Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lal Masjid: The Stages of Escalation

I see three stages of escalation in the fight between the Pakistan Army and the Islamists. I have listed them below:

Stage 1: The Army's excesses against the Mullahs are met by targetted assasinations of Army officials (in and out of uniform). This amounts to effectively declaring the Army men as kafirs. The Islamists will also conduct a highly focussed assasination campaign against those specific groups within the Army that conduct "anti-jihadi" operations. At this point, the men of "Musharraf's Army" will be at war with the Islamists.

Stage 2: "Musharraf's Army" will respond to such assasinations by using their seniority in the ranks to order the rest of the army to conduct high intensity attacks on islamist sympathisers. The deliberate slaughter of women and children through artillery and heavy calibre weapons by the Pakistani Army will break the unwritten rule of combat in the Indian Subcontinent - "family members are not to be targetted". The Islamist response will be to target family members of Pakistani Army officials. At this point the Pakistan Army as an institution will be at war with the Jihadi groups as not will the Jihadis have declared the Army men as kafirs, they will have declared the relatives of the Armymen as war booty.

Stage 3: The Pakistan Army will bring the entire force of its organisation against the Islamists. The Islamist organisation built for assymetric warfare will take the hit and buckle - but it will not break. Frustrated Pakistan Army units will unleash a reign of terror where they will walk the streets of Pakistan killing anyone they don't like. In a bid to undermine the Pakistan Army's enthusiasm for bloodshed, the Islamists will attempt to loosen the Pakistan Army's grip on nuclear weapons. Quite rightly, the Islamists will assume that whoever controls the bomb in Pakistan will call the shots.

I feel we are currently between stage 1 and 2.

If the reports from NWFP and FATA are anything to go by, the US and the Pakistanis have joined hands in launching artillery barrages on villages suspected of supporting the Islamists. This indicates the onset of stage 2.

I do not see any controls in place inside Pakistan to prevent the slide into stage 3.


At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What do you think will happen after the slide into stage 3 when the Islamists try and weaken the PA's hold over nuclear weapons? How do you think such an attempt will be made?

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
"""If the reports from NWFP and FATA are anything to go by, the US and the Pakistanis have joined hands in launching artillery barrages on villages suspected of supporting the Islamists.""""

this is exactly what you have predicted/what may happen to us in kashmir in another 10 years from now. Then
1) Where does all this leave us-> Are we too sliding into another situation like pakistan? That's why Advani is so angry with this deal
2)Never ever be America's friend.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I don't know enough about the details of the Pakistan Army's control mechanisms to say how the Islamists will likely interfere with them.

I don't know how things will proceed after Stage 3.

Hi Anonymous,

We have never used artillery or heavy weapons or air strikes on villages in Jammu and Kashmir nor is it likely that we ever will.

Only Americans and the Pakistanis do that kind of thing. The Americans do it in foreign countries because they think no one in the international community is going to accuse them of war crimes and the Pakistanis do it inside Pakistan believing that no one inside Pakistan is going to call them terrorists.

On villages in the Neelam Valley, near Gultari, we have occasionally shelled Pakistan Army munitions depots that are co-located with villages. The vagaries of shelling at high altitude do sometimes lead to errors and those errors cause unintended civilian casualties.

It is possible that in an encounter or crossfire innocent people are killed, but India never deliberately targets the family members of a terrorist for assasination.

In response the terrorists do not target family members of Indian security forces. In some parts of the country, insurgents do not attack security officers when they are out of uniform.

All these are part of the unwritten and unspoken code of conduct for hostilities in the Indian context. This context extends to Pakistan.

However the severity of the fight between the Islamists and the Pakistan Army is in my opinion causing these rules to break down.

In my opinion, the assasination of Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and Maulana Abdul Aziz's mother were a step towards Stage 2. A sign of the onset of stage 2 is the manner in which key Pakistani cabinet people have asked their relatives to move to London.

The flow of arms into J&K is gradually declining. The insurgency has petered out and what remains now is high intensity crime. India will retain sufficient dissuasive force to ensure that no escalation occurs.

