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Old Thursday, October 07, 2010
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Default World Views Pakistan

Afghan war moves deeper into Pakistan

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Information supplied by a Pakistani-German jihadi led to the United States Predator drone attack in Pakistan on Monday in which at least eight other Germans were killed, Asia Times Online has learned.

A senior Pakistani security official said the two missile strikes near the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan tribal area followed intelligence passed on by Rami Mackenzie, 27, during interrogation following his arrest in the middle of this year by Pakistani security officials in Bannu, the principal city of Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.

At the time of his capture, Pakistani authorities said they believed Mackenzie, who had been disguised in a traditional woman's

burqa, was an expert in manufacturing suicide vests.

Drone attacks have been significantly stepped up in the past few months - there were a record 22 in September - since the arrest in July in Kabul of Afghan-German Ahmad Siddiqi. He revealed that al-Qaeda was planning attacks in London, Paris, Berlin and other European cities similar to those carried out in Mumbai, India, in November 2008 in which 166 people were killed and scores wounded.

The threat of attacks has set off a Europe-wide travel alert issued by the United States.

"On Ahmad Siddiqi's tip-off, CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] drones targeted North Waziristan on September 8 in which a few Germans were killed," the security official said. Siddiqi attended the same mosque in Hamburg in Germany as the September 11 lead hijacker, Mohamed Atta.

"The interrogators also gleaned information on the role of Sheikh Fateh al-Misri as the mastermind and the commander of the new al-Qaeda mission in Europe." Egyptian Misri, al-Qaeda's chief commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was killed in a drone attack on September 25. Misri, previously not a member of al-Qaeda, in May replaced Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, who was also killed in a drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal area.

The official said highly concerned American and European intelligence services were desperately trying to track down suspected al-Qaeda connections in North Waziristan in an effort to eliminate al-Qaeda's European franchise.

The Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Hussain Haqqani, has confirmed a link between the increased drone strikes and efforts to disrupt possible attacks in Europe, which unconfirmed reports said were to take place in November.

"The activity we see in North Waziristan, in terms of strikes and terms of measures to try to get people from al-Qaeda and associated groups, is connected to the terrorist warnings that we have heard about potential strikes in Europe," Haqqani told the BBC.

A failed jihadi
Mackenzie was recruited in Germany this year and sent to North Waziristan for training. However, after spending only a few months he became disillusioned.

"The Europeans who were recruited by al-Qaeda are in really bad shape. They converted to Islam or even if they were Muslims born in Europe, they were reared in a comfortable atmosphere," the security official told Asia Times Online.

"The rugged terrain of North Waziristan and then the ruthless behavior and treatment of the local Wazirs and Mehsuds made most of the Europeans disillusioned. Rami was among one of those who decided to go to Islamabad and surrender himself to the German Embassy. But to his bad luck he was spotted and arrested by the security agencies in Bannu."

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which has been active in Pakistan's tribal areas for many years, split several years ago, leading to the creation of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU). The IMU remained based in South Waziristan while the IJU set up in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. The IMU began in the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan and has also fought in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, with the aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate.

The Uzbeks are Turkic by origin and therefore in North Waziristan they became close with militants from Turkey. The Turks are mostly based in the Shawal Valley in North Waziristan that borders Afghanistan, from where they regularly take part in attacks against occupation forces.

Under the umbrella of the IJU, the Uzbeks encouraged the Turks to move to Mir Ali, away from the border regions, to join forces in a broader alliance that would shock the Western world - such as attacks in Europe.

There is a sizeable Turk diaspora in Europe, especially in Germany, and many have acquired German nationality. The IJU encouraged such Turks among their ranks to return to Germany to recruit Muslim converts, especially ethnic Germans and other Europeans, into al-Qaeda. Within a short period, a sizeable number of German, Dutch, Norwegian and Spanish recruits went to North Waziristan.

"In the town of Mir Ali, this new alliance of Germans, Turks and Uzbeks emerged alongside other European nationals and al-Qaeda supported the alliance as its new franchise in Europe," the Pakistani official told Asia Times Online.

According to estimates, at least 150 German nationals are involved with the al-Qaeda network, including those in North Waziristan in transit to Turkey, Central Asia or other Pakistani areas.

If the past several weeks are any indication, the intensified drone war can be expected to continue as long as Europe feels it is under threat from terror attacks that have their roots in Pakistan's tribal areas.

"The region of Datta Khel [North Waziristan] has been identified as the place where all al-Qaeda bigwigs are gathered. [Osama bin Laden's deputy] Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri is also believed to be there, and it therefore looks as if the Afghan war will cross into North Waziristan this winter," the security official said.
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Old Thursday, October 07, 2010
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World parliamentarians unanimously call for writing off Pakistan’s debt


ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians from across the globe urged the governments, donor countries and international financial institutions to extend full support to Pakistan to meet the challenges posed by recent floods, a fax message from Geneva said on Thursday.
They unanimously adopted a resolution that urged the international community, particularly donor countries, international financial institutions and relevant international organisations, the private sector and civil society to extend their full support and assistance to the Government of Pakistan. They further called for swift action aimed at mitigating the adverse impacts of the floods such as writing off and/or rescheduling of Pakistan’s debt, providing market access to revive Pakistan’s economy and invest in medium and long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction projects.
The resolution adopted by parliamentarians from 121 countries, who gathered in Geneva to attend 123rd Assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), praised the efforts made by the Government of Pakistan to reverse the negative impact of the recent disaster on people’s lives.
The resolution has underscored the importance of a rapid response by the international community, in particular the United Nations, to meet the needs of the people of Pakistan. It called upon international financial institutions, in particular the IMF, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, and governments to further contribute to the efforts aimed at meeting the needs of the people in flood-stricken areas.
The resolution advocated that the international community should respond rapidly and appropriately by contributing to the Pakistan Emergency Fund established by the United Nations and increasing the budget allocated to UNCERF-the United Nationís Central Emergency Response Fund. The resolution has also called upon the United Nations to hold an international conference on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-affected areas in Pakistan. It was finalised by the IPU drafting committee, which included parliamentarians from Argentina, Cambodia, Canada, Iran, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Benin, Bahrain, Uganda and Turkey.
Earlier, the Committee unanimously elected Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan to chair the proceedings of the committee. The unanimous adoption of the resolution was a result of leadership, tireless efforts and outreach of the Chairman Senate, Farooq Hamid Naek, who is heading the Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation to the 123rd IPU Assembly. Prior to the commencement of IPU Assembly proceedings, Iran and the UAE tabled proposals calling for international support to Pakistan.
Naek, as part of strategy to build consensus, convinced the two brotherly countries to merge the two proposals. He then extensively lobbied with parliamentarians, which enabled the drafting committee to finalise the draft and the assembly to adopt the resolution. He nominated Senator Haroon Khan to represent Pakistan in the drafting committee. Senator Khan, under the guidance of the Senate Chairman, very effectively conducted the proceedings of the committee and ensured that the resolution would not contain any negative reference to Pakistan and that it would envisage concrete measures
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The bigger picture

[/B]s the controversy surrounding the nato attacks across the pakistani border and the closure of transit points to afghanistan the watershed of pakistan-us relations? for the answer, the bigger picture must be understood. drone attacks and us forays into pakistan are destabilising and sometimes seen as a prelude to a us-indian effort to ostra- cise pakistan. this argument holds little water because pakistan is a nuclear-weapon state capable of defending itself and still relevant in global realpolitik. notwithstanding their chequered relationship, the bumpy alliance continues because both the us and pakistan need each other for their geopoliti- cal interests. many believe that islamabad’s protests over the drone attacks are rhetoric as it has an arrangement with the us that allows these attacks. is the recent nato attack the out- come of a similar arrangement? if yes, then it is binding for pakistan to provide logistic and operational support to nato forces. reneging on an agreement may be costly. the closure of transit points in torkham may be to silent critics about the government’s inaction. the joint inquiry to in- vestigate the killing of pakistani soldiers and the foreign min- ister’s brussels visit indicate reconciliatory efforts. pakistan and the us must reassess the basis of their alliance over afghanistan in a win-win paradigm. we must understand us goals in afghanistan. in 2001 these were the destruction of al qaeda but the us only managed to disrupt their doings. al qaeda elements have gone elsewhere and play on a wider geographical canvas and are an evasive target. hence, continuing the afghan war will politically, eco- nomically and militarily bleed the us and its allies. apparent success will be a mixed blessing; a tactical victory that would make little dent on global terrorism. lately, america chose to enlarge its original mandate. it wants to democratise afghanistan and cleanse it of corruption. both challenges are monumental. most afghans believe their us-supported regime doesn’t represent the pakhtun majority and is behind the corruption. this is where india’s efforts to ga- in a foothold in afghanistan and prospects of a coalition to mar- ginalise pakistan lose credence. instead, pakistan is the only co- untry that can effectively play a balancing role in afghanistan. a complete us withdrawal from afghanistan can hardly happen as it will be strategically and politically prohibitive not only for washington but for other capitals too. strategically, a us presence in afghanistan exposes the russian underbelly and contains china. economically, america will find the $1tr worth of mineral reserves tempting. politically, a complete withdrawal means leaving some muslim countries to the mer- cy of al qaeda that will try to trigger uprisings. for america, it may be a loss of face. for pakistan, it may lead to isolation. american domestic politics dictate that the administration should not order a complete withdrawal. obama has low pop- ularity ratings for a seeming lack of commitment to the war effort thus forcing him to keep boots on the ground regard- less of the cost. what are the opportunities for pakistan in this situation? this can be understood by looking at current pakistan-us ties. currently, their interdependence forces both to continue with the jerky coalition. some contend that the us needs pakistan to balance growing chinese influence and to contain india. there are no permanent friends or enemies, only inter- ests. hence, while the us appears to be india’s strategic ally it does not completely trust new delhi. india is close to america because it is a big market, can dominate the indian ocean re- gion and is potentially the best regional counterweight to china. but it is also in washington’s interest not to let its stra- tegic partner outsmart it. hence, an alliance with pakistan helps america maintain its leverage. pakistan also needs the us to contain india, as it cannot do so alone. china is an alter- native but beijing’s trade interests must be kept in mind while assessing the limits of its help to pakistan. whether or not pakistan needs washington, it must have a stable western frontier. only then can it avoid a two-front war against india, which in turn wants to develop a capability to fight a two-front war against pakistan and china under a nuclear overhang. logically, america should have no compelling interest in how afghanistan is governed as long as no threat emanates from the latter. if this was not so, washington would not sup- port an ineffectual regime. likewise, america won’t cut its troops at the cost of its political clout in afghanistan. for geo- graphic and demographic reasons, only pakistan can support america in negotiating a settlement in afghanistan. this, and not the blockage of nato supplies, is the ultimate lever that pakistan has over america. achieving this is, however, a tightrope walk. while it pro- vides the opportunity to stabilise pakistan’s vulnerable fron- tiers and build a lasting friendship with the us, falling down carries the danger of wearing out in the great game and end- ing up unstable and internationally isolated. going by nine years of war in afghanistan, it must be clear that america cannot defeat the afghan taliban. however, the us and pakistan can build an environment that allows the afghans to introduce a truly representative political dispensa- tion. the original goal of the us invasion is no more relevant and current aspirations cannot be fulfilled without pakistan. therefore, both countries must disentangle themselves and build on common interests. such a paradigm shift will have teething problems but hopefully the brussels meetings will be fruitful and we will not forget what we were trying to do in the first place. ¦ the writer is a scholar at the national defence university, islamabad.
IS the controversy surrounding the Nato attacks across the Pakistani border and the closure of transit points to Afghanistan the watershed of Pakistan-US relations? For the answer, the bigger picture must be understood.

