Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 23, 2008

Pakistan On Its Way Back To Military Rule

Now that is what I'd call a prime target:

Last week, after months of Pakistani delays, about 30 U.S. military trainers were permitted to set up operations north of the [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], a U.S. official said. The trainers will provide counterinsurgency instruction to Pakistani army soldiers, who in turn will train members of the Frontier Corps, the government's paramilitary force in the FATA.
Pakistan Will Give Arms to Tribal Militias

Those 30 'trainers' better watch their back.

Pakistan will provide arms to some parts of the tribes in FATA, who will then fight other local powers called 'Taliban'.  Guess where those arms will end up when, as usual, this or that group changes its allegiance.

The policies in and around Pakistan are again full of inconsistencies. During the last weeks the U.S. has some 12 times used drone-missiles to bomb targets in FATA. Today, it killed nine people in such an attack.

Only yesterday after two weeks of negotiation the two houses of parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling for "an urgent review of the national security strategy and revisiting the methodology of combating terrorism in order to restore peace and stability through an independent foreign policy."

The resolution also said:

The challenge of militancy and extremism must be met through developing a consensus and dialogue with all genuine stakeholders.
That Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity shall be safeguarded. The nation stand united against any incursions and invasions of the homeland, and calls upon the government to deal with it effectively.

That Pakistan’s territory shall not be used for any kind of attacks on other countries and all foreign fighters, if found shall be expelled from our soil.

That dialogue must now be the highest priority, as a principal instrument of conflict management and resolution. Dialogue will be encouraged with all those elements willing to abide by the Constitution of Pakistan and rule of law.

Somehow that resolution does not fit with arming tribal forces and U.S. missile attacks on Pakistani ground.

But the Pakistani president Zardari, now as despised as the General Musharraf was before him, does not care about what the parliament or the people think.

That could for now be excused as Pakistan is only weeks away from defaulting on its debt. All 'friends' of Pakistan have so far declined to lend money. Zardari is on his way to Saudi Arabia to ask again while his prime minister is in China to again beg for help. The humiliating walk to the IMF seems inevitable. But even before the economic crisis Zardari has never shown any distance to the politics proescribed from the U.S.

The continued U.S. attacks on FATA may well incite even more tribal people against the Pakistani government. One suspects they are planed with the aim  to keep them busy against the Pakistani state so they will leave the occupation forces in Afghanistan alone.

That would be a miscalculation. By now most Taliban action in Afghanistan seem to be indigenous and the line of supply for these forces in south and west Afghanistan is coming from the south through Quetta, not from the eastern FATA.

With severe economic problems like daily electricity blackouts getting worse and coming additional IMF strictures one can easily imagine that Pakistan will soon be again in a struggle against a U.S. influenced ruler who acts against the interest of his people and the expressed will of the parliament.

China Hand asks if military rule will come back to Pakistan within the next year. I find that more likely by each day.

Posted by b on October 23, 2008 at 17:29 UTC | Permalink


thanks b - this post amongst others on pakistan like your work on georgia are crucial & timely interventions

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Oct 23 2008 17:44 utc | 1

B, great work. However, "proscribed" means just about the opposite of "prescribed", which I think is what you intended??

Posted by: Helena | Oct 23 2008 18:42 utc | 2

Thanks Helena - yes, corrected.

Posted by: b | Oct 23 2008 19:02 utc | 3

When this democratic circus started, I gave it six months before the military intervened to adjust things.

An outside bet is that Musharaf is reinstated as prez.

Posted by: Chuck Cliff | Oct 23 2008 19:42 utc | 4

Pakistan’s Tribal Militias Walk a Tightrope in Fight Against Taliban

The tribal militias, known as lashkars, have quickly become a crucial tool of Pakistan’s strategy in the tribal belt, where the army has been fighting the Taliban for more than two months in what army generals acknowledge is a tougher and more protracted slog than they anticipated. And, indeed, the lashkars’ early efforts have been far from promising.

As the strength of the militants in the tribal areas grows, and as the war across the border in Afghanistan worsens, the Pakistanis are casting about for new tactics. The emergence of the lashkars is a sign of the tribesmen’s rising frustration with the ruthlessness of the Taliban, but also of their traditional desire to run their own affairs and keep the Pakistani Army at bay, Pakistani officers and law enforcement officials say.