There is some talk of a Kashmir Liberation Army. In my opinion this is an attempt by some to pull together the few remaining Pakistan Army friendly Islamist groups. The organisers of this "Army" hope that the rush for positions of power within the new structure will undermine Islamist enthusiasm for challenging the Pakistan Army's rule in the country.

The biggest likelihood currently is that this so called Kashmir Liberation Army will morph into a Pakistan Liberation Army.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Why did the code of conduct break down in Kaluchak?

To the best of my knowledge there had been no such incident before Kaluchak and there has been no such incident since then. What explains the exception that was seen in Kaluchak?

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Nitin said...

Is there a possibility that the breakdown of the code of conduct in Pakistan will spill over to the Indian side? Once the jihadis' terms of engagement changes in one place won't they change on this side as well?

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
musharaff in return for getting elected to post of presidentship has destroyed pakistan. What must be the cold calculations behind this massacre of Pakistani security men?

At 6:36 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, it was broken at kaluchak, and before that the JKLF and HM broke it when they targetted the familes of security officers. However in all these cases, civility was quickly restored.

Currently in Pakistan, there does not appear to be such a move and hence I argue that the slide into stage 3 is not being arrested.


I have not really thought about implications for Pakistani sponsorred terror in India.

I am inclined to think that matters will remain confined to Pakistan.

Hi Anonymous,

I think the calculations behind the massacre are to send a message to Musharraf and his backers that no number of armed troops will protect them.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
what i mean was: what cold calculations Musharaff had in his mind in getting his own men massacred?

At 10:27 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I have no idea what he was thinking when he ordered his men to enter those places.

I don't know what his men were thinking when they went in there.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


How was the code of conduct restored after the jihadis broke it at Kaluchak?

At 11:32 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

The organisations dissociated themselves from the attackers, and the parties responsible were dealt with firmly.

That is how normalcy was restored.

The situation in Kaluchak and Pakistan cannot be compared. Ultimately inside India, there are a number of social and political forces that can act to restore the norms of civilized behavior.

Such forces are in short supply in present day Pakistan.

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
can you comment on these two incidents
1)Lt Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani is set to take over as OCAS from Gen Musharaff. How do you rate kiyani? What were his acheivements? Does India have to worry on this score since a younger General will be taking over the reins of PA?

2)Musharaff wants to quit as COAS?

At 6:54 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I do not know what to make of that rumour that Newsweek is quoting.

I feel someone in the Army has told Musharraf to step down as Army chief, in the hope that it will open the door to a renegotiation process with the Deobandis.

I personally do not believe that this renegotiation will be successful at securing the Pakistani Deobandi's approval for military rule.

By murdering Maulana Abdul Aziz's brother and mother and several hundred children at the Lal Masjid complex, the Pakistan Army has forefieted all claims to moral leadership of the country in perpetuity. The realisation of this has yet to dawn upon the Paksitan Army. They do not understand that the Deobandis now have the upper hand.

There is a fond idea that people are clinging to - that somehow Musharraf's resignation from the COAS position will act as a safety valve and allow some of the steam building up inside Pakistan to vent and everything will return to "normal" whatever that is.

I suspect a number of the demonstrations by lawyers, PPP and PML activists are being staged with the aim of sustaining this illusion.

It is in my opinion a fantastic waste of time and lives.

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Cyclone nation said...


How do you see Kiyani's and Majid's appointment in relation to ISI's stance towards India?

There have been some reports of Pakistani Army "throwing in the towel" in Afghanistan border in US press. DO you see this as pressure tactics on new manageement?

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
there has been a noticeable drop in the number of suicide attacks or targetted killing of PA soldiers as deadline for Musharaff getting relected nears. Will these attacks on PA cease once Musharaff gets relected. Is this also the reason why Musharaff is shedding his uniform.

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
have you delibrately avoided answering to my ealier post where I had asked you to rate kiyani. If you feel so, then do not bother to reply to my post.
there are several anonymouses here.

At 6:44 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear All,

Everyone is jumping towards Kiyani as if he is the COAS. This is more a reflection of people's desire to see an alternative to Musharraf emerge and less a reflection of any actual changes that have taken place.

