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« Relativity Theory and Quantum Physics TRIVIA, For The Rest of Us. (Norman) | Main | e-Cages (Sujatha) »

November 12, 2010


You don't mince words in the analysis, Omar. Bravo! This is the kind of realistic vision of the ground situation that always gets pushed back in favor of jingoistic platitudes in various forums,not only in Pakistan, but India, US, everywhere in the world. It's the battle of agit-prop vs. truth.

There is sufficient evidence to prove that Pakistan's security establishment is supporting Taliban o Qaida Inc and engaged in a propaganda war based on Islamism and anti-US sentiment. However the aim of this 'great game' is not only to gain 'strategic depth' or to defeat the imperialist designs of the US or India but more importantly to maintain a tight control on state power and to keep the middle class sentiments in check.
The use of religion as an instrument of control in Pakistan is as old as the state. It is not surprising given the 'ideological' backdrop of the Pakistan Movement. Pakistani nationalism was largely based on Islam as a supra geographical identity and anti-hindu(kafirs, infidels)sentiments. The partition and the wars of 48 and 65 with India helped bolster these sentiments. The feudal elite of West Pakistan used Islam, though in the end unsuccessfully, against the Bengali middle classes and their secular sensibilities. The war of 71 was a great set back for Pakistan. In its aftermath Zulfikar Ali Bhutto foolishly tried to use Islam
1)to strenghthen his feudal base,
2)to help rebuild confidence of a defeated nation,
3)to keep in control the populism of 60s and 70s, and
4)to gain leverage in international affairs.
This was by far the most comprehensive use of religion by any pakistani ruler. Bhutto also helped security establishment regain some of its lost ground. Zia ul Haq surpassed his mentor in his ab/use of religion. The Afghan war gave the security establishment a chance to grow in means and confidence.
In the nineties, despite security establishment's continued grip on power there were some positive developments. The relative openness and dawn of the information age diluted islamofascistic feelings. The cultural proximity with India resurfaced. The politicians realized the importance of normalcy of ties with India to have any chance of real power. All of this was countered by the Kargil war and the subsequent takeover.
Pakistan's security estalishment, at present, consists of some directotates of ISI, some elements of MI and the COAS. The eleven or so Corps Commanders and almost as many PSOs in the GHQ almost inevitably act on 'need to know' basis. They do have a say but that say largely depends upon the background of the individual officer. Zia ul Haq established CMI or corps of military intelligence in the eighties. Previously the practice in pakistan army was simple, an officer who did his Int course was posted on an int assignment for a couple of years and was then reverted to his normal combat duties. Career officers usually avoided long stints in the int because they hardly had any time for it as they had to fulfill their command and staff duties plus do courses required for every rank. Once the CMI was established things changed. At present it has become an elite corps of spies who look at the mainstream of armed forces as an 'expendable strategic and tactical asset'.
The strategic depth and India centric mindset is obviously there but the civilian rule of nineties has taught our establishment an important lesson. Every civilian ruler, no matter how corrupt or weak, from junejo to nawaz sharif, would ultimately go for the real power. Benazir Bhutto, despite her weaknesses, understood the dynamics and yet publicly announced to confront the terrorists in waziristan(probably to make herself more attractive to the west). That sealed her fate. Her murder case file is a good document in the sense that it painstakingly builds chain of evidence from liaqat bagh to baitullah mehsud and there are enough people around who know the masters of baitullah.
I know most of what i've said is disjointed and loose but i wanted to convey some cues so that anyone interested in the subject can pick the threads and weave his or her own cloth.

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