XBradTC of Bring the heat, Bring the Stupid, a great and patient guy, asked me on a thread over at The Hostages to look at a story: “A Pakistani ‘awakening’?” posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 by Neptunus Lex.
Later, we learn that the armed services of The United States conducted raids across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, into Pakistan, attacking militants.
On September 11, 2008 (fortuitously), Neptunus Lex put up an interesting post on President Bush’s authorization of such raids, in his post “Gloves Off“.
It would be an understatement to say that relations between The United States and Pakistan have taken an interesting turn.
The problem has to do with the Pakistani military’s inability or unwillingness to take action against militants within its border.
Now, one may ask: Was it a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty to conduct this raid? The answer is: Yes. The next question is: Were The United States justified? The answer is: Yes.
When elements within one country are conducting attacking against another state or its interests, the attacked state has the right to respond, by force if necessary. If, after so many years of threatening and cajoling and persuading Pakistani forces to take action against militants to end their incursions into Afghanistan, the state that has sovereignty does not cease and desist such acts (or cause them to stop), the attacking state may be attacked as retaliation, to take out offending elements, or as an invasion. This occurred, I hope people will remember, between Turkey and Iraq where the offending elements were Kurdish terrorists and the offended party was the state of Turkey. Although a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, Turkey was within its rights to respond as it did.
However, this discussion skirts the real issue: what is to be done about terrorist, militant elements in Pakistan that are attacking American interests, interests of allies in Afghanistan, and Afghani interests?
I see the raids not as a true attack to eliminate militants (if it were, they would be much more extensive and would take many, many such raids). I see this as part of the delicate relations between Pakistan and The United States: this is The United States sending a strong message to Pakistan.
The United States could not conduct these raids while Musharraf was in office because doing so would mean he would be ousted, resulting in immense chaos. With Musharraf out and there being no strong ties between The United States and Asif Ali Zardari, the new president of Pakistan, The United States could send a strong message. The message was: Get to work, and eliminate the militants, or we’ll do it.
I think this message was also to assert that The United States will not allow Pakistan to dictate terms. The United States will pursue their interests, and the Pakistani forces ought to get in line.
In response, the Pakistani military revealed that the Pakistani military has orders to fire back if any foreign entities violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. So, if Americans try to do the thing the Pakistanis have failed to do, the Americans will be attacked, rather than the militants.
However, this is all part of a face-saving campaign. Many Pakistani authorities have made somewhat staunch and belligerent stances against America. This is essential, otherwise the public will think that Pakistani authorities were allowing Americans to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty, which could result in chaos and riots if not all-outs coups.
Furthermore, not one American thing will be hurt. While the Pakistani military may be jingoistic, in fact they will not do anything. The fallout of such an incidence would be immense. Additionally, the orders seem to be allow the Pakistani military room to not attack – it has to be unmistakably and verifiably a foreign entity, and likely by the time such a thing could be verified, it would be too late.
The raids also made the Pakistani authorities perk up. There were a number of meetings between Pakistani and American military officials to discuss the issue. Now the Pakistanis know they’ll have to do something. And while the public may or may not support them, at least the Pakistani military will know it has to get to job done.
The good news, which the post by Neptunus Lex on August 27 mentioned, is that the Pakistani military has been getting more active with regard to taking action against militants. The result is painful for Pakistan: there is a wave of suicide attacks. But the military is pushing forward.
So while things seem chaotic and perhaps discouraging, I think through the clouds we can see quite a bit of sunshine. The Pakistani military has begun taking its job a little more seriously, and it may be that with local help, the militant threat will be eliminated.
Issues will he rehashed, and others will be elaborated on later.
I saw Charlie Wilson’s War today. Now, it has been bashed, and some of that is justified, but it’s a great movie if you look over these bash-worthy elements.
In its fight against the evil Communists–and the movie takes quite some time making the case that the Russians were evil, evil indeed–it makes America and its cause for freedom and against Communism quite strong and powerful. Why, if one looks it at that way, this movie is actually pro-American. And it perhaps shows that only America is able to work out such complicated and seemingly impossible schemes to get what’s needed, what with Israel and Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperating to defeat the Soviets. (There’s a funny scene of a spat between an Egyptian and an Israeli; what makes it interesting is that they agree to cooperate nevertheless. There’s also a scene about Zia-ul-Haq and his concerns about receiving aid from Israel.) It also shows that Americans of various types–an ultra-rightwing ueber-Christian woman and a slutty, drug-using Democrat politician–can unite behind a good cause.
After many scenes showing how the Afghanis are simply being slaughtered by the Soviets, the scenes begin showing how the Afghanis take down the Soviets. Along with it is a most unexpected chorus in the background: “And he shall purify the sons of Levi that they may offer unto the Lord an offering of righteousness” (No. 7, Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah, a quote from Malachi 3:3). Here’s a YouTube presentation of that chorus.
