Pakistan's military rises to the fore



  • Pakistan's military rises to the fore

    By: Syed Saleem Shahzad on: 02.09.2010 [05:19 ] (25 reads)

    Pakistan's military rises to the fore

    By Syed Saleem Shahzad - 2.9.10

    ISLAMABAD - Flood devastation has affected approximately 20 million Pakistanis, destroyed infrastructure and left the frontline American ally in the war against al-Qaeda in a vulnerable state. At the same time, the Taliban-led insurgency is spreading to northern Afghanistan, with the potential to create trouble in the nearby Central Asian republics.

    As a result, Washington is moving towards a new plan that involves regional players. Primarily, this centers on Russia, in cooperation with the United States, coming up with a regional security plan to look after Central Asia and northern Afghanistan.

    In tandem, it is envisaged that the military in Pakistan will be given clear empowerment so that it can play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos as the flood waters finally start to recede.

    The floods have changed the dynamics of the American war in Afghanistan. The devastated areas include restive Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, southern Punjab, Sindh province and parts of Balochistan.

    In dealing with the massive humanitarian crisis, the military has had to shelve all operations against militant and al-Qaeda bases in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, as well as in southern Punjab.

    The flood has destroyed huge swathes of crops and dragged Pakistan into a serious quagmire, yet the international community, which provided US$6 billion after an earthquake in 2005, has only come up with $80 million in cash and about $60 million in kind for the rehabilitation of over 20 million people, according to the Economic Affairs Division. (Three million people were affected by the earthquake.

    It will take many months for people to rebuild their shattered lives, let alone their homes, and the last thing on their minds will be supporting the American war. On the other hand, the deluge has created ideal conditions for the Taliban to mount a major recruitment drive.

    According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Pakistan, with 1.7 million Afghan refugees, has one of the world's largest refugee populations. More than 1.5 million of these people live in flood-affected provinces and they have suffered badly. In Khyber Pakhtookwa province alone more than 12,000 dwellings in refugee villages have been swept away, leaving almost 70,000 people homeless.

    "There is no way for the Afghan refugees other than to go back to their native regions in Afghanistan because in the present plight Pakistan has prioritized its citizens." A United Nations official told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity. "It is planned that land that was being used for refugee camps will be used to shelter homeless Pakistanis."

    Most of the refugees in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa hail from the eastern Afghan provinces of Ghazni, Logar, Laghman and Nagarhar. In many of these districts the Taliban run their own administrations - and even their own revenue systems.

    The UNHCR has confided that thousands of refugees have returned home, but admits it has not been able to track their movements. It can be expected that many of these impoverished returnees will be enticed to join the Taliban.

    In recent months, the insurgency has picked up pace in the eastern border provinces of Nagarhar, Kunar and Khost, where casualties among American troops and their allies in the Afghan National Army have soared to new heights.

    In the past five days alone, 25 Americans have died. The number of US soldiers killed in 2010 is the highest annual toll since the conflict began almost nine years ago. A total of 323 US soldiers have been killed this year, compared to 317 for all of 2009.

    Troubled tribal areas

    Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa's infrastructure has all but collapsed and the civilian administration is non-existent; the crisis is being dealt with by the military.

    Militants are taking full advantage of the situation and gradually returning after leaving the area following military operations over the past years. In the absence of bridges and roads, it is not possible for the military to chase them - even if they had the time.

    In the past few days, militants have carried out targeted attacks against their rivals in tribal council meetings and individually. According to Mian Iftikhar Ahmed, the minister of information of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, all of the top leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) that governs the province have received death threats and security has been beefed up around them.

    In the southern port city of Karachi, from where North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supplies go to Afghanistan, all kinds of political, ethnic and sectarian clashes continue and on a daily basis at least five to 10 people are killed.

    At this juncture, the Taliban are looking to apply a forward strategy in northern Afghanistan and in Central Asia to stir up rebellions. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is once again active in the Farghana Valley and is believed to be the main engine in many of the recent incidents of violence in different Central Asian states.

    A Russian alliance

    "The Americans don't have a policy for immediate withdrawal. Even if they withdraw in the future, they will keep their troops in northern Afghanistan," Professor Walter Russell Mead, a prominent American academic, told Asia Times Online while on a recent visit to Pakistan.

    "There is cooperation between Russia and the US on Afghanistan and it will grow," says Mead, senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College.

    "In future we the US will deal with all terror threats in the region with collective efforts. Russia is in big trouble these days. Its economy is in shambles. The Muslim population is outnumbering the Slavic population. As a result, the liberation movement in the Northern Caucuses is strengthening. The US aims to provide all sorts of support to Russia and in return the Russians are supporting American interests in Afghanistan," Mead said.

