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« No, the maid doesn't come with the room (or the mansion) | Main | Israel, the real Third Rail of US politics »

May 23, 2011


Omar, thanks again for a succinct but scary summation. It is not as if I did not know all this but seeing it reiterated in an organized manner causes more despair than hope. Yet you say there are people who are speaking up. How many are they and who's listening? The commentary by the TV anchor Kamaran Khan is an exercise in conspicuous courage and candor. I hope the likes of him proliferate in the Pakistani public square. Will their warnings be heeded or their voices silenced? Unlike you, I am not that optimistic. But you know Pakistan better than I do.


Thank you, again, for your insights. I hope your optimism will be rewarded, for the sake of all of us.

Eternal optimism aside, it's the 'years of civil war' prognostication that scare and sadden. Is there no other way out of this set of contradictions that you present, Omar?

None that I can see. The state armed and trained half a million fanatics and encouraged the creation of a vast support system. That entire network was built on an ideology that the state (and other states) no longer wish to take too literally. But a lot of the adherents take it literally and completely seriously. If only 10% of the "militants" trained pre-2001 refuse to move on to other occupations (or to kidnapping and armed robbery...those are popular alternatives and would not constitute civil war, but wont account for all ex-militants) that means 50,000 ready to fight. I would call that a civil war. Its beyond the range of any police action.

Take a look at this news item (or whatever you wish to call it; Saleem Shahzad is a "reporter" with unusual and mysterious sources):

If we assume that the details are true they tell us a few things:
1. The state is deeply penetrated by jihadists.
2. The Jihadists are not in control and neither are the anti-jihadists or those sitting on the fence.
3. The public face of events hides many shocking and unexpected details. This in itself is an important feature of life in Pakistan and it is very important to be cognizant of how far the "inner reality" has moved from life in a democratic modern state or even a semi-functional developing country like India. Without keeping this in mind one ends up applying very misleading categories to events. Every country has hidden conspiracies and hidden layers of decision making. But this is qualitatively different.

The elite is in very very serious trouble. The normal civilian apparatus of the state (the police, the civil administration, the politicians) have long since lost control of the nether world where the terrorists and the army and its intelligence agencies are operating. Nobody is in charge in that world and everybody fears for their life and negotiates with bullets.

Hyderabadi, the Israeli secret service? Really?! That just about takes care of the rest of the hyperbole like the "quarter million" Hyderabadis killed or events in Indian Kashmir being the equivalent of the recorded genocide in East Pakistan.

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