It also teaches us a lesson: consider the long run. It shows how we were reluctant to rebuild Afghanistan after the Soviets left. Part of it was understandable: we were quite busy rebuilding former Communist Europe as well, so Afghanistan was small fry. But that unwillingness cost us: it opened the door for the Islamist takeover of Afghanistan. And Wilson did make a good point: we could not claim victory for the Soviet defeat because our assistance was covert, and revealing our assistance would have negative repercussions for many players. Nevertheless, our strategy has changed dramatically, what with our major focus now in Afghanistan and Iraq being rebuilding along with killing the bad guys. So we learned our lesson, I would hope.
It’s rated R for good reasons, dealing mainly with sexuality. But it is a good movie, funny at times, and moving in what we can accomplish.
Karzai of Afghanistan hints that the terrorists are from across the border; that is, they are in Pakistan. Musharraf (and others) of Pakistan hint that the terrorists are across the border; that is, they are in Afghanistan. The same goes for where Usama bin Ladin is: each country accuses the other of harboring him.
The reality is a little more complicated. The terrorists are in the border region area of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are not in one or the other but, rather, in both. We consider it to be that they cross over the border with ease if not impunity. But that’s the problem: to the terrorists, there is no border. The whole area–the area of the Pashtuns–is one area, and its theirs. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always wondered: why all the hue and cry to get our troops out of Iraq?
Why not focus on Japan and Germany first? Korea? The last I knew, the Second World War ended quite some time ago. Perhaps our leaders forgot to bring them back, eh?
Maybe our most valiant patriots want to withdraw our troops from harm’s way.
Silly me. I missed the memo which stated that our troops are only to be posted where they will not be shot at.
All that armor and weapons must be for show. Shock and awe and all that, eh?
News sources, Pakistani and otherwise, have been very active in reporting two significant stories. The first is that Pervaiz Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, abruptly canceled his visit to Afghanistan to attend a jirga (tribal council) to solve the problems plaguing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their border areas. (In other words, work out some diplomatic mumbo-jumbo on how to deal with those pesky terrorists.) In Musharraf’s place will be the Pakistani prime minister, Shaukat Aziz (who is seen as Musharraf’s puppet). The second story may explain why Musharraf abruptly withdrew from the jirga: there are reports that Musharraf (with other significant authorities in Pakistan’s military government) is planning to impose emergency martial rule in Pakistan. No explanation is given as to why.
I am puzzled. I am not aware of any significant developments in Pakistan that would necessitate such a measure. Well, other than what has been happening for some time. But I doubt emergency martial rule would do anything. As it is, Pakistan has been under de facto martial rule since Musharraf took power. The immediacy with which Musharraf came to his conclusion (and the urgency with which he is meeting with his top advisers) suggests that the military government has become aware of something or is anticipating something. What this something is, I haven’t even an idea, and seems like no one else does either.
Maybe this is in preparation for the failure of the Afghanistan-Pakistan jirga. Maybe if the jirga fails and no accord is reached, Musharraf and his military government will use the opportunity to execute a major operation in the areas of concern, using martial rule to stifle the inevitable outrage of the opportunistic politicians and people.
What has increased the need of such a measure is the recent blow to Musharraf’s legitimacy in the people’s eye, that is, when the Supreme Court reinstated the Chief Justice that Musharraf dismissed. That the legal/juridical apparatus has come out against Musharraf (and, it seems, with a vengeance) means more idiotic distractions for Musharraf. (It’s all politics, and I hope Musharraf knows not to take it personally. But at the same time, he cannot let opportunistic or idiotic legal people to bring him or his regime down.)
Regarding all this, the LA Times had a remarkably interesting article on President Bush and his strategic ambiguity regarding Pakistan. Bush did something right for once! According to the LA Times, when asked about potential policy towards Pakistan, Bush evaded the question. This was crucial. America has a large number of tools in its toolbox with which to pressure Pakistan to cooperate. Invasion is very, very, very low on the list. Perhaps the best tool is the promised jets, which have been a sore point in Pakistani-American relations for decades. By remaining silent, Bush does not assist anti-American propaganda nor does he let lazy Pakistani military authorities get away. He essentially permits the American and Pakistani governments to continue whatever arrangement they have made without having to deal with public outcry from either side.
In contrast, when other politicians openly threaten Pakistan, it makes an already complicated situation even more complicated. With regard to international politics and relations, one simply cannot threaten to invade an ally. I think why this is so is so blatantly obvious I don’t need to detail further.
Let us see what transpires.
And remember: we may not like Pakistan or its government or its military or its autocrat or its people, but the fact remains that Pakistan is a major geopolitical area in global terrorism. We need to keep paying attention and to keep making the right decisions if we are to win in that threatre of World War III.
