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Pakistan. The Calculus has Changed

June 11, 2011 2 comments
The garbageman comes collecting the usual load of rubbish on Pakistan (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The garbageman comes collecting the usual load of rubbish on Pakistan (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

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.

What difference

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.

'Biting' Sarcasm. How the Army-ISI pet has started disobeying the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

‘Biting’ Sarcasm. How the Army-ISI pet has started disobeying the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

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 undertaker underwriter-in-chief.

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.

The Master's Problem: The 'obedient' dog starts barking at the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

The Master’s Problem: The ‘obedient’ dog starts barking at the master. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

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.

Facing India, with Taliban at the back and US drone attacks from above, Pakistan's command structure has done well to keep the wheels moving. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy bamulahija.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

Facing India, with Taliban at the back and US drone attacks from above, Pakistan’s command structure has done well to keep the wheels moving. (Cartoon by Kirtish Bhatt; courtesy bamulahija.wordpress.com.). Click for larger image.

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.

For sixty years, Pakistan has bent super-powers to its will. Enviable diplomatic prowess. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - indiatimes.com; 3 May 2011, 1400 hrs IST). Click for larger image.

For sixty years, Pakistan has bent super-powers to its will. Enviable diplomatic prowess. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy – indiatimes.com; 3 May 2011, 1400 hrs IST). Click for larger image.

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?

Easy question

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?

Pakistan may need to work out an amiable way for these 4 power centres to work together. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy by indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Pakistan may need to work out an amiable way for these 4 power centres to work together. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy by indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

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?

A hard-and-soft answer may work with Pakistan. Soft on trade and economy; hard on defence and terror. (Cartoon by Kartij Bhatt. Courtesy - bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

A hard-and-soft answer may work with Pakistan. Soft on trade and economy; hard on defence and terror. (Cartoon by Kartij Bhatt. Courtesy – bamulahija.wordpress.com). Click for larger image.

Last train out

January 9, 2011 4 comments
EXULTANT Militants waiting to cheer an assassin threw rose petals. (Picture courtesy - nytimes.com; picture by B. K. Bangash/Associated Press)

EXULTANT Militants waiting to cheer an assassin threw rose petals. (Picture courtesy - nytimes.com; picture by B. K. Bangash/Associated Press)

In Pakistan,

the ruling elite cannot be expected to change things because the majority already has one foot out of the door. Most members of the ruling elite have dual nationality, which means that if the situation deteriorates further they can always leave, along with their capital. This saves them from taking responsibility for improving social conditions and the country’s politics for the benefit of all. http://is.gd/krkPC

Who cares …

On 4th January, 2011, Salman Taseer died. Shot dead by his own body guard. His support for non-Islamic minorities in Pakistan coupled with his support for removal of blasphemy laws from statute books angered extremists. Leading to this killing. Salmaan Taseer’s other bodyguards did nothing against the killer. Many ‘powerful people’, afraid, did not attend Taseer’s funeral.

Like this author points out, the State of Pakistan is in the hands of people who have interests, capital, and a life outside Pakistan. Pakistan needs complete, total commitment.

Anybody home?

Another hate crime

On the other side of the world, on Saturday 8th January, 2011, in the advanced world, there was a similar incident. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, during a public event at a Safeway grocery store on the north side of Tucson, was shot.

Call to arms! Against Gabrielle Giffords. What is the diference between USA and Pakistan!

Call to arms! Against Gabrielle Giffords. What is the difference between USA and Pakistan!

Giffords — who in 2006 became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 36 — has, for more than a year, been the target of violence-tinged rhetoric from political opponents and of threats that appear to have come from right-wing activists.

Sarah Palin’s political action committee posted a map of the US, showing the locations of the 20 Democratic members of Congress, including Giffords, it was targeting for defeat. Each location was marked by an image of a gun crosshairs.

Palin’s camp dismissed charges that she was encouraging acts of violence, saying she had spoken out against violence. But Giffords herself was one of many who spoke out against the image, telling MSNBC: “When people do that, they’ve gotta realize there’s consequences to that action.”

In June, the campaign of Giffords’ Republican opponent in this year’s midterms, Jesse Kelly, placed an ad that read: “Get on target for victory in November/ Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office/ Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”

The website for Kelly, a former US Marine, depicted him with holding an automatic weapon.

Today, Kelly said in a tweet: “We are all deeply saddened by this morning’s shooting. Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims, and their families are in our prayers.”

It is unclear why Gabrielle Giffords was shot. Was is it because she ‘approached the immigration debate in a nuanced fashion, mixing requests for more Border Patrol agents with calls to increase the number of work visas granted to foreigners.’ Or was because she was the first Jewish woman to be elected Congresswoman from Arizona.

Sarah Palin's and the vicious right wing agenda. Chickens come home to roost.

Sarah Palin's and the vicious right wing agenda. Chickens come home to roost.

Desert Bloc parallels

Gabrielle Gifford and Salman Taseer were ‘marked’ for supporting ‘Others’. Christian intolerance, Islamic extremism. Any difference. Sympathy for ‘kaffirs‘ killed Salman Taseer; supporting ‘aliens’ hurt Gabrielle Gifford. USA & Pakistan-Siamese twins?

Pakistan is evading the blasphemy issue. USA will ‘investigate’ if xenophobia behind Gabrielle Gifford attack. Christian intolerance + Islamic extremism = Desert Bloc behavior. Proof  – Attacks on Gabrielle Gifford & Salman Taseer.Last train out

After putting Gabrielle Giffords in the cross, the job of pulling the trigger was left to some 'radical'.

After putting Gabrielle Giffords in the cross-hairs, the job of pulling the trigger was left to some 'radical'.

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