Hi Cyclone Nation,

Kiyani and Majid are post-1971 soldiers, that typically brings with it hostility towards India and an unusual sense of distance from the US.

At some point, the PA is going to have to halt operations along the border otherwise it will alienate the bulk of the Pashtuns and Islamists inside the Army. From an American perspective, this amounts to "throwing in the towel". So some pressure is being put on the "new" management.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, the attacks on the Army are the Islamists way of conveying to the Army leadership that it no longer enjoys moral authority.

The PA took the hits and dutifully relayed the message from the Islamists to Musharraf. In order to emphasise that the PA wanted no part of Musharraf's sins to be used to judge them, a number of PA units surrendered to Islamist militias. However in my opinion the Islamists do not see the Army and Musharraf as distinct entities.

Musharraf's resignation as COAS is part of a drama choreographed by the Army itself. The aim of this drama is to carefully reopen negotiations with the Islamists and somehow through negotiation tactics secure a temporary moral mandate, even if it is merely in the form of a notional assent (as opposed to a real solid backing). Sections of the PA top brass probably feel there is still some hope for gaining forgiveness for the sins committed at the Lal Masjid complex.

In my mind, the two things are connected.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger maverick said...


I have avoided the direct question because there is not enough open source information about Kiyani.

It is also true that is extremely difficult to rate someone solely based their ability to act in an American scripted political drama.

This is especially true if one is unclear about what exactly the director of the play was trying to achieve in the first place.

Yes, it is all high art, but you can't seriously expect me to say anything about his acting skills when I don't know what was on the script and what was not.

At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
1)Has all this news of chaos in Pakistan,helped us anyway in gaining a upper hand w.r.t to negotiations over Kashmir with Pakistan?

2)Looks as if we may be winning inch by inch over the kashmir issue. The latest being IA has sent a expedition to Siachen.

At 6:42 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Dear Anonymous,

The Kashmir issue was won the moment the Kashmiri local population realised that their desire for self-improvement through violent struggle is heavily prone to corruption by criminal impulses across the border.

I think the this realisation dawned on them when the graveyards filled up with dead young men and the women got tired of asking the men to go die in the process seeking revenge.

This social shift, the increased power of kashmiri women, has launched the Kashmir issue on the path to resolution.

Token gestures in Siachen have little to do with it. There are no kashmiris left to fight the Jihad.

At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
1)you have become a typical babu! you know the most frequent word used in delhi is "denial"
2)Troop redeployments, back channel diplomacy, satish lamba talking to his counterparts, peace conference taking place in Singapore, 5 point proposals put forward by GOI and so on!
2)Now tell me has India gained any upper hand in negotiation?

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Cyclone Nation said...

Hi m,

1) What do you think about the high casualty rate of the officers of the army? why do you think it is so? Do you have more to say other than what has been said in Internal Sec. thread on The Disreputable Forum?

2) We regularly read that the officer died due to a head/face shot. whats with that?

3) What do you make of the induction of Dhruvs in COIN operations in J&K?


At 1:40 PM, Blogger maverick said...


That sir, is a most unfair characterisation of my position on issues. If I weren't busy dipping my marie biscuits in the tea my assistant just brought me I would protest some more.

Restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir is going to take time This is going to be difficult given the criminal elements that has become entrenched in society there. And yes we are goint to have to talk to the Pakistanis above or below the table. Ultimately a gradual redeployment of troops in the Op Rakshak theatre is to be expected. Op Meghdoot and Op Vijay are unlikely to be directly affected by any rearrangements in the Op Rakshak theatre.

Combatants on all sides of the J&K battle are experiencing combat related stress and fatigue. We are slightly better off than the Pakistanis and their supporters because we have the money to pay for advanced medical care and rehabilitation. They do not have money and they are facing the prospect of even frontline soldiers self-medicating with alcohol and heroin.

The battle for Jammu Kashmir was never a battle for physical space. It was always a battle for ideological space. The victory of our secular governance and democratic institutions over the Pakistani inspired forces of intolerance is a self-evident truth.

