India-Pakistan: An Army With A Nation


June 9, 2011:  The Pakistani military continue to suffer from their recent embarrassments (the bin Laden raid and inability to stop continued terrorism). Not that the military was loved in the past. However, for decades the military (including the intelligence conglomerate, the ISI) had some respect because they fought (never successfully, however) to protect Pakistan (mainly from India). The military took credit for obtaining nuclear weapons (mainly via theft and help from China), making Pakistan the first Islamic nuclear power. It was also the military that decided Islamic radicals were worth supporting (for taking Kashmir from India, and reducing corruption at home).

Pakistanis are beginning to talk openly about the fact that their military-intelligence complex was more of a problem than a solution. The generals are incredibly rich, living far beyond their official salaries. The lower ranking officers seem more intent on being like the generals, than in developing military skills. The troops are grateful to have a job, and their officers never let them forget it. Military leadership exists, but mainly to remind everyone that the military and ISI are a state within a state and must do whatever it takes to protect itself. Thus Pakistan is not a nation with an army, but an army with a nation. The people are now acknowledging this, and discussing how to solve this problem. The generals do not like this kind of talk, and are threatening and killing journalists who spread this sedition. But it is no longer something only whispered by a few. Even many of the troops are caught up in the indignation, and are angry at serving mainly to support the corruption and opulence of their generals. One reason the Islamic radicals survive (despite all the terrorist violence) is because the radicals are also very mad at the corruption (of the politicians, as well as the generals.) Islamic radical politicians get support for this, although many Islamic radical politicians have shown themselves to be just as corrupt once they get the opportunity.

The change in attitude in Pakistan is allowing many more military missteps to get publicized. For example, it's known that the Pakistani Taliban do not enjoy the support of most tribesmen in the tribal territories. But now the military is being criticized for letting down tribal allies of the government. It is the pro-government tribes that suffer most from the Taliban, but these tribes also know that the Taliban is the invention of the military, and that al Qaeda is tolerated, and protected, by the generals (especially those running the ISI). Thus the anti-Taliban tribes never get enough military support to crush the Taliban, because the military still sees the Islamic radicals as a useful weapon, and something they can control.

Most Pakistanis believe the generals are deluded on both counts. Despite all this, the army is in no imminent danger of undergoing meaningful reform (and large scale change in leadership.) The civilian politicians (both the clean and corrupt, including Islamic radicals) continue to fail in their efforts to control the generals. This is largely a matter of intimidation as, legally, the politicians can replace the senior generals with more reform minded men. But the generals threaten to overthrow any government that tries to go that far. The growing number of troublesome journalists are being killed, beaten or intimidated. So far, the journalists have proved more determined than the politicians. The generals are worried, however, and are sharing more of the loot with the troops (via raises and more benefits) while amping up PR efforts to make themselves look good. This often backfires, and encourages those trying to bring the generals down. Meanwhile, the United States and other nations suffering from Pakistani tolerance for Islamic militants, are growing dangerously impatient with the Pakistani generals and all the lies about shutting down Islamic terror groups (and never following through.)

Pakistan's government budget for next year has been set at $29.1 billion. A third of this is borrowed or gifts from foreign nations (mainly the U.S.). The government has always had a hard time raising money, especially since less than two percent of the population pays taxes, and the wealthiest individuals tend to avoid taxes altogether. Officially, the military only gets 20 percent of this, but in practice the generals control over half the budget. It's been that way for a long time.

A recent national opinion survey showed that most Pakistanis hate the Islamic radicals, with the poor being more angry at the terrorists than the upper and middle class minority (who have much better personal security). The Taliban increasingly use terror and intimidation to extract cooperation (or discourage police informants) from the population.

The terrorist violence is a constant in Pakistan, but at a low rate. Nearly all the attacks (several a week) take place in the tribal territories. There is continued tribal unrest in the southwest (Baluchistan), but energetic police action (and public cooperation) has made it difficult for Islamic terrorists to operate outside the thinly populated tribal territories.

June 8, 2011:  On the Afghan border with Pakistan, a hundred Taliban attacked a Pakistani border post in South Waziristan. The Taliban attackers were defeated, losing at least ten dead and many more wounded. Eight policemen were killed and at least a dozen wounded. In nearby Peshawar, a roadside bomb killed four civilians.

Two U.S. UAV missile strikes killed 23 Islamic terrorists, most of them at a small terrorist training facility. In the last week, there have been five American UAV attacks.

June 6, 2011: In eastern India (Jharkhand state), police found four improvised rockets and launchers in a Maoist hideout. This was the first time such weapons have been found. Another Maoist group in the area was found to possess a mortar. These long range weapons make it easier for the Maoists to attack police camps.

June 3, 2011:  As expected, the Pakistani military has agreed to resume cooperation with the U.S. military. Anger at the May 2nd American raid into Pakistan (that killed Osama bin Laden) resulted in the military greatly reducing this cooperation. But it was all for show, since severing these relationships hurt Pakistan more than the United States.

In Pakistan's South Waziristan, U.S. UAVs fired missiles to kill Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri, and eight of his followers. Kashmiri was often mentioned as one of the men who might replace Osama bin Laden as head of al Qaeda. The U.S. had long offered a $5 million reward for the death or capture of Kashmiri, who was the chief military commander of al Qaeda.

In eastern India (Chhattisgarh state), an army battalion has, for the first time, been involved in hunting for Maoist rebels. As expected, the Maoists have not been eager to engage the soldiers, and have stayed away from the army patrols.





Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close