Pakistan’s war within

October 25, 2009

A spate of gun and bomb attacks seen as a response to the Pakistan Army’s offensive in South Waziristan has sent jitters across Pakistan, including in the normally peaceful capital Islamabad

Conventional wisdom would have it that the attacks on both security services and civilians would eventually turn the people against Islamist militants rather as happened in Iraq at the height of the violence there. But as yet, there is no sign of a clear and coherent leadership emerging that might be able to forge a consensus against the militants.

“Where are you, our leaders?” asks Cyril Almeida in a column in Dawn newspaper. “As the country burns, parents agonise over whether to send their children to school or not, offices of businesses local and foreign ramp up their security measures, the average citizen thinks twice before venturing into crowded locales or government buildings, a simple question for our leaders: where are you? Where are you, President Zardari? Where are you, Prime Minister Gilani? Where are you, Nawaz Sharif?”

“The limitations of our political class are well known,” he writes. “Our politicians are venal, corrupt and weak. We have to muddle through with them because they are all we have. Expecting statesmanship is futile. But as the country burns and the people cower in fear, we must ask: for the love of God and all things that can be good, can they not for once, if only for a little while, stand up and be counted?”

In a country given to conspiracy theories, the attacks are feeding a rumour mill in which everyone talks about who will be targeted next, writes Fatima Bhutto, the estranged niece of the late Benazir Bhutto.

“There are stories being whispered in Pakistan these days, and their veracity is hard to gauge,” she writes. “No one knows what is real anymore in this country that seems hell-bent on self-destruction. In fact, our chief industry now seems to be the manufacture of fear, and everyone’s on the assembly line. The combination of ever-present violence and lack of reliable information has made us a country of debilitating Chinese whispers.” 

And unlike Iraq, where al Qaeda was largely seen as an outside force, those behind the spate of attacks are from within Pakistan, often from its heartland Punjab province. They spent decades being told, with official sanction, that they were fighting a noble cause, first against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during its 1979-1989 occupation and then against India in Kashmir, only to see the state turn against them.

In Iraq too, the United States skilfully used the power of American money to buy off local Sunni leaders to fight against al Qaeda. In Pakistan the power of American money is working against it, thanks to an uproar over U.S. plans to triple aid to the country, which are seen as carrying conditions which impinge on its sovereignty. 

No matter how much U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke might insist that there are no conditions attached to the American aid, and that U.S. intentions have been misrepresented, the perception lingers that the United States is using its money to threaten, rather than help, Pakistan. And that is a perception that can be exploited by militant groups keen to convince their followers that they alone will stand up to the United States.

The jihadica website says that the row over the Kerry-Lugar Bill, along with persistent rumours – denied by the government – of U.S. security company Blackwater expanding its operations in Pakistan – are recurring themes in Urdu-language jihadi literature.

“Militant scribes are chipping in on the hot topics of mainstream Pakistani media, dangerously aligning their grievances with those of the public – specifically, the latter’s anti-U.S. sentiments,” it says. ”While opinion may be torn on the use of military operations in Pakistan, Pakistanis from all walks of life appear united in perceiving the U.S. as an enemy.”

“So, what is to be done?” asks Pakistan’s News International.  ”We cannot obviously sit back and let our country be destroyed. Far more radical and more far-reaching steps are needed if the problem is to be overcome. The public needs to be involved to a larger extent in the effort against terrorism. This after all is a battle that has an impact on the life of every citizen – man, woman or child. The suicide bombers who strike so frequently have parents, siblings and other relatives somewhere. These people must play a part in stopping them. So too must their neighbours and others aware of the places where they are being trained and prepared for their missions.”

But in a country divided upon itself, who will lead that drive forwards?