Posted by: general panzer | Oct 23 2008 21:22 utc | 5

From the above link (NYT, Jane Perlez from Peshawar)

In the last two months, the Taliban have burned the homes of tribal leaders and assassinated others who have dared to participate in the resistance. They have pulled tribesmen suspected of backing the militia out of buses and cars and used suicide bombers against them as they did in Orakzai, the place where the wounded in the Peshawar hospital were attacked.

“We wanted to form a lashkar,” said Abdul Rehman, 50, a tribal leader of the Orakzai area, as he lay on his crumpled bed in the Lady Reading hospital. “We were pressured by the government to take action because they warned, ‘If you don’t take action you will be bombed.’ ”

Not the best motivation ...

Posted by: b | Oct 24 2008 4:20 utc | 6

b, your analysis is 'writing on the wall' in Pakistan. Everyone is talking about it.

However the military, it seems, is in no hurry to act. It is a very skillful political player. It is first going to build up its political image (lost in the last 5 years). In other words, this time, it is going to sit out and let the mobs lynch zardari and his cohorts (which consists of the very corrupt political top brass of all parties) before it 'comes to the aid of the state'. It will be 'good riddance for good' this time from the political elites. The current constitution will be gone and the british style parliamentary system is going to be replaced by a presidential system. Lets see how the ensuing political vacuum is going to be filled.

Just to give you an example, political corruption is running really sky high this time. All major political parties are taking part in it, as all are in power one way or the other (thanks to musharraf's national reconciliation ordinance - NRO ). The political bribe for appointment as a govt. primary school teacher is running at around Rs 400,000 (approx USD 5000). This is in a country where an average day labourer earns around Rs 250-300 a day (USD 3-4).

Hence the NRO is achieving its long term desired effect. No one is going to miss these political elites.

Posted by: a | Oct 24 2008 5:34 utc | 7

Guardian Editorial: Two strategies, one enemy

Why is it right to engage in talks with the Taliban on the Afghan side of the border and wrong for the Pakistan government to engage with same people on their side? The question has undermined attempts by President Asif Ali Zardari to forge a political consensus for the all-out war his army is now waging against the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas. The attempt to get parliamentary backing for the war in Bajaur and Swat ended yesterday in a classic fudge.
The glaring contradictions in US policy and in Pakistan's domestic debate will not disappear. The leadership of the Taliban will have to be faced over the negotiating table on both sides of the border, and those conducting the negotiations need a joined-up diplomatic and military strategy. Washington, Kabul and Islamabad do not have a common approach, or anything approaching one at the moment. For all their growing realism, coalition commanders still believe they can bomb the militants to the negotiating table. As long as they do, they risk the conflict spreading deeper into Pakistan.

Posted by: b | Oct 24 2008 7:05 utc | 8

Me above: The continued U.S. attacks on FATA may well incite even more tribal people against the Pakistani government. One suspects they are planed with the aim to keep them busy against the Pakistani state so they will leave the occupation forces in Afghanistan alone.

The Frontier Post from Peshawar: NWA tribals threaten to scrap peace agreement Urge Owais to take up US attacks issue with President F.P. Report

Tribal elders from North Waziristan on Thursday urged Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani to take up the issue of US drones attacks with President Asif Ali Zardari, otherwise, responsibility of scrapping the peace agreement between Utmanzai tribe and government would lay on the government. The Jirga elders informed the governor that mostly innocent people of North Waziristan had been killed in US drone attacks, therefore, government must give a befitting response to these attacks otherwise the elders would be helpless to save the peace agreement signed between the Utmanzai Wazir tribe of North Waziristan and the government on Feb 17, 2008.
Malik Khan Zaman, an elder of North Waziristan after meeting with Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani, told media that situation in North Waziristan was going out of control after continuous US strikes in the agency. He said they had demanded of the governor to react against the drone attacks otherwise situation would not be in their (elders) control.

Posted by: b | Oct 24 2008 11:46 utc | 9

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