The Neo-COINists, Neocons, and assorted members of the Imperial faction wringing their hands about "AFPAK" and drinking their snake oil and opium cocktails. Meanwhile there is ground reality.
With respect to Punjab (Panjab) a serious assessment of Taliban penetration on the Pak side of the border would be useful.
It should be obvious even to casual observers by now that Taliban are a Wahhabized takfiri movement of Pushtuns (Pashtuns, Pathans). They (Wahhabized Pushtuns) were empowered by the Zia dictatorship for Cold War purposes and then by Benazir (yes Benazir with a wink from the US Clinton Admin) for hydrocarbon (UNOCAL) and "strategic depth" Pak purposes.
Historically, the penetration of Wahhabism into the subcontinent is via the Deobandi sect. It came directly from…yes the Arabian peninsula through missionaries in the 18th century. So this is not new.
Since the late 1970s, the Saudis have funded the Wahhabization of the Subcontinent region with the Deobandis as a key component.
Perhaps the merry band of 40ish NeoCOINist officers (and a certain Australian buddy of theirs) should take their pasty white faces out of the library and get the asses into the field and into the dung-littered mud.
Here, for example, is a recent take on Pak Punjab (predominantly Berelvi) from a Pak analyst which could be assessed:
"The New York Times reports that Taliban insurgents are teaming up with local militant groups to make inroads in Punjab, and that in at least five towns in southern and western Punjab, including Multan, barber shops, music centres and internet cafes offensive to the militants’ strict interpretation of Islam have received threats.
"The report has instigated a blistering debate here in Punjab on whether, in the days to come, the Taliban can really take over Pakistan’s largest province. Some recent incidents, including attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and the Manawan Police Training School, raised fears to new heights and many believe that the Taliban, known to have their roots in the tribal culture of frontier region and Afghanistan, have the capacity to expand their control to other parts of Pakistan, most importantly to Punjab.
"The Taliban school of thought simply cannot win support in Punjab. I rest my opinion on three fundamentals because of which the Taliban cannot win in Punjab.
"First, the Taliban philosophy is based on the strict Deobandi school of Islam, which has no room for saints and shrines. The majority of Punjabi Muslims are followers of the Barelvi school; which revolves around the saint and his shrine. Punjabi Muslims have always been emotionality attached with shrines and sufis. When the Taliban locked the mausoleum of Pir Baba in Buner, Punjabi Muslims felt offended, despite the fact that Pir Baba is not a well-known saintly figure in Punjab.
"No one can dare think of closing down the shrines of Data Ganj Bakhsh, Hazrat Mian Mir or Bahauddin Zakaria. Almost every village in Punjab has a shrine, and for Barelvis, shrines are nearly as sacred as mosques. This is not in conformity with the orthodox Ahle Hadith or Deobandi traditions, which do not recognise the shrine or mazar as a religious symbol. In fact, they consider reverence of shrines as apostasy (shirk).
"Second, there is no doubt that Punjabi rural society is caste-based and people care for castes in inter se relationships. However, by no means does this make it a tribal society. The customs even in remote Punjabi villages are far more liberal than tribal customs. The position of women in this society is more elevated than in tribal society; they enjoy more liberties, and in many cases are the sole decision makers.
"In an agricultural economy like Punjab, women are as important as men. In rural Punjab, women working in the fields is a common sight; subjecting them to strict veil and domestic confinement as is the case in the tribal areas of Afghanistan is unimaginable in Punjab.
"In urban centres like Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, women are enjoying an even higher status than in the rural areas. Therefore, it will not be possible for anyone to subject women in Punjab to the kind of restrictions that the Taliban have imposed in the areas under their control. The same applies for harsh punishments: the death penalty was abolished in the area between Delhi and Lahore much before its abolition in the United Kingdom. The reaction to public hanging during the Zia era was so severe that the government was forced to review its policy after only one execution.
"The third reason is the strong emphasis in the Punjabi lower and middle class on education. Even families with income levels as low as Rs 4000 to Rs 6000 per month take pains to send their children, including females, to school. Hence, this very strong societal force will deeply resist any ideology that restricts people from educating their children. Further, proliferation of the free media and a strong cultural base are two other factors that will make it extremely difficult for the Taliban to establish themselves in Punjab."…
On Barelvis see,
Great article! Heartening. Am personally glad to see evidence that whole peoples will not go quietly into that Whahabbist night!
