anything less than "free and fair" elections and for the first time indicated that he had no interest in whatever Benazir and Musharraf were up to. This contradicts the position he seemed to have taken a few weeks earlier where he seemed to quite okay with Musharraf and Benazir getting together.

Hamid Mir has lots to tell us in his latest column on Rediff. The most important point that caught my eye was a report of a meeting between Maulana Ghafoor Haideri and Richard Boucher where according to Mir,

This time the US has no objection on engaging Rehman. US Undersecretary of State for South Asia Richard Boucher met a close aide of Rehman, Ghafoor Haidri, a few days ago in Islamabad. Musharraf's advisers want Rehman to break away from Jamaat-e-Islami President Qazi Hussain Ahmad and form a new alliance with the Awami National Party to work towards normalising the situation in the tribal areas. But Rehman is not ready to break his ties with Qazi. Rehman believes that if there is no understanding between the government and the Opposition, the country faces martial law and a bloody civil war.

It is not clear from Hamid Mir's article what the focus of the talks between Maulana Haideri and Richard Boucher was, however the suggestion that Musharraf's people now want to split the MMA is interesting. The JeI and JuI(F) are the main powerhouses inside the MMA. The entire MMA was constructed with Musharraf's blessings by high ranking Deobandi ulema. The desire to split it now speaks volumes for the bankruptcy of ideas that pervades Islamabad these days.

An article by Sri. Vikram Sood.

Sri. Vikram Sood has written a piece on 60 years of Independence in Pakistan ..

The article has many valuable insights into the present situation in Pakistan, I would greatly appreciate if my friends here were to carefully read the article and grasp all the nuances. This is the basis of a great perhaps insightful discussion on the Pakistani's state of affairs.

In this piece Sri. Sood also lays out what I feel is the core of domestic countersubversion efforts in India for the foreseeable future.

There is another important aspect that is sometimes overlooked. In India, Muslims have begun to realise that the largest number of Muslims who live in democracy anywhere in the world are here. There is also a realisation that this has been possible because of an independent, secular media and the liberal class, most of whom are Hindus. True, there have been horrible slippages but it is this class of Indians that seeks to expose and protect them against injustices on the basis of religion. The mullahs of Pakistan seek to institutionalise this discrimination and even the moderately enlightened General asserts that there can be no secularism in Pakistan. For anyone to break the Indian equilibrium he must, therefore, Wahhabise the essentially Sufi Muslim and radicalise the Hindu by enticing the former and simultaneously provoking the latter. India of the 21st century must guard against such inroads from Pakistan and from Al-Qaeda indoctrination. Our response cannot be by creating quotas for vote-banks. This only builds zones of vested interests and ghettoises the nation.

Most people in India talk about insulating the country from terrorist attacks and Pakistani incursions, but do not seem sensitive to the psychological assaults, the growing polarization that Pakistan induces in Indian society.

We all know polarization is a useful political device, but excessive polarization could cause lasting social damage. Pakistanis have clearly not learnt this point, but perhaps they will learn in the years to come as Pakistan painfully turns on the very Islamic ideals that help found it.

Though Sri. Sood speaks in the specific context of Pakistan, the point he makes about "breaking the Indian equilibrium" can be extended to a wider context.

I ask my readers to reflect on this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lal Masjid: The rolling stone

Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg has another letter.

Regime change has become inevitable. On a quiet moment, one can hear the rustling sound of the raging storm, which would break the military bondage and will pave the way for a peaceful transition to the rule of law and peoples’ power – the quintessential elements that lend grace and dignity to the nation. Ameen.

Wow... I never thought I would live to see a day when that would be printed.

Here is another speech, this time by Ameer Lashkar Tayabba

Referring to a statement by the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence in the Senate, Saeed said that the Pakistan Government has adopted policies against Islam, and the wind of change has started blowing.Saeed said the statement of the Parliamentary Secretary signified changes at the top, and added that it was the inner voice of the whole nation. He warned that if the rulers did not change their policies then they themselves would have to be changed. He further said that policies of the rulers had already created serious hatred against the Pakistan Army and the present situation resembled that of 1971, The News reported.

It is unthinkable that Amir Lashkar e Tayaba would openly say things like this.

