Losing Pakistan – FB Ali

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35 Responses to Losing Pakistan – FB Ali

  1. Brig. Ali,
    Thank you for a realistic and frank assessment. I have been to Pakistan from Karachi to Lahore to Islamabad and enjoyed my work there and the people in government and in civilian life I met. Over Christmas 2008, I was in Punjab on the Indian side having a visit with old friends and a look around.
    It is well that you can speak your mind in Canada, and in this virtual space, as stateside serious criticism of the US imperial project — whether Bush or Obama — is considered by many as “unpatriotic.” Indeed, even some (anonymous) SST readers get hysterical when their favorite godlike CI heros, for just one example, are criticised in a policy context skeptical of CI for “AFPAK.”
    There are many elements, factions, and whatever that benefit from the current US global crusade and Ike pointed squarely to the military-industrial [and financial] complex.
    On the Pentagon side, there is evidently no lack of Alcibiades wannabees and CI, among other items, is useful to them to flummox the White House and Congress. Sugar plum fairies and plenty of greenbacks await retired brass as “consultants” to the military-industrial complex if they “do the right thing” while in uniform and toe the imperial line. Some honest souls do resign, however.
    The improper and lucrative militarization of foreign policy — and overall national strategy — is nothing new in the US as Cold War, post NSC-68, policy indicates. The military-industrial complex routinely produces self-serving “scenarios” which then Congress rubber stamps as it votes on the “Defense” budget.
    Even the Wall Street Journal carries the following which is symbolic of our present crusade and “global strategy”:
    “Deep beneath the desolate landscape here are miles of canals that have watered wheat fields and vineyards for untold generations. They’re also at the center of a dispute that handed the Taliban a propaganda victory and angered the very people the U.S. military hopes to win over through its troop surge.”
    “Rushing to expand a base to fit the new forces, American commanders seized farmland and built on top of these ancient underground-irrigation systems. The blunder is an indication of how fragile the effort to win public backing for the U.S.-led war can be. In some cases, the tension is over civilian casualties; in others, it’s about the corruption of U.S. allies in the Afghan government. Here, it’s an accidental clash of infrastructure technologies separated by a few yards of dirt and 3,000 years…..” and so on.
    In our HI103 World History course at VMI, required of all entering freshmen, students are exposed not only to ancient Bactria but also to the Persian qanat system and its implications. The excellent Bentley-Zeigler textbook is standard and is used across the US in college.
    I do try my best to present Alcibiades in appropriate context.

  2. arbogast says:

    Reading this, which, to my mind, is absolutely required reading, I was reminded so much of Hezbollah.
    Can it even remotely be argued that the ascendance of Hezbollah in Lebanon is not a direct result of the brutality of Israel?
    Why is there a single American soldier in Afghanistan?

  3. Arun says:

    Pakistan has lost it.
    The Nation reports that Cheney ordered the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

  4. S.A.Malik says:

    Mr F.B.Ali is one of the few who is willing to think Pakistan’s current problems to their logical end; and therefore, one of the few who understands better than most what is happening here.
    It is Pakistan now, which has become the core problem, with Afghanistan being peripheral to it. Therefore it is vitally important to shore up Pakistan before the US attempts to mend Afghanistan. If Pakistan spins out of control,it will destabalise the whole area, and Afghanistan will not be even in the news.
    Many things have combined to bring Pakistan to its present pass i.e reaction to the drone attacks;reaction to the Pakistan army’s occupation of Fata areas; anti-americanism; the spirit of revenge;religion, and its interpretation of it, etc etc. But the essential underpinning which unites all the militant forces in a common objective i.e to overthrow the existing order, is the feeling of deprivation shared by all the have-nots. They have suffered over sixty years of injustice and indiginity at the hands of the administration committed to serving vested interests, and suffered it without mitigation. And when these people join up with the militants, they are immediately empowered, much like kids of slums in the US are empowered when they become members of a gang. A policeman or a revenue official or land-owner who could slap them around with impunity, start cowering in front of them, the moment they beome a part of a militant outfit.
    Without committed malignance of governance, it was impossible for Pakistan to reach the degradation in which it now grovels, at the behest of the ruling elite, who have done little except rob their country at the cost of the poor man who is now taking up arms against the establishment.
    Without good governance Pakistan cannot be turned around, no matter what the army may do, and no matter how many drones the US fires. And when the US has foisted upon Pakistan the chief thug of the country as its President, with the hope that he will do US bidding and overcome the insurgency, is like crossing a sow with a crocodile with the hope that a fine arab stallion will be born from this blessed union.