Fascinating, Clifford, thank you.
1. my sense. Bunar is a staged theater. (But we’ll know few month from now, how taliban will react as a movement.) I am surprised they feel ready to start an open fight.
2. taliban exist and will continue to exist because of various peculiarity in government institution and politics.
for eg. the religious school that teaches this type of idology” is actually a party supported institution. It serve their political ends.
The overwhelming majority of the Taliban movement were ethnic Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, along with a smaller number of volunteers from Islamic countries or regions in North Africa, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. The Taliban received valuable training, supplies and arms from the Pakistani government, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and many recruits from Madrasahs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, primarily ones established by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI).
the military training, funding are also all legitimate and the power that be felt it’s to their end. (heck we even train various loose organization that we have no control of how they associate and transfer military techniques)
3. Everybody wants to be the guardian of Islam. The more corrupt, weak and illegitimate a regime, the more they play this game. (Saudi, Pakistan, Malysia, Indonesia, etc)
4. ultimately everybody’s either mis-judge or underestimate taliban true skill. They are not particularly organized arm group or resistance, but they are very skilled guerilla operators. They apply uprising, mass discontent analysis, public speeches, religious victimization, geopolitical analysis, global commerce an information exchange, etc all rooted in religious school populism. (The closest thing to US analog would be firebrand preacher meets supremacist militia. but firebrand and us militia don’t exactly read soviet guerilla manual or political books) they thrive in chaos, lawlessness, corruption, political games, unemployment, refugee camp.
All in all Pakistan is perfect. It has all the element for taliban to keep surviving for a long time. (no, 700,000 men pakistan military force won’t do jack. The more wild fire power, the better. It’s pure intel game.)
In fact: a) Pakistan polity will milk the taliban situation. Free money and weapon. Plus they still think they can control and understand the taliban. b) even if they finally realize how deep their trouble is, they don’t have the sophistication to chase taliban key players that has gone underground. (classic urban guerilla war ensues)
The taliban game is not about one month or two from now, or until next election even. It’s decades. it’s guerilla war in decaying state.
It is the spiraling toward decay and chaos that one has to watch. Botched military operation, mass perception of political sell out, inter religious war, high unemployment, mass refugee movement, corruption, war… etc.
what did I tell ya. Karachi is shaky ..
they better keep track who has weapon and weapon training down there at baluchistan.
If the Punjabis are indeed attached so very much to their “saints”, I sense a great opportunity for the (Imami) Shia proselytization among them, no?
It seems to me that they are closet Shias.
What a marvelous informed exposition.
Please forgive me for returning to the future.
In keeping with the focus of this discussion on the importance of various groups on the decisions of the current Administration, I think it is helpful to compare and contrast the early (pre-9/11) days of the Bush Administration with the early days of the Obama Administration. And I honestly believe that avoiding this comparison is deadly.
When Bush was finally certified as President and began his Presidency, his popularity began to fall. And it continued to fall until 9/11.
Obama was elected in a landslide, and the opposition party is in a state of incredible disarray. But…Obama is confronted with an economic disaster unlike any the nation has seen since 1929, and…and his responses to date have not inspired confidence in people who you would dearly like to show confidence: Krugman, Stiglitz, Volker, etc.
And then one begins to think. What has been going on in Wall Street under the Bush and now Obama Administrations has been a transfer of wealth to a small minority of the population that would make the French aristocracy of 1780 weep with envy.
And, unfortunately for that minority, this fact is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day, despite the intense efforts by the agents of the minority to obfuscate.
So, the future.
Everything is in place to distract the populace with another war, a much larger war encompassing a much larger swathe of the Middle East than just Iraq. Iran is the new Nazi Germany, a Nazi Germany armed with nuclear weapons. We must go to war.
What is missing is the casus belli. That is our future: a future of one casus belli after another, until one finally clicks.
And that is how we must view “The Taliban”. They are just one more casus belli, one more reason to arm and stay at war.
So that the theft on Wall Street can continue unobserved.
Very informative post and hope it is correct in its analysis and conclusions.
It is interesting where the Taliban “chooses” to probe its opposition!
Women are integral to growing of rice in Southeast Asia. In Northern Europe women performed farm tasks necessary to survive winter. Thus they have influence and power in both cultures. Men can’t piss them of too much or they won’t be fed or bedded.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the basic tenants that held together the American Empire were unraveled by greed. To avoid a communist take over, the Western Elites were forced to accept modernity, science, truth, and equal rights for women and workers.
