War in Pakistan


This Is It
It seems more inevitable than a war in Iran really, especially after the past few weeks. Most of the militant islamic diaspora is ex-pakistani military anyway.

No cut and paste articles readily on hand for this unfortunately.


This Is It
from harpers

The Pakistan Conundrum
BY Scott Horton
PUBLISHED September 11, 2007

If you listen to the charlatans who regularly appear on American mass media as counterterrorism “experts”—you know, the ones who couldn’t explain the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’a Muslim, nor locate Waziristan on a map—you’ll hear them feverishly talk about the major centers of the terrorist threat. The litany will start with Iraq, and move quickly on to Iran and Syria. If you listen to those who actually have developed expertise in the area, however (and who rarely, if ever, make appearances on the media), you’ll see a quick focus on one country. It’s been called “America’s most important non-NATO ally,” and its leader is feted and received in the White House and makes an appearance on the “Daily Show.” It’s Pakistan.

Consider this:

• We don’t have to fret over whether Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and delivery system. There’s no doubt about it. It does. And it’s been the world’s best agent of proliferation for twenty years.

• Today, on 9/11, every New Yorker asks: Where is Osama bin Laden, and why has he not been brought to justice? And the answer is: he is lounging comfortably in Pakistan, surrounded by friends and admirers.

• Where have the Taliban been permitted to regroup, draw fresh recruits and launch attacks on NATO troops, including young Americans, in Afghanistan? In Pakistan, of course. Indeed, the Taliban is often seen as the brainchild of some key players in Pakistan’s military intelligence, the ISI, who continue to this day to maintain close relations with it.

• Where has al Qaeda itself been permitted safe harbor, been given facilities to conduct its operations, communicate with its various arms, raise fresh recruits, and plot its strategies of terror and mayhem? In Pakistan, of course.

In the meantime, what has American policy been towards Pakistan? For most of the last six years, a combination of confusion, restraint, and simply absence. Like the residence of the American ambassador in Islamabad, vacant. Remember Ambassador Crocker—he was on Capitol Hill testifying yesterday—about Iraq. He was sent to Baghdad, and when he went, the president said he was needed because it was the “front line of the war against al Qaeda?” Nonsense. So the post which really was the front line of the war against al Qaeda, Pakistan, was left vacant for months. If you wanted one act to summarize the stupidity and simple-mindedness of the Bush Administration’s counterterrorism policies, here’s a good one.

American policy towards Pakistan has been an unmitigated disaster. American omissions and misdirections have been a key reason for the resurgence of terrorist camps in Afghanistan and around the world.

More recently, thanks to one of the more thoughtful reassessments to come from Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. has replaced a ridiculously dysfunctional policy towards Pakistan with something that seems much more reasonable. But it may be a classic case of “too little, too late.”

You can look in despair for sensible analysis of the Pakistani situation in U.S. papers. Occasionally we get something in the New York Times from their widely-respected veteran, Carlotta Gall. And we have the far too infrequent contributions of the best writer on things Pakistani, Ahmed Rashid. Generally to get the lay of things, you’ve got to track Rashid’s writings in the Daily Telegraph. So here’s the latest, too-important-to-miss entry, from today’s Telegraph:

Nawaz Sharif is not part of the American script for the war on terror and the future of Pakistan, written by mandarins in the US State Department. He is considered neither fish nor fowl, too close to the fundamentalist mullahs and too unpredictable. The real script is to save the beleaguered Gen Pervez Musharraf, and involves another former prime minister in exile—the fragrant Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto. When in a few weeks’ time she repeats yesterday’s homecoming saga from London, she will be welcomed by the very police that manhandled Mr Sharif and she will be allowed to lead a procession to her home town.

That is because the West is desperate to bring her and Gen Musharraf into a loveless marriage so that the general can combat the terrorists and the lady play democracy. This, they hope, can keep the crumbling edifice of military rule going for a few more years or at least until Osama bin Laden is winkled out of his home in the tribal regions of North and South Waziristan. And that is where the whole plan falls apart because in a country like Pakistan, a failing state hovering over the abyss, there are too many loose ends to tie up.

Now Barney Rubin tells us that those are some “loose ends.” “None other than every principle of legitimacy of the state in Pakistan.” U.S. policy has finally been brought to address this core vulnerability. But the follow-through is missing.

Rashid gives us a glimpse of just how badly things are still going internally in the war on terror, aside from the Vaudeville of Pakistani politics:

Then there is the crumbling morale in the army. Two weeks ago US and Nato forces in Afghanistan were shocked to discover that 300 Pakistani soldiers—their erstwhile partners in the war on terrorism—had surrendered to the Taliban in Waziristan without firing a shot. Soldiers in the badlands controlled by the Taliban and al-Qa’eda are deserting or refusing to open fire. The White House is panic-stricken. That is because Gen Musharraf in his hubris has utterly failed to convince Pakistanis or the army that Pakistan has to fight not America’s war, but its own war against ever-expanding extremism.

On an important anniversary, 9/11, the attention of the American political community is focused on Iraq and the lingering chimera of an absurd vision that would have brought American democracy to the Middle East. This never had anything to do with counterterrorism. It was a distraction.

There is a real, severe, terrorism threat. Its heart lies in what Rashid calls the “Badlands” of Pakistan. And Bush and his team want to dish up to us Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran—anything but the real core of the treat. Today of all days they shouldn’t be permitted to get away with this con game.


Half truths + the blindingly obvious = Scott Horton

Amusing to see him excoriate the "experts" at the start of the article only to quote one further down the page.

In any case, what could someone who edits antiwar.com possibly suggest as a new foreign policy direction - stern words?