    However, this cooperation is not sufficient to break the siege in and around Afghanistan - the most important deal is to be signed in Pakistan with the army.

    The US's strategy has been to limit the power of the military in Pakistan; this led to the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari following years of military rule under General Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down in 2008.

    The floods, however, have washed away this facade. At the height of the disaster, Zardari was traveling around Europe, and the military stepped in, particularly in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa where the ANP seemed helpless.

    In Sindh, ministers and lawmakers of the powerful ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) are said to have diverted flood water to save their farms, while inundating others. Former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and other Baloch leaders claimed that Sindh leaders of the PPP flooded their towns and villages.

    The Pakistani media showed footage of how influential people saved their properties and farms at the expense of theirs - the flood has exposed the divide between the elite and the downtrodden.

    Faced with the tarnished image of politicians and a potential sharp rise in militancy, Washington realizes the military is the only institution capable of confronting future threats. This does not mean the imposition of martial law or a coup. Rather, the military will be encouraged to make use of article 190 of the constitution under which the judiciary can urge the military to intervene in crises on a case-by-case basis.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI02Df03.html



  • @MG

    You can't resist, can you? his is like screaming "Damn the truth! ive me some lies!!" BTW: I was expecting something like this from you. Whenever some atrocity by aur army is exposed and you have to own up to it, you always come back with some new thread glorifying the army. It ALWAYS happens this way. ;-)

    But I would hope you'd pick a better source. Do you have to stoop to Syed Saleem Shahzad? That alone speaks volumes. Might as well have posted an ISPR release. This is pitiful.



  • if they are helping out in this disaster with discipline .

    then they have to ...

    as we know for a fact that ...

    the only institution has been developed ,organized and structured in the past 63 years , is armed forces .

    none of the institution has been given attention or allowed to be strengthened in these 63 years .



  • @beenai

    "none of the institution has been given attention or allowed to be strengthened in these 63 years."

    But who is most responsible for that?

    BTW: If you buy the "army performed miracles" bit, then you must also say "the govt performed miracles" as army is an institution of the govt. Right?? One must not can cannot ignore that fact.



  • Good Lord, nota, pure misunderstanding on your part! I'm certainly not trying to glorify that army of ours which doesn't seem to know whether they're coming or going. As for SSS, I've always considered him a CIA-asset. Remember having quarrels with WD about this in the past.

    But the article interested me for other reasons. And it might have done you too if you hadn't decided to see the enemy in me. It contains hints of a coming change in the structures of the country, something we keep hearing about on various talk shows. I was interested in the story of the apparent departure of former Afghan refugees back to the home country. Mainly, I found interesting the way SSS interpreted the seeming US-Russia alliance over Afghanistan.

    Believe me, nota, I may be a fantasist, but not quite all the few brains in my head have been knocked out.

    P.S. Your concluding sentence: nota I'm a fair person or try to be at least. Credit where credit is due. Censure where censure cannot be avoided. But in this particular case, nothing but a failure to understand the purpose of the posting.



  • @nota ,

    oooo ,ohhh .

    it seems like , u miss all the sarcasm from my post .

    it was not meant to support or praise army .

    but to mention the fact , that in Pakistan ,no other institution has been allowed to developed and get structured like army .



  • @MG

    Please read the article again. This is pure fantasy. Nothing in it makes any sense. This is all from the mind of SSS.

    "The floods have changed the dynamics of the American war in Afghanistan." B.S. They have not.

    "It will take many months for people to rebuild their shattered lives, let alone their homes, and the last thing on their minds will be supporting the American war." B.S. Big (faulty) assumption these people were supporting the American war (p.s. I thought it was "our war" :-P )

    He says:

    The UNHCR has confided that thousands of refugees have returned home, but admits it has not been able to track their movements. It can be expected that many of these impoverished returnees will be enticed to join the Taliban

    But then in the same article he adds:

    "There is no way for the Afghan refugees other than to go back to their native regions in Afghanistan because in the present plight Pakistan has prioritized its citizens." A United Nations official told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity."

    Oh so refugees going back will likely join Taliban so to help the US effort all refugees will be sent back (so taliban has more recruits)? Makes perfect sense.

    He writes:

    In Khyber Pakhtookwa province alone more than 12,000 dwellings in refugee,/strong> villages have been swept away, leaving almost 70,000 people homeless.

    But then he adds in the same article:

    "It is planned that land that was being used for refugee camps will be used to shelter homeless Pakistanis."

    Huh? I thought refugee camps were mostly destroyed. And what moron would even think of moving Pakistanis to destroyed Afghan refugee camps? Is that the only land available? Did these Pakistanis land just get flooded or disappear? Why would they move to such far off hell-on-earth camps and not stay at home and rebuild? Stupid, stupid argument.