No longer! Since Bush, the First.
If El Qaeda was the existential threat to the capitalist system that the Soviet Union was, America would be assisting the forces of modernity and women’s rights in South Asia. Instead, the basic strategy is “kill them all and let Allah sort them out” in place of supporting strong states, establishing law and order and getting the economic system in order. Robber Barons and War Profiteers are in charge.
Clifford, you wrote:
If you’re going to engage in ad hominem arguments, you should at least get your facts straight. Pretty much all of the so-called “COINdinista’s” have spent at least as much, if not more, of their lives in the mud than the library, Kilcullen included. Personally, I disagree with them on many issues but see no reason why that disagreement should include petty insults.
As for the rest of your comment/post, I heartily agree and it’s annoying to me how the press ominously notes how close the Pakistani Taliban are to Islamabad, as if several Taliban divisions are on the cusp of sweeping down and laying siege to the city.
I’d be interested in Professor Kiracofe’s take on how much the intense (over) reaction in Washington to the actions of the Taliban might have something to do with the administration’s concern about the need to attenuate the influence of the Chinese in Pakistan. Juan Cole reports today:
“Some 60 Chinese companies are carrying out 122 projects in Pakistan, and there are 10,000 Chinese engineers and technical experts there. China would like to see the situation stabilize in part because Beijing wants less rather than more American military presence on its borders.”
I offer this as confirmatory evidence. This is the sort of thing that continual war keeps well out of the spotlight.
I see this as a “good” event – “good” only in the sense that the Taliban are making a full throttle offensive, and appear to be pissing off the locals just like the knuckleheads in Anbar province did a few years back. As the civilians flee out of Swat, then maybe finding the Taliban becomes easier. I just hope aid organizations have enough capacity to help the refugees while Pakistan clears out that valley.
Now may be a good time to give to your preferred international aid agency. These guys are excellent:
Doctor’s Without Borders
What I haven’t been able to determine yet is how much support we’re giving Pakistan right now for this particular crisis. If the Taliban is pissing off the population, now is the time for us to kick in with some serious Hearts & Minds operations.
But this concerns me:
The United States will soon provide $400 million in emergency economic assistance to Pakistan, President Barack Obama said as he vowed to support the democratic government as quickly as possible towards overcoming militant insurgency…“We are helping Pakistan combat the insurgency within its borders—including $400 million in immediate assistance that we are seeking from Congress, which will help the government as it steps up its efforts against the extremists,” Obama said, emerging from trilateral talks he hosted with President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart.
I’d rather have us on the ground dispensing aid ourselves rather than giving the money to Pakistan to do it. We all know what happens then. Sure, keep bribe money flowing…uh, I mean foreign aid…for the government officials, but do the heavy lifting ourselves for this specific event.
But I doubt Pakistan would let us do that without some serious arm twisting. Of course, that’s what foreign aid is for!
aha, I am not the only one thinking Bunar is a show piece.
It’s hard to figure out what’s going on in West Pakistan. The Taliban moves into Buner. Then they move out. Or the government kicked them out. Whatever.
And I suspect that’s the point.
I think the Pakistani government is playing a complicated double game, trying to chivvy the Taliban back into Afghanistan, selectively pressuring groups that have a presence further from the border and a more aggressive agenda inside Pakistan with a carrot and stick military/political approach, while laying off groups that are willing to use their redoubts in NWFP and FATA only for rest and resupply as they stick it to the West in Afghanistan. (For an analysis of the Awami National Party’s anxious and equivocal efforts to play footsie with local Taliban-affiliated militants in Swat on its own behalf and with the support of the central government, see this post.)
I for one am now declaring Pakistan dead. They worth more as failed than functioning state. Count down until regime change. Or failed coup.
Baluchistan sparsely populated province has copper, uranium, gas.
Somebody is pouring massive amount of money on Baluchistan independence movement. Even a non state actor will contemplate this since it is highly profitable.
Forget it. It’s time to get the hell out of Afghanistan.
How crucial Balochistan is to Washington can be assessed by the study “Baloch Nationalism and the Politics of Energy Resources: the Changing Context of Separatism in Pakistan” by Robert Wirsing of the US Army think-tank Strategic Studies Institute. Predictably, it all revolves around Pipelineistan.