  5. I have come to regard the comments and postings of F.B. Ali with full attention because of their credibility and thoughtfulness. I am beginning to think that for the Pakistani people themselves going NUKE was the great disaster! Just as OIL and its follies are destroying not helping the basic resource of a number of countries (specifically their people) the NUKEs in Pakistan have raised the “Alarm Bell in the Night” to the West as to the threat of their capture by radicals. It is distorting all US policy clearly. I believe renunciation of “First Use” which should be an international priority for the UN and all nuclear capable nations, and the allowing of inspection by International Teams of nuclear safeguards might help lower the tension and focus on this issue and Pakistan itself could evolve in the way it wishes. Short of that I believe again the ignorance and incompetence of the US foreign policy and military establishment should be brought to a rapid halt by a bipartisan and non-partisan Commission reporting to the President and Congress on the history of past and current relationships with Pakistan and recommendations for the future. Can India and China and Russia help with getting the US out of another of its quagmires? Hope so!

  6. curious says:

    I was trying to figure out what Pakistan Parliament is doing. (in light of offensive)
    Can’t find anything.
    but current composition of Pakistan parliament:
    Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) PML/Q 40
    Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan MMA 21
    Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians PPPP 11
    Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Pakistan supposedly was formed because they are pissed. US bombing and all.
    the MMA, is a coalition opposition, after United States started bombing Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.

  7. F B Ali says:

    William R Cumming:
    Thank you. Many disasters have, unfortunately, befallen the Pakistani people. Going ‘nuclear’ is only part of a bigger calamity: for 60 years the wealth of the country (and much foreign aid) has been spent on the military instead of the country and the people. What has the military done in return for all this largesse? It lost half the country in 1971, and is now well on its way (with some significant US assistance) to losing the rest.
    You are quoting the composition of the Senate in 2003.

  8. curious says:

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s strengthened mandate after India’s general election frees his hand to better manage ties with Pakistan that have deteriorated since last year’s Mumbai attacks.
    While there may not be any major peace moves, Singh could make a limited opening to Pakistan now he no longer needs to worry about a weakened Hindu nationalist opposition criticising him as being soft on India’s nuclear rival.
    These include dropping a travel advisory and reviving people-to people contacts that have been severely affected since the Mumbai attacks of November.
    Singh will likely stop short of relaunching peace talks suspended since the raids, first focusing on bringing more international pressure on Islamabad to clamp down on militants.

  9. Mark Stuart says:

    Am i crazy to look back at the days of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq with nostalgia?
    Am i totally off when i say that the role the US is allowing India to play in Afghanistan might be a bigger source of instability for Pakistan-US relations regarding Af-Pak policies, rather than Pakistan nuclear armament or the ‘Talibanization’ of the Swat Valley?
    Could anyone shed some light on India’s presence in Afghanistan and its potential implications for the region and our foreign policies vis-a-vis Af-Pak?

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mark Stuart;
    Indians are building roads in Afghanistan.
    Their strategic community has been out-maneuvered in Afghanistan by China.
    It was not so much US “allowing India” in – it was more like Indians begging US to let them “play” in Afghanistan; the Indians seemed to have wanted to be the junior partner of US (against China) – a delusion.
    In regards to the Mr. Zia – another Punjabi General that removed a democratically elected Sindhi Prime Minister and presided over the judicial murder of that said PM. A man that planted the seeds of today’s whirlwind in NWFP by militarizing that region. I guess he was taking sides in the Cold War between US and USSR for dubious geopolitical gains (The idea of Afghanistan as Pakistan’s geopolitical depth was another delusion of Pakistan that keeps on persisting.)
    Yes, you are crazy if you are missing him and his times.

  11. Mark Stuart says:

    Dear Babak Makkinejad:
    With all due respect Sir,the fact that India begged or didn’t beg the US to “play” in Afghanistan was not the issue i was trying to raise.
    The fact is that India is today “playing” in Afghanistan and is willing to, as you put it, play “junior partner of US (against China)” under America’s watch.
    So the question is:
    doesn’t this new aggressive and clear positioning of India in Afghanistan (under US control) bound to create some fears, suspicions in Pakistan’s Intel Community about the US policies in the Af-Pak region? and isn’t that more susceptible to create instability and danger for our strategic partnership with them, more than their nuclear armament does (as suggested by some on here) ?
    Furthermore, comparing Zia’s track record on democracy and freedom with his predecessor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is in my opinion a futile and unproductive exercise in demagoguery and popular discourse. They were both strong men, to say the least, who shared the same high handed harsh approach when it came to political opponents.
    But you cannot deny that it is under his watch that the consolidation of denationalization and deregulation took place and lead to a rejuvenated economy. (as a Jeffersonian i cannot but appreciate and salute those initiatives)
    You cannot deny that it is under his watch that Balochistan was pacified and we benefited from the strongest support against the Soviets.
    Now the fact that he was not able to work out a fair and lasting solution for all the tribal, feudal and ethnic disputes plaguing Pakistan might have been part of what brought his demise. But again, under his watch we benefited a lot in terms of military and political support and stability in this strategic area, and so did the Pakistani people.
    Now i can appreciate your concern regarding a Punjabi taking over a Sindhi or Pashtun taking over a Muhajir, or a Balochi taking over a Sindhi, or a …etc But the relationship between the different ethnic groups within Pakistan is an issue that Pakistanis themselves will have to sort out. And considering the modern political culture based on feudalism, big family names and corruption that plagues Pakistan political system today, i am convinced that one ethnic group is worth the other in terms of our strategic partnership with Pakistan.
    Mark Stuart

