Pakistan Internally and Externally Besieged
Pakistan today presents a sordid spectacle of being besieged both internally and externally. Internally, Pakistan seems to be at odds with itself unable to resolve the contradictions that were attendant when it emerged negatively as a nation state with the Partition of India in 1947. In the last sixty years of its existence it has yet to find its identity. Externally, Pakistan is in confrontational mode with its two flanking neighbors, namely, Afghanistan and India. Externally further, Pakistan due to its ongoing strategic delinquencies and double-timing the United States militarily finds itself in an alarming position where its erstwhile strategic patron i.e. the United States may be forced to militarily intervene in Pakistan to ensure the stability of Afghanistan.
Pakistan today stands alarmingly besieged from within as a result of the spillover of eight years of military rule where religion was used for political manipulation and also as a foreign policy tool for exporting Islamic fundamentalist terror to Afghanistan and India. The Islamic fundamentalist terror organizations spawned by the Pakistan Army and its notorious intelligence agency the ISI for proxy war against its neighbors now stand poised to devour Pakistan itself.
The Taliban raised by the Pakistan Army with active directions by the Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the mid-1990s to subjugate Afghanistan is now in armed conflict with the Pakistan Army in the frontier regions of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. In fact large swathes of Pakistan's western frontier regions are today Talibanized where the writ of the Pakistani Government does not run.
Ironically the Pakistan Army yet does not hesitate to exploit the very same Taliban even now as a strategic policy tool of attacking United States and NATO Forces in Afghanistan so as to induce battle fatigue and thereby prompt the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan and leave it open for Pakistani subjugation once again
The return of democracy to Pakistan early this year under pressure from the United States has not brought the appropriate political dividends. The fractured political mandate more on provincial patterns has resulted in a coalition government of the two main political parties, the PPP of Benazir Bhutto and now under her husband Asif Zardari and the PML(N) under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The PPP's Asif Zardari has played into the hands of the Pakistan Army and General Musharraf the self-imposed President on the vital issue of restoration of the illegally deposed Supreme Court Judiciary by General Musharraf. All Pakistanis and the PML(N) demand that the Judiciary be restored. But restoring it would mean the dismissal of General Musharraf as President and the removal of impunity from the corruption charges granted to Asif Zardari by General Musharraf.
The result once again is a divided political polity in Pakistan and this divided polity once again presenting opportunities to the Pakistan Army to take over the governance of Pakistan by a military coup. The political polarization in Pakistan is a rapidly growing possibility and this suits the Pakistan Army.
However there is a catch here and that is that the Pakistan Army in the last two or three years has lost its sheen and its image in Pakistani public perceptions has gone very low as a result of its defeat at the hands of the Talibanized elements in Pakistan's frontier regions. So also the spate of suicide bombings in the very heart of the garrison city of Rawalpindi which is the Headquarters of the Pakistan Army has shattered the myth of invincibility of the Pakistan Army.
Externally, Pakistan's strategic utility to its main strategic benefactor the United States has been brought into serious question with the United States now convinced growingly that the Pakistan Army has been militarily double-timing the United States in terms of restraining the flow of Taliban and Al Qaeda cadres from Pakistan's frontier regions into Afghanistan. The reasons have been explained at the very outset of this Column.
Under growing pressure from US & NATO military commanders in Afghanistan about Pakistan Army's perfidious role in Afghanistan's destabilization the United States has now given enough indicators that it would not now hesitate to launch direct military strikes on Taliban strongholds and sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.
The United States Democratic Party presidential contender Mr Barak Obama has also reinforced this view in public statements.
In the overall analysis therefore Pakistan is at both strategic and political crossroads today by being under both internal and external siege as a result of the misguided policies of eight years of military rule by the Pakistan Army Generals who even today are once again waiting in the wings to usurp political power.
Pakistan can be saved only by Pakistani citizens themselves by lifting the siege by a mass political upheaval against the Pakistan Army behind the scenes political machinations, overthrowing political leaders who further the military's self interests and demanding political accountability. The events of 2007 political struggle spearheaded by the legal fraternity provide the precedent.
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Dr. Subhash Kapila
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