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Old 04-22-2009, 05:13 PM   #1
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Taliban Closer to Taking Over Pakistan

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Pakistan's government has abdicated to the Taliban in agreeing to impose Islamic law in the Swat valley and the country now poses a "mortal threat" to the world, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Surging violence across Pakistan and the spread of Taliban influence through its northwest are reviving concerns about the stability of the nuclear-armed country, an important U.S. ally vital to efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan.
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Asked about the matter, Clinton bluntly replied: "I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists."

Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Clinton said, ominously, that the situation in Pakistan "poses a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country and the world."
Clinton says Pakistan is abdicating to the Taliban | Reuters

Oh boy.

Imagine the Taliban ruled Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons? What would they do with them?

Plus, I wonder what India would do. A friend of mine predicts if the Taliban took over Pakistan, India would have no choice but to start a war with them. That sounds extreme, but after what happened in Mumbai, I do wonder what will happen in that region.
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Old 04-23-2009, 03:34 AM   #2
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This isn't mere alarmist saber-rattling. Clinton made these remarks in the wake of a particularly grim week: the Taliban moved into and occupied the tribal district of Buner, 70 miles from Islamabad, where as usual they immediately set about looting government and NGO offices for supplies, abducting and threatening police, driving out government officials and local elites; Maulana Sufi Muhammad, who brokered February's painfully ill-advised 'peace agreement' allowing the Taliban-controlled Malakand division its own independent nizam-e-adl (tribal-Islamist) courts in exchange for the Taliban laying down their weapons (they didn't), made a defiant public speech branding Pakistan's judiciary and legislature "enemies of the people" because "there is no room for democracy in Islam," and declaring any appeals of the new sharia courts' decisions to Pakistan's High and Supreme Courts "haram" (religiously forbidden); and a spokesperson for Taliban leader Mullah Fazullah, interviewed by Associated Press, boasted that the Taliban would never lay down their arms, would never recognize the Pakistani Constitution, and would protect and assist not only their Taliban comrades in Afghanistan, but also Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and al-Qaeda.

The tone of the major Pakistani dailies right now seems unanimously grim; I haven't seen any of the kinds of half-hearted rationalizations that some commentators offered in favor of the nizam-e-adl regulations back in February. Just a mixture of anger and dread--at a political class that's always been content to profit from feudalism, corruption and nepotism rather than reforming it, leaving the peasantry resentful and susceptible to revolution; at a government foolish enough to cater to the demands of an exceptionally brutal insurgency openly dismissive of that government's writ; at a well-funded but increasingly fractious and inept-seeming army who seem to have spent the last several years continuing to pursue their historic obsession with the enemy across the Indus, while being repeatedly clobbered from the west by illiterate guerrillas who share their loathing of India but not their sense of what it is that must be defended against the Indians; and at a public which has become so inured to regular ambushes, suicide bombings, and harassment by local pro-Taliban thugs that they're too engrossed in worrying "Which areas do I need to avoid visiting today?" to organize and demand decisive action and accountability from their government and military. I haven't seen much direct commentary on Clinton's remarks (though Pakistani PM Gilani's attempts to downplay the risk of the present situation were roundly ridiculed).

This widespread sense of urgency might perhaps be a 'hopeful' sign in itself, as might be opposition leader Nawaz Sharif's unprecedentedly direct criticism of the Taliban a few days ago, declaring that they must not be allowed to challenge the government's writ, derail democracy, or continue to expand their military occupations. Nonetheless, Pakistan's internal security has inarguably deteriorated alarmingly over the past year.

India hasn't been particularly vocal on the latest developments in Pakistan just yet, but then they're preoccupied at the moment with their own national elections and accompanying internal security problems (the longstanding multi-state Maoist insurgency, which always flares up during elections). The likely result of those elections will be an unwieldy coalition government with no strong majority, so it's too early to predict the likely slant of its Pakistan policy. I think as of now they're far more likely to respond to further dramatic deterioration in Pakistan by imploring Washington, 'You must do something,' rather than aggressively moving to take matters into their own hands.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:55 AM   #3
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Bush's last hurrah - Make an enemy of Pakistan

Friday Sep 19, 2008
By Gwynne Dyer

The good news is that US President George W. Bush is not going to invade Iran before he leaves office. The bad news is he is attacking Pakistan instead.

For years the White House has issued urgent warnings about the threat from Iran at every opportunity, accompanied by the threat that "all options are on the table" if Iran didn't stop its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

Since we knew how Bush acted in the case of Iraq's alleged nuclear weapons programme, there was good reason to worry that he might actually carry out his threat.

Late last year the US intelligence services deliberately undercut his case for war against Iran by releasing a joint assessment that concluded Tehran had stopped its nuclear weapons programme in 2004. That killed Bush's hopes of getting the American public to back an attack on Iran.