It has begun.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane

The friend who published this book was kind enough to send me a copy of it. It arrived last week, and I read it as quickly as I could. Then I allowed a few days for my thoughts to settle and today finally I decided to pen down what came to mind.

A trip into the pensieve
(with apologies to J. K. Rowling)

As you all know the agency is turning 40 next year, and so some introspection is natural and even healthy. Others can publish institutional histories or "Vision-2020" documents or even websites with lots of jpegs and mpegs. In this way they can have a debate on their needs, expectations, aspirations and so on. The agency is bound to a silent service and so such actions are impossible. This creates an (albeit artificial) obstacle to debate and makes any introspection difficult and that can't be good.

Ultimately, what is history? Setting aside the pretence of objectivity, etc... in the final cut, it is the reminicenses of the people that lived through it. If a few people publish their memiors, however candid they may be, we automatically gain a sense of history. It is true, that ultimately nothing is secret, it all comes out in the end. And newspapers do exactly that, they bring us the information but lacking a perspective, we are left wanting. A sense of history help us develops our perspective.

The business of the agency, I am afraid is rather complicated. Everything has to be adjusted to political taste and fashion. What is salacious gossip one day, is prime product on another. How does the eye discern? how do we know what to keep and what to lose? - this is the question that confronts the professional. A candid discussion may seem scandalously amusing to the untrained ear, but to those in the business, this is a matter-of-fact affair, after all it is their profession to handle information others cannot be bothered with.

So much of ones' life is conflict. History is littered with it, so why should one man's memory be any different? The squabbles, the odd scrapes, and the scratches, all perfectly normal - perfectly human. Sure in theory - we would all live perfect lives without it, but can a frictionless state truly exist? I don't think so . Friction is the human condition, so why focus on it to the exclusion of everything else? - this is reality - and I know I am asking a lot, but just accept it.

We all know that to err is human, and yet how many of us have the ability to own up to our errors in public? Surely in this dog-eat-god world, admitting an error would be death? And yet this memior freely admits to errors made in the past and deficiencies in the present. Despite all the negativity that comes from admitting error, a tremendously positive feeling also appears. Once the demons in the past are confronted the way of the future lights up.

In 1999 the blame for Kargil fell at the agency's door, and a lot of the euphoria that was felt after the Buddha Jayanti of 1998 vanished. Folks like me were left religiously clutching our copies of Asoke Raina's book, wondering if the dark rumours of knives being driven deep were indeed true. After all nothing is impossible and one never truly knows.

From the memoir it appears as if the moment of uncertainity passed and something quite confident and enthusiastic emerged from all the darkness. The calm and reassuring tones heard in those days now make sense.

So what can we say in summation?

Well as it is obvious, we are now playing in a much bigger field and our resources have just barely kept a pace with our needs. It is all good and fine to say we need to gather more information, but how do we ensure that what we gather is useful? can we at least search it? can we store it? can we interpret it? These are not easy questions to answer.

The memoir is predictably silent on all these - after all it is only a memior - a trip through a pensieve. I have asked the questions that come from perusing the imagery from an age gone by... the search for answers now begins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The excellence of General Mirza Aslam Beg

True masterpieces are rarely reproduced by humble unbelievers like oneself. To see greatness in its purest form, you have to seek out a true master...

The greatest general of Pakistan's mighty army speaks such great wisdom.

This simply has to be reproduced as is...

"US and India signed the Strategic Partnership Deal in 2003, with the declared objectives, “to contain and curb the rising military and economic power of China and the increasing threat of Islamic extremism in the region.” "

What deal would that be? but never mind such technicalities...

"We have enough information to identify this intelligence network inside Afghanistan, fairly accurately, to determine the dimensions of this Great Game, of the civilised world. The nerve centre is at Jabal-us-Seraj, manned and operated by CIA, Raw, Mosad, MI-6 and BND (German intelligence). It’s a huge set-up with concrete buildings, antennas and all the modern electronic gadgetry one can conceive of. Its out-posts are Sarobi and Kandahar against Pakistan. Faizabad, against China; Mazar-e-Sharif, against Russia and Central Asian States and Herat against Iran, as indicated in the map."