Drone attacks and US forays into Pakistan are destabilising and sometimes seen as a prelude to a US-Indian effort to ostracise Pakistan. This argument holds little water because Pakistan is a nuclear-weapon state capable of defending itself and still relevant in global realpolitik. Notwithstanding their chequered relationship, the bumpy alliance continues because both the US and Pakistan need each other for their geopolitical interests. Many believe that Islamabad’s protests over the drone attacks are rhetoric as it has an arrangement with the US that allows these attacks. Is the recent Nato attack the outcome of a similar arrangement? If yes, then it is binding for Pakistan to provide logistic and operational support to Nato forces. Reneging on an agreement may be costly.

The closure of transit points in Torkham may be to silent critics about the government’s inaction. The joint inquiry to investigate the killing of Pakistani soldiers and the foreign minister’s Brussels visit indicate reconciliatory efforts. Pakistan and the US must reassess the basis of their alliance over Afghanistan in a win-win paradigm.

We must understand US goals in Afghanistan. In 2001 these were the destruction of Al Qaeda but the US only managed to disrupt their doings. Al Qaeda elements have gone elsewhere and play on a wider geographical canvas and are an evasive target. Hence, continuing the Afghan war will politically, economically and militarily bleed the US and its allies. Apparent success will be a mixed blessing; a tactical victory that would make little dent on global terrorism.

Lately, America chose to enlarge its original mandate. It wants to democratise Afghanistan and cleanse it of corruption. Both challenges are monumental. Most Afghans believe their US-supported regime doesn’t represent the Pakhtun majority and is behind the corruption. This is where India’s efforts to gain a foothold in Afghanistan and prospects of a coalition to marginalise Pakistan lose credence. Instead, Pakistan is the only country that can effectively play a balancing role in Afghanistan.

A complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan can hardly happen as it will be strategically and politically prohibitive not only for Washington but for other capitals too. Strategically, a US presence in Afghanistan exposes the Russian underbelly and contains China. Economically, America will find the $1tr worth of mineral reserves tempting. Politically, a complete withdrawal means leaving some Muslim countries to the mercy of Al Qaeda that will try to trigger uprisings. For America, it may be a loss of face. For Pakistan, it may lead to isolation.

American domestic politics dictate that the administration should not order a complete withdrawal. Obama has low popularity ratings for a seeming lack of commitment to the war effort thus forcing him to keep boots on the ground regardless of the cost. What are the opportunities for Pakistan in this situation? This can be understood by looking at current Pakistan-US ties.

Currently, their interdependence forces both to continue with the jerky coalition. Some contend that the US needs Pakistan to balance growing Chinese influence and to contain India. There are no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. Hence, while the US appears to be India’s strategic ally it does not completely trust New Delhi. India is close to America because it is a big market, can dominate the Indian Ocean region and is potentially the best regional counterweight to China. But it is also in Washington’s interest not to let its strategic partner outsmart it. Hence, an alliance with Pakistan helps America maintain its leverage. Pakistan also needs the US to contain India, as it cannot do so alone. China is an alternative but Beijing’s trade interests must be kept in mind while assessing the limits of its help to Pakistan. Whether or not Pakistan needs Washington, it must have a stable western frontier. Only then can it avoid a two-front war against India, which in turn wants to develop a capability to fight a two-front war against Pakistan and China under a nuclear overhang.

Logically, America should have no compelling interest in how Afghanistan is governed as long as no threat emanates from the latter. If this was not so, Washington would not support an ineffectual regime. Likewise, America won’t cut its troops at the cost of its political clout in Afghanistan. For geographic and demographic reasons, only Pakistan can support America in negotiating a settlement in Afghanistan. This, and not the blockage of Nato supplies, is the ultimate lever that Pakistan has over America.

Achieving this is, however, a tightrope walk. While it provides the opportunity to stabilise Pakistan’s vulnerable frontiers and build a lasting friendship with the US, falling down carries the danger of wearing out in the great game and ending up unstable and internationally isolated.

