February 28, 2012

More on those links between Pakistan’s ISI and army leaders and the Taliban

Filed under: Asia, India, Military, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:09

Strategy Page has a useful summary of the state of play in Pakistan in their oft-denied support of terrorist activities in Afghanistan and in India:

Pakistan officially denies there is any direct connection between the Pakistani Army, ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and Islamic terrorists. The government has recently admitted that Islamic terrorists have had cooperation from unnamed prominent Pakistani civilians. But a growing number of former (mostly retired) military and intelligence admit that the terrorist connections did exist. Few of these men will openly admit these connections, lest they endure retaliation. The army and ISI are known to kidnap and murder critics. Pakistan is living a dream/nightmare of having created and sustained Islamic terror organizations for decades, yet never admitting the role of the government in this. The denials are wearing thin.

Pakistan remains a much more violent place than India. Each month, there are 5-10 times as many terrorism related deaths in Pakistan as in India (a country with six times as many people as Pakistan). Most of the violence is (and always has been) in the Pushtun and Baluchi tribal territories along the Afghan and Iranian borders. These lands have always been poor (except for the recently discovered natural gas in Baluchistan, and, centuries ago, some parts of the Chinese “silk road” that passed through Pushtun lands) and the local empires simply ignored the Pushtuns and Baluchis. For thousands of years, these were the “badlands” that civilized people avoided. The many Baluchi and Pushtun tribes were too isolated from each other, and in love with their own independence, to allow formation of Baluchi and Pushtun states. But the Baluchis are overcoming their differences, much to the discomfort of Pakistan. The Pushtuns are as divided as ever, united only in their hostility to outsiders (a category which sometimes includes other Pushtun tribes.) Worse for the Pushtuns, they form the majority of the Taliban, and are far more into Islamic terrorism than the Baluchis.

[. . .]

Pakistan’s army and intelligence services have been taking a lot of international heat for the years of state-approved terrorism against tribal separatists in Baluchistan (southwest Pakistan). The Baluchis want autonomy and a larger share of the revenues from natural gas operations in their lands. The ISI and army have ordered the media they control to come up with stories to explain all the kidnappings and murders of tribal activists. The general story line is that the violence (against the government, as well as the tribal activists) has been organized by Israel, the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies. Few Pakistanis will openly criticize these stories, as that could get you killed. But the true story does get out via the Internet, although you sometimes have to wade through a lot of noise (flame wars and Pakistani government efforts to bury critical posts with a flood of pro-government replies.)

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