Dear Sir, when was the last time you looked at a map?

• Sarobi is the nerve centre headed by an Indian General officer, who also commands the Border Road Organisation (BRO). Its forward bases are, Ghazni, Khowst, Gardeyz, Jalalabad, Asadabad, Wakhan and Faizabad. BRO has built an all weather road from Sarobi to Asadabad to Faizabad. Sarobi network, targets the province of NWFP, Pakistan. Dissidents from Pakistan, are trained at Sarobi for missions inside NWFP. Wakhan salient has been infested with dozens of electronic outposts, covering Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Okay, I think he just named all the major Border Roads Organisation offices in Afghanistan. Ofcourse if General Beg's uncle's third brother had got the contract for building the roads instead of BRO, then maybe these camps would not have figured on this list.

Ofcourse what a BRO civil engineer can do to operate a high-tech signals intelligence post, I don't know... but I take it someone actually read the fine print in Gen. V. K. Singh's book or perhaps there is some residual here from the earlier book by another Signal Officer in Chief that was published in late 80s.

• Kandahar has its forward bases at Lashkargah and Nawah. Their target area is the province of Balochistan. The dissidents from Balochistan are trained at Lashkargah for undertaking missions in Balochistan as well as in support of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). One of their tasks is to target Chinese working in the province, particularly at Gwadar, Sandak and Hab. The American anchorages, on the Pakistani coast at Jiwani and Kalamat, jointly plan operations with BLA inside Balochistan. They also use the Pakistani out-posts at Mand, for operations inside Iran. The American warships in the Arabian Sea and their intelligence base in Muscat, provide the back-up support. The facilities at Jiwani and Kalamat were provided by Pakistan, as logistic support bases to the Americans for operation in Afghanistan, but the same are now being used, to destabilise Balochistan and Iran.

Okay wait now... if "they" use lashkargah to train the Baloch militants, why does the Pakistan Army let "them" use "Pakistani out-posts in Mand" and "American anchorages at Jiwani and Kalamat" to conduct operations against Iran?

Against China. The set-up at Faizabad (Badakhshan) holds over 350xpersonnel mainly Muslim soldiers, engineers and workers from India. It serves as the training camp for the Chinese dissidents from the Xinjiang province. Indian Ulemas impart motivational education, giving the impression that the entire out-fit at Faizabad was run by Pakistanis.

Wow.. this is beyond my league to comment on.. Indians posing as Pakistanis to foment trouble in China's muslims. BTW... why doesn't Pakistan show its customary zeal in helping its fellow muslims in Xinjiang? Is Pakistan afraid of China? I thought the nuclear armed Islamic Republic of Pakistan was not afraid of anyone. I mean if it has the big bomb, what does it have to be afraid of? Why does Pakistan keep advising Chinese muslims to be "good chinese" before they are "good muslims"?

It seems that if Pakistan were to act against China to appease .. oh say the Americans... then it would want to do so deniably... but who on earth is going to believe that these are Indian Ulema posing as Pakistani Ulema? would the Chinese really be that dumb to buy into that? Given that Pakistan relies on Chinese missile and nuclear imports for its security, Gen. Beg seems to have a curiously low opinion of Chinese intellect.

The recently acquired facility for military deployment by India, across the border in Tajikistan at Kalai Kumli, adds a meaningful capability to India to operate inside Tajikistan, as well as Uzbekistan.

Kalai-Khumb (not Kalai Kumli) is a Russian dominated area, not Indian, we are guests of Russia in Tajikistan and its outlying areas. Unless now you are suggesting that India and Russia are not collaborating against Russia... which would defy even Pakistani imagination... I fail to see how this is against Russia or Iran or China.

Against Russia. The intelligence base at Mazar-e-Sharif is run jointly by CIA, RAW, Mossad and BND. Chechnyan dissidents and agents from Turkmenistan are trained for operations in these countries. Rasheed Dostam and Ahmad Zia Masood are very active supporters of such activities in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Against Iran. The forward base at Herat and Farah are manned by CIA, RAW and Mossad for subversive activities inside Iran. Jointly operating from these bases and the bases inside Pakistan, such as Kalamat, Jiwani and Mand, they have been able to undertake actions inside Iran, killing a number of security forces personnel in the last few years. The terrorist organisation named Jandullah has been used for conduct of such operations inside Iran.