Going by nine years of war in Afghanistan, it must be clear that America cannot defeat the Afghan Taliban. However, the US and Pakistan can build an environment that allows the Afghans to introduce a truly representative political dispensation. The original goal of the US invasion is no more relevant and current aspirations cannot be fulfilled without Pakistan. Therefore, both countries must disentangle themselves and build on common interests. Such a paradigm shift will have teething problems but hopefully the Brussels meetings will be fruitful and we will not forget what we were trying to do in the first place.
¦ The writer is a scholar at the National Defence University, Islamabad.
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Old Friday, October 08, 2010
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Default Indian Perception towards Pakistan

Pak feels threatened by Obama’s India visit
Published: Friday, Oct 8, 2010, 2:30 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
US President Barack Obama

When it comes to Pakistan, the United States of America and Kashmir, it often seems to India that nothing has changed. The news that a team from the US embassy in New Delhi met Kashmiri separatist leaders in the Valley just ahead of US president Barack Obama’s visit to India later this year brings up old fears about Pakistan manipulating the West to interfere in Kashmir and India’s internal matters.

Usually, this is a direct attempt to deflect attention from Pakistan’s own problems and this time it appears to be the same. Pakistan, apart from grappling with its own fissures and political instability, has the additional pressure applied by the US to deal with terrorists operating within its land and its links with the Taliban. In such a situation, the current law and order situation in Kashmir must have seemed like an unexpected gift for Pakistan and it has wasted no time in upping the ante.

Yet, it may not be necessary for India to assume that we are back to the bad old days. The US could well be playing its new game of paying lip service to Pakistan’s concerns, perhaps as a pay-off for greater US excursions into Pakistani territory. It might also be a way of appeasing Pakistan for the attention being given to India when it comes to commercial and economic ties.

And, most of all, Obama is not scheduled to stop by Pakistan when he visits India. India must make it clear that unsolicited outside interference is unacceptable when it comes to Kashmir.

The current problems in Kashmir notwithstanding, it is evident that Pakistan is no longer part of the solution even as far as most Kashmiris are concerned. If there is an additional worrying point for India, it is Pakistan’s cosy relations with China.

As far as the US and Pakistan are concerned, we know from experience that Pakistan occupies a special place in the US’s view of the world. But at the same time, India is too important for the US to behave the way it did during the Cold War.

India’s increasing success and its growing economy have made it a very attractive proposition for the rest of the world. It is perhaps that which threatens Pakistan the most, as it loses so many of its advantages day after day.
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Default Independent

Is Pakistan falling apart?

It has suffered disaster after disaster. Its people have lived through crisis upon crisis. Its leaders are unwilling or unable to act. But is it really the failed state that many believe?

By Patrick Cockburn

Friday, 8 October 2010

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Is Pakistan disintegrating? Are the state and society coming apart under the impact of successive political and natural disasters? The country swirls with rumours about the fall of the civilian government or even a military coup. The great Indus flood has disappeared from the headlines at home and abroad, though millions of farmers are squatting in the ruins of their villages. The US is launching its heaviest-ever drone attacks on targets in the west of the country, and Pakistan closed the main US and Nato supply route through the Khyber Pass after US helicopters crossed the border and killed Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan is undoubtedly in a bad way, but it is also a country with more than 170 million people, a population greater than Russia's, and is capable of absorbing a lot of punishment. It is a place of lop-sided development. It possesses nuclear weapons but children were suffering from malnutrition even before the floods. Electricity supply is intermittent so industrialists owning textile mills in Punjab complain that they have to use their own generators to stay in business. Highways linking cities are impressive, but the driver who turns off the road may soon find himself bumping along a farmer's track. The 617,000-strong army is one of the strongest in the world, but the government has failed to eliminate polio or malaria. Everybody agrees that higher education must be improved if Pakistan is to compete in the modern world, but the universities have been on strike because their budgets had been cut and they could not pay their staff.

The problem for Pakistan is not that the country is going to implode or sink into anarchy, but that successive crises do not produce revolutionary or radical change. A dysfunctional and corrupt state, part-controlled by the army, staggers on and continues to misgovern the country. The merry-go-round of open or veiled military rule alternates with feeble civilian governments. But power stays in the hands of an English-speaking élite that inherited from the British rulers of the Raj a sense of superiority over the rest of the population.

The present government might just squeak through the post-flood crisis because of its weakness rather than its strength. The military has no reason to replace it formally since the generals already control security policy at home and abroad, as well as foreign policy and anything else they deem important to their interests. The ambition of the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, in the next few weeks is to try to fight off the demand by the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, that the legal immunity of President Asif Ali Zardari should be lifted. Mr Zardari, who owes his position to having been the husband of Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2007, has a well-established (though unproven) reputation for corruption during his pre-presidential days. Whatever the outcome of the struggle with the Supreme Court, Mr Zardari is scarcely in a position to stand up to the military leaders who may find it convenient to have such a discredited civilian leader nominally in power.