    He writes:

    it is envisaged that the military in Pakistan will be given clear empowerment so that it can play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos as the flood waters finally start to recede.

    You mean to tell me army is not empowered? That parliament really runs the country and Zardari is truly the Commander? Right!

    And does the army need "empowerment" to kill its own people ("play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos")? Well you know the answer to that one.

    He writes:

    In dealing with the massive humanitarian crisis, the military has had to shelve all operations against militant and al-Qaeda bases in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, as well as in southern Punjab.

    Has army shelved its operations against militants? That's b.S. as was proven just yesterday. And what kind of a m*ron would claim ongoing ops in Souther Punjab by the military?

    But then it gets better. He adds in the same article:

    "In future we the US will deal with all terror threats in the region with collective efforts. Russia is in big trouble these days. Its economy is in shambles

    Oh so Russia which is itself in shambles is the perfect candidate in those circumstances. And so willing too, I bet. (btw: what possible help could US offer Russia in the Caucas -- besides not helping anti-russian forces) No wonder it was due to this cooperation that Putin just yesterday accused US of rearming Georgia.

    I think you get my drift. SSS is full of sh!t. Always!

    My previous complaint

    P.S. Thinking back, remember he was the ONLY one who was the source of the "Baitullah accepted responsibility for BB Murder claim" and it was fishy from the start because instead of going the AsiaTimes route (where he is the head of Southern Asia bureau or something) he curiously chose to post the article on an obsecure site and interestingly it was picked up by the MSM world over. See my comments from the time here and here)



  • Pakistan military has never let its nation down whether it was the war against the terror, 2005 earthquake or the recent floods. These brave men have always stood in harm’s way to safe guard their nation.



  • Like i have said in other thread, army isn't doing any favour by helping the flood victims,billions and trillions are spent on them in budget each year by this poor nation with ZERO audit or accountability. So if they are doing something then they shouldn't be whining,after all they are eating up billions,they should justify their existence.



  • "Pakistan military has never let its nation down"

    Ha...Ha..Ha.Ha.

    Few words:

    Bangladesh. Kargil. Kashmir. Siachen. DHA. Fauji Foundation (to name but a few)



  • @Beenai

    "in Pakistan ,no other institution has been allowed to developed and get structured like army . "

    And my point was the army has a lot to do with it. Do you disagree??



  • nota, we couldn't agree more over BS SSS and lowlife Asia Times. But I still believe SSS is a CIA man. And therefore all his stuff, specially at this time, should be looked at a bit more closely. Are we being prepared for an army takeover even through nonsense? That's one question that comes to mind. And the whole Russia story is as far away from reality as anything could be. What the truth of the story might be we shall not go into at the moment. But it's extremely interesting, for me at least, to see how it's all being spun. Last but not least, the return of the Afghan refugees which you so brilliantly took to pieces: I interpret it as a further pretext to bolster Petraeus and prepare the coming departure of the west troops. How to fight these barbarians when they are getting so much reinforcement returning from Pakistan. That sort of thing.

    About Baitullah Masood, he's a man for all seasons. Have you seen he's been blacklisted by US along with TTP? Great move on their part. We'll not go into BB's death either. Too complex a thing for now. Though I don't doubt we know exactly who was behind it.

    As for your comment to Beenai, seems to me you've been listening to too much Shahid Masood. Last night in particular where this point about the army being part of the govt came up again and again. Another one of those fantasies we love to propagate. I'm waiting to see what the SC does after Eid as we've been constantly hearing.

    And the main thing at the moment for us all, nota, is not the army, not the govt, not any of the usual crooks. It's what we are going to do once the floods recede. The two options facing us then. That's why I listen so slavisly to Talat Hussain's daily show. He's the only one really monitoring events on the ground at the moment. And where we go once we've finally recovered our land is anyone's guess. The course there too is charged with ambivalence for me. Everything else is just a detail, a way of passing the time in conjecture, compared to that awesome question mark.



  • @dOctOr

    "army isn't doing any favour by helping the flood victims"

    Indeed. I find the "Army helping flood victims" as it was something out of the ordinary argument hilarious. Almost as hilarious as when Kiyani was appointed chief and the headlines screamed "Kiyani is a professional soldier". Every "soldier" is a soldier by "profession" and that is the least we could expect (certainly from a general). :)



  • @MG

    "I still believe SSS is a CIA man. And therefore all his stuff, specially at this time, should be looked at a bit more closely. Are we being prepared for an army takeover even through nonsense?"

