India-Pakistan: The Plight Of The Generals


September 27, 2011:  The United States has stopped "playing the game" of pretending that the Pakistani military does not control or cooperate with Islamic terrorist groups. Senior American commanders have told the public, and in closed meetings with senior American politicians, presented the classified information that proves this Pakistani involvement continues. It's no secret in Pakistan that this connection exists. The military began backing Islamic terrorists in the late 1970s as a way to cure the corruption that was crippling the economy, while also providing a weapon that could defeat India. The corruption is still there and India remains undefeated. In the 1980s, this move to Islamic terrorism became fashionable when the Russians invaded Afghanistan and Pakistan became a base for Afghan "holy warriors" who fought back. When the Russians left in 1989, Pakistan continued to back Islamic terrorist groups in Afghanistan (most famously the Taliban, which the Pakistani army created) and sustained the civil war there. This war was still going on when September 11, 2001 came along. It's still going on today, and it's still being sustained by the Pakistani military. The Afghans are not happy with this, they never have been. Afghans point out that Pakistan has been interfering with Afghan internal affairs since Pakistan was created in 1948. The Afghans want this interference to stop, and have been pressing the U.S. to help.

Now, the U.S. has come to agree with the Afghans. So do many Pakistanis, who are unhappy with the share of the national income the military takes for itself. Pakistanis are also disturbed that this military support of Islamic terrorism has backfired, and now Pakistani civilians are most often the victims. Meanwhile, it's obvious that the military, particularly the officers, live better than the vast majority of Pakistanis. Yet the army has never been able to defeat the Indians, or anyone else for that matter. The Pakistani military has been supporting Islamic terrorists for over 30 years and now some of these radicals are killing Pakistanis. The military denies any responsibility. This has long been a big problem in Pakistan, getting anyone to take responsibility. It always seems to be someone else's fault.

The Pakistani military responds to all this by portraying itself as a victim of Indian and American plots. When all else fails, there is always paranoia and denial. The Pakistani military denies all the American and Afghan accusations and dares the Americans to do something about it. The Americans have told Pakistan that if the Pakistani military does not take down the Haqqani Network, and assume control of North Waziristan (where Haqqani and similar groups have a sanctuary) the Americans would. Pakistani generals responded that American "boots on the ground" would mean war. At this point, the U.S. seems unconcerned about that. It seems to be a question of who blinks first. Will Pakistan finally take control of their military, or allow their generals to drag the country into another war they will lose? This is entirely possible, for Pakistani public opinion portrays Pakistanis as victims of all manner of local and foreign conspiracies. Most Pakistanis refuse to take responsibility for anything, preferring to play the powerless victim. Pakistanis don't like to admit that this attitude is self-defeating. But for most Pakistanis, this victimhood is more comfortable than trying to fix things. Meanwhile, the U.S. has told the Pakistanis that military aid will be reduced and the money transferred to civilian uses. But the U.S. wants more ability to ensure that the aid gets to its intended recipients, rather than being stolen by corrupt officials.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistani intelligence (ISI) of using Haqqani to try and destabilize the Afghan government via terrorist attacks on high-profile targets. Pakistan denies everything. Meanwhile, Pakistan is refusing to honor international arrest warrants for retired ISI officials, accused of responsibility for past support of Islamic terrorism.

Faced with the prospect of losing American aid, or even being at war with America, Pakistani diplomats are seeking a stronger alliance with China. But the Chinese are not willing to offer the amount of aid the U.S. provides, or the degree of military assistance. In the meantime, China is demanding that Pakistan wipe out Islamic terrorists from western China, who have been based in the Pakistani tribal territories for most of the last decade. Pakistan cannot do this, because it would mean invading North Waziristan, a sanctuary for pro-government Islamic terrorist groups.

The violence in Karachi continues, as it has since the beginning of the year. The army continues to refuse to get involved in putting down the political, ethnic and religious fighting in Pakistan's largest city. Meanwhile, city officials are installing a network of 900 security cameras in the most economically important parts of the city. This network is to be completed within six months. The city officials are also importing fifty armored automobiles, so that police can quickly intervene in outbreaks of street fighting involving rifles and machine-guns (which is increasingly common.) Meanwhile, more paramilitary battalions have been brought in, to try and lock down the most violence-prone neighborhoods.

India continues to make progress against its communist (Maoist) rebellion in eastern India and Pakistani-backed Islamic terrorists in the northwest (Kashmir). Thus India suffers only about 10-20 percent as much violence as does Pakistan (which has one-sixth the population of India.)

September 25, 2011: Afghan diplomats accused Pakistani troops of firing over 300 shells and rockets into Afghanistan during the last five days. The Pakistanis were firing at areas believed to be used by Pakistani Taliban, who fled Pakistan in the last year as the Pakistani army cleared areas north of Waziristan of Taliban fighters. The areas on both sides of the border are inhabited by the same tribes or clans. The Pakistanis want the Americans and Afghans to move troops into that border area, and drive the Pakistani Taliban gunmen back into Pakistan. But American and Afghan troops are occupied elsewhere in Afghanistan hammering the Afghan Taliban and drug gangs. The Afghans don't trust the Pakistanis to actually cooperate if the Afghans send troops to this part of the border. Afghans do not trust Pakistan much at all, and they have good reason not to. The Afghans are more interested in punishing the Pakistani military than going after the Pakistani Taliban. That's what might happen, especially since Pakistan and Afghanistan have never formally agreed to exactly where their common border is.

September 24, 2011: A Pakistani army spokesman admitted that the army maintained contact with the Haqqani Network, but insisted that the army had no operational control over Haqqani. The U.S. insists that it has proof of this control, but does not want to make it public because this would show the Pakistanis exactly how their secret communications have been broken into by the Americans. This would enable the Pakistanis to temporarily improve their communications security and keep some of their operations secret, at least for a while.

September 22, 2011: In Pakistan, police have placed a prominent Sunni Islamic cleric under house arrest to stop him from preaching hate, and violence, against Shia Moslems. This cleric had been released from prison two months ago, after spending 14 years in captivity for leading deadly attacks on Shia. This is a growing problem, because about a quarter of Pakistanis are Shia, and this Sunni radicalism against Shia (encouraged by al Qaeda and most other Sunni groups) has created Shia radicals who fight back. This creates small war zones all over the country. Generally, the Sunni groups are the instigators, but Sunni terror groups are most often allies of the Pakistani military. This situation has become complicated.

September 21, 2011: The U.S. and Pakistan have completed negotiations over how many U.S. troops can serve in Pakistan. The number has been cut in half, to about 150. Most of these are trainers or intelligence specialists. These negotiations were triggered by the May 2nd American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, who had been living in the midst of Pakistani military facilities for over five years. The Pakistani military denied any knowledge of bin Laden's presence. Americans did not believe this.

September 20, 2011: Pakistani nuclear weapons scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who has largely escaped punishment for Pakistani selling nuclear secrets, has been releasing documents this year, to insure that the Pakistani government does not bow to foreign pressure and punish him. The latest Khan document details how, in the 1990s, China helped Pakistan learn how to enrich uranium enough so that it could be used in a nuclear weapon. Several months ago, Khan revealed a 1998 letter from a North Korean official that discussing how North Korea paid $3.5 million for nuclear weapons technology in the late 1990s. 

In Orakzai, Pakistan (north of Waziristan on the Afghan border), over a hundred Pakistani Taliban, believed to be from Afghan bases, attacked a Pakistani army checkpoint. The Taliban were repulsed, with at least twenty being killed. The army suffered about a dozen casualties. The army has been heavily involved in Orakzai for about a year, seeking to break Taliban control of the area.




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