So the White House has gone entirely silent on Iran. But about two months ago, according to information leaked just last week, Bush authorised US military attacks against suspected supporters of the Taleban and al Qaeda on Pakistani soil - without the permission of the Pakistani Government.

Pakistan is a US ally, even though the great majority of Pakistanis wish it wasn't. There are few unbreakable rules in international affairs, but not attacking your ally is definitely one of them.
Except if you are American, in which case it's okay, or so the White House appears to believe.

The latest incident, just after midnight on a Monday morning, began when seven US helicopter gunships and two troop-carrying Chinook helicopters landed near the Pakistani border in the Afghan province of Pakhtia.

US troops got out and tried to cross the border into Pakistan, presumably in search of some "terrorist" target.

According to local officials, Pakistani paramilitary troops manning a checkpoint fired into the air to warn off the Americans while local tribesmen took up defensive positions.

On this occasion, the US soldiers stopped. With nobody around to stop them, however, another American ground force attacked a target in Pakistan's South Waziristan province on September 4 and, according to local witnesses, killed about 20 people, including women and children.

The local witnesses may be exaggerating, but the fact American troops carried out an act of war on Pakistan's territory without informing Islamabad, is not disputed. And there have been other recent American attacks, involving missiles fired at suspected terrorist targets, in which innocent Pakistani civilians have unquestionably been killed.

Pakistan's economy is tottering, its new democracy is shaky, and it has not done a very impressive job of keeping the Taleban supporters in the provinces bordering Afghanistan under control.

But Pakistan is still a major regional power with twice as many people as Iran. And it definitely has nuclear weapons.

Using US troops in Pakistan without permission is simply begging for trouble. Last week the Pakistani Army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, warned "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost. No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan".

The White House may be hoping the newly elected President, Asif Ali Zardari, will be pliable enough to let such things happen. Even if he were, the Pakistani Army simply would not allow it.

The new Bush policy is stupid and futile. How can using US troops on Pakistani soil do anything but drive more local people into the arms of the militants and turn the Pakistani Government into America's enemy?

But it is of a piece with the larger "Bush doctrine" which decrees the best way to deal with terrorism is to attack the countries where the terrorists live with military force.

The senior officers who now command the US armed forces should know this is not just wrong but counter-productive. They were all taught that the best way to counter terrorism is by police work, intelligence gathering, and defensive security measures.

The use of military force just plays into the terrorists' hands.

As part of their military education, American generals have even read the various memoirs, manuals and manifestos in which the leading practitioners of "urban guerilla warfare" and international terrorism laid down their strategies - and they almost always wanted to get the other side's army involved in the fight against them.

Senior US officers know that, and yet with a few brave exceptions who resigned, they have swallowed their professional pride and gone along with the Bush Administration's unthinking belligerence.

There is one consolation. President Bush will be gone from office in four more months, so he probably doesn't have enough time left to turn Pakistan into a full-fledged enemy of the United States.
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:00 AM   #4
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From 2007 -

Tough talk on Pakistan from Obama | U.S. | Reuters

Quote:
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States must be willing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan, adopting a tough tone after a chief rival accused him of naivete in foreign policy.

...

Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government, a move that would likely cause anxiety in the already troubled region.

"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said.
From Jan 24, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...012304189.html

2 U.S. Airstrikes Offer a Concrete Sign of Obama's Pakistan Policy

Quote:
Two remote U.S. missile strikes that killed at least 20 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in northwestern Pakistan yesterday offered the first tangible sign of President Obama's commitment to sustained military pressure on the terrorist groups there, even though Pakistanis broadly oppose such unilateral U.S. actions.

The shaky Pakistani government of Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hopes for warm relations with Obama, but members of Obama's new national security team have already telegraphed their intention to make firmer demands of Islamabad than the Bush administration, and to back up those demands with a threatened curtailment of the plentiful military aid that has been at the heart of U.S.-Pakistani ties for the past three decades.

...

Obama's August 2007 statement -- that he favored taking direct action in Pakistan against potential threats to U.S. security if Pakistani security forces do not act -- made him less popular in Pakistan than in any other Muslim nation polled before the election.

...