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mark Stuart:
    Thank you for your email.
    The answer to your 2 questions are affirmative.
    However, the scale of the issues alluded to in theose questions are not, in my opinion, significant since the current rulers of Pakistan cannot do anything to redress them – they are too beholden to US.
    My positive recollections of Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto have to do with the path on which he had set Pakistan: Competetive Elections after years of military rule, (limited) Land Reform, and finally Hope for the Future.
    General Haq had none of that and his so-called federalism only strengthened the most inflexible feudal elements in Pakistan.
    Yes, General Pinochet also improved the economy of Chile but at the cost of scarring the psyche of that country for decades to come and destroying democracy, rule of law, etc. And once again we come to the words of Jesus, the Blessed son of Mary, who states – in a famous Hadith – “Men are not alive by bread alone…”
    Yes, may be he was good for US strategic aims but, in my judgement, he was a disaster for Pakistan.
    You throw your lot with Punjabi elite who are adamant about the continuing enmity with India, dissing Baluch, Pathan, and Sindhis who do not partake in that hatred against India.
    The Punjabi agenda of fighting US war in Afghanistan in 1980s as well as now, and the permanent hostility to India are not helpful to the people of Pakistan.
    Perhaps a Sindhi elite would do a better job of ruling Pakistan.
    What I do not understand is why so many Americans are so fond of dictators and assorted other “strong men”.

  13. Byron Raum says:

    Your comments do rather bring up a question in my mind. Why do you think the Punjabis have a “permanent” hostility to India? Are they all fighting mostly phantoms like, say, the Israelis?

  14. curious says:

    Your comments do rather bring up a question in my mind. Why do you think the Punjabis have a “permanent” hostility to India? Are they all fighting mostly phantoms like, say, the Israelis?
    Posted by: Byron Raum | 20 May 2009 at 04:38 PM
    History. Inter-religious hostility from colonial era. (divide and conquer)
    The All India Muslim League (AIML) was formed in Dhaka in 1906 by Muslims who were suspicious of the Hindu-majority Indian National Congress. They complained that they were not given same rights as a Muslim member compared to Hindu members. A number of different scenarios were proposed at various times. Among the first to make the demand for a separate state was the writer/philosopher Allama Iqbal, who, in his presidential address to the 1930 convention of the Muslim League said that he felt a separate nation for Muslims was essential in an otherwise Hindu-dominated subcontinent. The Sindh Assembly passed a resolution making it a demand in 1935. Iqbal, Jouhar and others then worked hard to draft Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had till then worked for Hindu-Muslim unity, to lead the movement for this new nation. By 1930, Jinnah had begun to despair of the fate of minority communities in a united India and had begun to argue that mainstream parties such as the Congress, of which he was once a member, were insensitive to Muslim interests. The 1932 communal award which seemed to threaten the position of Muslims in Hindu-majority provinces catalysed the resurgence of the Muslim League, with Jinnah as its leader. However, the League did not do well in the 1937 provincial elections, demonstrating the hold of the conservative and local forces at the time.

  15. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Byron Raum:
    In my opinion, the roots of the hatred goes back to the bloody history of Punjab – the intermittent wars among Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs that went on for centuries.
    Israel is not an apt analogue – former Yugoslavia is.
    Neither Muslim Sindhis nor Muslim Bengalis are so viscerally anti-Indian. Ditto for Baluch and Pathans – to my knowledge.
    In my opinion, the leaders of Pakistan should give up on the “Azad Kashmir” project and go home. They cannot win against India and only dissipate themselves in these fruitless adventures.