Scaling down the levels of violence now will allow Kashmiri society to heal. It will also give our soldiers much needed rest. To that end whatever negotiations are needed, we are undertaking at the greatest possible speed.

Hi Anonymous,

I have not read the thread on the disreputable forum.

I do not feel that there is a significant assymetry in the officer and OR casualty rates in J&K. I do feel the media selectively projects officer losses.

To an extent officers are targetted. This may account for at least some of the head shots.

Dhruvs will increase out mobility. It will take some of the pressure of the MI-8/17 and Cheetah flights.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
if you are angered and hurt , then i can say sorry. Kindly understand I go great lengths in not hurting your sentiments, but inadvertently sometimes do step over your toes.

At 6:10 AM, Blogger maverick said...


No no I am not hurt.

At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Take a look at the situation developing in FATA over the last few days.

I say we are well into stage 2 now.

P.S. - If you are willing to do so, I wanted to pick up the thread about the SSG, Zarrar etc. again.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger maverick said...


Yes, please feel free to pick up the thread.

However I feel until the relatives of a ranking PA officer are killed in a punitive strike, we are not in "Stage 2".

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous cyclone nation said...

hey m,

any specific reason why you see targeting of family members as a sure signal of onset of stage 2?


At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi m,
In one of your posts you had mentioned that if Mush does not get kashmir , he will drop an A bomb on USA. In this context the negotiations are going on between the 2 govt's. That's why I am asking you if GOI has achieved any upper hand on the negotiating table.Feel free to disrgard this.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi CN,

In our part of the woods, involvement of family members is a no-no, an unwritten, unspoken rule.

Hi Anonymous,

I don't recall ever saying Musharraf would drop an A bomb on the US if he did not get Kashmir.

As things stand today in Kashmir, we have the upper hand.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

apologies that this is the case of "ramayana khatam hui aur pooch rahe ho sita kaun thi", however i have tried quite a bit to find out why exactly lal masjid happened? i mean fine, china was pissed off that chinese dames supposedly offering soothing services were killed by the pakis, but did musharraf really have to kill so many conservative muslims, that too women and children !! surely even musharraf can't be that dumb to maro kulhadi on his own feet !!!

i would understand if you direct me to google.com or the disreputable forum, but if possible kindly do illuminate a bit..

thanks !

At 6:50 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Anonymous,

I feel the murder of Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and his mother at Lal Masjid was a big mistake. The murder of those 1000 or so children was a bigger mistake.

I think this mistake was made because Musharraf was caught in a vise. Musharraf could not rescue the children without taking heavy losses to his loyalists in the SSG. If he took losses to his people in the SSG, he would not have enough loyalists in the SSG to do his bidding and secure his leadership from challenges inside the Army.

Usually when you make mistakes, you apologize for your mistakes and beg for forgiveness. See -- A Q Khan did it on PTV, A Q Khan even apologized for mistakes he did not make.

Musharraf has not asked for forgiveness for these murders. This is partly due to every Pakistan Army officer's deeply ingrained belief that no one will hold them accountable and partly due to Musharraf own flamboyant, media-loving character.

Contrast this with GoI's response after Bluestar. The manner in which Indiraji and Gianiji behaved after the conflict resolution, the way in which Gianji personally took atoned for the sins of the nation by washing the feet of devotees and sweeping the temple for a month afterwards. These acts set the tone for moral leadership in the world.

Contrast the tone of Gen. Sundarji or Lt. Gen. Vaidya after the assault or the tone Lt. Gen. Brar's book on the operation with self-congratulatory stuff coming from GHQ Pindi these days.

Contrast the manner in which SGPC leaders were treated after Bluestar with the manner in which Maulana Abdul Aziz was treated.

I tell you, each of these guys, Sundarji, Vaidya and Brar were ten times the man that collectively the entire Pakistani Fauj will ever amount to!

Ofcourse it an open question as to how on earth can anyone expect anything better from an army whose only claim to a successful operation is storming the Holy Harams, but I think few people will take Pakistan Army's claims about Babri Masjid seriously when they see how they have behaved at Lal Masjid.


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