On first glance, if you believe what Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and the America Mainstream News Media are stating in regard the situation in Pakistan – you are receiving far less than the picture as a whole. As I stated in a previous article – The United States bears some, if not much of the responsibility of Pakistan’s woes that are currently handled via a state of emergency and martial law as declared by President Pervez Musharraf. (IMHO) Whether or not the call to suspend Pakistan’s Constitution and declare Martial law was to circumvent a probable ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in reference to President Pervez Musharraf’s eligibility to retain the Presidency remains to be seen, as there are many variables not being reported by America’s MSM. In a prior article, I made note of this, which is also somewhat substantiated in the link that accompanies the post:
We as a nation are watching the country of Pakistan, a primary ally of the United States, in a state of emergency and now under martial law. This, in my opinion, is a condition that the United States, through thoughtful deployment of our armed forces could have helped to avoid – yet when we had the chance to completely decimate the Taliban and Al Qaeda, your Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, answering to you and Vice-President Dick Cheney – allowed both of the above terrorist entities to escape from Tora Bora by allowing the Afghanistan Military, as ill-trained as they were, to conduct the final mop-up of the remaining insurgents in Afghanistan and the Central Commands refusal to commit the necessary troops to finalize the destruction of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements, which allowed many of them to escape into the northern tribal areas of Pakistan and again become a threat to US interests, Pakistan itself, and now the fight in Afghanistan is almost as fierce as it was when we first began. LINK (Make sure and follow the link in regard Tora Bora to see Wikopedia’s definition/assessment of the Battle of Tora Bora.)
To understand the situation as a whole, we must first understand the dynamics that are involved in Pakistan’s internal politics, their past, and apparently – President Musharraf’s belief that he could play both ends against the middle and come out unscathed. The Bush’s administration allowing Taliban and Al Qaeda elements to escape into Pakistan and to create a stronghold in the northern tribal areas complicated the situation – but even before that, the relationship between Islamic extremists, Pakistan’s view on Afghanistan and the ongoing lawlessness in the northern tribal areas is a story itself, and the complexities of Pakistan’s internal politics are extremely complicated and not necessarily common-knowledge as we attempt to evaluate the situation. I found an article written in April of 2007 that is extremely insightful into the dynamics of Pakistan, and while it’s a fairly comprehensive situation and the history is lengthy, because of copyright restrictions I am unable to republish more than three paragraphs – however, if you truly want to understand how complex this situation is, a full read of the original piece is a must; it was written by Ziauddin Sardar, and his credentials are impressive:
Ziauddin Sardar, writer and broadcaster, describes himself as a ‘critical polymath’. He is the author of over 40 books, including the highly acclaimed ‘Desperately Seeking Paradise’. He is Visiting Professor, School of Arts, the City University, London and editor of ‘Futures’, the monthly journal of planning, policy and futures studies. LINK
FYI, this is only one opinion of many that exist, but this one is substantiated with links, extremely comprehensive, and paints a picture we as Americans have never fully understood and been apprised of in anything that was widely disseminated:
Pakistan: The Taliban takeover
Published 30 April 2007 (Excerpts.)
Pakistan is reverberating with the call of jihad. For more than two months, the capital, Islamabad, has been held hostage by a group of burqa-clad women, armed with sticks and shouting: “Al-jihad, al-jihad.” These female students belong to two madrasas attached to the Lal Masjid, a large mosque near one of the city’s main supermarkets. I found the atmosphere around the masjid tense, with heavily armed police surrounding the building. Though the students were allowed to go in and out freely, no one else could enter the mosque. The women are demanding the imposition of sharia law and the instant abolition of all “dens of vice”. Away from the masjid, Islamabad looked like a city under siege.
A new generation of militants is emerging in Pakistan. Although they are generally referred to as “Taliban”, they are a recent phenomenon. The original Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan briefly during the 1990s, were Afghan fighters, a product of the Soviet invasion of their country. They were created and moulded by the Pakistani army, with the active support of the United States and Saudi money, and the deliberate use of madrasas to prop up religious leaders. Many Taliban leaders were educated at Haqqania by Maulana Sami ul-Haq. The new generation of militants are all Pakistani; they emerged after the US invasion of Afghanistan and represent a revolt against the government’s support for the US. Mostly unemployed, not all of them are madrasa-educated. They are led by young mullahs who, unlike the original Taliban, are technology- and media-savvy, and are also influenced by various indigenous tribal nationalisms, honouring the tribal codes that govern social life in Pakistan’s rural areas. “They are Taliban in the sense that they share the same ideology as the Taliban in Afghanistan,” says Rahimullah Yusufzai, Peshawar-based columnist on the News. “But they are totally Pakistani, with a better understanding of how the world works.” Their jihad is aimed not just at “infidels occupying Afghanistan”, but also the “infidels” who are ruling and running Pakistan and maintaining the secular values of Pakistani society. “They aim at nothing less than to cleanse Pakistan and turn it into a pure Islamic state,” says Rashed Rahman, executive editor of the Lahore-based Post newspaper.