China – which built Gwadar and needs gas from Iran – must be sidelined by all means necessary. The added paranoid Pentagon component is that China could turn Gwadar into a naval base and thus “threaten” the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
At present, most Baluch leaders do not call for independence. They are ready to settle for the provincial autonomy envisaged in the 1973 Pakistani constitution, which successive military regimes, including the present one, have nullified. What the Baluch, Sindhis and a third, more assimilated ethnic minority, the Pushtuns, want above all is an end to blatant economic discrimination by the dominant Punjabis. Most of Pakistan’s natural resources are in Baluchistan, including natural gas, uranium, copper and potentially rich oil reserves, both onshore and offshore. Although 36 percent of the gas produced in Pakistan comes from the province, Baluchistan consumes only a fraction of its production because it is the most impoverished area of Pakistan. For decades, Punjabi-dominated central governments have denied Baluchistan a fair share of development funds and paid only 12 percent of the royalties due to the province for the gas produced there.
“Reporting from Washington — The Obama administration’s emphasis on the war in Afghanistan, including an influx of additional troops, has exposed weaknesses in U.S. military planning that top officers are scrambling to address.
The U.S. military command structure in Afghanistan was designed for a much smaller force. But with the increase ordered by President Obama, the number of U.S. troops will rise to 60,000 by the end of summer and is expected to reach 68,000; NATO troops are increasing to 35,000. The U.S.-led force needs a larger headquarters operation, military officials and experts said.
Some officials favor assigning a second commanding general with a large staff of officers — similar to the approach taken when the number of troops was increased in Iraq in 2007.” … etc.
“Up to 500,000 terrified residents of Pakistan’s Swat valley have fled or else are desperately trying to leave as the military steps up an operation using fighter jets and helicopter gunships to “eliminate” Taliban fighters.
As the military intensified what may be its most determined operation to date against militant extremists, the UN said 200,000 people had already arrived in safe areas in the past few days while another 300,000 were on the move or were poised to leave
The government had initially hoped to bring an end to two years of violence in the former tourist haven by signing a controversial peace deal which saw it agree to the establishment of sharia law in the valley and in neighbouring areas. However,the ceasefire appeared to encourage Taliban militias and their fighters slipped into the adjacent area of Buner.
The military operations are taking place in three districts over some 400 square miles. Much of the fighting has been in the city of Mingora, home to 360,000 people before the insurgency. Among those who remain, some have said they had been prevented from leaving by the Taliban who may to use them as human shields.”
Pakistani generals Beg and Gul are ardent supporters of the “Talibanization” (read Wahhabization) of Pakistan. They helped create the Taliban back when.
The Saudi’s very own “religious police” organized same for the Taliban. Presumably the folks in Swat have memories.
Three countries recognized the Taliban’s Wahhabistan: Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan, as I recall. Winks and nods from Washington…yes….Unocal and all that not to mention Zbig’s geopolitics and neo-Great Game stuff.
For a quick refresher on that era see Ahmed Rahid’s book entitled “Taliban” (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001). He explains the UNOCAL pipeline project for those interested.
On the Wahhabi-Deobandi thing, one can start with:
Barbara Daly Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982).
Re: “Bunar is a staged theater.”
From The BBC:
“Aid groups have warned of a human tide of up to 500,000 people fleeing their homes. The UN said an estimated 200,000 have fled the Swat valley and its main town, Mingora, in the past few days alone, while another 300,000 are poised to flee if they get the chance. This would create a total of one million people forced from their homes by fighting in the past 12 months. It represents the biggest internal displacement of people in Pakistan since independence more than 60 years ago…
While journalists are, in effect, prevented from reaching the war zone, the military’s operation – which involves more than 5,000 troops pitched against an estimated 5,000 Taliban fighters – appears unexpectedly firm, and officials said that 140 militants had already been killed in the past two days. Some observers had wondered whether the army, trained and prepared to fight a conventional war against India, had the will or the capability to take on a well-trained guerrilla enemy.”…etc.
5,000 troops against 5,000 Taliban? (is this a typo?) What do these numbers indicate, if anything? Shouldn’t the ratio of Pak forces be higher?
Quickie Wiki on Swat sit:
Shame, used to be some nice trout fishing up there.