Heh. Better late than never.
I believe recognizing the issues affecting various “partners” in the War against Terrorism is crucial in understanding the War itself. This will help us formulate pragmatic, practical, and reality-based expectations, plans, programs, and operations.
One of the significant challenges in the War has to do with Pakistan’s military (and government and people), the Taliban, Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s use of Pakistan as a base of operations, which base Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Allies have yet to eliminate. Because this is and will remain an important issue, some history, perspective, and context is needed. So, please bear with me. Read the rest of this entry »
This may seem like a somewhat random post, but I’d like to point out an interesting aspect of political geography: the difficulty of grouping states together.
Consider, for example, Iran. Iran is often grouped into the “Middle East” (also known as the “Near East) but it differs markedly from other Middle Eastern states: it is Shiite rather than Sunni (Syria has a Shiite government with a Sunni population while Bahrain has a Sunni government with a majority Shiite population; Iraq has a significant Shiite demographic: but none of these is like Iran, where both the government and population are Shiite); it is ethnically Persian rather than Arab (and, consequently does not share the dominant language of the Middle East, Arabic); it has an elected theocratic government rather than the monarchies and dictatorships of most of the Middle East. Even historically Iran differs significantly in that most of the Middle East was part of the Sunni caliphate’ particularly the Ottoman Empire, while Iran had been under its own local regimes.
But where else, then, could Iran be grouped into? Iran is certainly not Central Asian or South Asian (despite the Persians’ influence on the latter). And Iran shares closer relations to and with Middle Eastern states than Central Asian or South Asian states. As such, the common inclusion of Iran in the “Middle East” makes sense.
And what of Turkey? Like most Middle Eastern states, it is Sunni. Unlike most Middle Eastern states, it has a popularly elected governmen and has little, if any, connection with Arabic culture and civilization. Yet, like Iran, it has shared close relations with other states of the Middle East: indeed, for centuries it ruled the Middle Eastern states (except for Iran, but it battled with Iran, figuratively and literally, for dominance and influence over the area). Can Turks and Arabs (or, for that matter, Persians and Arabs) be lumped together?
One example that amuses me is Egypt (and can include or be used for any of the Arab states of Northern Africa, beginning with Egypt and stretching to Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean): are Egyptians Arabs, Middle Easterners, or Africans? And as Egypt has been considered to be in Africa for centuries now, can Egyptians, as Africans, claim benefits or special arrangements for Africans or people of African origin?
And what about Mediterranean states? Should they not also be considered to be a group unto itself? Does not a state’s location on the Great Sea play an important part in its character, politics, culture, and tendencies?
And how about Afghanistan? Is it Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Central Asian? Or this a case, as some say is with Turkey, that parts belong to different areas (the Pashtun areas being South Asian; the Tajik and Uzbek areas being Central Asian; the more Persian or Dari areas being Middle Eastern)?
It is not easy to group states together into useful categories or geopolitical regions, yet doing so makes considering the world and its manifold issues easier. And, indeed, in some cases such categorization even makes sense as far as issues go. But there has yet to be a comprehensive system developed: all systems in use are debated and problematic to some degree.
As such, while we ought to consider a state’s location, we should not put all of our understanding of a state’s problems or issues solely in the context of geopolitical location. In some ways, each state is an entity unto itself or may involve issues, characteristics, or aspects common or dissimilar to the states around it.
Here is a map of the western and northwestern region of South Asia. The key areas are the areas where Pakistan and Afghanistan meet (namely, Balochistan, FATA of the NWFP, and the NWFP). Circles refer to the names of cities; squares refer to administrative units. To the east of Pakistan is India. To the west of Pakistan and Afghanistan is Iran.
- NWFP = “North-West Frontier Province”
- FATA = “Federally-Administered Tribal Areas”, an administrative region of the NWFP
- Karachi = largest city in Pakistan, capital of Sindh
- Lahore = ancient city, capital of Punjab
- Quetta = main city of Balochistan, capital of Balochistan
- Peshawar = main city of the NWFP, capital of the NWFP
- Wana = capital of the South Waziristan area of FATA, stronghold of the Taliban
- Islamabad = capital of Pakistan
- Srinagar = capital of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India, region disputed between India and Pakistam
- Jammu and Kashmir (disputed) = the part of Jammu and Kashmir administered by India, disputed between India and Pakistan
- Azad Kashmir = part of Jammu and Kashmir administered by Pakistan, disputed between India and Pakistan
- Kabul = capital of Afghanistan
They were real Taliban fighters.
As opposed to fake Taliban fighters? (Just being sarcasting: most likely he meant that those captured were determined to be actual members of the Taliban rather than suspected members thereof.)