The Pakistani Taliban now dominates the northern province of Waziristan, adjacent to Afghan istan. “They are de facto rulers of the province,” says Yusufzai. Waziristan is a tribal area that has historically been ruled by the tribes themselves. Pakistan has followed the policy of British Raj in the region. The British allowed tribal leaders, known as maliks, semi-autonomous powers in exchange for loyalty to the crown. Pakistan gives them the same power but demands loyalty to the federal government. They have been sidelined by the Taliban, however. Pro-government maliks who resisted the onslaught of the Taliban have been brutally killed and had their bodies hung from poles as a lesson to others. The Taliban have declared Waziristan an “Islamic emirate” and are trying to establish a parallel administration, complete with sharia courts and tax system. MUCH MORE
The above article is extremely enlightening in regard the situation as it is unfolding – but keep in mind this reference material was published in April 2007 and the situation is even more fluid, and much more of the population has become radicalized. CNN appears to be attempting to over-simplify the matter, as indicated in this recent story:
Pakistan crisis: ‘It ain’t easy’ for U.S.
* U.S. official: “We are looking at our options, and none of them are good”
* Washington weighs how to respond to Gen. Pervez Musharraf
* U.S. officials say any response will boil down to one thing: al Qaeda
By Elise Labott
Editor’s note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents and producers share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. Here, producer Elise Labott, who covers the State Department, offers insights into U.S. options in dealing with Pakistan.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of martial law was a wake-up call for Washington, leaving the future alliance with the Pakistani president in question.
Even before Saturday’s crackdown, U.S. State Department officials said they had struggled with what to do if Musharraf went through with his threat. They didn’t know then, and they don’t know now.
“Frankly, it ain’t easy,” one official said. “We are looking at our options, and none of them are good.” MUCH MORE
CNN’s article indicates we will do little if not anything in regard sanctions against Pakistan, and they are simply too important as an ally right now, and their involvement and proximity in regard Afghanistan is of the utmost concern in this crisis. However, I am hearing more and more that the US is demanding that Pakistan return to civilian rule almost immediately – but on close examination of the facts this recommendation will be debated and talked about in the back rooms of many governments for a long while. There’s no doubt it is “politically correct” to condemn Musharraf’s draconian measures to quell the violence and/or his attempt to thwart an upcoming ruling my Pakistan’s Supreme Court, but in this matter it may be possible they are being politically correct rather than delving into the reality of the situation. We always seem to believe that the American style of democracy is applicable in almost every situation, although at this time it could be counter-productive in actually solving Pakistan’s unique security crisis.
Worldthreats.com offers a further analysis of Al Qaeda, their influence in Pakistan and some of the obstacles in cutting-of their financing as well as offering even more insight into the Pakistani situation (excerpts):
Its Methods and Nation-State Allies
By David N. Bossie & Christopher M. Gray
Al-Qaeda’s finances are almost impossible to identify by Western governments for two cultural reasons: 1) bin Laden uses Islamic banks that are not allowed to charge interest; and 2) the havala system of doing business in the Middle East. The Koran prohibits usury, or the charging of interest for lending money. Bin Laden thus refuses to deposit any of Al-Qaeda’s money in 99.9 percent of the world’s banks. President Bush’s September 2001 decision to freeze bin Laden’s financial assets thus will probably have limited success just as former President Bill Clinton’s effort to do likewise in August 1998 did. Bin Laden employs couriers carrying large sums by hand to further complicate any attempt to destroy Al-Qaeda’s finances. But havala, the traditional system of doing business in the Middle East, especially by Afghans engaged in the narcotics trade, most frustrates the financial war. As Al-Qaeda expert Peter Bergen puts it, ?[monies] arrive [to bin Laden] through the venerable havala system of interlocking money changers, which has operated through decades all over the Middle East and Asia, handling sums large and small, on a handshake and trust. Hundreds of millions of dollars are transferred through this system every year and the funds are essentially untraceable.” 2
Al-Qaeda’s untraceable finances make it extremely powerful in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, and its neighbor, Pakistan. Plenty of young manpower from all over the Muslim world is willing and available to work for and learn from this terror network. After the U.S. and Saudi Arabia pumped $6 billion in military aid to the mujahedeen during the 1980′s, weapons and explosives became plentiful and cheap. The ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan venerated bin Laden for his heroism in the Soviet-Afghan war and his unyielding Wahhabist Muslim stance. They welcome his continued residence in Afghanistan. So Al-Qaeda took advantage of Afghan circumstances to finance and administer the world’s largest collection of terrorist training camps at bargain prices.
Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s mentor, inspired many Al-Qaeda volunteers with his fiery preaching. Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda aides emulate him by persuading Muslim preachers around the world to help with recruiting. The many thousands of ?Afghan Arabs” who he trained and fought with against the Soviets in Afghanistan still take their lead from Al-Qaeda. The network recruits terrorists in over sixty different countries; from immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe across the world to Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The recent capture of three Taliban warriors who claim American citizenship underline how effective Al-Qaeda’s recruiting is. Its agents seek new human talent in all six inhabited continents. Even far-off South America and Australia now host Al-Qaeda members and enablers. MUCH MORE
From what I’ve been able to gather, some of it posted above, the country of Pakistan is well on its way to fall into the hands of Islamic militants. They are well-organized, and I’m also curious why the Untied States would back an attempt to reach a power-sharing deal with past President Bhutto. If memory serves me correctly, Musharraf’s coup was made popular by the public’s general disapproval of many of Bhutto’s policies and rampant corruption within her government. I seem to remember that the coup was extremely well-received by the people, who had grown weary of the continual controversy and corruption springing from Bhutto’s administration. Butto is still highly popular again in some areas, and that may spring from Musharraf’s growing unpopularity, however much of that unpopularity is fomented by the radical elements of Islam currently attempting to take-over the country.
Think about restoring democracy when the government is in danger of falling into the hands of radical Islam? I’ve presented myself with this question, and in consideration of Pakistan’s formidable nuclear arsenal, have opted to err on the side of caution. My opinion is based on many factors; US strategic failure and planning allowed thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda to escape from Afghanistan into Pakistan, and true to form, they began pushing their religious agenda – murdering those who disagreed, and began to embed themselves in the poorer segments of Pakistani society. No matter how we sugarcoat the issue, elements of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are firmly embedded within Pakistan at several levels and are physically attempting to take-over the government.
What would restoring democracy too soon and allowing Pakistan to fall to radial Islam accomplish in the long-run? If radical elements of Islam were that firmly embedded in our own country, would we find it necessary to root all of them out – perhaps negotiate a truce with the peaceful elements of Islam who probably wouldn’t become involved anyway – and at all costs, would have to rid ourselves of any radicalization that was threatening the very fabric of our country. It becomes far more complicated if you attempt to place yourself in Musharraf’s shoes and his many backers. Pakistani society as a whole does not want to live under Sharia Law, and in fact are fighting for the very survival of their nation. Another matter we must understand is that Bhutto is a woman, and radical Islam will never support her in a state of rule in any way because she is a woman. We are now dealing with huge factions of radical Islam, and if successful will alter Pakistani society and quickly move them backward into the age of Morality Police and the total collapse of progressive Pakistanis. At least partly because of Bush’s ill thought-out actions we face the real chance of losing a vital ally as well as a society that was moving progressively forward, notwithstanding the influence of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.
I have noted that several Liberals and Progressives have also stated their support for an immediate return to democracy. Many of those beliefs are understandable because they are inherent in the American psyche and our belief of a free society. I’m sure many will disagree with me, and in fact, on the matter of Pakistan’s unlawful tribal territories, especially those that contain the terrorist training camps and we know are Taliban and Al Qaeda controlled/infested, I do support our own military answering a request from President Musharraf if we need to assist in the northern tribal areas – but would wholeheartedly refuse to support any other military action unless it involved guarding and helping to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if it became necessary.
Granted, Musharraf himself shoulders a large percentage of the blame by attempting to appease and negotiate with the Taliban/Al Qaeda. I have always believed those actions were counterproductive to American interests, and now it is proved beyond any reasonable doubt, but one fact we’ll have to remember and keep in constant consideration; No matter what the situation is in Pakistan, and whether we agree with Musharraf’s methodology in attempting to address the situation is Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal – and that makes Pakistan a much greater threat to the Middle-East peace and stability than Iran and caution, rather than rhetoric should be behind our policy in Pakistan at this particular moment.
I personally abhor detaining people that were merely demonstrating, but as far as allowing Musharraf the chance at fighting and possibly wining against the more militant elements of Radical Islam, I believe we should support him to the best of our ability – and then when the smoke settles, it will be time to work on getting those protesters released and at that time, press Musharraf to return Pakistan’s road to democracy, which was well on it’s way except for the implementation of the third and final step to full democracy.
Note: I do expect this to be a controversial Op-Ed, however, discussing it could possibly demonstrate the errors in my thoughts, or in the alternative – maybe out of the consensus of opinion something will arise that better serves the interests of Pakistan as well as our own, but please – keep one thing in mind; Iraq is a blaring indicator that our style of democracy, especially in a crisis – is not necessarily the way to proceed in countries that have cultures and dynamics that hardly resemble our own; and in this case, the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan has to be a tantamount concern to all of us, and a situation that may be effective here could prove to be disastrous there.