This Is It
I dont think you have a clue about what the American Mass Media is like. That's my guess. You definitely don't have a clue what it is like to be living or working in the US now, with Americans that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, or have friends and family in Iran.

All of the hysteria about a nuclear Islamic Iran makes no sense when compared with actually Islamic Radical Pakistan. It is complete madness, and I don't trust hysterical people to make decisions that are going to effect my life.



That wasn't much of a reply. "I don't think you have a clue..." - well, of course not, except for my limited reading of it over the internet. That's neither here nor there. Is Pakistan in a dangerous, precarious place? Yes, for God's sake! But then, so is Iran. And we actually have diplomatic relations with Pakistan. And Iran hasn't actually got the bomb yet. Think anyone will be invading Pakistan soon? Read some Schelling. And if Iran does develop a nuke sometime soon, following their consolidation of a regional power base and continued disruption of the Mid East, I fully expect to see pundits like Horton attacking the US government for not doing something immediately or sooner, while never, of course, spelling out what that something could be.

Oh yeah, and your vapid pronouncements ("you definitely don't have a clue what it's like to have friends or family in Iran...") are wrong (thanks all the same), irritating and an attempt to confuse the issues (as in: SO WHAT?). But I don't expect anything less from someone whose contributions to this board seem limited to the odd sentence, when they're not purely pejorative.

And in case you haven't noticed - I'm against military action in Iran, and pro defeating Al Qaeda/Islamic Fascism/global Salafi jihad anywhere and everywhere (unlike, as far as I can tell, YOU).


Well-known member
There will be blood ...

The recently returned opposition party leader Benazir Bhutto shot and then blown up today in Pakistan by suicide bomber.
Here today , gone today ...
Pakistan internal war or something is coming -
and it doesn't look good.
A sad day for Pakistan.
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This Is It
bleak is an understatement...multiple nightmare scenarios are possible now. this is shit...

as a leader she has obvious faults, but they desperately need stability and peace there...

i let the thread go because vim wanted to turn it into another pro Saddam "do I personally support western interventionism" nonsense. my feelings are still that the WOT academic speak is academically retarded and run by paid fools. the chaos you have now is directly related to the US doing NOTHING about stability there for the past eight years...


booty bass intellectual
How so? What should they have done that they didn't and what shouldn't they have done that they did?

Unconditionally supporting an unpopular military dictator tends to lead to all sorts of instability, which is then used to justify the continued support of the unpopular military dictator!

This is pretty huge, wasn't Bhutto favored to win the election?


Well-known member
This is pretty huge, wasn't Bhutto favored to win the election?

I thought the consensus was it would be rigged sufficiently to keep Musharraf in power, with Bhutto providing enough of a democratic figleaf to make the whole debacle less embarrassing.

Unconditionally supporting an unpopular military dictator tends to lead to all sorts of instability, which is then used to justify the continued support of the unpopular military dictator!

Musharraf was in power with or without US support. The alternative wasn't democracy, but ceding power to the even more pro-Islamist/pro-Taliban elements in the army*.

*I assume that you're not suggesting the US should've intervened in Pakistan militarily.


booty bass intellectual
Musharraf was in power with or without US support.

Are you sure?

Average yearly U.S. assistance to Pakistan during 2002-2006 is estimated to be $665 million
compared to $3.4 million in 2000-2001.

Pakistan received limited U.S. assistance during the 1990s — counter-narcotics support, food aid, and Pakistan
NGO Initiative programs — due to congressional restrictions in response to
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. In 1985, the Pressler Amendment to the
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (Section 620e) barred U.S. foreign assistance to
Pakistan unless the President determined that Pakistan did not possess nuclear
weapons and that U.S. assistance would reduce the risk of Pakistan’s obtaining them.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush declined to make such determinations and
imposed Pressler Amendment sanctions against Pakistan. This restriction was eased
in 1995 to prohibit only military assistance. In 1998, following nuclear weapons
tests carried out by India and Pakistan, President Clinton imposed restrictions on
non-humanitarian aid to both countries pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act of 1968 (Section 102). Furthermore, Pakistan continued to be ineligible for most forms
of U.S. foreign assistance due to its delinquency in servicing its debt to the United
States and to the 1999 military coup.
Although the Department of Defense
Appropriations Act, 2000 (P.L. 106-79) gave the President authority to permanently
waive all nuclear test-related sanctions, President Clinton waived few restrictions on
Pakistan (e.g., USDA credits and U.S.commercial bank loans) as compared to India.

Following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Pakistan
was designated as a front-line state in the war on terrorism and received dramatically
increased U.S. aid levels.
In late September 2001, President GeorgeW.Bush waived
nuclear weapons sanctions that prohibited military and economic aid to India and
Pakistan. The Bush Administration also rescheduled $379 million of Pakistan’s $2.7
billion debt to the United States so that Pakistan would not be considered in arrears,
a requirement for further foreign assistance. On October 27, 2001, President Bush
signed S. 1465 into law (P.L. 107-57), allowing the United States government to
waive sanctions related to the military coup and authorizing presidential waiver
authority through 2003, provided the President determined that making foreign
assistance available would facilitate democratization and help the United States in
its battle against international terrorism. P.L. 107-57 also exempted Pakistan from
foreign assistance restrictions related to its default on international loans.


The United States is the major bilateral aid donor to Pakistan, followed by Japan
and the United Kingdom.


A few billion dollars certainly doesn't hurt Musharraf's regime.

Would love to hear more about the situation, since my own knowledge is pretty rudimentary...


entered apprentice
My knowledge is equally rudimentary but a Pakistani journalist friend of mine informs me that broadly speaking the country is utterly doomed and will basically collapse/fragment...


Well-known member
iam fortunate enough to work with three people originally from Pakistan

and they feel that some form of civil war is now inevitable

tragic :(