  16. curious says:

    There were 36 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan during 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-nine of those attacks took place after Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes in 2006 and 2007 combined.
    During 2008, the US strikes inside Pakistan’s tribal areas killed five senior al Qaeda leaders. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda’s external operations directed at the West.
    Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January 2008.
    Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March 2008.
    Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July 2008.
    Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary Shadow Army, was killed in a region controlled by Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan in October 2008.
    Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and a member of al Qaeda’s top council, was also killed in North Waziristan in October 2008.
    In 2009, US strikes have killed two senior, long-time al Qaeda leaders. Osama al Kini and his senior aide, Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan, were killed in a New Year’s Day strike in South Waziristan. Kini was al Qaeda operations chief in Pakistan. Both men were behind the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya; which killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others.

  17. Mark Stuart says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    “the scale of the issues alluded to in theose questions are not, in my opinion, significant since the current rulers of Pakistan cannot do anything to redress them – they are too beholden to US.”
    I beg to differ. Pakistan Intelligence community and army has been playing the “Mujahideen” card ( arguable terminology but for the sake of analysis, it is the way they view and define themselves) for a long time now. Their relationship is well documented. Neither the army nor the ISI see them as potential immediate “threats or enemies of the sate” the way they view India. But rather as pawns they can pull out when necessary. And considering the role the US is allowing India to play in Afghanistan, i wonder if today is not one of those moments where the “Mujahideen” could play a strategic role in favor of Pakistan, at least seen from a Pakistani geostartegic perspective?
    As to your “positive recollections of Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto…”
    As you stated yourself, it is a matter of recollection. But he was, as well as his family criticized for his “opportunism” and intimidation of political opponents. It is already very well documented for whomever is willing to steer clear from partisanship. You can also read FB Ali’s piece on this site titled Eyes Wide Shut to get a good glimpse at the issues plaguing Pakistan. You will not convince me that any one tribe, ethnic clan or group in Pakistan is better than the other when it comes to controlling corruption, the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
    And while you want to convince me by bringing on the case of Chile, that it’s a bad idea to have a country led by a dictator that puts on top of his agenda a liberal economy, above the building of democratic structures, let me remind you that Chile is today one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations in terms of human development, gross domestic product per capita,competitiveness, quality of life, economic freedom, and political stability .
    As for America’s geostrategic interests in the region is concerned, as long as Pakistanis themselves haven’t agreed on solutions to current issues that plague their country, a Sindhi is equal to a Penjabi to a Muhajeer to any human being for that matter.
    You might believe in the superiority, or a better suited profile of a Sindhi elite, but that is for the Pakistanis to sort out. If we in America sorted out our differences at the Philiadelphia Conventino of 1787, so could any other people. But again don’t blame America for being “fond of dictators” when the only interlocutors with which we are presented are either corrupt (Zardari Family) or “strong” like Musharaf.
    So a dictator for a dictator, i cannot put help being nostalgic of the days of General Zia Ul-Haq for the region, for Pakistan and for America.
    Mark Stuart.

  18. F B Ali says:

    Babak Makkinejad :
    You wrote: “…..Punjabi elite who are adamant about the continuing enmity with India, dissing Baluch, Pathan, and Sindhis who do not partake in that hatred against India. The Punjabi agenda of fighting US war in Afghanistan in 1980s as well as now, and the permanent hostility to India are not helpful to the people of Pakistan”.
    I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. The 1948 incursion into Kashmir was launched by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan (a Mohajir – those who migrated to Pakistan in 1947 from their homes in India); his army chief was a British general; the first wave that went in consisted of Pashtun tribesmen, grandfathers of today’s Taliban. The 1965 war was initiated by President Ayub Khan (a Pashtun); his army chief was General Musa (a Baluchi). The 1971 war was launched by President Yahya Khan (a Pashtun); his army chief was General Hamid Khan (another Pashtun).
    President ZA Bhutto (a Sindhi) started Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program (to counter India’s). President Zia ul Haq supported the Mujahidin in their war in Afghanistan in the 80s; he was an Urdu-speaking Mohajir. The Kargil operation was launched by General Musharraf, another Mohajir.
    In all this, where is the “Punjabi elite” that you seem haunted by? As for ZA Bhutto being a democrat, don’t make me laugh!

