Friday, September 9, 2011

What if Musharraf Had Said No to US After 911?

Here are a few facts about Pakistan's role in the "war on terror" since Sept 11, 2001:

First, none of the terrorists who carried out the 911 attacks on the United States were from Pakistan.

Second, the former Pakistani President Musharraf condemned the 911 attacks and quickly allied his country with the United States in the coalition to fight the US-led "global war on terror".

Third, Pakistanis continue to pay the heaviest price among the US coalition partners ten years after 911.

Would Pakistanis have been better off if President Musharraf had kept his country neutral after President George W. Bush delivered the following ultimatum to the entire world: "You are either with us, or against us?" Before answering this key question, let us examine the heavy toll the "war on terror" has taken on Pakistan:

1. Before 9/11, Pakistan had suffered just one suicide bombing — a 1995 attack on the Egyptian Embassy in the capital, Islamabad, that killed 15 people. In the last decade, suicide bombers have struck Pakistani targets more than 290 times, killing at least 4,600 people and injuring 10,000, according to data reported by the Los Angeles Times.

2. Pakistan averaged nearly six terrorist attacks of various kinds each day in 2010, according to a report by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies.

3. As of April 25, 2011, the Pakistani military has confirmed that since 2004, 2,795 of its soldiers have been killed in the war and another 8,671 have been wounded. There have also been 21,672 civilian casualties (at least 7,598 of these were killed) since September 11, 2001, up to February 18, 2010, according to the military.

4. Pakistan's current leadership says that the alliance with the U.S. against Islamic militants has destroyed the country's investment climate, caused widespread unemployment and ravaged productivity. The government estimates the alliance has cost it $67 billion in direct losses over the last 10 years.

5. There have been incalculable indirect costs of massive war-related societal divisions and disruptions caused by acceleration of internal displacements and migration and proliferation of guns, drugs and violence in major urban centers of Pakistan since 911, the most striking being the increasingly destabilizing violence in Karachi.

Now let's turn to the "what-if" analysis of the road not taken by Pakistan after 911 and ponder the following:

1. Would Pakistanis have been better off by snubbing the world's sole superpower which Musharraf described as a "wounded bear" after 911 attacks?

2. Would Pakistan not have been isolated as a pariah state by the United States with support from the international community by slapping the most stringent international sanctions imaginable?

3. Would Pakistan not have faced the combined military might of the US and India if it had not allowed American troops on its territory to fight Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11 terror attacks?

4. Would parts of Pakistan not have been heavily bombed into "stone age" with some parts of the country occupied by US military to facilitate NATO supply lines into Afghanistan?

5. Would there not have been an even more violent insurgency against foreign occupation and more frequent suicide bombings with even more horrible consequences for the civilian population of Pakistan?

As mightily as Pakistan has suffered at the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates since 911, I do believe that Pakistanis would have been much worse off if Musharraf had not sided with the United States when asked after the worst terror attacks on US mainland.

As the only nation in the history of the world to have used nuclear weapons against civilian targets, I have to agree with Stratfor's George Friedman's characterization of America as "barbaric", particularly when it feels threatened by any external force. I believe the United States would not have hesitated one bit in using all of its political, economic and military might against nuclear-armed Pakistan had Musharraf's decision been any different.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Jihadis Growing in Tenth Year of Afghan War

Daily Carnage in Pakistan

The Next 100 Years

Seeing Bin Laden's Death in Wider Perspective

Musharraf's Legacy


Anonymous said...

today pakistan is trapped by US in its war against terror. One attack on US just one attack originating from pakistan soil will be devastating for pakistan not just politically or militarily but economically. This is something ordinary pakistanis will never understand. I commend Riaz for a wonderful bldg post.

Anonymous said...

In the height of the cold war when US was trying to contain the red menace from spreading similar you are with us or aginst us high pitched rhetoric was directed against Nehru.

But being the statesman that he was and benefitting from growing up amongst the ruling class at Harrow he understood the Anglo saxon psyche very well and rebuffed these overtures.

It is just a matter of thinking long term and holding your nerve.

For all the big talk about 'marshal race',pride blah blah Pakistan has historically presented intself as a spineless yesman while the Indian establishment have demonstrated the real craftiness is dealing with Super powers.

