IS PAKISTAN UNRAVELLING ?
with contributions from Lt Gens Eric Vas & Ashok Joshi and Maj. Gen.s KS Pendse & SCN Jatar. ,
the wake of enquiry commission report on the events of 9/11, there is a spate
of articles in the American media detailing the major role played by Pakistan
in that catalytic event At popular level in America, as shown in various
Hollywood movies, Pakistanis are often depicted as terrorists along with the
recent visit to the US ( last week of June) one was struck by the
general air of pessimism prevailing amongst the American think tanks about the
future of Pakistan. Some of these experts are
well known for their soft corner for that country, therefore it was all the
more surprising. Earlier that honour was
reserved for India, prediction of
its break up after Nehru or after BJP came to power were routine.
But similar sentiments being expressed about Pakistan
was indeed a new experience.
The reasons for the Pakistani crisis
according to them were,
Rift within the Pak army
between rank and file and officers, between senior officers and junior officers
( post Zia period and
influenced by Islamist world view versus the old guard that is more pro
American and moderate) and within the officer class as a whole between
Islamists and moderates.
Unrest in the civil society due
to food shortages and clear perception that the army was hoodwinking the people
in name of threat from India.
Disenchantment with Mullahs who
are now increasingly seen as the biggest threat to Islam.
Regional differences between
provinces where Sindh and Baluchistan feel discriminated against in matters of allocation of financial
Effects of the anti Tribal
operations in Waziristan area.
Effects of Indian elections
where Pakistani people, specially poor, saw how
democracy works while in Pakistan
they are powerless and under the army rule. This feeling of disaffection has
also spread to the middle classes.
The two pillars on which the ruling
Mullah military alliance stood,
Threat from India.
Danger to Islam.
stand discredited and weakened if not altogether demolished. The hype and mass
coverage to the recently concluded cricket series did much to blunt the anti India
edge. Paradoxically the wide media
coverage given to the frequent missile test that are carried out by Pakistan
have further convinced the vast majority of Pakistanis that India no longer
poses a threat to them.
none of these factors could pose a threat of dissolution of Pakistan.
But the fact that these multiple crisis are occurring simultaneously is the
real danger. The US places lot of faith in Musharraf. They
feel he is their best bet to keep Pakistan
together and away from turning terroristic. But the
Americans are clearly worried about the very survival of Musharraf
in case of a major ‘catch’ like Mullah Omar or Osama
Bin Laden as a result of ongoing military operations in Pakistan/Afghanistan
The Americans are concerned that
collapse of Pakistan may remove the vital pillar of their Afghan and anti terror policy
and are searching for answers. But it also appears that they may well be
preparing for the inevitable if that becomes unavoidable. Given the proximity
of Americans to the Pakistani establishment, their views have to be taken
HOW WILL IT UNRAVEL.
scenarios are ,
1. Revolt in the periphery.
provinces of Sindh, Baluchistan, Northern Areas and Pok may well revolt
against Punjabi domination. North
West Province is
already part of Afghanistan all in except name, so is likely to continue in the same way. It is
accepted that Pakistani army is capable and ruthless enough to crush this
revolt with great brutality. But if all of periphery revolts at the same time
then its resources are not adequate. At most it can deal with one revolt at a
time not more than that. In this case while there would be no direct military
threat to India, we may well be saddled with huge refugee influx specially
from Sindh and POK. In addition, the Jihadi elements may well then try to create similar
disturbances in India by engineering Godhra type incidents. The
forthcoming Amarnath Yatra
may well be the first target. As the central authority would be weak in this
situation, Jihadis may well be totally out of control
with grave threat of increased terrorism in India
that would be random and directed at creating communal animosities in India.
This would be helped by the local sympathisers of Jihadis
who have created virtually autonomous enclaves in major urban centres of India.
2. Taliban like Hardliners
take over of Pakistani Army and the State.
second possible scenario is that a hardline faction
of the army consisting of the younger elements led by persons like Lt. Gen. Aziz with help of Jamaat E Islami take over the army. It may not mean any rift within
the army as Pak army has tradition of conducting bloodless coupes. What may
well happen is systematic purge of army moderates and elimination of opposing
civilians. The revolt could be bloody if the moderate army leadership finds
support amongst rank and file and those units stand by and fight. It is now
clear that the two assassination attempts against Musharraf
were an inside job signifying that there is a sizeable pro Fundamentalist
faction within the army. But if the extremists are stronger then faced with the
prospect of certain defeat, it is unlikely that any soldier may hitch his
future with the moderates. There may well be resistance in the civil society.
In case this scenario is to materialise then since the Jihadi
forces would be fully engaged in consolidating their hold over Pakistan,
there would be very little attempt to foment trouble in India.