The military have ruled Pakistan for more than half the time since independence in 1947, but their control has never been quite absolute. The soldiers have never managed to put the politicians and the political parties permanently out of business, so the balance between military and non-military still counts. But there is no doubt about which way the struggle is going. A decisive moment came on 24 July this year when General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief of staff, was reappointed for another three-year term. The US embassy in Islamabad is said by foreign diplomats and Pakistani officials to have protested vigorously but unavailingly to Washington. It said that keeping General Kayani in place would inflict a fatal wound on democracy and demonstrate that the civilian government could not get rid of its own army commander. In the event, Washington, always a crucial influence in Islamabad, decided that it would prefer to deal with a single powerful figure able to deliver in negotiations over Afghanistan. This was in keeping with US policy towards Pakistan since the 1950s. "We were put under intense pressure to keep Kayani,"� said an aide of President Zardari's. "We were left with no choice."�

In one sense, the army never really left power after the fall of General Pervez Musharraf in 2008. It has continued to allocate to itself an extraordinarily high proportion of Pakistan's limited resources. Military bases all over the country look spruce and well cared-for, while just outside their razor-wire defences are broken roads and slum housing. At the entrance of a base just west of Islamabad last week was an elderly but effective-looking tank as a monument, the ground around it parade-ground clean. A few hundred yards away, a yellow bulldozer was driving through thick mud to make a flood-damaged road passable two months after the deluge, while a side street nearby was closed by a pool of stagnant grey-coloured water. At the other end of the country in northern Sindh, a local leader, who like many critics of the Pakistani military did not want his name published, pointed to a wide canal. He said: "This canal is not meant to be taking water from the Indus, but it is allowed to operate because it irrigates land owned by army officers."�

The army projects a messianic image of itself in which it selflessly takes power to save the nation. It likes to contrast its soldierly virtues of incorruptibility and efficiency with the crookedness and ineptitude of civilians. "The army is very good at claiming to be the solution to problems which it has itself created,"� complained a local politician in Punjab. "It is also good at ascribing all failures to civilian governments, which cannot act because the army monopolises resources." He added caustically that in his area, the floods had arrived on 6 August and the first army assistance on 26 August.

Politicians and journalists criticising the army often employ code words where more is implied than stated. But last month, a government minister made a pungent attack on the army that astonished listening journalists. The minister for defence production, Abdul Qayyum Jatoi, directly accused the army of being behind the killing of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, in 2007, and the revered Baluchi leader Nawab Bugti, a year earlier.

"We did not provide the army with uniforms and boots to kill their own countrymen,"� Mr Jatoi said bluntly, suggesting that the army leaders do their duty by going to defend Pakistan's frontiers and end rumours of a coup. He added: "Not only politicians should be blamed for corruption, rather [army] generals and judges should be held responsible."�

Mr Jatoi's words reflect what Pakistanis say about the army in private, but seldom dare do so in public. He paid a price for his forthrightness, since Mr Gilani promptly sacked him and he is being accused of high treason in a petition before the courts. He says he does not miss his job very much because all the important decisions in his ministry were in any case taken by the military. Pakistanis are unhappy because every week seems to bring another piece of bad news. The country is highly politicised with millions of people observing with acute interest the struggles for power at the central and local level. Taxi drivers discuss the make-up of the Supreme Court and its future composition. When it comes to open and lively political disputes, Pakistan is more like Lebanon, with its tradition of weak government but free expression of opinion, than Russia or Egypt with their supine and intimidated populations. Political parties in Pakistan are powerful and, given an ineffectual and corrupt administrative apparatus, everybody believes he or she needs somebody of influence to protect their interests. The army likes to denigrate civilian politicians as "feudalists", but in practice, big landowners have limited political power. Politicians gain influence through helping "clients" who need their support and that of their parties. "All politics here is really about jobs,"� says National Assembly member Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari.

Pakistan may not be falling apart, but the floods and the economic crisis – the government is bankrupt and inflation is at 18-20 per cent – means that every Pakistani I meet, be they small farmers, generals, industrialists or tribal leaders, is gloomy about the future. Each negative incident is interpreted as a sign of Pakistan's decline and a menacing omen of worse to come. Two recent scandals, both filmed as they happened and shown on as many as 26 cable television news channels, appear to confirm that the country is saturated with corruption and violence. This explosion of news channels has happened only in the past few years and makes it far more difficult to censor information.

One scandal was the notorious allegation of match-fixing in return for bribes made against Pakistani cricketers touring England. Commentators noted acidly that it was typical of the political system that the highly unpopular head of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt, could not be dismissed by the defence minister, Ahmad Mukhtar, because he is the latter's brother-in-law. The scandal was peculiarly damaging because it broke in August just as the government was trying to persuade the world to give it large sums of money for flood relief.

A second scandal, which may have horrified Pakistanis even more than the bribery case in England, took place a few days earlier. News out of Pakistan at the time was all about the devastating floods and it received little international attention, but the gory events were again played endlessly on television. They took place on 15 August in the city of Sialkot, north of Lahore, where two wholly innocent teenagers called Hafiz Sajjad, 18, and Mohammed Muneeb Sajjad, 15, were misidentified as robbers and lynched by a crowd in the middle of a city street. Uniformed police stood nonchalantly by as men with iron rods and sticks took turns over a period of hours to beat the boys to death. Their mangled bodies were finally hung upside down in the market and the case only became know because a courageous television reporter had accidentally witnessed and secretly filmed what happened.

The Sialkot lynching shows Pakistani society at its worst. It also illustrates what happens when there is a breakdown in the administration of justice. In this case, the local police are reported to have routinely killed alleged criminals or handed them over to lynch mobs. This breakdown in the administration of justice is general. I asked Pashtun tribal elders in a town near Lakki Marwat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province what they most needed. They all said governance: some form of effective local government administration. In south Punjab I went to a tribal court where 100 tough-looking Baluchi tribesmen had submitted a land dispute to a respected leader of their tribe. It was a complicated case involving a grandfather's will written in 1985 that left 12 acres of land unequally to the sons of his two marriages. The will was not very precise but nobody cared at first because the land was in the desert. But then one member of the family started to irrigate it and made it productive, leading to a rancorous dispute about ownership. The claimants to the land had chosen binding arbitration by a respected local leader, because a decision would be swift and free. They said that if they went through the state courts, the case could take years and the judges and police could be bribed.

