Monday, January 02, 2006

Hard Choices in Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban have gained control of portions of the tribal region of North Waziristan. According to the Bangkok Post, the followers of Afghanistan's Taliban have been freely eliminating their opponents despite the presence of government troops who seem unwilling the interfere. "[A]t this moment, rather than taking hard military action, political developments are being allowed to take precedence," said Major General Shaukat Sultan.

The militants have hunted and killed 20 of their rivals last month, several were beheaded. Nearly 50 tribal leaders have been killed by the Taliban. The Pakistani Army has effectively ensconced itself behind the walls on fortified bases while the hostile tribes impose brutal Sharia law and the law of the gun. Rahimullah Yusufzai, a respected journalist and regional expert, claims the Pakistani Army has "totally abdicated" control. "It seems it's Taliban raj [rule] there...The situation is no longer under their control." In an editorial, the Daily Times wrote, "Elements linked to al-Qaeda rule the territory and not the Pakistan army."

The violence is being blamed on the Pakistani Army which sent 70,000 into the tribal area after the 9/11 attacks and US invasion of Afghanistan. The Army made deals with leaders of some tribes to attack other tribes seen as al-Qaida supporters. "The result has been a lack of trust and the situation has deteriorated instead of improving," says Ayaz Amir, a former army officer and diplomat. By taking sides "[t]he military has mishandled the situation." Another army officer said, ''When two tribes are fighting we can't take sides.'' (If the native Pakistanis can't get it right and create a mess, how can it be expected the Americans would do any better?)

The Pashtuns, a fiercely independent tribe, were granted an extraordinary measure of autonomy by the colonial British Empire. The tribal regions were run by Political Agents and the system was maintained by Pakistan after independence. With the American invasion of Afghanistan, internecine warfare, the intrusion of the modern world, vast amounts of money the traditional tribal systems are being questioned by tribal members. These doubts and pressures are leading to the ultimate breakdown of the very tribal system that has kept them in the dark ages for centuries.

The old alliances are no longer holding; new allegiances are being created out of wholecloth. Eventually, the dominant government in Islamabad will take control and the tribes will be forced to submit just to survive. This is the way of civilization, the natural progression of peoples from village to clan to tribe to nation. And so it will be in North Waziristan.

The Astute Blogger has a different take on the situation coupling Waziristan with the Pakistani madrassas and Islamabad's unwillingness to confront the tribal hostiles. "I agreed with Bush when he said, "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists."It seems that he has recently and sadly abandoned that policy, and the result is backsliding (in Gaza, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, AND in regard to prolonged "negotitations with" Iran and North Korea - where time is definitely NOT on our side). This is not surprising: The enemy gets only more motivated whenever we show a lack of resolve or a lack of moral clarity - EVEN with our "allies". My message to Bush: Get Tougher!"

I agree that we need to get tougher with Pakistan and any other Arab or Muslim nation that is interfering with the democratization of the entire area. Time is a relative thing as theororized by Einstein. We may not have much time with Iran, but we have much more time with N. Korea. When it comes to the tribes, we have lots of time. Just as the American Indian tribes had to adapt or perish, the tribes of the 'Stans will also adapt. It can't be done by America, though. They must choose survival as a people for themselves.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.


dcat said...

That will be a hard one it takes a leader for the sheep type of people to be able to follow. Right now it is the blind leading the blind. However I do believe the ones that realize what you just wrote will be smart enough to realize their path. In other words let’s hope everyone isn’t that stupid!

BTW another nice post Indigo! :)

dcat said...

Oh and don't you worry Indigo we will!!!