India-Pakistan: Delusions To Die For


June 17, 2011: In Pakistan, the military establishment is outraged that historical truth is being imposed on them. This comes in the form of prominent Pakistanis admitting what the rest of the world has long known; that Pakistan, not India, started the four wars (since 1947) between the two countries. Pakistan lost all of those wars, but it had always been an article in faith in Pakistan (but not to the rest of the world) that India had plotted and schemed to start each of those conflicts. In other works, Pakistanis were taught that Pakistan was the victim of Indian aggression, not the other way around. This has often caused problems for Pakistanis going to college in the West, where the reality of these wars, and how they started, was acknowledged and openly discussed. Pakistanis who protested these realities while in the West, were buried by an avalanche of evidence that contradicted what was taught in Pakistan. But back in Pakistan, you believed the fantasy (Pakistan as victim) version, or else. But now, in the wake of the recent bin Laden raid and the attack on the Pakistani naval base, people are less afraid to speak the truth. There is still the very real threat of arrest, "disappearing" or murder. But these threats no longer guarantee silence. All this has sent a wave of fear through the upper ranks of the military and intelligence establishment (ISI). Many Pakistanis fear the generals may feel compelled to stage another coup. But this time, the popular support for such a change is not there. That could mean civil war if a coup was attempted. The political parties are enjoying lots of popularity at the moment, partly for criticizing the military. The army usually only carries out a coup when the politicians are very unpopular.

When it rains it pours. As Pakistani military and intelligence officials come under fire for bad decisions (and worn out illusions), neighboring nations (especially India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan) are becoming increasingly vocal about decades of Pakistani interference (sending Islamic terrorists to carry out attacks or use the country as a base). Nations farther away (Europe, North America) have been complaining about Pakistan being a base, for attacks on the West, for decades.

The military is not the only part of the Pakistani government that is at fault in all this. The courts fail to convict many accused Islamic terrorists, blaming the police for not collecting sufficient evidence. Most Pakistanis see the courts and  police as corrupt and incompetent, not just when dealing with Islamic terrorists, but when handling anything else. Meanwhile, many prominent Pakistanis continue to insist that Pakistan is actually a potential economic and military powerhouse. The reality, now or in the immediate future, does not support this.

The U.S. has accused Pakistani intelligence (ISI) of working with al Qaeda in two recent cases, where American intelligence provided Pakistan with the location of terrorist bomb making facilities in North Waziristan. In both cases, the terrorists had packed up and left by the time Pakistani police showed up. The bombs were used in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan denied that they leaked information to the terrorists.

The U.S. has accused Pakistani investigators of arresting those who helped provide information about Osama bin Laden's Pakistani hideout. Pakistan denies, sort of, these accusations. But within Pakistan, there is some popular support for identifying and punishing Pakistanis who cooperated with the American effort to locate bin Laden, and the raid to kill the terrorist leader, which exposed Pakistani cooperation with the Islamic terrorists, and "embarrassed Pakistan."

Pakistan continues to generate more than three times as many terrorism related casualties each week than India (which has six times the population.) Adjusted for population, Pakistan has long had 15-20 times more violence per capita. In Pakistan, it's not just al Qaeda and Taliban, but many other religious and political factions killing each other. For India, part of the terror related violence is from Pakistan (regularly showing up in Kashmir, less frequently in Indian cities). But most is because of tribal rebels in the northeast and communist rebels in eastern India.

The border between the Indian states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh have become a major battleground in the escalating war  with Maoist rebels. After some initial setbacks, the government is sending more police battalions, and providing them with better training. The Maoists are suffering from internal disputes over how to handle the offensive, and an increasing number of Maoist leaders and followers surrendering. The Maoist goal of establishing a communist dictatorship was always delusional, but now, under increased police pressure, the delusion aspect is becoming more tangible.

June 16, 2011: For the second time this month, several hundred Taliban from Afghanistan crossed the border to attack Pakistani troops. In this case the target was several new checkpoints the army had set up on border roads, interrupting free use of these routes by the Taliban. This attack, and one on June 4th, were both in an area (Lower Dir, Bajaur) where Pakistani troops have been trying to clear out Taliban for over a year.

Al Qaeda, as expected, named Ayman al Zawahiri, the longtime (since 1998) deputy of Osama bin Laden, as the successor to bin Laden as head of al Qaeda. Zawahiri, more than bin Laden, has been running things for the last decade. He is believed to be hiding out in Pakistan, near Bajaur on the Afghan border.

June 15, 2011: U.S. UAVs fired missiles in two attacks in North and South Waziristan, killing eight Islamic radicals. This makes fifteen UAV attacks since the May 2nd raid that killed bin Laden.

June 12, 2011: Pakistan has refused to cooperate with the American CIA in joint operations to hunt down Islamic terrorists in Pakistan. The U.S. believes this is retaliation by the military and ISI for the embarrassment of the bin Laden raid (and the implication that ISI had helped hide bin Laden, something the military denied.)

June 10, 2011: In the last few weeks, 90 of 135 American Special Forces trainers (of Pakistani border guards) have left the country. This is part of the Pakistani military retaliation for the embarrassment of the bin Laden raid. Such expulsions are very popular in the military, which sees itself as a victim of all sorts of things, but particularly of various plots by the United States and India. These fantasies, and an automatic hatred for the West and India, is quite common and tolerated within the military. But the most senior military commanders, who have to deal with the U.S. commanders, and the reality of Pakistan's situation, find themselves blamed by their subordinates for not "supporting Pakistan" (and the various illusions the military has preached for decades.)




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