Crack in the mirror
Reality has changed. Our stories have not.
It is just not the dirt on our glasses. We continue to look at Pakistan with our old pair of glasses. Even as our vision has clouded, the Pakistan we see, has changed.
To understand some questions on Pakistan, in India we need to abandon the official Congressi narrative. Equally, the Western mass-media rubbish about Pakistan.
The cliché of terrorism
On 4th January, 2011, a Pakistani leader specializing in electoral politics, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard.
Exactly 4 days later, in USA, on the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, was shot. At a Safeway grocery store, on the north side of Tucson, Arizona, during a public event.
Both of them shot. For similar reasons, by different gunmen.
Gunmen who are killing thousands in Pakistan and USA. Technically, more Americans are killed by guns in USA than in Pakistan. For instance, USA law-enforcement authorities found that ‘14,000 murders involving firearms were committed in 2005′.
Surely, it is no comfort to American victims of gunfire that they were not killed by jehadis.
The most obvious portrayal by the mass-media is terrorist violence in Pakistan. An imploding Pakistan, with gun-toting jehadi terrorists are convenient caricatures that hide a deep shift. To understand the shift, let us look at Pakistan – and its sponsor, ally and
All that seems to separate Pakistan and US of A, is a very thick wad of currency notes.
Power grab in Pakistan
Politics in Pakistan is held to higher and different standards. To anyone but the most biased or blinkered, it is clear that there are political and economic objectives that drive Pakistani rulers. Just like other rulers of the world.
When looking at Pakistan, don’t use Western notions like a two-party collusive democracy is better than one-party conspiring oligarchy? Instead of one-party ‘dictatorship’ of China or a ‘two-party’ democracy in the West, there are more Pakistani players, each jockeying for power, differently. According to ‘modern’ political standards, in a very messy manner.
There is a on-going power struggle to control Pakistan’s atom-bombs, wealth, people, natural resources et al. Four Pakistani groups are in the fray. What Pakistani leadership is doing, is competing with each other to grab power. The anti-India hysteria, alleged Islamization of Pakistan, the radical elements being a lunatic fringe or the mainstream, is just that much baloney.
Factions in Pakistan
Among the competing groups are, first the army and the ISI combination. Then there are the popular politicians who participate in elections. Add the third element – mullah-madrasa-mujahhid combine of fundamentalist clergy, various terrorist groups – like JeM, LeT, Al Qaida, various Taliban factions et al.
The economy and wealth is in hands of the fourth element – the 22 families that matter in Pakistan. Mahbub-ul-Haq’s “22 families” speech in Karachi in 1968 highlightedthe power and wealth of a few families in Pakistan.
And bringing up the rear, is the fifth part of Pakistan, who don’t matter.
The Rest of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s diplomatic prowess
As recent events in Abbottabad show.
Any regime that can dictate terms to USA, China, Saudi Arabia, like Pakistan has, is a skilled leadership. US, China and Saudi Arabia renew their loyalty and friendship vows with Pakistan every week – with both words and money?
Pakistan’s ability to keep its super-power allies on their toes is a remarkable diplomatic achievement. To remain a nuclear power, after near-universal condemnation and pressure reconfirms its diplomatic prowress. Pakistani leadership, from Jinnah onwards, have used the State and its institutions, for keeping a grip on power.
USA, China, Saudi Arabia have been able to do little about Pakistan’s misdeeds, apart from some squealing, public name-calling. In the end they paid up. Each time. For 60 years.
That is what matters.
Tolerant West and fundamentalist Pakistan
Pakistan is what Pakistan does. Europe is what is it says it is – and what Europe does, does not matter.
Like ‘freedom’ in the USA, with 20 lakh prisoners – the largest prison population in the world? Or ‘religious tolerance’ like single-faith Switzerland where a third mosque with minarets was not allowed? Maybe, build on ethnic-diversity like the Danes who want to pay Muslims to leave Denmark. Why not even aim for a ‘fair’ legal-system like Britain, where hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested to build a DNA data-bank – ostensibly to help in criminal identification. Or Italy believes it is all right to ban kebabs and other ‘foreign’ food to protect Italian cuisine.
