December 23, 2008


Why Pakistan's military is gun shy (Syed Saleem Shahzad , 12/24/08, Asia Times)

The problems started after September 11, when the US forced the then-military government of president General Pervez Musharraf to abandon the Taliban. Up to 2001, Afghanistan had virtually been a fifth Pakistani province for which Pakistan arranged day-to-day expenditures. Even the communications network was run by the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation Limited.

By 2003, Pakistan had been forced to send the army into the restive tribal areas bordering Afghanistan to crack down on al-Qaeda and militants, in breach of its agreements with the tribes.

In 2004, Pakistan was forced to shut militant camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and to accept India's fencing of the Line of Control that separates the two Kashmirs. As a result, militant operations into India-administered Kashmir were badly interrupted.
When Pakistan changed its Afghan policy, Musharraf, who was also chief of army staff, informed all jihadi organizations that the policy was necessary to preserve Pakistan's interests in Kashmir. However, when the Kashmir policy changed and operations started in the tribal areas, the jihadi organizations reacted.

By 2005, all the big names in the LET had left the Kashmiri camps and taken up in the North and South Waziristan tribal areas. The same happened with Jaish and other organizations. The most respected name of the Kashmiri struggle, Maulana Ilyas Kashmiri, the commander of Harkatul Jihad al-Islami, also moved to Waziristan.

This was the beginning of serious problems for Pakistan and also resulted in a change in the dynamics of the Afghan war. Trained by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence's India cell, these disgruntled militants caused havoc in Afghanistan and played a significant role in bringing the latest guerrilla tactics to Afghanistan. They also introduced major changes in the fighting techniques of the tribal militants against the Pakistani forces.

By 2006, the Taliban had regrouped and launched the spring offensive that paved the way for significant advances over the next two years. At the same time, militants escalated their activities in Pakistan and forced Pakistan into virtual neutrality in the US-led "war on terror".

An unprecedented number of attacks were carried out on Pakistani security forces in 2007 and by February 2008 suicide attacks in Pakistan outnumbered those in Iraq. Militants carried out dozens of attacks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) supply lines from Karachi, virtually bringing them to a halt. According to Strategic Forecasting, a Texas-based private intelligence entity: "Pakistan remains the single-most important logistics route for the Afghan campaign. This is not by accident. It is by far the quickest and most efficient overland route to the open ocean."

In this situation, the only peaceful place in Pakistan is Punjab, the largest province and the seat of government. But this peace can only be ensured through central Punjabi jihadi leaders like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of the LET and southern Punjabi jihadi leader Azhar. Azhar has influence in the jihadi networks in Punjab and he convinced jihadis, after a wave of suicide attacks in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, to go to Afghanistan and spare Punjab.

The highly demoralized Pakistan army has failed in the tribal areas and in the Swat Valley it has had to solicit peace accords.

You aren't sovereign where you can't govern.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2008 9:49 AM
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