Once again, Professor Kiracofe embodies the spirit underlying the motto of a famous school as well as an extraordinary American family:
Non Incautus Futuri
Here’s loose translation of this Latin phrase: Only two types of people — those who sell out and those who stand tall.
With that in mind, surely it is reasonable to argue that the historical figures –Washington and Lee — would agree wholeheartedly that Professor Kiracofe is not unmindful of the future . After all, Professor Kiracofe obviously has put it all on the line and he writes under his own name.
And, yes, I voted for Obama but when it comes to his AfPak policy, at least to date, I can’t help but wish he had a commemorative plaque on his desk that read “Non Incautus Futuri” A transforming and transcending mantra, perhaps.
is also worth noting.
Many in the English language media within the country as well as in the foreign media maintain that the fight against the Taliban in Pakistan is somehow a fight between the forces of liberalism and democracy against the forces of religious extremism and a theocratic impulse. This is entirely wrong.
The forces of liberalism, democracy and secularism lost the fight sixty years ago when the Objectives Resolution was passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Since then, at best these forces have a fought a losing battle against the Islamisation of Pakistan. Today, Pakistan is firmly and without argument an Islamic state with a constitution that clearly and unambiguously states that no laws can be repugnant to Islam.
What Pakistan has seen since the death of Mohammad Ali Jinnah in 1948 is essentially a fight between competing visions of piety. For the first twenty years of its existence, Pakistan was under the sway of a ‘kinder and gentler’ version of Islamic practice as envisioned by the Sufi influenced Hanafi-Barelvi majority of the country.
Once General Zia-ul Haq took over and the Afghan war started, the religious centre of the country rapidly shifted under official patronage towards the more austere and extreme Wahhabi-Deobandi interpretation of Islam. The Taliban are a product of that interpretation and find support within the country from those that adhere to that vision of Islam even outside the border areas.
Once the non-Taliban types are fully mobilised, what we will see is not necessarily a victory of secular democratic forces but rather of the Islamic ideation of a different mindset; but still very much Islamic and perhaps even equally extreme in its own way. I do not believe that Pakistan is headed towards an Iranian-style theocracy but we might not end up too far from it either.
Hindus have the story of the demon Raktabija, each drop of blood of his that hit the ground would sprout into a thousand demons. Clearly unusual military tactics were needed to beat him.
It seems to me that the indiscriminate way in which the Pakistani Army is bombarding Swat and creating refugees poses us with a Raktabija-type situation: this will aid in Taliban recruitment.
Of course, we cannot leave Pakistan alone even if nukes weren’t in play, because there are American soldiers in Afghanistan that are at risk of attack from Taliban bases on the Pakistani side of the border.
But every action we take seems to create more enemies than it eliminates.
I think we must seriously examine whether it is possible to meet America’s security interests while not having any troops in Afghanistan at all – precisely because of this Raktabija problem.
1. “Operationally speaking, as the army battles to cleanse Swat and adjoining areas of the Taliban, the adversary is likely to use a two-pronged strategy: one, it would like to involve the army in a war of attrition. The groups in Swat are well-disposed to do so given that they are battle-hardened and can get a supply of fighters from other areas.
Before launching the operation in Swat, the army began clearing up Lower Dir, which offers the fighters in Swat their crucial line of communication through Bajaur. The degree of difficulty or, conversely, ease of replenishing men and material, would depend on how effective or otherwise the army has been in Lower Dir and to what extent it can monitor any movement from Lower Dir into Swat.
It must be accepted, however, that even if the army has done a good job in Lower Dir, it is next to impossible to hermetically seal Swat from Lower Dir. Lower Dir itself is abutted west by Bajaur Agency where the army has been quite successful. Yet, Taliban groups do operate sporadically in that area, as also in Mohmand, which is south of Bajaur.
Further, the Swat Taliban are also likely to get fresh fighters from parts of Punjab and it is safe to assume that that replenishment activity has already begun. Even if the army manages to block parts of the Swat Taliban’s communication lines, they could still keep the army engaged and, with some flexibility, inflict attrition on the troops.
Two, given the organised networks, it is beyond any doubt that the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine has chalked out a comprehensive plan to use terrorist tactics across Pakistan against high-value and soft targets. One of the basic tenets of military strategy is to relieve pressure at point A by opening other fronts for the enemy.