The West today has the lowest levels of ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity – and persecutes whatever little is left, like the Roma Gypsies for example. Italy cheers for Berlusconi who is willing to take global frowns on the finger-printing of Roma Gypsies. Apart from Berlusconi’s Italy, Sarkozy, is a part of the French vanguard to deport “700 members of the Roma Gypsy minority, to Romania and Bulgaria, as part of its controversial crackdown on communities officials hold responsible for criminal activity.”
Sarkozy has encouraged French law-makers to prescribe dress-codes for the French. Sarkozy’s laws sez ‘no burqa’ for French Muslims. The French feel let down because “immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities” – and they did not. Angela Merkel says ‘nien’ to multiculturalism.
Like the world is able to digest Europe’s xenophobia, Pakistan’s fundamentalism is not significantly different. Except that the West is far richer than Paksiatn. Yet it dances to Pakistan’s tunes.
Makes one think?
What is keeping these four Pakistani factions busy?
Oil. Oil. Oil.
While America and European oil demand is huge, it is not growing. For instance US oil consumption between 1973-2010 has grown from 17 mpd to 19 mpd – with some peak and collapses. Growth in oil consumption by India and China is the only sure bet. And that oil is coming from Central Asia. Through Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There are big American and European business interests in Central Asia. It means that Pakistan and Afghanistan become crucial to Big Oil. The various political factions in Pakistan are competing to assume power for a bargaining position with Big Oil – and India. This trade is expected to cross trillions, over the next few years. From this US$trillion-dollar opportunity, no political player in Pakistan, wants his cut to be diluted.
To this oil opportunity, add narcotics trade. The Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) are the largest producers of drugs – and expect massive returns on drug trade. This drug traffic is now passing through Pakistan. The Taliban have extensive experience with opium trade in Afghanistan.
The US wants to be an honest broker
What will be US role, if India and Pakistan were to sit down and resolve their issues. It is in US interest for instance, to create false stereotypes of Pakistanis – which we have examined earlier. Is the world likely to allow NATO and US, a free run of Af-Pak region, if it was declared that Pakistan was a peaceful country? Or that the scale of tribal violence in Pakistan was on a scale smaller than gangsta and ghetto violence in USA.
To maintain presence in Af-Pak region, US is using the FUD technique – create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. What if Pakistani nuclear devices fall in Talibani hands. What if Pakistan itself falls into Talibani lap?
What might change is the way power is shared. The Taliban may become a part of the Pakistani ruling class. How that will happen remains to be seen. A coup? Local elections, maybe. Electoral alliance? Pakistani power-equations are changing. How these equations work out, may surprise us. Some answers, we have. For some haze to clear, we will need to wait. For some outcomes, we must be prepared.
Is India prepared? Ready?
- The respect Pakistan deserves – and does not get (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- The headache that is Pakistan (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Pakistan – Shifting sands? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Failed Raids Suggest Pakistan Tipped Off Insurgents (newser.com)
- You: ‘US military drawdown in Pakistan completed’ (nation.com.pk)
- Pakistan After Osama (3quarksdaily.com)
- Panetta Holds Surprise Talks with Paki Intel (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- You: Pakistan backs Karzai’s roadmap (nation.com.pk)
- You: Permanent arrest warrant for Musharraf (nation.com.pk)
- Believing Pakistan …? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- You: Why Pakistan told the IMF to get lost (nation.com.pk)
- Pakistan’s clean text drive | Open thread (guardian.co.uk)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled halfway around the world Friday for several hours of meetings with Pakistani leaders. Clinton’s brief visit — she arrived just after breakfast and was headed home by early afternoon — was part of the Obama administration’s efforts in recent weeks to leverage bin Laden’s killing during a secret raid by U.S. commandos into closer ties with Pakistan, rather than risk it finally severing the always-fragile partnership.
