Will the Punjab collapse?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by alib, Jan 8, 2011.

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  1. Via Col Lang Straw in the wind - FB Ali
    I fear the former Brigadier is right. 2010 was a very bad year in the Punjab, the place is falling apart.

    I've long said there'll be no military victory in this war while the enemy retains secure rear basing south of The Durand. There's really no prospect of Pindi shutting these down, it's just not in their interest, the Haqqanis etc are a strategic asset. Drone strikes and Pak Army actions in FATA really don't play well with the average Punjabi i.e. the main population base of the Pak Army.

    One of the predictions from US commentators at the end of last year was a frustrated Barry with an eye on 2014 would extend the ground war into FATA. This is perhaps what should have been risked, if briefly, after 9-11 as our enemies fled into the embrace of the ISI but now it may be a disaster. Our long Pashtun war has left Pakistan in a far more fragile state, such an escalation might be the last straw. In trying to snuff out the talibans in lawless FATA we might set the Punjab ablaze. The religious parties aren't popular but offended nationalism is creating the conditions for a revolutionary putsch by Islamists supported by factions in Pindi.

    An increasingly heavy footprint in Afghanistan isn't great from this point of view either and a precipitous withdrawal in 2015 also carries risks to Pakistan. The lesser evil may be going long and light.
  2. Where are the Sikhs? We need another Khalsa.

  3. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    The majority of the Sikhs are in India.

    Here is an interesting commentary on Pakistan by MJ Akbar, who is the editor of an Indian newspaper.

    Pakistan: The Siege Within
  4. The Sikhs are one of the groups the Punjabi Taliban target, the Shi'a of course and other minorities but also the Sufi tinged Islam of tradition in the region.

    I think the odds are against a Deobandi revolution in Pakistan but who would have bet on Lenin's unpopular but daring Bolsheviks or Khomeini's gloomy revolution.
  5. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    All one could say is Wah Guru de Khalsa! Wah Guru de Fateh!

    Now, don't ask me what that means, since I am not too hot in Punjabi.
  6. It is hard to know what the true picture is in the land of the pure. Do not forget it always has been muddy and people are resilient, very much used to hardship and fending for themselves. The Punjab is unique in that it has approx. 60% of the overall population and perhaps is about of equal importance in terms of GDP, esp. farming and some industries around Lahore. It also is home to most of the Pak Armed Forces for historical reasons. The Punjab and its people have dominated the country since it came into being, whether the first leader was a Bombay born, Urdu speaker Mohajir (lit. refugee) lawyer or not.

    From the bottom up, the issue is that Pakistan lacks a national fabric, something that ties people together. If you travel through that country and talk to people, you realise that they live a tribal life as part of a feudal system. Ask any layman in Lahore where he is from, he will revert back to his great-grandfathers village (more often than not that is across the border in India) and they do think of themselves as coming from this tribe, this village. Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan is a concept and isn't of great importance at all. This is the same across the country, from Balochistan to Gilgit and Skardu.

    In Karachi the Sindhis have vanished into interior Sind(h), the Pashtoons battle it out with the Mohahjirs across the city and there is no end in sight. Add to that the sectarian issues and the less lack of interest of the west in tackling Pakistan’s establishment head on and you are sitting on a time bomb. The reality is that the country will implode before the Punjab implodes. I would think that India has very little interest in anything that distracts them from economic growth and they will be working the back channels to find a solution that might proof more fruitful than the half hearted attempts of the US.

    There was a very good Doha debate on the BBC this past weekend (hosted by Tim Sebastian, formerly BBC's Hard Talk) about whether education is worthless without freedom of speech. One of the people on the panel was Tariq Ramadan who made a very valuable point in that many autocratic regimes where Islam plays a major role (in short the Arab Peninsula, North Africa, Iran and Pak before Gen. Musharraf I reckon), have told generations of people going through their universities to forgo freedom of speech and instead study to make a living and and not raise up to the elite that controls them. His point was that this may have prolonged the process to a more equal society. How do you expect people to raise up and change their countries for the better, if they grow up in a system where they cannot question or challenge anyone (incl. their teachers) in authority? To make the link to Pakistan: Rather than spending 60% of their GDP directly or indirectly into their armed forces, they have to build schools and introduce family planning. The worst that can happen is more generations of people who’s mind can be moulded and controlled by the people with the intent and money to do so.
  7. I'd agree with a lot of that, certainly the 'muddy' bit, after the flood.
    Apart from the raging sectarianism and regional loyalties, the main problem appears to be that Pakistan kept all the worst bits of the old British Raj government, but missed all the best bits. It kept the petty bureaucracy, and cumbersome legal system, but failed to develop any kind of 'public service' ethic. In all honesty, its only the Military that keeps it all together, and they spend most of their time bickering with the judiciary. They spend the rest of their time looking over their shoulder at India, wondering when the giant on their doorstep is going to lose patience with them.The 'Civil' government is totally corrupt and incompetent, and the public have learned not to rely on it for anything. When things go bad (like the floods) they rely on foreign assistance, local charity, relatives or the deeply suspect political/religious 'Charities'.