  19. Arun says:

    Pakistan is founded on the idea that the Muslims of the subcontinent are a separate nation, even if they lived cheek-to-jowl with everyone else.
    If that idea is basically false, then hostility is the only way to maintain the Pakistani identity.
    We have a term ABCD – American Born Confused Desi (desi being someone from desh, home country as opposed to perdesh, foreign country). This author of this essay http://www.racialicious.com/2009/04/17/searching-for-my-Pakistani-identity/ was not born in the US, but is an ABCD, confused about identity. But it is perceptive essay.
    “Over the years, I’ve found that discussing Pakistani identity is quite problematic and controversial at times because it’s often perceived as “religion versus culture.” Generally speaking, we Pakistanis try to distance ourselves from India as far as possible because we think India is synonymous with Hinduism, therefore “kuffar” (nonbelievers/infidels). It’s silly actually considering that (1) India has the third-largest Muslim population in the world and (2) prior to the partition in 1947, Pakistan was part of India; therefore the similarities in culture, dress, food, and language are inescapable. In any case, many Pakistani Muslims in America cut themselves off from India and Indian culture in pursuit of an “authentic Muslim” identity, which happens to point to the Middle-East. In other words, we take on a pseudo-Arab identity.”
    “If Malcolm X was Pakistani, he’d have a lot to rip into us about. On one hand, we have Pakistanis completely emulating the images and behavior they see in Western pop culture and on the other, we see Pakistani Muslims trying to behave Arab in order to “authenticate” their Muslim identity. Either way, we’re distancing ourselves from our Pakistani and/or South Asian roots. Where did all of this internalized racism and self-hatred come from? Malcolm X was Muslim, but he also taught African-Americans to be proud of their roots and heritage. Why can’t Pakistani Muslims do the same? When bombs fall on Gaza, Pakistani Muslims throw on their keffiyehs, pump their fists in the air, and chant “free Palestine,” but where are they for Pakistan?”

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    FB Ali:
    Thank you for correcting my mistakes. I thought General Zia was a Punjabi because I knew a relative if his that was.
    I am aware of the Late Prime Minister ZA Bhutto’s short-comings. But that path of development and progress that you so much wish for Pakistan had to start from somewhere. It is my opinion that the Late Mr. Bhutto had launched Pakistan on that path. Even when the so-called Islamists opposed him – on the election day – Karachi was covered with the (Red) flags of his party.
    You have correctly have taken me to task for making a generalized comment about the dominance of Punjabi ethos on the foreign and military policy of Pakistan with respect to India. You have pointed out individual leaders from non-Punjabi backgrounds that carried out anti-Indian policies. [I will discount the war immediately after the partition because of the fluidity of the situation.] I accept your criticism and stand corrected. However, my question to you is then this: Why is Pakistan keeping the issue of Kashmir alive if not for the bloody history of Punjab and Punjabis (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh)? Since you are rejecting my thesis of Punjabi agenda dominating Pakistan.
    Mark Stuart:
    Thank you for your comments.
    I am aware of Mr. Bhutto initiating the nuclear program. That does not diminish my central argument – that after years of military rule Mr. Bhutto’s election was a step in the right direction.
    I have read FB Ali’s piece. I agree with him that US could help Pakistan by leaving Afghanistan and refraining from bombing runs in Pakistan.
    But the fundamental cause of all this distress has been the stupidity of the leaders of Pakistan over the last 30 years to fight a war that was not theirs.
    What possible benefit resulted from taking side in the US-USSR War in Afghanistan in 1980s? 20 years ago a number of people in Pakistan warned the government about militarization of NWFP to no avail.
    My thesis has been to attribute the mismanagement of Pakistan to the predominance of the Punjabi elites. You and Brigadier Ali are disputing this thesis. To do so successfully you must demolish my thesis by pointing out to a thorough integration of various ethnic groups within the political and military structure of the Pakistani State and to further establish that the “Azad Kashmir” is an important – nay a burning issue – for all ethnicities of Pakistan. As far as I can tell, you will not be able to – there is not that level of multi-ethnic integration in Pakistan.
    I would like to make it clear that I am neutral in the ethnic mix of Pakistan.
    But IO might be wrong – “often wrong – never in doubt” – as they say.
    I observe here that North American and West European thinkers and commentators almost always find a reason to white-wash foreign dictators. For example, Stalin was the Locomotive Conductor of History, Mao was the man who was ushering in a new era of human progress, and Gen Pinochet an era of economic prosperity. However, when faced with the dictators of their own history there is no limit to denigration of Salazar, Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler – they are all monsters that just fled the depths of Hell.
    Perhaps Pakistan could ask Mr. Obama and the US Congress to become her leaders while US could enjoy the benefits of rule by men such as Pinochet, or Mubarak, or Zia. No doubt there will be economic progress in US.
    Long time ago I read an essay by JS Mill on Liberty which convinced me that liberty is the moral choice. It is only in the case of Joseph Stalin that one is faced with the moral dilemma of choosing between shades of Evil to fight a grater Evil. Mr. Pinochet had no such excuse. And are you absolutely certain – with metaphysical certainty – that the economic changes in Chile could not have been done otherwise?
    I do not have any issue with dealing with the leaders that we have rather than those that we wish for. But must we also search high and wide for reasons to approve of them?
    Really, the only dictator that one could possibly approve of was that denigrated and much maligned “Constitutional Dictator”, Generalissimo Franco – and he had been provoked.
    And in Pakistan, if you wish to be nostalgic for a dictator perhaps you ought to look into the Late Mr. Ayub Khan.
    The issue in the Sub-Continent is that there are 2 Civilizations that cannot coexist peacefully – the Militant Monotheism of Islam with the Organismic Polytheism of Hinduism.
    Perhaps had Mr. Ghandi , Mr. Nehru, and others of their kind not been on the scene then very likely Jinnah and Patel and others like them could reach an understanding and a settlement that would have avoided the Partition.
    But we are where we are. And BJP’s abysmal record in Gujarat actually makes the idea of homeland for Muslim more credible.
    Bangladesh does not have any fights with India. There are Hindus living there and there are Muslims living in West Bengal.
    Pakistan, regardless of her genesis, can and should do likewise, in my opinion.