But incidents such as the Sialkot lynching do not mean that the country is slipping into primal anarchy like Somalia. The Western world looks at Pakistan primarily in relation to Afghanistan, the Taliban, extreme jihadi Islam and the "war on terror". In a country of 170 million people there are always episodes that can be used as evidence to illustrate any trend, such as the belief that Pakistan is filled with bloodthirsty Islamic militants bent on holy war. Earlier this year, Foreign Policy magazine in Washington, which compiles an annual list of failed states, placed Pakistan 10th on the list, claiming that it showed more signs of state failure than Haiti and Yemen, and is only slightly more stable than Somalia and Yemen.

The country's high ranking in the survey tells one more about the paranoid state of mind of Washington post-9/11 than what is actually happening. There is no incentive to play down the "Islamic threat to Pakistan" on the part of any journalist who wants his or her story to be published, think-tankers who need a grant, or diplomats who seek promotion. The influence and prospects for growth of small jihadi organisations are systematically exaggerated. Over-attentive reading of the Koran is seen as the first step on the road to Islamic terrorism. Overstated claims about their activities by fundamentalist Islamic groups are happily lapped up and repeated.

Stories acquire a life of their own, regardless of their factual basis. During the recent floods, the foreign media reported on how militant Islamic groups were prominent and energetic in distributing aid to victims, the suggestion being that they will use their enhanced status to recruit more young men for holy war. This is supposedly what they did during the Kashmir earthquake of 2005, which killed 75,000 people whom it was difficult to reach because they lived high in the mountains. Christine Fair, an expert on Pakistan at Georgetown University in Washington, eloquently demolishes this and other spurious stories about the growth of militant Islam in Pakistan. She cites a survey of 28,000 households in 126 villages in Kashmir in which one-quarter of the inhabitants said they had received aid from international agencies, 7 per cent from non-militant Islamic charities, and just 1 per cent from the Islamic militant groups. Of course, the militantly religious of all kinds are likely to be to the front in helping survivors of any disaster, because most faiths adjure their adherents to help others in a crisis. The only person I met during a visit to flooded areas who could in any way be described as a religious militant engaged in relief work was an amiable German Pentecostalist waiting for a flight in Lahore airport.

Another hardy-perennial story about Pakistan claims that because of the undoubted inadequacy of the Pakistani public education system, madrasahs, or religious schools, provide free education to the needy. Once enrolled, the children are supposedly brainwashed to turn them into the future foot soldiers of jihadi Islam. In reality, Pakistani educational specialists say that just 1.3 per cent of children in school go the madrasahs, 65 per cent to public schools, and 34 per cent to non-religious private schools. In recent years, it is the small and affordable private schools that have expanded fastest, mainly because jobs in them are open to educated women prepared to accept low pay. Most jihadis turn out to have been educated at public schools.

Extreme Islamists have seldom done well in elections in Pakistan. Widespread popular support for the Afghan Taliban stems primarily from the conviction that they are essentially a Pashtun national liberation movement fighting a foreign occupation. The Pakistani Taliban was once said to be "60 miles from Islamabad", but such scaremongering ignored the fact that there were three mountain ranges and one of the world's most powerful armies in between the Taliban's rag-tag fighters and the capital. The Pakistani state may not function very well but it is not failing, and – a pity – current crises may not even change it very much.
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Default An Asia Times Publication

Beijing playing its Kashmir card
By Mohan Malik

Even as the Chinese navy signals its intent to enforce sea denial in the "first island chain" in the East (comprised of the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea of the Pacific Ocean), the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is reportedly on the move along China's southwest frontier in Pakistani-held Kashmir.

In late August, media accounts reported the presence of thousands of Chinese troops in the strategic northern areas (renamed Gilgit-Baltistan in 2009 by Pakistan) of Pakistani-held Kashmir, bordering Xinjiang province.

A Western report suggested that Islamabad had ceded control of the area to Beijing, prompting denials from both capitals. Chinese Foreign Office spokesperson Jiang Yu denied the story, saying the troops are there to help Pakistan with ''flood relief work.''

Nonetheless, credible sources confirm the presence of the PLA's logistics and engineering corps to provide flood relief and to build large infrastructure projects worth US$20 billion (railways, dams, pipelines and extension of the Karakoram Highway) to assure unfettered Chinese access to the oil-rich Gulf through the Pakistani port of Gwadar. As China's external energy dependency has deepened in the past decade, so has its sense of insecurity and urgency.

'The Kashmir card'
While China and India have long sparred over the Dalai Lama and Tibet's status, border incursions and China's growing footprint in southern Asia, a perceptible shift in the Chinese stance on Kashmir has now emerged as a new source of interstate friction. Throughout the 1990s, a desire for stability on its southwestern flank and fears of an Indian-Pakistani nuclear arms race caused Beijing to take a more evenhanded approach to Kashmir, while still favoring Islamabad.

Yet, in a major policy departure since 2006, Beijing has been voicing open support for Pakistan and the Kashmiri separatists through its opposition to the UN Security Council ban on the jihadi organizations targeting India, economic assistance for infrastructure projects in northern Kashmir, and the issuance of separate visas by Chinese embassies to Indian citizens of Kashmiri origins.