Flow of refugees is however likely to be even greater. Since a Taliban like
take over Pak is certain to invite economic sanctions, Pak would face an
economic collapse as all aid would dry up. A Taliban like regime taking over in
Pakistan would have long term repercussions on India in
that the hardline Islamists within India
would get greater support. A sort of mirror image of what
happened to Pakistani when Taliban took over Afghanistan. The Taliban like
revolt would have grave repercussions on the West’s war on terrorism in Afghanistan and a likely military intervention by West may take place.
not keep aloof from these events. In this scenario the use of Pakistani nuclear
weapons against India, either authorised or by rouge elements is very likely. How far the
Americans have seized the control of Pak nukes is not known at this point in
time. A web site some time ago had claimed that the Jihadis
have control over two/three nuclear tipped missiles.
cause for unravelling of Pakistan
was the very un-naturalness of the concept of Pakistan.
If religion alone could be basis of nationalism then what about the minuscule
Hindus and Christians in Pakistan,
are they also a separate nation?
long term context and view of Islam shows that Islamic separatism is still a
potent force in the subcontinent. The spread of political Islam was halted on
the banks of Narmada in the 18th century. But in the North of the
subcontinent there has been no roll back of Islamic influence like in Europe. Separation of Bangladesh could well be explained as having taken place due to geographical
factors. The current direction of Bangladesh in Islamising shows that clearly. Pakistan
could well be seen as an extension of Middle
East into the Indian subcontinent. Wherever in local majority, as in Kashmir, the Muslims yearn for a separate state or merger
with existing Islamic entity.
achievement of survival between 1947-1954 ( before the
beginning of Western aid) should not be underestimated. A huge ( in proportion
of its overall population) inflow of refugees, total absence of any
infrastructure of government and lack of natural resources and industry did not
deter Pakistan from not only surviving but thriving and even invading parts of
India, ie Kashmir. The ‘hate India’ cement is too strong and the
rulers will use it when faced with difficulty and label all revolts on the
periphery as ‘Anti Islam’ and crush them ruthlessly.
very basis of Pakistan is anti democracy. It was created since the Muslims did not accept
living under a rule of Hindu majority. Creation of Pakistan on that basis
ensured that democracy remained a factor to be suppressed with the use of Sharia and feudalism. Islam has been used by the Pak elites
for governance and keeping India
destabilised. Pak army would not break up or revolt, it would merely change its
role from ‘modernising’
to enforcing ‘Sharia’.
by the poor and disposed in Pakistan
is unlikely as the people of the subcontinent have a virtually unlimited
capacity to suffer. Also the history of Islam in the subcontinent shows that an
Aurangzeb invariably succeeds against a liberal Dara Shikoh. This has been proved
time and again. What is likely to happen in Pakistan
is series of coupes as a letting off steam mechanism for the society. Witness
the exactly identical rhetoric against corruption et al that has been used by
all the military coupe leaders since Ayub and
swallowed by the Pak public. One
of the coupes could well usher in an Islamist and Taliban like corps commander
and lead to Talibanisation of Pakistan. As long as
the minimum level of order prevails and common man can survive, there is no
chance of unravelling of Pakistan.
against the above argument, some reports suggest that the anarchy that prevails
in Karachi and even Lahore is such that ordinary thievery is passé and in its place there are
crimes like ‘car snatching’ taking place in Pakistan.
There have been reports of Pak army officers defying the orders to shoot at
civilians in Tribal areas. Musharraf himself is
prisoner in his palace and does not dare to move out. The minimum level of
‘order’ has already collapsed in Pakistan
and use of army to restore order would bring it in direct confrontation with
the people. Would it then act against the people or the rulers?
But first and foremost, the Indian government, media and the people
must give up the woolly notion of attributing all this to the machinations of
the ISI. It is time that we realized the
truth that the ISI is manned by Pakistani army personnel on deputation and
operates under firm control of the Pakistani Army Chief ( NOT
PM). For all intents and purposes it is part and parcel of the Pak Army.
Recently PM Jamali has been replaced. The scenario of coupes and
counter coupes seem to be in place. India has
to watch out for ,
- Advent of Islamist leader at the helm of affairs.
- If there is a peaceful coupe then the terrorists would be
unleashed against India as the best bet for a new ruler to establish himself.
- If there is Taliban takeover then its local sympathisers would
create trouble and there is a greater danger of pre-emptive use of
nukes by Pak as the Taliban mindset is inherently illogical and unstable.
The constant ‘Hot and Cold’ blowing by Musharraf
is a symptom of the instability there. At the minimum, India
must expect and deal with the continuing campaign of terror against us.