    The country is still run on medieval lines. Most of the land is owned by rich landlords, who rule their serfs with a rod of iron, paying no taxes, and robbing the public purse through bribery and nepotism. The country is skint, the flooding exposed the rotten infrastructure and worthless administration, and the rich elites have turned away from the public to bicker about minor legal and political issues.
    If the public weren't such devout Muslims, the place should have fallen to a Maoist insurgency years ago.

    I don't think the issue is whether the Punjab will collapse. The whole country is ripe for disintegration, and I wouldn't like to guess how long its got. One more big disaster like an earthquake or flood could do it, or it could gently descend into tribal warlordism.
  8. With nuclear weaponry! Wnat a pleasant prospect that is.
  9. Indeed. But if it did go that way, they would probably use them on those shifty buggers in the next valley over than on us. They hate their next door neighbours much more than us.

    I'd say it's more likely that, just like the old Soviet arsenal, the Pakistan nuclear programme would moulder away without maintenance until the US or UN buy the radioactive bits up for disposal.
  10. I think there was a thread recently that contained a quote from a Indian government official on the possibility of nuclear war with Pakistan,

    "We can afford to lose 100 million people in a war. Can Pakistan?"

    In war as in everything else, size does matter.
  11. The whole place is a corrupt tinderbox-and we and the Yanks are obliged to support it.No wonder the Indians(no slouches themselves) got rid of it,at Partition.
  12. When Pakistan finally implodes, I very much doubt that the debris will resemble the fractured Soviet Union. In the ensuing chaos, much as in Iraq, everything of value will disappear.

  13. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    I don't think anyone in the Govt of India would think of a nuclear war with any country.

    It could have been a statement that Pakistan could contemplate a nuclear war with India.

    India's clear cut policy is that it will not resort to First Strike, whatever that means!

    If someone wishes to wage war, it is but natural that one has to defend and then the aggressor face the consequences.

    India is too preoccupied on the economic front to be distracted.
  14. I was not trying to say that India will get it's retaliation in first. I believe the Indian minister's remark is the diplomatic-speak for, "Come at me, bro!"
  15. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    I understood that was the intent.

    I merely thought I should state the view that is held here.

    I had written that Indian policy is No First Strike, whatever that means.

    Actually, India has to merely wait for Pakistan to explode/ implode.

    There are too many contradictions in Pakistan and they cannot be resolved.

    It is like that cartoon I saw many years ago, where donkeys were pulling in different directions and going nowhere.

    Pakistan is a country that is foundationed on power struggle.

    The Punjabis, who are the sons of the soil and are the tower of strength of the Army, found themselves losing their pristine place after Independence, since the were the feudal class, basically illiterate but OK for joining the Army with abundance of money. However, the Mohajirs, the refugees from India and totally rootless and without any grassroot identification with the country of Pakistan, apart from being Muslims, found themselves in an enviable position. And yet, they being educated and having been bureaucrats, in governance, in the judiciary and captains of commerce, garnered all the posts of governance, judiciary as also did well in commerce. The Mojahir, thus, became the destiny makers of Pakistan. The Mohajirs, to make themselves relevant to the new land of Pakistan, pandered to the idea of Islam being paramount and the sine qua non for the being of Pakistan. Along with that they imposed their language Urdu and made it identified as a Muslim language and thus, the language of Pakistan! This way they enhanced their relevance and supremacy in Pakistan much to the chagrin of the actual sons of the soil, more so, the Punjabis, who were the backbone of the military.

    This was obviously not appreciated by the Punjabis, the others communities of Pakistan being immaterial as they were too busy with their tribal and feudal infighting. The Army found the Kashmir issue a manna from heaven and mucked in to show that they are the saviour and were the top instrument for the sovereignty of Pakistan. Having ensured that Kashmir is bifurcated, they made it their casus belli and added to the perpetual relevance of the being of Pakistan.

    To be capable of challenging India, which became an adversary owing to historical animosity, Pakistan joined the CENTO and SEATO so as to get modern military weaponry as aid gratis.

    All this was contrary to the address on 11 Aug 1947 to the Pakistan Consituent Assembly by MA Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who visualised a secular Pakistan.

    With the raison d'etre for Pakistan being the religion i.e. Islam, it gave a fillip to the Muslim clergy and they became a force to reckon with during Zia's tenure. Zia played up Islam to legitimise his illegal regime that was floundering after the killing of the popular leader Bhutto and crushing democracy for a long period. Clever that he was, he organised the Mujahideen for the US, to throw out the Soviets from Afghanistan. Having done so, instead of controlling the Mujahideens, he gave them a free hand to cause chaos in Afghanistan as also in Kashmir. The ground made by Zia, encouraged radical Islamists of the world wherein OBL and his ilk dug in and spread terrorism worldwide, including the dastardly act on the WTC.

    It was a wake up call for the US to realise what a horrendous Frankenstein they helped Zia to create, but it was too late.

    All this has led to this cul de sac in Afghanistan!

    Quit and be damned for making the world dangerous, don't quit and still be damned that it was but your own baby as the Pakistanis keep harping about when they put out the alms bowl to be filled up!

    It is not only the Punjabis who are in the vortex, but the whole state of Pakistan where subnationalism has become a Holy Cause, be it Balochistan, Sindhis, Saraikis, Balwaristanis of Shia Northern Area or the folks in NWFP and FATA.

    I marvel at their audacity of biting the hand that feeds by not acting in concert in the badlands of the NW Frontier!