Amid the current unrest in the valley, Beijing has also invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for talks and offered itself as a mediator, ostensibly in a tit-for-tat for India's refuge for the Dalai Lama. Yet China is actually the third party to the dispute in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). While India holds about 45% of J&K territory and Pakistan controls 35%, China occupies about 20% (including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley, ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963).

The denial of a visa in July 2010 to the Indian Army's Northern Commander, General B S Jaswal – who was to lead the fourth bilateral defense dialogue in Beijing – because he commanded "a disputed area, Jammu and Kashmir", was said to be the last straw.

Consequently, a new chill has descended on Sino-Indian relations. India retaliated by suspending defense exchanges with China and lodging a formal protest. New Delhi sees these moves as part of a new Chinese strategy with respect to Kashmir that seeks to nix its global ambitions and entangle India to prevent it from playing a role beyond the region. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Indian media: "Beijing could be tempted to use India's 'soft underbelly', Kashmir, and Pakistan to keep India in 'low-level equilibrium'."

Resurrecting old issues and manufacturing new disputes to throw the other side off balance and enhance negotiating leverage is an old tactic in Chinese statecraft. The downturn in Sino-Indian ties since the mid-2000s may be partly attributed to the weakening of China's "Pakistan card" against India, necessitating the exercise of direct pressure against the latter.

Beijing fears that an unrestrained Indian power would eventually threaten China's security along its southwestern frontiers. One Chinese analyst maintains that "Beijing would not abandon its 'Kashmir card.’ The Kashmir issue will remain active as long as China worries about its southern borders." China and Pakistan have been allies since the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. This enduring alliance was formalized with the conclusion of the China-Pakistan "Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and Good-Neighborly Relations" in April 2005.

Likewise, the sharper focus on Tawang is part of a shriller claim over Arunachal Pradesh in the east, which Beijing now calls "South Tibet" (a new Chinese term for Arunachal Pradesh since 2005), ostensibly to extend its claim over the territories.

It is worth noting that prior to 2005, there was no reference to "South Tibet" in China's official media or any talk of the "unfinished business of the 1962 war." Nor did the Chinese government or official media ever claim that the PLA's "peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1950 was partial and incomplete" or that "a part of Tibet was yet to be liberated.''

Taking a cue from the Pakistanis, who have long described Kashmir as the "unfinished business of the 1947 partition,'' Chinese strategists now call Arunachal Pradesh, or more specifically, Tawang, the "unfinished business of the 1962 war." China also sought to internationalize its bilateral territorial dispute with India by opposing an Asian Development Bank loan in 2009, part of which was earmarked for a watershed project in Arunachal Pradesh.

Chinese strategic writings indicate that as China becomes more economically and militarily powerful, Beijing is devising new stratagems to keep its southern rival in check. Some Chinese economists calculate that within a decade or so, India could come close to "spoiling Beijing's party of the century" by outpacing China in economic growth. From Beijing's perspective, India's rise as an economic and military power would prolong American hegemony in Asia, and thereby hinder the establishment of a post-American, Sino-centric hierarchical order in the Asia-Pacific region.

The past decade has, therefore, seen the Chinese military bolstering its strength all along the disputed borders from Kashmir to Burma (aka Myanmar). Beijing also prefers a powerful and well-armed Pakistani military, as that helps it mount pressure, by proxy, on India. China continues to shower its "all-weather" friend with military and civilian assistance ranging from ballistic missiles and JF-17 fighter aircraft to nuclear power plants and infrastructure.

Having "fathered" Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program, China is now set to "grandfather" Pakistan's civilian nuclear-energy program as well. Chinese and Pakistani strategists gloat over how Beijing is building naval bases around India that will enhance the Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

However, the best-laid plans might come unstuck if Pakistan fails to pacify Balochistan province, where Gwadar is located. The growing Balochi independence movement, which has repeatedly targeted Chinese engineers since 2004, makes the Chinese nervous about implementing their proposals for investment in the construction of a petrochemical complex, a pipeline and a railway line.

Mutual suspicions, geopolitical tensions and a zero-sum mentality add to a very competitive dynamic in the China-Pakistan-India triangular relationship. Beijing and Islamabad are concerned over the growing talk in Washington's policy circles of India emerging as a counterweight to China on the one hand and the fragile, radical Islamic states of Southwest Asia on the other, viewing a potential US-Indian alignment with horror.

The US military bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and India's growing footprint in Afghanistan cause alarm in Beijing and Islamabad. Some Chinese strategists worry about the destabilizing consequences of a prolonged US military presence in "Af-Pak" for the future of Sino-Pakistani ties, as well as on Pakistan's domestic stability. While the remarkable upturn in Indian-American security ties has exacerbated the security dilemma, the post-9/11 US military presence in Pakistan has sharpened the divide within the Pakistani military into pro-West and pro-Beijing factions.

A geopolitical crisis of Himalayan proportions may well be in the making from Afghanistan to Myanmar. Chinese state-run media have begun to attack India for supposedly hegemonic designs, with some hinting at the merits of a confrontation. Beijing perceives India as the weakest link in an evolving anti-China coalition of maritime powers (the US-Japan-Vietnam-Australia-India) inimical to China's growth. The real irony is that China and India could stumble into another war in the future for exactly the same reasons that led them to a border war half-a-century ago in 1962.