  21. F B Ali says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    Pakistan has kept the issue of Kashmir alive because this has suited successive rulers as well as the military. Both have used this, and the resulting hostility with India, as a tool to divert public attention from their own problems and failures, and as a means of grabbing substantial portions of the country’s wealth for their own purposes.
    The Punjab has nothing to do with this. Kashmiris are not Punjabis. The Punjab is the one province in Pakistan that does not have its own special agenda; it has always generally adopted a Pakistani point of view. That is why it has several times given strong support to the Sindhi Bhuttos in elections. It was Punjabis who stood up against the repression of Zardari’s police and hoodlums to force him to reinstate the Chief Justice, who is from Baluchistan.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    F B Ali:
    Who is keeping the Kashmiri issue alive?
    Who determines a “Pakistani point of view”?
    Who is Pakistan?

  23. curious says:

    What possible benefit resulted from taking side in the US-USSR War in Afghanistan in 1980s?
    Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 21 May 2009 at 02:56 PM
    Well, for one, massive injection of military gear. Pakistan air force is about even in term of air superiority. Pakistan has relatively big military for the size of its GDP.
    Afghanistan theater was key factor that strained soviet economy.
    Not that anybody can say, what good was all that.
    U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan
    In the 1950s and 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, the United States saw
    Pakistan as a useful ally in the effort to contain the military expansion and political influence of the Soviet Union. For its part, Pakistan saw its relationship with the United
    States as a useful counterweight to India’s military power and its prospective threat to
    Pakistan’s security. Beginning in the mid-1970s, Pakistan responded to India’s 1974
    underground nuclear test by seeking its own nuclear weapons capability. These efforts
    subsequently led the United States to suspend military aid beginning in 1979. Soon
    thereafter, following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. waived its
    sanctions on assistance to Pakistan in an effort to gain its support for the effort to force the withdrawal of the Soviet miliary from Afghanistan. Early in the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States sold Pakistan 40 F-16 A/B combat fighter aircraft, an
    indication of the Reagan Administration’s view of that country’s potential as a supporter against Soviet Union expansionism in South Asia. Yet in spite of the renewal of U.S. aid
    and the development of closer military ties in the early 1980s, many in Congress remained concerned with Pakistan’s developing nuclear weapons program.

  24. curious says:

