India-Pakistan: October 29, 2001

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Pakistan is being forced to face up to the dangerous game it has been playing since the late 1980s. Faced with a democracy that would not work, at least not for very long, one faction of the military decided to try and use militant Islam to focus the nation's attention and unite the people. This led to support of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan and Islamic militants fighting in Kashmir. This led to nothing but disaster. In Afghanistan, the Taliban came under the control of international terrorist Osama bin Laden, who saw the leadership of Pakistan as one of his ultimate targets. The escalating war in Kashmir led to thousands of deaths. no change in the status of Kashmir, and increased risk of war with India (which Pakistan has no chance of winning).  In Kashmir, rebel violence left three rebels, two soldiers and a civilian dead. Many officials and in Kashmir and India are calling for the army to attack rebel camps inside Pakistani Kashmir, and Pakistan itself.  Inside Indian Kashmir, troops continued to besiege a Mosque held by rebels. 

The growing Moslem fundamentalism in Pakistan created wild eyed religious leaders who threatened the civil government. But the fundamentalists also took to fighting each other, making the nation's largest city, Karachi, even more ungovernable. Meanwhile, religious fundamentalism in Afghanistan had spread into the Pushtun areas of Pakistan, where the local Pushtun's have become even more ungovernable. President Musharraf had decided to confront the fundamentalists last Summer, and the American operations against Afghanistan gave Musharraf an opportunity to beef up his anti-fundamentalist effort. Although Pakistan is receiving over a billion dollars in aid from the US, and several billion more from other sources, the threat of domestic violence, and a world wide recession, has caused many international customers to back off. This has thrown thousands of Pakistanis out of work. 

The majority of Pakistanis still support Musharraf, mainly due to dislike of the Pushtuns and fear the Islamic fundamentalists. The recent massacre of 20 Pakistani Christians by Islamic militants turned public opinion even more strongly against the fundamentalists. Meanwhile, the Taliban say they do not need the 5-10,000 armed Pakistani Pushtun volunteers trying to cross the border. The Taliban say they will call for these volunteers when they need them. 

But the Pushtun's and fundamentalists are armed and numerous enough to terrorize the entire population. Moreover, the armed opposition can launch attacks on any American troops. Not decisive attacks, but they would be noticed. Moreover, any attempt to use Pakistan to supply a large number of troops in Afghanistan could easily result in attacks on the trucks and railroads moving this stuff hundreds of miles from Pakistani seaports to the Afghan border. Pakistan may be an ally in the War on Terrorism, but is not a safe or secure one. 

 

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