They could not speak Urdu
Strange. Most people who speak Pashto can speak at least a little Urdu. I’ll grant that some mnilitant Islamist terrorists of the Taliban could have been in an isolated all-Pashto environment.
and had no knowledge where they are
Where they are or where they were? I’d imagine a Taliban terrorist to be quite aware of where he is and why. Taliban terrorists are from that region.
These statements make me quite suspicious. It seems these were more like “Arab” terrorists (that is, terrorists from around the world allied with militant Islamist terrorist networks operating in and from the northwest and far western region of South Asia). These descriptions make it sound as if those captured were completely alien to the region when, in fact, the northwest region of South Asia, where the Taliban predominate, is adjacent to Balochistan. Read the rest of this entry »
So, I have two questions.
Asking questions is always good. Read the rest of this entry »
geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions has been doing an excellent job posting on what can be called the Second Cold War: the efforts of Russia and China to check, hinder, diminish, and threaten America’s influence (or, rather, that of capitalism and The West) just as The Soviet Union tried to do during the First Cold War. I do lament that this is something that has not been on the People’s mind lately. (Although I do know that certain agencies of the government have kept this on their mind, seeing it as a continuation of a traditional threat or issue rather than the resurgence of a new one.)
For more information, please read the following by geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions:
- “The real problem with Iran”
- “More on Iran and its relationships”
- “The Sino-Russian clubhouse, and guess who wants in?”
- His comment on “On the question of more troops – addendum”
Now, let us delve a little into international relations. Read the rest of this entry »
Vital Perspective has another short post: “Yemen Vows to Strike al-Qaeda with ‘Iron Fist’ After Statement by Terrorists”. This is also worth reading.
This should demonstrate how militant Islamist terrorist networks (or however/whatever one wants to call such entities) threaten not only The West and its states and allies but also Muslim states. We don’t really imagine a God-forsaken country like Yemen to be one of our allies such that it would attract the attention of militant Islamist terrorist networks, but such it is. Remember that USS Cole was off the coast of Yemen when it was attacked by terrorists: this shows that Yemen plays a role in The United States’ Armed Forces infrastructure.
But this should also demonstrate why more Muslim states’ governments and, indeed, their people ought to be more active in opposing, destroying, and eliminating militant Islamist terrorist networks. Such networks threaten them as well. Read the rest of this entry »
The ISI — Inter-Services Intelligence — is one of the most notorious entities in Pakistani politics and infrastructure. It is perhaps one of the most powerful entities in Pakistan. Thoroughly military, it has had a hand in many issues. As paranoid as some Pakistanis may be about the CIA or Mossad, they ought to be as paranoid (if not more) about the ISI.
To be fair, the ISI has changed a lot from its creation. It was created in 1948; its powers were first expanded by Field Marshal Ayyub Khan (military ruler from 1958 to 1969); its powers were expanded even more, evolving slowly to become thereafter the potent and unruly force it often proves to be, under General Zia-ul-Haq (military ruler from 1978 to 1988). (Lots of 8s!)
The duty of the ISI is to coordinate intelligence, train spies, and provide security. Thanks to the expansion of its powers, it also watches political parties, supports Islamist terrorism, and even carries out terrorist attacks (directly or by proxy). Read the rest of this entry »
The Pakistani province of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) consists primarily of Pashtuns. One part of the NWFP is special administratively: the Federally-Administered Tribal Area (FATA), which is in the southwest of the NWFP and borders Afghanistan. This is basically an autonomous area, where the tribal authorities basically rule without interference from the federal government of Pakistan or the provincial government of the NWFP. This area has become significant because they harbor fleeing members of the Taliban, fleeing Afghanistan and the Coalition’s assault on and attempt to eliminate the Taliban. Read the rest of this entry »
Richard Armitage threatened that The United States would bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate with The United States against al-Qā’idah. This is to be expected. Pakistan had many reasons to cooperate with The United States, but it also had many reasons not to. One, of course, was Pakistan’s active support for the Tālibān, whom they would then have to essentially destroy. It is not easy for anyone to destroy one’s own creation.
Pakistan has been a crucial partner in The West’s War on Terrorism. Without Pakistan’s assistance, for example, The United Kingdom would not have been able to break the terrorist ring to bring down American airplanes. But there is a shadowy side to this relationship as well, and we had better pay close attention to this aspect as well. Read the rest of this entry »
You had to expect this. Courtesy of YouTube: Brokeback al-Zarqawi. (Warning: some foul written language.)
We are getting very annoyed by those who are calling for The United States' Armed Forces to expend all energy necessary to take out Usama bin Ladin. Often these people accuse The Government of running after secondary interests (such as Iraq, oil, imperialist expansionism) at the expense of getting Usama bin Ladin. After all, they claim, Usama attacked The United States, not Saddam. Read the rest of this entry »