"He can't just focus on military achievements; he has to win over the people," Nawaz said. "Relying on military strikes will not do the trick." Attaching conditions to the aid is wise, Nawaz said, because "people are more cognizant of the need for accountability -- for 'tough love.' "
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:46 PM   #5
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Dyer's article is badly dated in its assumption that the Predator attacks were or are done without Islamabad's knowledge; within a month after that, it became publically known that drones had been departing from Shamsi airbase in Balochistan through an arrangement primarily between the two countries' intelligence services, involving intelligence sharing on targets (al-Qaeda mostly) as well as land and airspace use. It's possible that Pakistan's army and civilian leadership are less comfortable with this arrangement than the ISI is, though it's equally possible that their public protests are a bluff; certainly wouldn't be the first time. (Keep in mind, Pakistan's army has benefitted from US military aid to the tune of at least $8 billion since 2001...unfortunately dwarfing what could have been strategically critical development aid.) Where Dyer is absolutely correct is that the drone attacks--which, notoriously, have killed civilians as well as some of their intended targets--have been hugely unpopular with the Pakistani public, and thus have been a major obstacle to public recognition that the Taliban insurgency in the northwest poses a threat to anyone besides NATO (although, as mentioned, that may be changing, as recent events have made it considerably more clear that the Pakistan Taliban have aspirations well beyond the Pashtun tribal regions, and well beyond wishing for a less pro-US government in Islamabad). That's one strike against the attacks; another is that the casualty statistics from Afghanistan and Pakistan don't provide much support for the claim that they're enabling important gains against the Taliban (harder to evaluate their impact on al-Qaeda though).

However, the drone attacks certainly aren't the "cause" of the active Taliban presence in Pakistan. Even setting aside the events of the 1980s--when the US and Pakistan collaborated, with Saudi funding and recruiting assistance, to cultivate an Afghan guerrilla movement capable of bogging down the USSR (with resulting huge influx of refugees into Pakistan, where many studied in and came to wield considerable political influence through the madrassas affiliated with the Deobandi JUI party)--thousands of Pakistani men had joined the Afghan Taliban's fight against the Northern Alliance during the 1990s civil war, through the Pashtun madrassa networks. And after the US/UK invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Pakistan Army granted the fleeing Taliban leadership sanctuary in Quetta, while increasingly finding themselves drawn into conflict with Taliban rank-and-file and pro-Taliban tribals as they attempted to hunt down al-Qaeda members in Waziristan. This was severely demoralizing for the Army, who were accustomed to seeing the Taliban as "reserves" in their real struggle (against India) and as valuable defenders-by-proxy of Pakistan's strategic depth in Afghanistan, not as impediments, let alone threats, to Pakistan's internal security.

Unless you wish to argue (as one certainly could) that aiming to cripple al-Qaeda by taking them on in their home turf is a terminally counterproductive venture, with results doomed to be worse than relying solely on our own domestic security agencies, then for better and for worse that venture requires fighting the Taliban as well. And for Pakistan, to say that presents a huge problem is an understatement.
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Old 04-23-2009, 11:50 PM   #6
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Well they had to run somewhere, on to Pakistan.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:42 AM   #7
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Good luck with that.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:53 AM   #8
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They are going to have to be dealt with one way or another. Nuclear arms in the hands of terrorists allows nations to attack others and wash their hands of the responsibility at the same time.
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:07 PM   #9
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There was a fascinating story on NPR yesterday about the Taliban and their recruiting techniques. I see so many blame the religion and the hate for the west as to why individuals would join the Taliban, but this woman's story about her homeland told a completely different story. The story she told was one of fear, indoctrination, and basically removing any choice. She talked about how they would teach their perversion of the religion to young boys in a language that wasn't their native tongue and basically they created a new religion that was all about Jihad. They would take women out of their homes(and this was a very modern society where women were doctors, etc) and dispense their version of brutal justice and basically blackmail the loved ones of this woman to join or else.

She had a lot to say and it wasn't the story that so many in here believe, I'll try and find a transcript or something...
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:23 PM   #10
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This isn't about actual recruiting, but one thing the Taliban have often capitalized on quite competently is that rural Afghanistan and Pakistan are largely feudal societies, with all the accompanying oppression and exploitation you'd expect from such a system. So when the Taliban move in, they may make a pitch something on the order of: --We promise you fair land distribution; we're going to run these greedy landholders who own most of six villages' worth of property off their land, and we're going to redistribute it. --Have farmers who are growing poppies, with all the thuggery and violence that goes along with that? We're going to run them out too. --We promise you swift and fair hearings for all your property and other legal disputes: no more having to wait two years for your date in the provincial government court, where some snooty judge who doesn't understand your customs and thinks he's better than you disdainfully talks down to you. --We promise you just and equal policing: no more corrupt cops who treat you in light of what caste or clan you're from rather than what you did, and our men don't take bribes because they're not after money, just real justice, real Islam. Etc., etc., etc. For many villagers, especially ones from the lower reaches of the social ladder, much of this is music to their ears.

Of course that's not always how it is; just as often they establish their authority only after weeks or months of brutal armed conflict with clans and tribes who resist, or as BVS was suggesting, by abducting or otherwise threatening people's relatives. But they certainly do have their 'sales pitches' as well, and no those aren't all based on religious fervor.
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Old 04-24-2009, 06:46 PM   #11
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Pakistani Taliban ordered to pull back -- Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 -- English Window to China New

Pakistani Taliban ordered to pull back
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