The Punjab government has already called in the Rangers in Mianwali and Bhakkar which seems to suggest that it is trying to pre-empt that possibility as well as monitor the possible movement of terrorist cadres from Punjab moving north to join the fight in Swat. Yet, let no one remain in any doubt that the initiative and the element of surprise remains with the terrorists.”
2. “PESHAWAR: Taliban on Friday blew up the shrine of Sheikh Umar Baba at Regi area of the city, locals told Daily Times. According to the police, the explosives had been planted near the pillars of the centuries-old shrine, APP reported. Locals said a blast around 3am destroyed the shrine situated on Palosi Road. A local resident said the villagers were now worried about other shrines in the area. Meanwhile, the Taliban also blew up two plazas and killed a local activist in Adezai area in the Mattani Police Station jurisdiction. Adezai Union Council Nazim Abdul Malik told reporters that Taliban had planted bombs in two plazas that went off around 2am on Friday. He said at least 16 shops and houses were destroyed in the blast. Taliban also killed a local activist, Shamim, in the Adezai village around 8am on Friday.”
I agree with your posting regarding the competing visions of Islam in Pakistan.
Unfortunately for Pakistan, the structural, intellectual, and cultural foundations of a restricted but stable form of representative government – like the Islamic Republic of Iran – do not exist.
In regards to India – what keeps them together except Hiduism?
Secretary of Defense Gates has asked for the resignation of Gen. David McKiernan and plans to appoint Lieutenant General Stanley A. McChrystal to the post.
Gates refused to detail why he asked for McKiernan’s resignation. Instead he said that the Afghanistan mission “requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders. Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is needed.”
During British times, Sind, NWFP, Punjab had restricted representative government; in Punjab it was a Muslim-Hindu-Sikh coalition – the Unionists – which collapsed when the British announced a definite date of leaving. The rest of India had no larger experience with democracy than these provinces. (There are claims like this by Prof. Muhlberger for ancient India, but they would apply to what is now Pakistan also, and how are they relevant for today?)
As to what keeps India together except Hinduism? Really, you are able to construct “Hinduism” from something that is doctrinally more diverse than the combination (Christianity + Islam + Judaism) because there is a common, longstanding agreement not to fight over these differences. By fight, I mean “take up arms”. There is a long tradition of debate and dispute in India. Indeed, one of my father’s friends has the surname “Prativaadhi-Bhayankara” or “Awesome Debater” because of an ancestor who lived probably ten centuries ago.
That I’m not making up this accomodation of different beliefs is proven by the few historical occasions when there actually has been an armed conflict in pre-modern times.
What keeps fundamentalist Christianity and Islam from fitting in this matrix is the claim of exclusivity that these religions make. The Great Mughal Akbar was able to build a lasting empire (and the eternal wrath of various mullahs) by accomodating Hindus. Even as late as the 19th century, we have British exclamations about the Hindu indifference to proselytizers intruding on Hindu holy places. Belief was simply not something to fight over.
To return to what holds India together – the various peoples with their varied languages, traditions and beliefs who comprised India – including many Muslims – saw the advantages of the form brought by the British – parliamentary democracy – and embraced it. It allows a unity that was not possible under monarchs, despite a shared civilizational consciousness. Also the railroad and telecommunications made it practically feasible to belong to one country – let us not discount that.
re Curious’ comment re Gates replacing McKiernan:
When Gates was asked what new tactics he (Gates) would employ that might complement the president’s new strategy, Gates replied, “That’s why I’m putting in LG McChrystal and LG Rodriguez (as his deputy).”
Although Gates made plain that he is not going to be micromanaging AFPAK he does expect both these officers to bring something to the game that McKiernan does not.
Anybody have any idea what that might be? (Until today LG Rodriguez had been an assistant to Gates specializing in COIN.)
Thank you for your reply.
I too often had wondered whether from the stand point of Hinduism the 3 Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not a single religion. Than you for confirming that.
“All the three secular parties ruling Sindh have fallen apart. The MQM and the ANP have inclined to ethnic politics, the latter only recently showing inclination to represent all the 4 million Karachi Pashtuns floundering without political leadership because the JUI is almost non-existent there and the Deobandi madrassas are under pressure. The Pashtun is also pushed into a corner by the rise of the Barelvi clergy, which is increasingly militant and shows an anti-Pashtun ethnic bias like the MQM. While opposed to the Taliban in the rest of Pakistan, it is not oblivious of the prospect of a grand weaning of the radicalised Pashtun back under the ethnic banner.