For example:Recently the US bent over backwards to give India a nuclear deal.What did India give in return? No US fighter planes,No US reactor contracts,no military basess,nothing!

Before that the USSR practically threatened war to save India from the US in 1971.What measurable thing did India give it in return?Ziltch!no bases no troops in support of Afghanistan .Nothing!

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "For all the big talk about 'marshal race',pride blah blah Pakistan has historically presented intself as a spineless yesman .."

I know your agenda. You'd like nothing better than US and Pakistan go to war and have Pakistan destroyed to fulfill your dreams.

As to the rest of your comment, let me point out the following serious flaws:

1. As you give Nehru credit, you ignore the fact that there were two superpowers, not one, when Nehru lived and ruled India.

2. The US was a concerned about China as it was about the Soviet Union, and helped prop up India after the Indians suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962.

3. As part of its effort to prop up India against China, the US provided massive assistance directly through USAID and indirectly through World Bank and IMF to save India from collapse. The biggest ever US aid package was given to India during the Green Revolution in 1960s to save hundreds of millions of starving Indians.

4. US Nuclear aid to India is part of the US efforts to check the rise of China.

5. The US will also check the rise of any other powers it deems hostile, as recently stated by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the US Postgraduate Naval School. When that happens, I suggest you, "Shining India", stand up to the United States.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "One attack on US just one attack originating from pakistan soil will be devastating for pakistan not just politically or militarily but economically. This is something ordinary pakistanis will never understand"

The Pakistani street does not understand it, but thankfully the policymakers do.

Anonymous said...

1. As you give Nehru credit, you ignore the fact that there were two superpowers, not one, when Nehru lived and ruled India.

Globally yes but China is an effective counterweight to the US in Asia if cards are played properly in your region.

2. The US was a concerned about China as it was about the Soviet Union, and helped prop up India after the Indians suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chinese in 1962.

It did NOTHING of the sort it was busy with the cuban missile crisis in 1962 when the war happened and even in 1964 when China tested its first A-bomb the US then went out of its way to stop India from following suit,it basically threatened to cut off food aid if we went nuclear,Its only after we became food sufficient in the late 60s that we tested our bomb in 1974.

ALSO as long as the USSR was around specially post Sino Soviet split the US went out of its way to cultivate relations with the Chinese giving them MASSIVE trade concessions and military assistance which continued till the Tianamen square massacre in 1989.

India(&Pakistan) was RICHER than China till 1985 on a per capita income basis.It is this massive(and in hindsight stupid) US assistance that enabled it to leapfrog India.

3. As part of its effort to prop up India against China, the US provided massive assistance directly through USAID and indirectly through World Bank and IMF to save India from collapse. The biggest ever US aid package was given to India during the Green Revolution in 1960s to save hundreds of millions of starving Indians.

No way! yes there were some assistance given and due to good Indian diplomacy aid was extracted BUT this was as much a cold war 'leverage' thing than an altruistic gesture.

4. US Nuclear aid to India is part of the US efforts to check the rise of China.

Well yes and no.The US doesn't want a unipolar asia but its answer to China isn't another China sized world power!It wants and always has wanted a subservient Japan type state.Problem is we aren't playing concessions given whatsoever.

Btw is it your case that PAkistan has a better diplomatic corps than India ?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "No way! yes there were some assistance given and due to good Indian diplomacy aid was extracted BUT this was as much a cold war 'leverage' thing than an altruistic gesture."

This is the kind of revisionist history that many Indians continue to push shamelessly.

It shows how ungrateful you are for the massive US aid that saved hundreds of millions of Indians by the Green Revolution in 1960s and later with the IMF bailout of India in 1991.

To put it perspective, here's an excerpt from a 1992 paper Foreign Aid and India:
Financing the Leviathan State
by Shyam J. Kamath:

India has received more foreign aid than any other developing nation since the end of World War II--estimated at almost $55 billion since the beginning of its First Five-Year Plan in 1951

Beyond that, India was the fourth largest recipient of aid (ODA) between 1995 to 2008 (US$26.1 billion).

After the increase of British aid to $500 million (300 million pounds) a year, India will still remain the biggest recipient of Japan's official development assistance (ODA) in the near future. Since Japan's first ODA to India in 1958, the country has received monetary aid worth Rs 89,500 crore (Rs 895 billion) so far, according to Noro Motoyoshi, Japanese consul general in Kolkata. In 2008, Japan's ODA to India was up by more than 18% compared to 2007 at Rs 6916 crore (Rs 69.16 billion).

The World Bank said recently it will lend India $14 billion in soft loans by 2012 to help the country overhaul its creaking infrastructure and increase living standards in its poor states, according to Financial Express.

At the recent G20 meeting, India has asked the World Bank to raise the amount of money India can borrow as soft loans, generally considered aid, from the bank for its infrastructure projects, according to Times of India. At present, India can borrow up to $15.5 billion in soft loans as per the SBL (single borrower limit)in soft loans fixed by the Bank.

The Indian government has estimated it needs $500 billion over the five years to 2012 to upgrade infrastructure such as roads, ports, power and railways.

India would get ZERO direct or indirect aid if the US did not agree, given the extraordinary power the US has over its allies like the UK and Japan and the IFIs like IMF and WB.

Anonymous said...

It shows how ungrateful you are for the massive US aid that saved hundreds of millions of Indians by the Green Revolution in 1960s and later with the IMF bailout of India in 1991.

Gratitude DOES NOT exist in statecraft.US helped India like it previously helped S Korea,Japan, Europe etc for ITS OWN economic and strategic interests.

Indians realize this from the time of kautilya.Pakistanis STILL don't!

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Gratitude DOES NOT exist in statecraft....Indians realize this from the time of kautilya.Pakistanis STILL don't!"

I guess your PM Manmohan Singh doesn't understand it either.

"The people of India deeply love you", said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to President Bush on his visit to the White House in 2008.

The Prime Minister continued with the theme of affection and gratitude by adding, “In the last four and half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been the recipient of your generosity, your affection, your friendship. It means a lot to me and to the people of India.”

Later, India's Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon explained: “I think, if you look at the public opinion polls, the ratings for President Bush are higher in India than in any other country. That is the factual basis.”

Moazzam said...

Well said Riaz.

I thought you were just an Engineer.
I must admire your brilliance at this political analysis.
All the fact are there.

Today we could be another country destroyed like Iraq. (It is another thing, we might be there tomorrow!)

I wish somebody would look back and have courage to and learn from our support for the mujahideen to get the kafir (Russian ) out of Afghanistan. What for? For the Glory of Allah S.W.T?

Who were those, that played "Jumanji" with the lives of their countrymen? Was it the poise military generals or our elitist spirituals capitalizing on some conspiracy theories to capture our lost glory. Instead didn't they push our illiterate nation towards the inferno we are in today. It certainly was not for the Glory of Allah S.W.T. And now, the music goes on.

I wish leadership gets the strength to lead us to serve humanity at large.
That can help us all live in peace. And that truly will also be for the Glory of Allah S.W.T.

Anonymous said...

Dear Riaz

This is a good debate that is going on .

I believe that ; and I am an Indian; that Pakistan had really NO Choice BUT To Help USA

Refusal would have WAR ,sanctions etc etc

NOW the thing is that YOU are missing a very big point

Pakistan helped the US and ALSO helped the Taliban

Because USA is the MONEY TREE and Taliban are the Strategic Assets of Pakistan

It is called Running with the hare and Hunting with the hounds

Therefore Both US and Taliban are angry with Pakistan

The Americans were AWARE of the help ISI gave to Haqqanis and How Quetta Shura and Al qaeda worked together

The PROOF of Pakistani help was the KILLING of Osama at Abottabad

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "NOW the thing is that YOU are missing a very big point"

No, I think you are missing the big point: Pakistani state and its citizens are under withering attacks of the Taliban and al Qaeda because of Pakistan's decision to side with the US against them.

But now the US attitude is summed up well by William Pfaff of the International Herald Tribune as follows:

"The American generals seem to be saying to Pakistan: You henceforth will ignore your own national security interests and devote yourself to our interests, whatever the cost to you. You will hand over all of the Taliban’s leaders and men in your country, and place your army under our strategic control. Otherwise, we will bomb your cities.

Why, according to the Los Angeles Times, “senior U.S. officials” think this is a good plan I cannot for the life of me tell you. I think it is a way to wreak further havoc in the region and do fundamental damage to the United States itself."

Riaz Haq said...

Moazzam: "Today we could be another country destroyed like Iraq."

I am glad that reason triumphed over passion in Musharraf's decision, not the other way around.

And I hope and pray that the hypocritical ghairat brigade never gets to control the levers of power in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NPR report from Islamabad by Julie McCarthy on Pakistan ten years after 911:

An end to the war in Afghanistan is slowly beginning to come into view, 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Few countries have been as deeply affected by the decade of fighting as Pakistan.

Since 2001, Islamist extremism fueled by the Afghan conflict has claimed the lives of 35,000 Pakistanis — 30,000 of them civilians.

For all of their mutual suspicions, the Americans and Pakistanis seem to agree on one thing: Both need a durable peace in Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to staunch a hemorrhage of blood and treasure, and Pakistan to stop extremism from spilling across the border and further radicalizing the country.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua says without peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan's tumultuous decade could go on indefinitely.

"Pakistan wishes to see in the endgame in Afghanistan a peaceful, prosperous, unified, sovereign and independent Afghanistan," she says, "where the people of Afghanistan can determine their destiny according to their wishes. We stand by Afghanistan in an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process."

Despite what sounds like a hands-off policy, Pakistan has a clear preference among the warring parties: the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani intelligence nurtured the Taliban in the 1990s and, analysts say, maintains deep ties with Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar and his allies in the Haqqani network. Many of the key militant leaders operate from sanctuaries inside Pakistan.

So, analyst Ayesha Siddiqa says, Pakistan has leverage over the Afghan Taliban that could bring members to peace talks.
According to a report jointly complied by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Islamabad-based Jinnah Institute, Pakistan's policy elite is concerned that India's present engagement in Afghanistan goes beyond development aid and is aimed at influencing the endgame.

"Pakistan now is increasingly reconciled with the idea of Indian development presence, but anything beyond, they're not," Yusuf says, "and I think Washington has underestimated just how important the Indian factor is for Pakistan and how much Pakistan worries about this."

Former Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed Khan says a growing nexus between India and the U.S. has given Delhi an ascendant position in Afghanistan, "which equips it with an enormous nuisance potential against Pakistan security."

There is also concern in Pakistan over the U.S. preserving a security presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, the deadline to pull out most if not all U.S. combat troops. Javed Hussain, a retired brigadier, says retaining U.S. military bases could scuttle any long-term peace.

"These bases will come under attack. There will be no stability. The al-Qaida will join the Taliban again, and the Americans will be forced on the defensive," Hussain says.

Dealing with the U.S. in an Afghan endgame may be the most difficult issue of all for Pakistan.

The U.S. covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad has deepened mutual distrust and raised doubts about whether the two sides could collaborate on a solution in Afghanistan. Yet, Siddiqa says, the closer the U.S. gets to the time of departure, the better positioned Pakistan may be in the endgame, with American misgiving about bin Laden's presence in Pakistan set aside.

"When the American back is to the wall proverbially, and it's eager to find a way out and bring the boys home," she says, "it doesn't make Pakistan irrelevant at all."

Anonymous said...

Americans also had 3 demands from the then Indian Govt:

i) fleet support for US military ships in Mumbai and Goa
ii) 'stage-through' facility at Indian Air Force bases for US long range bombers, and
iii) Indian ground troops in Afghanistan.

All 3 were rejected by Atal Bihari Vajpayee et al. But this was when the war had started, and Pakistan was already involved. Americans even tried to club India in the Af-Pak agenda by assigning Richard Holebrooke, but that was put off the table after strong Indian protests (and lobbying).

Although, India did end up spending around 1.5 billion dollars in Afghanistan, but that was mostly for development assitance. It may be completely lost if Taliban come to power, but still it is pittance as compared to what US or Pakistan have lost in terms of money or human capital.

I believe Musharraf had no choice, but to say yes at that time, and it was in the best interest of Pakistan. Perhaps the mistake was to not make a clear strategy and follow it. Pakistan went into this war without any clear goals. At first Al Qaida was the target, then Taliban, then both, and now some Talibans are supposed to be good, while others are bad (depending on which side of border you are on, or what US generals feel at a given time).

Given the shifting goalposts, it is not a surprise Pakistan came out appearing as the poor/evil sucker that looks both sides for money and influence. In reality everyone is playing their own game, preserving their own interests, and looking all sides.

Shaheer said...

On 9/11, I'll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my religion.

On 9/12, I'll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10's of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in 3 countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Tony Bennett statement and apology about 911 as reported by ABC News:

Tony Bennett recorded “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in 1962, but with his recent comments about terrorism and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, he left behind some controversy.

Appearing on “The Howard Stern Show” Monday to promote his new album, “Duets II,” the singer ended up discussing his military service during World War II and the impact it had on him.

“The first time I saw a dead German, that’s when I became a pacifist,” he said.

Sixty-five years after leaving his military life behind, Bennett has sold more than 50 million albums and developed some definite opinions about other wars involving the United States.

“To start a war in Iraq was a tremendous, tremendous mistake internationally,” he said.

Howard Stern then asked Bennett about how the United States should deal with terrorists, specifically those responsible for the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

“But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Bennett said.

In a soft-spoken voice, the singer disagreed with Stern’s premise that the 9/11 terrorists’ actions led to U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” Bennett responded, “because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

One day later, the 85-year-old singer took to his latest stage, Facebook, and wrote, ” There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country.”

Bennett also cited his World War II experience as shaping his position that “war is the lowest form of human behavior.

“I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity and my desire for peace throughout the world,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Time magazine opinion piece by retired CIA officer Robert Baer:

The U.S. has for years demanded that Pakistan mount a sweeping military offensive in North Waziristan to destroy the Haqqanis, but even if they were so inclined, the fact is that the Pakistani military has only ever been able to control the main roads in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army is incapable of occupying and holding this territory, no matter how much money we offer or how dire the threats we make.

At the core of the problem stands a simple proposition: Pakistan doesn't trust us with Afghanistan — and from Islamabad's perspective, not without cause. We took a strategic decision to invade a country central to their national-security doctrine without seriously consulting them, preferring to think in terms of an Afghanistan of our dreams. Nor did we take into account their strategic interests and the proxies through which they have pursued them. The Soviet Union made the same mistake when it invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Having failed to prevail a decade later, we now have two choices, neither of them particularly attractive to Washington. We can attempt to destroy the Haqqani base in North Waziristan by invading Pakistan. But to do that effectively would require more troops than we currently have in Afghanistan. Doing so would obviously destroy whatever relations we still have with Pakistan, with profoundly dangerous consequences in Afghanistan and far beyond.

Alternatively, we could hash out a settlement with Pakistan, which would inevitably mean accepting the Haqqanis and easing out Karzai in any political settlement to the conflict. Such a deal would also potentially bring in Afghanistan's other neighbor with real strategic interests in the country — Iran. Iran can be unpredictable, but it's by no means certain it would accept true Pakistani-American collusion in Afghanistan. In the mid-'90s, Iran was all but at war with the Taliban, and if Iran isn't consulted on a settlement, it could play the spoiler.

Accepting Pakistan's postconflict agenda and backing off on the Haqqanis at Karzai's expense is too bitter a pill for Washington to swallow in an election year, so we'll muddle through for another year. But when the U.S. finally leaves, don't be surprised to see the Haqqanis in Kabul.

Read more:,8599,2094844,00.html#ixzz1Z4c8lXby

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Post story indicating that Adm Mullen overstated the case when he called the Haqqanis a "veritable arm of the ISI":

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of providing support to the Haqqani network and allowing it to operate along the Afghanistan border with relative impunity, a charge that Pakistani officials reject.

But Mullen seemed to take the allegation an additional step, saying that the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” a phrase that implies ISI involvement and control.

That interpretation might be valid “if we were judging by Western standards,” said a senior U.S. military official who defended Mullen’s testimony. But the Pakistanis “use extremist groups — not only the Haqqanis — as proxies and hedges” to maintain influence in Afghanistan.

“This is not new,” the official said. “Can they control them like a military unit? We don’t think so. Do they encourage them? Yes. Do they provide some finance for them? Yes. Do they provide safe havens? Yes.”

That nuance escaped many in Congress and even some in the Obama administration, who voiced concern that the escalation in rhetoric had inflamed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

U.S. officials said that even evidence that has surfaced since Mullen’s testimony is open to differences in interpretation, including cellphones recovered from gunmen who were killed during the assault on the U.S. Embassy.

One official said the phones were used to make repeated calls to numbers associated with the Haqqani network, as well as presumed “ISI operatives.” But the official declined to explain the basis for that conclusion.

The senior Pentagon official treated the assertion with skepticism, saying the term “operatives” covers a wide range of supposed associates of the ISI. “Does it mean the same Haqqani numbers [also found in the phones], or is it actually uniformed officers” of Pakistan’s spy service?

U.S. officials said Mullen was unaware of the cellphones until after he testified.

Pakistani officials acknowledge that they have ongoing contact with the Haqqani network, a group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was one of the CIA-backed mujaheddin commanders who helped drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Now in poor health, Haqqani has yielded day-to-day control of the network to his son, Sirajuddin.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the BBC on rising violence in Afghanistan this year:

There has been a 39% rise in violent incidents in Afghanistan so far this year compared with the same period last year, a UN report says.

In the past three months alone, there have been 7,000 violent incidents in the country, says the report by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The violence mainly involves gunfights and attacks using improvised bombs.

The report said most of the incidents were in the south and south-east, many of them near to Kandahar city.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says the document does not make comforting reading for Nato or the Afghan government.

He says the figures seem to suggest that Taliban attacks are falling in places where Nato is bolstering its numbers, but violence and insecurity is spreading to other parts of the country.

The report says the average monthly rate of violent incidents for the year is 2,108 and details figures for violent incidents in June (2,626), July (2,605) and August (2,306).

Mr Ban, who presented the quarterly update to the Security Council, blames most of the violence on insurgents.

"The increase can be attributed, in the context of overall intensified fighting, mainly to the use by anti-government elements of landmine-like pressure-plate improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks, in violation of international humanitarian law," says Mr Ban's report.

Over June, July and August, the number of civilians killed or injured in attacks rose by 5% compared with the same quarter last year.

The secretary general said at least 77% of those casualties were caused by the government's enemies.

His report also says there was an increase in the number of so-called complex attacks, where a group of suicide bombers and gunmen assault a high-profile building.

Kabul has seen several of those recently including those targeting the US embassy and the British Council.

The secretary general also notes what he calls a disturbing trend towards attacking targets such as hospitals or mosques.

For example, more than 30 civilians were killed in an attack on a hospital in the province of Logar in July.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Reuters' blog post talking about Pakistan nuclear weapons as a deterrent not just against India but also the United States:

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have been conceived and developed as a deterrent against mighty neighbour India, more so now when its traditional rival has added economic heft to its military muscle. But Islamabad may also be holding onto its nuclear arsenal to deter an even more powerful challenge, which to its mind, comes from the United States, according to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who led President Barack Obama’s 2009 policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Pakistan and the United States are allies in the war against militancy, but ties have been so troubled in recent years that some in Pakistan believe that the risk of a conflict cannot be dismissed altogether and that the bomb may well be the country’s only hedge against an America that looks less a friend and more a hostile power.

Last year the Obama administration said there could be consequences if the next attack in the West were to be traced backed to Pakistan, probably the North Waziristan hub of al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.No nation can ignore a warning as chilling as that, and it is reasonable to expect the Pakistan military to do what it can to defend itself.

Riedel in a piece in The Wall Street Journal says Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani may well have concluded that the only way to hold off a possible American military action is the presence of nuclear weapons on its soil and hence the frenetic race to increase the size of the arsenal to the point that Pakistan is on track to become the fourth largest nuclear power after the United States, Russia and China.

Last month’s military action in Libya, the third Muslim nation attacked by the United States in the ten years since 9/11, can only heighten anxieties in Pakistan. Indeed Libya holds an opposite lesson for Pakistan’s security planners. This is a country that gave up a nuclear weapons programme - ironically assisted by Pakistan’s disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q.Khan – under a deal with the West following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Suppose for a moment that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had held on its nuclear weapons, would there have been air strikes then ?

Indeed none of the three countries attacked by the United States had nuclear weapons including, as it turned out, Iraq although the whole idea of invading it was to eliminate the weapons of mass destruction. You could further argue that this perhaps is the one reason why the United States hasn’t taken on North Korea because of its advanced nuclear programme with a bomb or two in the basement.

Kayani and the generals have therefore concluded the only reason the United States may hesitate to use force against Pakistan, should ties break down completely, will be because of the 100-odd weapons it has. It only makes sense to expand it further to make the Americans think twice before launching an action.

But such nuclear brinkmanship cannot come without consequences of its own, and one of them will be India reviewing its nuclear posture. A Pakistan battling a deadly Islamist militancy and beset with economic difficulties but on a fast track to expand its nuclear weapons programme is a nightmare scenario. Riedel says India has exercised restraint on its weapons program me, but seeing an acceleration in the Pakistani efforts, it may well step up production of its own.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Christine Fair opinion piece in Time magazine:

Early in the war, Pakistan was praised for its indispensable assistance — likely because the cooperation centered on a common foe: al-Qaeda. But as Pakistan watched the U.S. grow closer to India — not just passing the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal but also encouraging India's presence in Afghanistan — it concluded that its interests and those of the U.S. were on a collision course.

In part because of that realization, Pakistan supported the Taliban's newly invigorated insurgency in Afghanistan. The Americans, however, resisted putting pressure on Pakistan for fear of compromising cooperation against al-Qaeda. Thus an ironic equilibrium was established: Pakistan received increasing financial "rewards" for its support of the global war on terrorism while it subsidized the very groups killing thousands of Americans and allies in Afghanistan.

With the American endgame in Afghanistan looming, U.S. officials can no longer ignore this duplicity. Pakistan's influence over the Afghan Taliban and other allies like the Haqqani network is a key obstacle to Afghans' being able to secure their country themselves. What is becoming increasingly clear is that a strategic relationship is not possible when strategic interests diverge so starkly. Observers on both sides are quietly asking whether the other is a problematic partner, an outright foe or both.

Read more:,28804,2096478_2096477_2096476,00.html #ixzz1a9K6tjzy

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting editorial in The Sunday Leader of Sri Lanka arguing that "India Can’t Replace Pakistan In Afghanistan":

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai’s visit to New Delhi last week may have conveyed the impression that it was a backlash against Islamabad with whom he had heated exchanges, accusing it of carrying out the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan Peace Council. Rabbani was a key figure in the Karzai regime and his assassination resulted in Karzai immediately flying back home from New York.
It is quite unlikely that despite the strategic partnership agreements signed between the two countries during the Karzai visit which included training of Afghan security personnel by Indian forces, India would risk the wrath of the fanatical fundamentalist Taliban groups or Pakistan’s intelligence forces; Afghanistan being considered by Pakistan as its sphere of influence vis-à-vis India. It is no secret that Pakistan’s intelligence forces set up the Taliban in Afghanistan to create a‘strategic depth’ for their country against India.
India as a regional and emerging global power would want to establish its presence in the neighbourhood. It would be extremely naïve for it to take on the role – which the Soviet Union, a one time super power that failed in the task – with now the only superpower, America, trying to disengage itself.

India despite having the fourth largest army in the world is yet unable to ward off terrorist attacks which they allege are emanating from Pakistan. Afghanistan and Pakistan have been fertile grounds for nurturing terrorism in the past two decades. And any provocation provided to fanatical Islamist groups by ‘Hindu India’ would be inviting retaliation.
U.S. pull out and its implications.

Even though the call for American troops to pull out of Afghanistan is not only supported in Afghanistan and Pakistan but among sections in most South Asian countries; if the Americans do pull out of Afghanistan leaving a vacuum in power, would history be repeated as after the Soviet pull out? The Obama plan is to pull out all troops by 2014.
What happens then? Afghanistan is the cockpit of the world with very powerful nations around it: China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and some of the former Soviet Republics. Should they leave Afghanistan as one of the least developed and impoverished countries to itself? That is quite unlikely because in recent times its strategic importance has increased. Through it has to pass oil and gas pipelines which global and regional powers are interested in.
It could also provide a gateway to China through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean and now it has been found to be a country extremely rich in mineral resources.

Poor Afghans, will they be able to ever have their own country and govern themselves? One fact however they have proved to the world: Afghanistan has remained unconquered throughout history.