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Civil War Or Nuclear War?
by James Dunnigan
December 26, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

The capture of one of the ten Mumbai terrorists has been a disaster for Pakistan. The captured terrorist talked, and his information checked out, and made it clear that Pakistan was tolerating Islamic terrorist groups operating openly inside Pakistan. This is nothing new, but such dramatic proof is. The U.S., the UN and most other major countries put the pressure on Pakistan to do something about this, or risk being officially branded a pro-terrorist state. Pakistan responded to that pressure in the last week by arresting several senior terrorist leaders known to be operating in Pakistan. But Pakistan refused to allow India to take these terrorists. That's because if these guys began talking, they would confirm Pakistan's long term support of Islamic terrorist activities. These are admissions that Pakistan does not want to deal with. Nevertheless, Pakistan has long been known as a supporter of Islamic terrorists, even though some of these terrorist organizations are trying to kill Pakistani leaders. That is a rather recent development, which came about after September 11, 2001, when the Pakistani leadership were forced to decide between backing the war on terror, or siding with the terrorists. At that point, some Islamic terrorists began attacking Pakistani leaders. But others, like those responsible for the Mumbai attacks (Lashkar e Toiba) did not support the overthrow of the Pakistani government (at least not right away), and continued to be protected by the government.

But Lashkar e Toiba continued to plan attacks inside India, which India has warned could lead to nuclear war. But Pakistan did not want to enrage another bunch of Islamic terrorists. Now they have no choice, or do they? India and the United States are watching closely exactly what Pakistan does to the "Kashmir (dedicated to taking Kashmir from Indian control) terrorists" like Lashkar e Toiba. Pakistan has made a few arrests, and everyone is waiting to see if, or when, Pakistan will do some real damage to these groups. So far, Pakistan has not. Groups like Lashkar e Toiba are very popular in Pakistan, because getting control of Kashmir is very popular. The government fears that going after the Kashmir terrorists would cause a civil war inside Pakistan. That has always been a risk, which even India acknowledged. But now the Indian government has a population enraged about the activities (like Mumbai, and similar attacks earlier) of the Pakistani Kashmir terror groups, and wants something done. Pakistan is being forced into a corner, where the choices come down to civil war with their Islamic conservatives and radicals (about a third of the population), or war with India, which could escalate into a nuclear conflict that Pakistan would lose. The civil war would be messy, but the government would almost certainly win it. Pakistani politicians, being risk averse, are looking for some way out of this mess. There doesn't seem to be one.

Meanwhile, the battle against the Taliban continues on the Afghan border. The Taliban are now trying to threaten truck traffic into Afghanistan. As a landlocked country with no railroads, most imports travel into Afghanistan via truck, along only a few roads that cross the border. This trucking business is very lucrative for Pakistani transportation companies, and vital for the economy of Afghanistan. These attacks will force the Pakistanis to assign more troops and police to protecting the trucking operations. Not so much to protect U.S. and NATO supply lines, but to protect a major economic asset for political and economic big shots on both sides of the border. You do not want to be messing with the money in this part of the world.

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