I think the word RAW can safely be replaced by ISI in this above sentence and then it starts to make total sense.

Pakistan and Iran are being blamed for supporting terrorists in Afghanistan, whereas Afghan territory is being violated so blatantly to destabilise the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, by nations, who claim to be the flag bearers of the ideals of international norms of justice and fairplay. This is the worst kind of ‘Terrorism Through Consensus’, by the so-called civilised nations, in occupation of Afghanistan. The brutal violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty for the shameful purpose of destabilisation of Pakistan and the regional countries, is condemnable.

I think President Musharraf just publicly admitted that Pakistan's action (or if you prefer the American term - inaction) in the FATA is the cause for terrorism in Afghanistan. It appears that at least General Musharraf has realised the error of pretending that Pakistan is not responsible for terrorism in Afghanistan.

I fear Gen. Beg is behind the times...

Was this the purpose of the strategic partnership deal between India, United States and NATO”?

Oh for the last time there is no strategic partnership deal between India, US and NATO.

The only one with any ties to either the US or NATO is - Pakistan - the Major Non-NATO Ally of the US.

My argument is based on the research and study, which may not be as accurate as the information held by the government of Pakistan. Yet it is surprising that after so much of suffering at the hands of foreign saboteurs, the government of Pakistan has woken-up now, to say that “foreign hands are involved in the recent killing of the Chinese.” And on the floor of the assembly, the finger was pointed also to CIA. Why this announcement has come so late? Why such culpable lack of responsibility to protect our national interests, while our enemies have spun a web of espionage and conspiracies, which undermines our national security. Someone rightly said: “The peak of tolerance is most readily achieved by those who are not burdened with convictions.” (Alexander Chase)

General, there is no way you can blame India for a highly complicated mess of international espionage treaties that the Pakistani government itself has signed.

If I understand anything currently

1) Pakistan is in a treaty with the US to contain the Jihadi groups in Afghanistan.
2) Pakistan is in a treaty with China to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan so as to provide China a competitive advantage in Central Asian markets.

3) Pakistan is in a treaty with the US to contain Jihadi groups inside Pakistan
4) Pakistan is in a treaty with Saudi based oil interests to keep Anti-US jihad activity on a high inside Pakistan.

5) Pakistan is in a treaty with the Iranians to help them build their nuclear program
6) Pakistan is in a treaty with the US to destablise Iran

7) Pakistan is in a treaty with the Russians to keep the US suffering in Afghanistan.
8) Pakistan is in a treaty with the US to keep the Russian off-balance in Chechnya

9) Pakistan is in a treaty with the US to provoke the Uighers so as to deny a stable energy corridor to Central Asia
10) Pakistan is in a treaty with the Chinese to develop a southern route for Chinese energy traffic via Gwadur.

I have done my best to organise this mess of Pakistan's relationships with the so called great powers... but honestly my analytical powers fail me. I am not a graduate of the PMA .. only Kakul can provide the world with "a dangerous intellectual" with this kind of brain power.

India cannot be held responsible for the Pakistani Army's flair for making an unmanageably large number of tactical alliances!

Youm-e-Azaadi Mubarak Pakistan...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lal Masjid: Crisis Point

Musharraf was supposed to attend a meeting with Karzai to allegedly sort out the border issues. It was supposed to a major photo op.

Musharraf cancelled his trip and no public reasons were given.

Reports are now emerging of a declaration of an emergency in Pakistan.

It is unclear what emergency powers he will assume (i.e. ones he does not already have).

I am sure you have all heard the politicians shouting asking him to resign and I am sure you have seen that the Lahore High Court Bar Association "elected" world famous nuclear smuggler, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan as the president in its "referendum".

No seriously people, jokes apart, it appears that the discontent inside the Army has reached a crisis point.

A declaration of an emergency at this point only means one of the following:

1) A revolt within the SSG praetorians against Musharraf. It is possible that the SSG revolts against Musharraf to restore the Ulema's faith in the Pakistan Army as an institution.