There is no doubt that it has reports from the police about the infiltration of “Taliban-type” Pashtuns into the city. There have been encounters in the Pashtun-dominated areas where such elements have been arrested too. But, based on their perception of the role of the MQM, the Sindh government is not willing to take the kind of action that the MQM wants it to take. Pashtun and Muhajir ethnic gangs are clashing in the night in Karachi, leaving a lot of people dead.
More confusion is going to follow when Imran Khan is finished with Karachi and the Jama’at-e Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hassan turns his attention to the divided city. He and Mr Khan are in unison against the military operation in Swat, saying the army is killing its own people at America’s behest. The two have the capacity to attract Pashtuns, especially on the basis of their pro-Taliban slogan. Mr Hassan, while talking to Jama’at processionists in Lahore the other day, asked them to “make preparations” because an “announcement for jihad may be made during the coming days”. Karachi may therefore become a “suitable” place for this jihad because the ruling triad is in disarray there.
The Muhajir-Sindhi divide has slid into the background and a Muhajir-Pashtun divide has come to the fore, in no small measure helped by the FATA diaspora into Karachi because of the civil war-like conditions there. As the army goes after the Taliban in the Malakand region more Pashtuns will trickle down to Karachi. The instinct of the ANP as an ethnic party is to give them a political safety net, only at the cost of sharpening its contradiction with the MQM whose electoral strength in Karachi is overwhelming — a fact that both ANP and PPP must pay proper heed to.”
Would the white pasty faced NeoCOINists and sundry White House sycophants like to explain how their “strategy” for the “wogs” in Afghanistan is going to settle things down for the “wogs” in Pakistan, say Karachi for example?
What are all these white Neo-“Whiz Kids” (remember them?), military and civilian, smoking these days, or are they just eating opium laced Paan?
[Irony notice: I have nothing against Paan personally, a rather nice delicacy:
Kamran Shafi writes in the Dawn about all the things the American military **does not** do.
I saw no evidence of banks and travel agencies and textile mills and sugar factories and cornflakes-manufacturing mills and estate agencies being run by the US army (or the US navy and the US air force for that matter) in my travels across America. Armed forces stations were just that: armed forces stations with limited access to civilians, and those too who were accompanied by a member of the armed forces or their dependent(s). Neither, and this is important, does the US army run farming operations and get into disputes with the tenant farmers who till the land as share-croppers.
Since one mostly drives in the US to get from point A to B, many were the times that I came upon army convoys on the highways. Every single time the convoy travelled in the slow lane, at the designated speed, the drivers with both hands on the steering wheels, headgear on, looking straight ahead. No slouching, no cigarette hanging from the drooping lower lip Humphrey Bogart style. In the back, if there were soldiers being transported, they sat up straight, headgear on, no slouching, no smoking. And no leering at passing cars either!
Never has a US army captain who was given a ticket for a traffic infringement gone back to his barracks, filled a truck or two with soldiers from his company, and driven to the police station to which the offending policeman belonged, and proceeded to beat up everybody in sight. Never has a US army general’s wife got so infuriated by her driver being ticked off by a police constable that the local army authorities kidnapped the offender and beat the daylights out of him, among other ministrations.
Thanks for the kind words.
1. FYI, I am teaching a course “Energy and Global Politics” at W & L this spring semester. Af-Pak fits into a larger context.
In class we are using:
William Engdahl, A Century of War. Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (London: Pluto, 2004)
Rafael Kandiyati, Pipelines. Flowing Oil and Crude Politics (London: IB Taruis, 2008).
2. For a quick journalistic overview of the general situation impacting AFPAK:
3. For the continuity of US policy — Clinton-Bush Jr — Obama in this regard see Brzezinski’s “The Global Chessobard”.
“Perhaps the merry band of 40ish NeoCOINist officers (and a certain Australian buddy of theirs) should take their pasty white faces out of the library and get the asses into the field and into the dung-littered mud.”
A stupid, petty remark.
Petty because your CV is not the CV of someone who has the standing to lecture McMaster/Kilcullen/Nagl/McFarland/Fick/Exum et al (McMaster and McFarland are loosely affiliated at most) on the need to get into the field, and anyone who teaches or has taught at VMI understands that “go into the field” represents a very specific thing to the group of people that you describe as “pasty white”. I say this as a product of VMI’s IS Dept – there’s no way that you don’t know better.
