Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Steve Coll, the president of the New America Foundation and a South Asia expert, has raised the issue of the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in the wake of the assassination of the governor of most populous Punjab state by one of his bodyguards. It’s a question that comes up each time Pakistan is faced with a crisis whether it a major act of violence such as this or a political/economic meltdown or a sudden escalation of tensions with India obviously, but also the United States.
Pakistan’s security establishment bristles at suggestions that it could be any less responsible than other states in defending its nuclear arsenal, and its leaders and experts have repeatedly said that the professional army is the ultimate guardian of its strategic assets.
But Coll in a blog at The New Yorker says at some stage in a domestic insurgency when your own people are fighting you, the lines between the guerrillas and the security forces often get blurred with dangerous consequences. Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by two of her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 incensed by her decision to send the Indian army into the holiest Sikh shrine to flush out militants a few months before.
The Pakistani police officer who killed governor Salman Taseer was similarly no Lee Harvey Oswald, but a regular government employee who was apparently angry over the governor’s strident defence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that exposed deep rifts in Pakistani society. Coll writes :
Pakistan’s army has said it won’t be diverting forces from the fight against Islamist militants while it helps deal with the country’s worst floods in 80 years . Troops who were on training have been called back to lead the flood relief effort, leaving those deployed on the Afghan front to continue operations against militants, the army said.
But with the floods devastating the trunk of Pakistan running from the northwest to Sind, through the growthengine of Punjab, disrupting the lives of an estimated 20 million people - which is 12 percent of the population – and delivering a serious blow to an already enfeebled economy, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be any impact on the deadly, costly battle to win back ground from the extremists, bothinside Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is hard enough for any nation to fight a war such as the one Pakistan is engaged in, willingly or otherwise, against an enemy that it once nurtured. But to be at war when a third of the land is affected by the most devastating floods yet, crops worth a $1 billion are damaged in a country in a country where agriculture is the mainstay and popular anger is running high, calls for nerves of steel. And all this when it is already on a $11.3 billion IMF bailout programme whose stringent conditions Pakistan was struggling to meet even before the floods struck.
from India Insight:
The Indian army says rebel violence will escalate in Kashmir in summer as hundreds of militants are waiting in the Pakistani part of Kashmir to infiltrate into the Indian side and step up attacks.
Even an internal assessment of the Home Ministry says the summer of 2010 will be as bloodier as or even worse than the mid-nineties.