2) Extreme dissatisfaction within the Commanders, this is the sort of thing that happens a planned "reshuffle" becomes a game of musical chairs which someone (who is sufficiently powerful and close to Islamabad) does not want to play.

3) Someone is messing around with the nuclear command and control chain. This might happen if someone in the US got a little to serious about that misguided threat to invade Pakistan.

Lal Masjid: The US pulls out all the stops

The US is now getting desperate to insulate itself from the events going on inside Pakistan.

The open threat of cutting US aid to Pakistan is being held out. This threat by itself is utterly meaningless. The US depends on Pakistan for sustaining its troops in Afghanistan and if the US cuts aid to Pakistan - it will do at great cost to its posture in Afghanistan. While a shift in focus of this nature may seem sensible from the perspective of that global war on terror, from the perspective of economics, this is not desirable. Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium and it sits astride a new pipeline route to Central Asian energy reserves. Afghanistan is the key to ensuring American dominance over the trade in opiates and energy. Additionally Pakistan is one of the biggest players on the illegal arms market - the US cannot afford to lose Pakistan as an ally.

This is the geo-political reality of our time - all ever so feeble protestations about democratic traditions in the US non-withstanding.

While tough talk from someone like presidential hopeful Senator Barak Hussain Obama may suggest that a political reformation is in the works in America... similar such talk from more credible congressional leaders of the US invading Pakistan, cutting off aid, etc... this signifies a desperation the US. This desperation can be traced back to this sense of helplessness that accompanies a loss of leverage in Pakistan.

Perhaps this a reaction to the recent suggestions from the Pakistani Army top brass to Musharraf that he should pursue a course of action that ensures that the Islamist anger does not turn against the Pakistan Army as an institution. We all know that the US has invested heavily in propaganda aimed at projecting Musharraf as a great American ally. Most of the propaganda was aimed largely at the super-gullible American audience which believes anything it sees on TV. However due to a highly misguided policy of trying to dictate the news in Pakistan, large portions of this propaganda has leaked out and spilled on to Pakistani audiences.

The end result is the singular identification of Musharraf with all things American. Hostility towards Musharraf is indirectly splashed on to American interests.

This is an association that American leadership cannot sustain. American leadership cannot be held responsible for their own mistakes, why on earth would they want to be held responsible for Musharraf's mistakes?

America cannot risk having the Pakistan Army turn against them as an "institution".

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lal Masjid: The Way to Dusty Death

The US is now openly holding out the threat of airstrikes on Pakistani territory as a deterrent to its interests in Pakistan being compromised.

The negotiations with Benazir are stalled as Benazir wants to come home with enough money from the Army that she will be able to bale Musharraf out and ensure her hold on her own party. I am not sure the beleagured Army Chief has that much money to spare. Benazir probably believes that dictators may come and dictators may go, but she will always remain popular in the West, as a woman who was once the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan - a woman who defied the Mullahs. What status that can bring, no British or American can take away from her.

Quite openly Maulana Fazl ur Rehman has asked the Pakistani parliament to allow General Musharraf to be elected for another term. In his words, this will help prevent a repeat of 1971, he is pretty explicit that no general will be allowed (by the US) to remove Musharraf, and that Benazir's return has been adequately scripted to the point where he has no objection to it.

Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman's speech is an acknowledgement of the fact that none of the Deobandi top brass have a clue as to how to deal with this peculiar situation: a dictator they have legitimised is bent on debasing Islam and humiliating them in the most direct and visible of way.
And the very students, they have trained, are proving harder and harder to control.

Despite what dreams may come to those who sleep peacefully in the US, there is *no* way in which actual US airstrikes will aid in stabilising Pakistan. It is pure fiction to think that unrest will pave the way for legitimising Musharraf's dictatorship. The failure to protect Pakistan's borders from US intrusion despite all the effort Musharraf put in ... will not be recieved well. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman is right - 1971 will repeat.

In that sense supporting Musharraf's re-election and Benazir's return seems like the easiest thing to do. Neither will make the slightest bit of difference to the situation in Pakistan. The progression towards a 1971 type scenario where the military has lost its legitimacy is relentless and no amount of American pressure can change that.