Administration officials also said they listened to Pakistan’s complaints about the slow delivery of promised military assistance and its desire for other forms of assistance that “they can show as proof of this relationship” to the Pakistani public. “We committed to look at that,” one official said.
Responding to recent reports that Pakistan has tried to solidify its ties with China and other traditional friends as a hedge against troubles with the United States, Clinton said that Americans provide Pakistan with “more support than Saudi Arabia, China and everybody else combined. . . . I’m not sure many Pakistanis know that.”
It was far from the first time the United States has announced an attempted reset. But administration officials traveling with Clinton said that the seriousness of the current crisis had forced both sides to confront the possible consequences of an irreconcilable breach and that the talks were marked by a new level of frankness.
After her news conference at the U.S. Embassy, she was whisked back to her plane and gone before most Pakistanis were even aware she was here.(via Clinton visits Pakistan to firm up new ties – The Washington Post; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
She expressed Washington’s “strong commitment” to relations with Pakistan. Mrs Clinton said that the US had “absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest level of the Pakistani government” knew where Bin Laden was and said she would return to Washington “ever more committed” to the relationship. In what correspondents say was perhaps an attempt to smooth ruffled Pakistani feathers over the killing, Mrs Clinton acknowledged the ”sacrifices made every single day by the men and women Pakistan’s military and its citizens”.
Mrs Clinton was accompanied on her visit by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen. The pair held meetings with senior Pakistani politicians and army officers to plead for greater co-operation in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Having all of Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership in one room was unusual, perhaps an effort to get them talking to each other more.
It is the first such high-level visit to Pakistan since the killing of Bin Laden on 2 May. (via BBC News – Clinton exonerates Pakistan over Osama Bin Laden; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
Pakistan is preparing for further deterioration, building its non-U.S. alliances and options. For Pakistanis, the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden was a vivid demonstration that America does not respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The presence of American drones flying into Pakistan’s airspace underscores this all the time. For Americans, the fact that bin Laden was hiding for years in a major Pakistani garrison town surrounded by Pakistani army cantonments and retired officers’ homes confirmed the U.S. view that the country engages in a complex double game of patronizing some terrorists while fighting others. Both sides are right about the other.
Pakistan has seen the United States cut off aid many ties before in the last half century. It knows Washington is capricious. So it is strengthening its alternatives east and west. China is Pakistan’s reliable “all weather” ally. Both Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders travel often to Beijing to ensure close cooperation. Chinese engineers are building highways to link Tibet to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are key Muslim allies to the west. Pakistan has been the kingdom’s largest recipient of aid for decades and Saudi Prince Bandar just visited Islamabad to secure promises of Pakistani troops if the Arab Spring threatens to erupt in the gulf monarchies. A battalion of Pakistani troops is in Bahrain backing up the Saudi and Emirati forces that intervened there this year to crush the Shia protest movement.(via America’s Menacing Pakistan Problem – Brookings Institution; parts excised /reordered for brevity and continuity).
- Clinton defends Pakistan leaders on bin Laden (alternet.org)
- US-Pakistan relations ‘at turning point’ after killing of Bin Laden, warns Clinton – The Guardian (news.google.com)
- Washington Post: Pakistan Has Allowed The CIA to Search The Villa Where He Lived Osama Bin Laden (socyberty.com)
- Hillary Clinton pledges US ‘commitment’ to Pakistan – BBC News (news.google.com)
- Hillary Clinton and Mike Mullen on America’s Problems With Pakistan (thedailybeast.com)
- At tense time for US-Pakistan ties, Hillary Clinton swings velvet hammer (csmonitor.com)
- Osama Bin Laden Raid A Watershed Moment For Pakistan, Says Clinton (huffingtonpost.com)
- Clinton: Bin Laden raid a watershed for Pakistan (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US-Pakistan ties at a crossroads, Clinton says – San Francisco Chronicle (news.google.com)
This is interesting!