    Brush up your pakistan-afghanistan history everybody. (These documents from the 70’s read like this week’s news. nothing changes. amazing.)
    The Real War
    Beyond the refugee camps and press conferences in Pakistan, a real and very destructive war was going on inside Afghanistan. Cables from Kabul, AID cross-border reports, DIA summaries and journal articles by the few reporters who bravely ventured into war zones reveal how pockets of mountain tribesmen, toting Chinese automatic rifles and U.S. Stinger missiles, went up against well-armed Soviet and Afghan government forces. Rebel hit-and-run attacks, assassinations of PDPA members, car bombs, rocket attacks on government-held garrisons and cities and other guerrilla tactics were met with massive aerial bombardments, mine-sowing operations, bribes and civic action campaigns from Kabul. Places like Paghman, Khost, the Panjshir Valley, Sarobi, and Jalalabad, where the mujahidin continually bogged Soviet forces down, became familiar names to observers of this war just as Hue and Khe Sanh had in Vietnam, where for years Viet Cong rebels tied down U.S. and South Vietnamese troops.
    But as fierce as they were, the “Muj” were not the Viet Cong. It is true that U.S. military aid improved the rebels’ battlefield performance. One Pentagon report claimed that Stingers forced “more tactical and air support changes in the last quarter of 1986 and the first quarter of 1987 than in the previous 7 years of the conflict.”(21) Also, more and better land mines allowed the rebels to disrupt Soviet supply lines and ground communications, which were already hampered by the lack of railways and good roads. No matter how much military, humanitarian, or psychological support the United States provided them, however, the mujahidin remained fractious. It was not uncommon for one rebel group to turn its guns on another.
    The United States was well aware of rebel infighting even before the Soviet intervention. In 1979, rebel leaders confided to U.S. officials that they likened the idea of a dissident provisional government to “putting five different animals in the same cage.”(22) Saudi Arabia managed to stimulate some rebel unity by withholding aid from the various mujahidin parties until they agreed to coalesce and form a united opposition front. Yet foreign aid often did more to divide the rebels than to unite them. The Saudi government, which deposited many of its contributions into a CIA Swiss bank account, also gave direct support to several fundamentalist groups. Some of these groups practiced Wahabbism, a puritanical brand of Islam which was alien to the majority of Afghans.
    Iran supported the Shiite rebels, who played an important military role in the western part of the country but were left out of power-sharing arrangements made by the Sunni alliance in Peshawar. For its part, the Pakistani military doled out a disproportionate amount of CIA-purchased weapons to Hekmatyar’s radical Hizb-i Islami party, which often used the arms against rival rebel groups.
    The lack of unity impeded rebel attempts to overthrow the PDPA. The more moderate, or “traditionalist,” rebel groups, such as those led by Sibghatullah Mojaddedi and Sayyid Ahmad Gailani, proposed finding a unifying leader, and they had a candidate: former king Zahir Shah. In July 1987, a poll conducted among Afghan refugees by the independent Afghan Information Center indicated popular support for Zahir Shah as an alternative head of state for Afghanistan. Hekmatyar and other leaders denounced the poll as propaganda by the “monarchists.” But U.S. officials had evidence from their own observations and conversations that many Afghans might unite around the former king for an interim period if only to help find a more expedient way to negotiate a Soviet withdrawal and an end to the war. Many Afghans also believed that the king, who they conceded could have been a stronger leader during his 40-year reign, was someone they could rally around to oppose the unpopular, but powerful, Hekmatyar. Diego Cordovez and his U.N. team also recognized the king as a potential key to a settlement and kept in regular contact with Zahir Shah’s representatives at his Rome residence.

  25. Mark Stuart says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    You say:
    “The issue in the Sub-Continent is that there are 2 Civilizations that cannot coexist peacefully – the Militant Monotheism of Islam with the Organismic Polytheism of Hinduism.”
    Then a couple of lines later you state:
    “Bangladesh does not have any fights with India. There are Hindus living there and there are Muslims living in West Bengal.”
    Where is that elusive Huntingtonian clash of civilization so cherished by the ones who fail to make an effort to understand the “other one”?
    Yes, as you say they are places where hindus and muslims can and do live side by side in peace. And by bringing our attention to those places, you make obvious your tendency to be overly emotional rather than rational and factual when it comes to race, religion and ethnicity in this region .
    You persist and insist on approaching the region multiple plights and geostrategic policies through the exclusive and single prism of race and ethnicity: it is a racist approach. As is your adamant and consistent depiction of the US in particular and the west in general, as the single exclusive culprit in the many crisis and difficulties Pakistan faces today.
    You didn’t realize Babak, but you are not “neutral in the ethnic mix of Pakistan.”

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mark Stuart:
    You wrote: “…approaching the region multiple plights and geostrategic policies through the exclusive and single prism of race …”.
    I believe you are misunderstanding and mis-characterizing my point of view. East & West Bengalis are the same (physical) race. So are the Punjabis; Hindu, Sikh, or Muslim. Race is not the point – religion is.
    The areas that Hindus and Muslims have met in relative peace are places that one or the other group is a very small minority; less than 10% of the population. Even then you have the occasional Hindu attacks against Muslims (and Dalits).
    I regret that I have come across as blaming US as “…as the single exclusive culprit in the many crisis and difficulties Pakistan faces today”. Such was not my intention. But ask yourself the following hypothetical question: “Would we be where we are today without the Afghan War of 1980s?”
    I repeat here my opinion: it was a mistake for Pakistan to wage war on behalf of US in the 1980s at the price of the militarization of NWFP. That US has taken advantage of useful fools all over the world to advance her geopolitical agenda (however misguided some of those have been) is to be expected of any Great Power. The airplanes etc., in my opinion, were not worth it.
    When elephants fight, grass suffers. When elephants have sex, grass suffers.
    I insist on seeing the world primarily through a religious/emotional prism that takes cognizance of the irrationality and chaos that runs through human beings.
    The reason is that I have, reluctantly and regrettably, come to the conclusion that all other models of human action based on rational actors and cost-benefit analysis of such actors leave the majority of human actions during the historical process un-explained and in-explainable. Moreover, some groups of human being are more emotional than others and their religions suits them that way.
    FB Ali has stated that the issue of Kashmir is kept alive as “ a tool to divert public attention from their [ruling elite] own problems and failures”. His is a rational argument based on the idea of political expediency. But when I look at the cost to Pakistan over the last 60 years I cannot account for it except through the emotional commitment of a ruling elite to an idea.

