Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Pakistan On The Brink

Pakistan is facing the most serious threat to its very existence yet. Whether or not the country can survive in its current form is in serious doubt. An Islamic state has already been declared in the North of the country in Waziristan and now there is an ongoing battle in Islamabad in the capital city for the heart of the country. Whether Pakistan's government forces can stand resolute and win is very much in question. The only way it can survive as a country is if the forces stay loyal to their country. If the forces are riven by dissent and support for the Islamists, Pakistan will be done for.

There are a number of articles which I've found on this, mostly linking from Belmont Club. Here's an excerpt...
Pakistan Uncut is following operations against the rebellious Red Mosque in Pakistan. He has background, links to news items, pictures, maps and video. From the sound of it the Berkeley student movement, even in its salad days, had nothing on this.

The shootout erupted after six months of tension over the activities of the hardline Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, which has kidnapped several Chinese and Pakistani civilians as part of a freelance anti-vice campaign.

Students carrying Kalashnikovs and wearing gas masks took up positions behind sandbags and dirt bunkers chanting “Jihad! Jihad! (Holy war)”, as police in riot vans fired volleys of tear gas.

...the affair is unlikely to end until the the opponent can send no more reinforcements. With Pakistan's Northwest Frontier crawling with Taliban and al-Qaeda and the fact that this confrontation was long in coming, I would be truly surprised if the Red Mosque weren't reinforced or if diversionary attacks were not launched against the Pakistani government. A massive source of enemy reinforcements is very near at hand, and I wonder, how "crack" the Pakistani forces really are. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Pakistan is being ripped apart at the seams. The idea that it can stay a theological state without giving in to the logical conclusion that it become a fully Islamic state run by a puritan form of Islam (Sunni Salafi/ Wahhabi) is naive. The government has mollycoddled the Islamists for too long to the detriment of secular forces and the idea of a pluralistic society. Pakistan is becoming even more of a basket case.

The so-called 'elites' of Pakistan were too clever by half in thinking that they could control the energies of Jihadists once they'd been inculcated with the teachings of the Koran, the hadith and sunna of Mohammed. It's a sad state of affairs for them and for those who sought shelter in Pakistan from being dominated in India, only to be treated as refugees and parasites 50 years later. Make no mistake, it is the Pathan and Punjabi Jihadis who are seizing power by force, all others are subject to their whims. The only way civil forces can win is to fight, the one thing they don't know how to do. The Pakistan government will fight through the military, but may be undermined by Islamists within its own ranks. The Jihadis have more human resources, but if they get in position to win, then they run the risk of a full on assault by the US and allied forces to prevent them from taking over. The next thing you know, you've got Afghanistan Redux.

Additional reporting and commentary from The Fourth Rail confirming the loss of parts of Pakistan to Islamists already, with the capital city and the state itself being challenged next,
While the Taliban has successfully chipped away at the government's writ in the hinterlands of the settled districts of the Northwest Frontier Province and the wild tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan, the clerics of the Red Mosque have directly changed the writ of the government in its seat of power. The Pakistani government has repeatedly backed down to the Taliban in the Northwest Frontier Province and against lesser infractions by the leaders and followers of the Red Mosque. With the current political crisis over the dismissal of Pakistan's Chief Justice, President Musharraf is politically weak while his military has repeatedly signaled it is unwilling to act against the Taliban.

A failure to act will embolden an already bold enemy and promote the spread of the Talibanization of Pakistan. A strike on the mosque will lead to political turmoil and the possibility of an open insurrection from the Islamist parties and the Taliban. The Northwest Frontier Province and swaths of Baluchistan are largely under Taliban and al Qaeda control, and the reaction of the Taliban in these regions to the events in Islamabad bears close watching.

From The Strategy Page via Belmont Club,
Pakistan is facing a civil war between the military (representing about ten percent of the population), the Islamic militants (about 30 percent) and the secular political parties (60 percent). The military groups are the most disciplined, and are well funded by a military business empire (an outgrowth of military foundations established to provide pensions and such for veterans). The Islamic militants are the most poor and ill educated, with most of their supporters in the tribal areas. The political parties are crippled by partisanship and corruption, but are currently more united and focused by a desire to avoid a religious dictatorship, or a military one. The Islamic militants are trying to use terror to take over. The political parties use large demonstrations and strikes. The military has police and troops. No one wants a civil war, but everyone wants to run the country.

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