Stupid because your basic point seems sound – the Punjab will show some degree (TBD, but likely significant) of resistance to the codes of behavior that the “Taliban” (a loose term) have historically required. Roger, got it. It’s a good point – too bad you made it awfully easy to write you off as a buffoon.
1. Bloody battle looms for Mingora
* Residents say Taliban have mined roads and dug trenches around 200,000 trapped civilians encircled by Pakistani troops
ISLAMABAD: A deadly battle is looming over the capital of Swat, where armed Taliban have mined roads and dug trenches around 200,000 trapped civilians encircled by Pakistani troops, say residents and officials.
Ground forces have so far avoided close urban combat since launching a renewed offensive to crush the Taliban, instead massing on the outskirts while the Taliban mine exit and entry points, building up for a huge showdown.”
2. “Second, in trying to cope with the difficult task of administering the camps and in aid of the jihad, we permitted jihadi parties, particularly the more fundamentalist among them, to exercise considerable amount of control in the camps and to propagate their distorted version of Islam. It was in these camps and in the schools run by these parties that the seeds of extremism were planted. Today, there is talk of screening new arrivals in tents to ensure that no Taliban find sanctuary, but it is even more important to ensure that volunteers at camps do not share the Taliban’s worldview.
It was disquieting, in this context, to read a report in the Guardian by Declan Walsh that one of the first refugee camps to be set up at Sher Gur, a few hundred meters from the Malakand Division boundary, is being run by the Falah-e Insaniat Foundation, the renamed relief wing of the Jama’at-ud Dawa. According to this story, the FIF camp is conspicuously well funded and organised, “particularly in comparison with the chaotic efforts of the government”.
While FIF spokespersons said they had no political agenda, Walsh noted that in nearby Mardan, bearded activists manned a fundraising tent festooned with FIF signs and the group’s distinctive black and white flags with banners conveying the political message: “Stop the killing of Muslims”.
It should be clear that winning the hearts and minds of the refugees will not be possible if such activities are permitted by organisations that have a very different agenda. Screening refugees will be a difficult if not impossible task but preventing such organisations from having any role in the relief effort and maintaining complete control of the camps is well within our competence.”
3. “The Afghan opium trade, operating almost unchecked by US intervention in the area, has spread out into government corruption and widespread heroin addiction throughout Afghanistan and Iran….A common sentiment that he found throughout his interviews in Afghanistan was the idea that “Afghan officials work with the drug dealers, or sometimes, are the drug dealers.”
As an example of the relationship, Lasseter refers to the upscale areas where top Afghan officials live in Kabul as “poppy palaces,” expensive dwellings that most Afghans could afford to inhabit, not even government workers. “Those are houses in Kabul in relatively upscale areas where rents run into the $1,000 or up to $10,000 that are frequently owned by Afghan officials or those connected witht them who would seem to have no legal means by which to own that real estate, much less at the expense of armoured vehicles which often pull up around them,” Lasseter says. Because of the extensive corruption and lack of social infrastructure, the order and enforcement of law has precariously short reach in Afghanistan, emphasizing an already chaotic country that some call a “narco-state.” “There are many who would argue that the grid of the government in Kabul doesn’t extend very far from Kabul,” Lasseter says. …”
Source: Frontier Post [Pakistan]. May 15, 2009.
1. No counter-insurgency training needed: Kayani
Sunday, May 17, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistani Army does not require any generalised foreign training for countering insurgency, except for very specialised weapons, equipment and high technology.
In a press release issued by ISPR on Saturday, the COAS said, “Pakistan Army has developed a full range of counter insurgency training facilities, tailored to train troops for such operations.”
He was commenting on remarks from various quarters on the level of Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) training of the Pakistani troops and about their shifting from eastern borders. ”
2. “Then the service members of Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan began, each firing round after round from their respective M-4 Carbine and M-16 A-4 rifles, improving their accuracy with each shot.
But the rifle sight adjustment exercise lost its simplicity when a powerful sand storm engulfed the Marines and sailors as they lay across the firing line. Sand filled their mouths and nostrils, covered their weapons and eliminated all visibility of their targets ahead.
Being outside the protective wire for the first time, the events symbolized the unpredictability of Afghanistan, as well as that of their future missions to follow. The storm cleared off and returned for hours to follow. The sun later set under blue skies….”
And notice the photo of the white American fellow and the locals….