  27. Arun says:

    To amplify:
    “The issue in the world is that there are 2 Civilizations that cannot coexist peacefully – the Militant Monotheism of Islam with the Secular Tolerance of the West.”

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is not my position.
    My comment was only in regards to the Sub-Continent.
    The two civilizations are in constant struggle inside India.
    That does not obtain anywhere else in the West.

  29. curious says:

    Statistical analysis and observation of Iraq insurgency attack size.
    I think the guy’s missing data is the diplomatic tug of play between US and Iran. (the agglomeration of insurgencies groups)
    I wonder what Taliban/afghanistan conflict looks like as it progresses. Specially after breaking the social support.
    In the clip below, physicist Sean Gourley breaks anthropology’s grip on irregular warfare’s strategic evolution and introduces the mathematical contribution to winning -and preventing- 21st century conflicts. It’s absolutely fascinating stuff.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The discovery of Dr. Sean Gourley is note-worthy. The existence of power law indicates that the process in question (war in this case) is not random. But, then again, War as Organized Violence cannot be random – human minds are organizing it.
    This type of power law shows up in many physical systems: distribution of galaxies and second order phase transitions are instances that come to my mind.
    That the power law has the same exponent across multiple wars is more interesting since it indicates that war has got its own universality class.
    The new question is to extend this analysis backwards in time to historical wars and see how the exponent has changed during human history (if at all). Moreover, one could try to calculate the same exponent for non-human species that practice organized violence such as certain species of ants. It would be interesting to find out if the exponent is species-specific or not; i.e. if non-human and human species organize violence in the same manner.
    Of course, in the coming wars against extra-terrestrials, this type of knowledge could be quite helpful.

  31. curious says:

    Pakistani Military Takes Strategic Hilltop Overlooking Swat
    The Pakistani military has announced that it has taken the strategic hilltop of Biny Baba Ziarat that overlooks the Swat Valley. Some 150 Taliban were said to be killed in the hard fighting, in which they put up strong resistance even though the Pakistani military deployed helicopter gunships and much heavier firepower than the Taliban could muster.
    (with video)

  32. Arun says:

    The gap between the supposed two civilizations in India is much less than that between the West and the Muslim world. 95% of the Muslims in India are converts or descendants of converts; and conversion did not in general destroy cultural commonalities. It is true there has been a long-term historic effort by the fundamentalists to break that. Post-partition, that task has been joined in by Hindu wingnuts.
    Globalization has taken away the situation that geographic isolation had placed the West and the world of Islam. The struggle has been more explicit too. We have nothing like the Crusades happening in India nor, till 1947, anything even remotely like the expulsion of Muslims from Spain.
    The great “success” of Muslim fundamentalists in South Asia has been to recreate European history.

  33. Arun says:

    If the Pakistani military is objectively making progress in rolling back the Taliban, then my suggestion would be the US make a hiatus in the use of drone attacks, to see if it helps make the Pakistani efforts more effective.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a very real and very fundamental gap between Islam and Hinduism – the Hindu & Dalit origin of the Muslims notwithstanding. The gap obtains because the supreme deity in Islam takes an interest in the affairs of individual human beings and judges their conduct. Thus each and every individual human being, from the Dawn of Creation to the present time, is endowed with intrinsic worth. The Jews, the Christians, and the Zoroastrians all agree on that much.
    Hinduism, on the other hand, posits that the supreme deity is only playing, that the Creation and the lives and deeds of individual human beings are nothing but an illusion – devoid of intrinsic worth and meaning.
    I agree that there are cultural commonalities – in language, food, and clothing. But there were also such commonalities among Southern Slavs but that did not ameliorate their sense of alienation from one another – you had an epic poem in Serbo-Croatian extolling the virtues of Muslim heroes at the same time that there were epics recalling the deeds of the Christian heroes against Muslims.
    I agree with you that the so-called West, i.e. mostly the Northern, non-Catholic Europeans as well as North Americans having entered their post-Christian phase have thus created a gulf between themselves and the rest of mankind and not just Muslims.
    Hindus and Muslims can both agree on the metaphysical truth of the proposition that there is a form of spirituality that permeates the Universe; that that which is visible to human beings is not all that there is or can be or has been. The so-called West denies this proposition.
    I think the history of the Indian Ocean basin from the 6-th to 17-th centuries is worth studying since it could shed some light on the possible futures that are available to us as the process of globalization takes its course.

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