    Agree fully that he is a CIA man and I do read him to to see what CIA wants us to think. Again I say army does not need to take over as it already has a choke hold on running things and don't need to make it overt. SSS is trying to pretend they do not. I think what is more telling is one piece I quoted above:

    it is envisaged that the military in Pakistan will be given clear empowerment so that it can play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos as the flood waters finally start to recede

    They are expecting trouble -- a rising up of the suffering masses("play an effective role in countering the anticipated chaos") -- and expect the army to have no qualms about killing them ("play an effective role in countering") to quell any such uprising. This is giving them a green flag to do so ("the military in Pakistan will be given clear empowerment"). Who is doing the "envisaging", you know well.

    P.S. I haven't watched SM since he moved back to ARY (somehow always miss it -- don't even know when it is on. Though I hope it'll make it into my tv viewing schedule) :-P



  • nota, strange then that some of the themes we touched on above about the army were also discussed on his last night's show. Great minds, what!

    Another matter is the coming insurrection which seems more and more certain each day that passes. Empowerment or no empowerment, I can't imagine the army winning that one. Besides, the "army" is a very vague term. It's supposed to be among the biggest in the world, 6th place or something. It's made up of all sorts. And in revolutions, army mutinies are a common occurrence.

    In the SM show (1.9.10), the same topic of army empowerment was also tackled, but in another context: as the implementing arm of the SC in case it decrees wholesale arrest of some of our leading people after Eid. The coincidence between the show and this article might well have been one of the reasons why I thought to post this unfortunate piece. Do go and listen to it if you find the time. I go by instinct and intuition, you use reason. Perhaps you could help me out over this strange turn of events.



  • @MG

    "Great minds, what!"

    :-P

    "In the SM show (1.9.10), the same topic of army empowerment was also tackled, but in another context: as the implementing arm of the SC in case it decrees wholesale arrest of some of our leading people after Eid. The coincidence between the show and this article might well have been one of the reasons why I thought to post this unfortunate piece."

    Well, I'd say something is definitely cooking and with a "special" role being played by the army. Put along with the things you mentioned:

    1. the ongoing MAJOR campaign to show army in good light.

    2. Altaf Bhai's out burst a few days ago

    3. This govt's unpopularity.

    Something is in the offing. I said before the 2007 elections something like: America has no issues with Mush as he is their b!tch. But he has become too unpopular to sustain. So now we will be provided with "change". It will not be any change but an illusion of change. People will be happy to have "won" and go to sleep with dreams of victory. But nothing will change. The person incharge will still be America's b!tch. By the time he becomes too unpopular to sustain, "change" will be introduced again...and so on.

    I couldn't find that comment itself but here are some from around that time (some related, some not):

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/12/27/benazir-bhutto-assassinated/#comment-41870

    (So how close was I? How close will I be??)

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/18/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-18-nov/#comment-25273

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/18/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-18-nov/#comment-25772

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/21/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-21-nov/#comment-26485

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/21/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-21-nov/#comment-26759

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/21/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-21-nov/#comment-26795

    http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/21/visitors’-news-views-on-emergency-21-nov/#comment-26808



  • Thanks nota. Must run now, but will be back later to see what sense I can make of the whole thing.



  • So, nota, I went through the various links. First remark: an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. How innocent we were only three years ago. And look at where we've reached today.

    Secondly, I talked about reason in your connection somewhere recently. I must modify that somewhat: You have a touch of the visionary, too. No two ways about it. You were right about the El Salvador option for Pakistan when it was only sort of being whispered about in the media. Equally right about the approaching end of Pakistan for which you set the date of 2013. I can but hope you'll be proved wrong there. But you might even turn out to be right. All my illusions on all these matters have slowly dwindled away. The one thing you failed to predict in so many words was the horrors of the floods that the summer of this year brought in its wake. Perhaps they will be our wake up call. And then again perhaps not.

    One question remains: Have you lost all hope in IK taking over somehow or the other? He might be the very last hope to save Pakistan. A repeat Musharraf or Kiyani government will give us the death blow as certainly as the continued presence of the non-govt at the head of our fading country.



  • @MG

    Ah, yes -- floods wasn't even part of the equation; but neither was Zardari as prez (some visionary me). But where do the appearance of those two leave us in the scheme of things?

    IK? Well I never had any hope of him ever taking over. Keeping in mind the corrupt system we have, if he does make it through the existing system/process and reaches that position, it will be after making so many deals that he will be forced to act as another Zardari (I am reminded of the Robert Redford movie "The Candidate"). But let's forget IK. The next head honcho is likely to be Nawaz (who as per ten-year deal is to "not rock the boat" till December 2010). You think he will be any better (Keep in mind they are already running Punjab)?



  • No, Mian Sahib back? More of the same. And the equation has changed to some extent: We have a new player in the game, the matyred masses. They might well rise and demand some respect for their rights which were never recognised by anyone at all since Pakistan's creation. And at their head we might well find IK as he himself recently declared on a Views on News show. Otherwise, nota, I'm slowly coming over to your point of view: it might well be curtains for us in a few years from now.