RIM-Blackberry is a Canadian company. Their main business is to provide safe, secure and reliable system for mobile email over mobile phones. Operating in more than a 100 countries having tie ups with most mobile operators in the world.
India (among other countries) see a security threat with the Blackberry system due to its high encryption rate. The Blackberry system uses a AES-Triple-DES-128 bit encryption system, which cannot be broken in real-time.
Blackberry claims that they do not have any trap-doors or back-doors for access to data – which seems doubtful.
But the absence of trap-doors and back-doors is possible, as Blackberry system has not suffered from too many malware attacks or hacking of its servers.
The use of Blackberry system by terrorists is stoking the fears of Government of India (GOI). To get over this threat, the GOI has asked Blackberry to install Blackberry servers in India. This ensures that access to decrypted data on a real-time basis – as the data on the server resides in a decrypted form. Blackberry is resisting this solution.
“We are reaching out to those countries – the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and others – to understand the security concerns and see if we can work collaboratively to find solutions.
“So that’s a process that is ongoing here at the Department of State. I’ve got no, you know, announcements to make at this point,” State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily news conference.
The United States has also been in touch with RIM, the Canadian company that operates the BlackBerry network worldwide. (via US to hold talks with India on Blackberry issue).
Blackberry is a Canadian company. A purely commercial organisation. Why is the US Government getting involved at all. In fact even the Canadian Government has no role, as far as I can see. GOI is asking Blackberry to follow the law of the land. It is security (for GOI) and a commercial decision (for RIM-Blackberry).
One report tries explaining the US interest
The United States has also been in touch with RIM, the Canadian company that operates the BlackBerry network worldwide.
Earlier … Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We are taking time to consult and analyse the full range of interests and issues at stake because we know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there’s also a legitimate right of free use and access. So, I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward.”
If some of these countries follow through on the BlackBerry ban that they have announced, it would have an impact on the US government and its diplomats operating in different countries.
A case of severe crackberry
Now would the US Secretary of State be involved if Blackberry usage for some 2000 diplomats was affected? Two things.
One – the Indian Government would be able check on all Blackberry emails that US diplomats are sending via Blackberry. That will mean US diplomats will need to send encrypted mails over internet – which is not such a difficulty.
Two – This reminds me of the Australian-PM’s-speech-copied-by-Canadian-PM’s-speechwriter scandal.
Give me a good story otherwise.
- Hillary Clinton Will Work to Help Resolve UAE BlackBerry Dispute (dailyfinance.com)
- BlackBerry ban in India delayed (cnn.com)
- India gives BlackBerry more time (telegraph.co.uk)
- You: India wants Google, Skype to set up local servers (france24.com)
- BlackBerry Ban In India Postponed (informationweek.com)
Mary Doria Russell’s fiction has always dealt with power and the search for elusive lands as a means to further it. … For her fourth book, Dreamers of the Day, Russell shifts her gaze to the Middle East, specifically to the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference where a group of high-profile Europeans met to decide the fate of the region in the aftermath of the First World War. The reader’s guide along this fascinating trip is Agnes Shanklin, a 40-year-old spinster who lives the staid life of a schoolteacher in Cleveland, until she lands a huge pie of inheritance money. (via Living in a timeless world).
This book is, seemingly, a lot like Midshipman Mr.Easy by Captain Marryat – which set out to white wash slavery. This book by Mary Doria Russell seems to be another such book – going by reviews. The carving of the Middle East after WW1 by the victorius allied powers, a disgruntled Russia and straw figures selected by the likes of TE Lawrence and Gertrude Bell to misrule over the Middle East – and now propped up by the US.
Maybe, somebody should remind Mary Doria Russell about the real people who are paying a price of the Cairo Conference.
Within 18 months of the start of the WW1, the British and the French had started discussing how to ‘dispose’ the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, the people of the Middle East were not consulted – as they did not matter.
Demonising communism and now Islam. Without taking the responsibility for their own actions – and further interventions, creating further instability. Like the demonisation of the Jews before and the Red Indians after, this too is having disastrous effects – in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan.