"The New Face Of THe Pakistan Army"

#1
At least according to the Guardian's chap in Islamabad. If Pakistan is the other side of the coin in our fight against the Taliban, then the Pakistan Army have got to feature highly in our concerns. By all accounts they had a hell of a time during their last offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and whilst they were accused of heavy-handedness and even of communal punishments, I they think they put in a decent showing.


The New Face Of The Pakistan Army

The new face of the Pakistani army

General Ashfaq Kayani is no Musharraf and under his leadership the military is showing welcome signs of a break with the past


Pakistan's army, the bedrock of an otherwise fragile state, may not be the most progressive institution. But recent developments suggest that military leaders realise it needs to change, even if key concerns remain.

No issue puts Pakistan under the international spotlight more than its relationship with Islamist militancy. Questions over its continued links with the Taliban and other jihadist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba – widely believed to be responsible for the murderous attacks on Mumbai – have fuelled doubts over its capacity to bring stability to the region. At the heart of the debate is Pakistan's army, an at once nebulous yet strangely cohesive collective that has been blamed for playing a double game that has irked foreign allies and domestic hardliners alike.

Those fears have led the army to some significant conclusions. At a press conference with foreign journalists last month, the usually media-shy army chief Pervez Kayani noted that a "Talibanised" society at home or in Afghanistan was not in Pakistan's interests.

Those remarks have been backed with action. In the last two years, Pakistan's security forces have at last met a homegrown Taliban insurgency with significant force and skill. Their counterinsurgency capacity has increased from virtual non-existence in 2004, when a new insurgency later to be called the Pakistan Taliban started to force the state to reach humiliating ceasefire agreements in the tribal areas. Now there is a major military presence in each of the country's seven tribal areas, while Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan and Bajaur have been captured.

Most significant of all, Pakistan has finally cracked down on the senior Afghan Taliban leadership sheltering in its territory. It is too early to measure the nature and significance of these captures – there are doubts as to Pakistan's true intentions in detaining erstwhile militant allies at a time when US-led forces are engaged in a massive operation in Afghanistan. It is widely believed here that Pakistan was effectively forced into future negotiations by the US over integrating insurgents into the Afghan state by, quite literally, capturing their leaders.

Even if that most cynical of explanations is accurate, however, the military establishment's decision to target the Afghan Taliban is a brave move. What has caused the shift in policy?

"The difference is that Pakistan is now facing the spectre of [terrorism by] Taliban groups at home," says long-time army observer Shuja Nawaz. In the years following Pakistan's decision to cut formal ties with the Taliban in 2001, military operations in the lawless frontier with Afghanistan were angrily derided in the media and mosques as part of a foreign agenda to divide the country. One reason the insurgents have targeted civilians in Pakistan is to stoke this anger.

But an escalation of deadly suicide attacks in most major cities since 2008 has created tremendous anger towards the insurgents. Just as important, however, has been a successful propaganda campaign to convince the population that this is their war.

It has helped that current army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has earned widespread respect as a modest man focused on military matters – even if in reality the army still looms large over domestic politics. Unlike his predecessor, former army chief and president Pervez Musharraf, Kayani has generally avoided rhetorical flourishes or getting involved in public politics.

All the more reason, then, that Kayani's few public statements are worth noting. After promising not to get the army involved in politics as Musharraf had before, for example, Kayani refused to support the Zardari government when it tried to suppress peaceful mass protests in support of an independent judiciary last year.

Still, serious questions remain. This has been a dirty war, and security forces stand accused of atrocities like reprisal killings against perceived Taliban sympathisers and indiscriminate bombardments that have also killed thousands and displaced millions. And despite operations against the Taliban within its borders, the recent fidayeen attack on Kabul targeting Indian nationals bore sobering similarities to previous violence in the Afghan capital likely sponsored by Pakistan.

India remains the great foreign policy challenge in Pakistani eyes. Although troop levels in the disputed Kashmir region have slightly decreased and formal dialogue has recommenced, army observers remain concerned by India's continued influence in Afghanistan. That is why, along with conciliatory speeches, Kayani has reiterated that India remains Pakistan's "primary concern".

But international pressure to abandon the anti-India narrative is likely to leave the army "floundering to craft a fresh narrative based on 'Islam'," argues Chatham House analyst Farzana Shaikh. During last year's independence day celebrations, Kayani said that Pakistan was achieved in the name of Islam. With no consensus on what that precisely means, however, the military's search for an Islamic narrative, Shaikh adds, "is almost certainly doomed to failure".

These contradictions do not make for easy categorisation. They also suggest that the army is still grappling with a new geopolitical dynamic. At the very least, it deserves credit for trying to adapt to the changed landscape.




guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
 
#2
White Rabbit,

At least according to the Guardian's chap in Islamabad. If Pakistan is the other side of the coin in our fight against the Taliban, then the Pakistan Army have got to feature highly in our concerns. By all accounts they had a hell of a time during their last offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and whilst they were accused of heavy-handedness and even of communal punishments, I they think they put in a decent showing.
Indeed they did.

Take this in conjunction with the significant number of militant commanders just happening to fall into custody since January and you are witnessing a significant change of political posture in Pakistan.

The devolution of powers from the presidency to the office of the prime minister is also illuminating.

Of course the aim remains the same, increased influence within the region.

B
 
#3
Think it's truly remarkable the Pakistani's finding all these Afghan & Pakistani talibs/al-q recently!Think their Border Guards need a good kick up the ARRSE.These dreadful people must have sneaked in recently because the Pakistan Government have been assuring the West for years that they weren't there.Maybe they landed by sea in Karachi,just like those nasty people from Nemo's submarine who landed in Mumbai :? :slow:
 
#4
sapperbraindead said:
Think it's truly remarkable the Pakistani's finding all these Afghan & Pakistani talibs/al-q recently!Think their Border Guards need a good kick up the ARRSE.These dreadful people must have sneaked in recently because the Pakistan Government have been assuring the West for years that they weren't there.Maybe they landed by sea in Karachi,just like those nasty people from Nemo's submarine who landed in Mumbai :? :slow:
A lot of Taliban have been hanging out in Karachi lately, see LAT. Mullah Omar himself was rumored to have be shifted there by the ISI for safe keeping, the Quetta Shura's (formally known as the good Taliban) military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was nicked there. Alam Mehsud of the TTP (naughty gone rogue Pak Taliban) has just been picked up.

I am encouraged but remain very skeptical, Pindi has certainly turned on the TTP and shown they are more than able when stirred. But these guys have been pulling the wool over the Pentagon's eyes for a couple of decades in the service of their own interests. Plucking bad guys out of a hat at opportune times is an old trick. So far they've studiously preserved the most effective Taliban grouping the. Haqqani network.

Pakistani commentators suspect Baradar may have made the mistake of dealing too closely with Karzai and upset his handlers. The Quetta Shura also may be tiring of being bossed around by shouty heavily braided Punjabis who while eager for Jihad against the infidel think Pashtuns are a bunch of performing chimps. Ahmed Rashid recently talked of the Taliban tiring of fighting and wanting to shake off the Pakistani interference in their affairs that dramatically increased when they fled South of the Durand line.

On the other hand it may be Pindi will settle for a great deal of influence in the Kabul kleptocracy. They may be positioning for an endgame where some of their Taliban chums make nice in Afghanistan. Kayanihas hinted "strategic depth" may be achieved even with a "friendly" Afghan state at there back. If the Pak Brass are also well bribed with F16s and cash it's not inconceivable that the hated Karzai will be tolerated as a front man.

If I was an Afghan I'd been uneasy. Barry has an early politically expedient exit high on his agenda. He needs Pindi onside and has their chums in Beijing breathing down his neck for the vig on DC's huge deficit. Appeasing the Pak military is an habituated weakness in Washington. Being left twisting in the wind by DC has happened before, to many Afghans in living memory.
 

Similar threads

Latest Threads