New railroad-infrastructure projects in Pakistani-held Kashmir and Tibet are aimed at bolstering China's military strength and intervention options against India in the event of another war between the sub-continental rivals or between China and India. Most war-gaming exercises on the next India-Pakistan war end either in a nuclear exchange or in a Chinese military intervention to prevent the collapse of Beijing's "all-weather ally" in Asia.

Although the probability of an all-out conflict seems low, the China-Pakistan duo and India will employ strategic maneuvers to checkmate each other from gaining advantage or expanding spheres of influence. According to one Chinese analyst, Dai Bing: "While a hot war is out of the question, a cold war between the two countries is increasingly likely."

Beijing's nemesis: Islam and Buddhism

Having said that, Beijing's new Kashmir activism goes beyond the strategic imperative to contain India. China's relationship with Pakistan is also aimed at countering the separatist threats in its western, Muslim-majority Xinjiang province. Much like Tibetan Buddhism, Beijing views radical Islam as a strategic threat to China's national integrity, particularly in Xinjiang (formerly East Turkestan), where the East Turkestan Islamic Movement has been fighting for an independent homeland for several decades. Frequent disturbances and protests in Xinjiang and Tibet make the issue more acute, insofar as they show how vulnerable the Chinese hold is over its western region.

The spillover effects of a rabid Talibanization of Pakistani society worry the Chinese. The past few years have seen Chinese civilians working in Pakistan kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants, partly in retaliation against Beijing's "strike hard" campaigns against Uyghur Muslims and partly in protest against Beijing's resource extraction and infrastructure development projects in Pakistan's Wild West.

Beijing has repeatedly impressed on Islamabad the importance of tightening control over its porous border with China. Should Islamabad fail to stem the radicalization and training of Uyghur separatists on its territory, it risks undermining the strategic relationship with China. Significantly, Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Kashmir is where the predominantly Sunni Pakistan army is faced with a revolt from the local Shi'ite Muslims.

For its part, Pakistan has always been extraordinarily sensitive to Chinese interests. Islamabad essentially "carries the water" for China in the Islamic world. Pakistan played a key role in selling China's point of view on the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang, which resulted in 183 deaths.

Pakistan has ensured that the Organization of Islamic Countries does not pass any resolution condemning China's "strike hard" campaigns (including curbs on the observance of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan) against its Uyghur Muslim minority.

In return, China has repeatedly used its United Nations Security Council seat to ensure that no harm comes to Pakistan for sheltering anti-Indian terrorist groups. Further, Islamabad offers unequivocal support for Beijing's position on every single issue in international forums, from Tibet and Taiwan to trade and UN Security Council reforms.

Tightening embrace
A high degree of mistrust and conflicting relations between India and its smaller South Asian neighbors provide Beijing with enormous strategic leverage vis-a-vis its southern rival. China's strategic leverage thus prevents India from achieving a peaceful periphery via cross-border economic, resource and transportation linkages vital for optimal economic growth.

Interestingly, Chinese strategic writings reveal that Pakistan and Myanmar have now acquired the same place in China's grand strategy in the 21st century that was earlier occupied by Xinjiang (meaning "New Territory") and Xizang (meaning "Western treasure house," that is, Tibet) in the 20th century.

Stated simply, following the integration of the outlying provinces of Xinjiang and Xizang (Tibet) into China, Pakistan is now being perceived as China's new Xinjiang (new territory) and Myanmar as China's new Xizang (treasure house) in economic, military and strategic terms. Beijing's privileged access to markets, resources and bases of South Asian countries has the additional benefit of making a point on the limits of Indian power.

Both enmity and amity between India and Pakistan have significant implications for China's grand strategy. A hostile stance toward India reassures the Pakistani establishment of China's unstinting support in Islamabad's domestic and external struggles. It also throws a spanner in the works of any US-facilitated India-Pakistan accommodation over the Kashmir imbroglio.

In the triangular power-balance game, the Sino-Pakistani military alliance (in particular, the nuclear and missile nexus) is aimed at ensuring that the South Asian military balance of power remains pro-China. Nurturing the Pakistani military's fears of Indian dominance helps Beijing keep Islamabad within its orbit.

However, Pakistan today is facing a "perfect storm" of crises, with its US-backed fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban faltering and the country lurching toward bankruptcy. The linchpin of Beijing's South Asia strategy is potentially a "wild card" because Pakistan's possible futures cover a wide spectrum: from the emergence of a moderate, democratic state to a radical Islamic republic to "Lebanonization."

If it does not implode or degenerate into another Iran or Afghanistan (a radical Islamic and/or a failed state) and gets its house in order, Pakistan could emerge as a pivotal player in the US-Chinese-Indian triangular relationship. Despite Beijing's disenchantment with the current state of its "time-tested ally," China remains committed to supporting Pakistan. If anything, Pakistan's transformation from being an ally to a battleground in the US-led "war on terror" has forced Islamabad into an ever-tighter embrace of China.

The Article was published in Asia Times on 09-10-2010 and the writer is well known in strategic circles for his appreciation of American view point in International Strategic Politics.

Mohan Malik, PhD, is a professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. He is the author of China and India as Global Powers: Back to the Future? (forthcoming), Dragon on Terrorism, The Gulf War: Australia's Role and Asian-Pacific Responses, co-editor of Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia, and editor of Australia's Security in the 21st Century, The Future Battlefield, and Asian Defense Policies. The views expressed here do not reflect the official policy or position of the Center or the US Department of Defense.
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