(Reuters photos: the grave of a 19-year-old girl killed in an attack on Islamabad University; a child at the grave of Benazir Bhutto)


Wow look who is stalking here and what he is talking.
When you dont have anything to say then you call it “Irrelevant issue”
Yo really know names and cities of people invilved in Hijacking of Indian plane but you dont have MUCH information about Train burning….Let me tell you why not much info because all names are of INDIAN RAW or ARMY people involved in that incident…..Yes a handfull of Indians got killed in that incident and you really feel sad about it…whereas 99% PAKISTANI DEAD BODIES or burnt bodies are not visible to you…….You people are hopeless because you would never accept your weaknesses or your crimes…Yes you know everything else EXCEPT what INDIA does and then call it IRRELEVANT…… justification…isn’t it?

And all those so called PROOFS you are providing here….all are INDIAN organization blogs or news web sites…do you think they are really fair? They are main cause due to which you guys dont know the reality….

And by the way why INDIA needs so called 4 consulates in one country? And also those which you people dont know about…….?
Yes whatever INDIA does its negative and lie…whatever PAKISTAN does not do its still truth………..come on Rajeev its just the wrong info which your media shove down to your throats….accept it……and if you are so very true then provide info about Train burning involvement names just like you provided names of PAKISTANIS involved in INDIAN plane hijacking…but why you need to do that because you damn care if PAKISTANIS die…you would only care if INDIAN casualities are there that is why neither your media provide any info nor you try to get some…………

Posted by Riz | Report as abusive


Cool down, I have actually addressed all your points.

@because you damn care if PAKISTANIS die…
–That is what you think and what you think here is wrong. Blowing away innocents is inhuman—anywhere of any nationality.period

I can envision how many lives change by each death that takes place in terrorist attacks. But I cannot shove it down your throat to convince you.

@Airhijacking: This airhijacking was an international issue at that time that contributed greatly in pushing Pakistan almost being declared a terrorist-sponsor by Clinton Admn. That is the same airhijacking where JeM Chief Azhar Mahmood was released (plus 2 more) who ended up killing many in Kashmir, then parliamnent attack, then cutting the head of an American journalist, and now given a kid-friendly facility in South Punjab. All media including Pakistani knows these facts except you pethaps. So much for Pakistan’s anti-terrorism stance!

But from you posts, I gather you are bit behind and need an update. Perhaps it is your teenage–which I think is the issue here. Read more since I am not doing your homework for you.

A thing I missed in last post was that I heard that RAW was involved until 199?, but RAW operations were officially and openly shut down by ex-PM Gujral which coincided with eradication of terrorism in Indian Punjab. I am very receptive to know of anything more/artcile etc if you have anything other than the official statements to offer here for India/RAW involvement in Pakistan.

We have discussed it quite a bit and suggest getting back to the topic “Pak’s war within” unless you want posts trashed away.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

can some one tell me why individuals from pakistan and india argue with each other in internet, news papers and tv takshows etc. and give the impression that they are best of friends. and this is inspite of the fact that india has humiliated pakistan in the battle ground several times and as yet there is no peace agreement between the countries. is it something to do with the leaders of the respective countries whereas the people probably want peace and friendship.

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive

Whatever you say, you never answered my only one question to you and all Indians participating in this discussion and that question is about SAMJHOTA TRAIN burnt down brutly by some Hindu extremists involving even some ARMY people and one of those was actually caught by ATS chief which was killed in Mumbai attacks?
Dont tell me how to do my homework as you yourself never do yours completely by giving my answers.
Nothign else I havve to say……..

Posted by Riz | Report as abusive

Let’s face it, we are at war. The ridiculous arguments about the terrorists only targeting government establishments, or it is the West’s war, it’s a Jihad against infidels, etc, were blown to smithereens last Wednesday afternoon in Peshawar’s Meena Bazaar. The powerful car bomb, which ripped through the thickly-congested market place — a favourite shopping area of lower and middle class families in particular — showed that it is a war with terrorists standing on one side of the blood line, and we the people on the other. e-must-declare-state-of-war/


Can anyone of you change what prevails within each country by arguing over forums? You can’t change anything unless you change yourselves. Stop blaming each other for the past. There is no right or wrong. Both countries made mistakes in the past.
Look within yourself. You,you demand peace? I think,not. The present and the future is made up of people like yourselves. Think intelligent and think wise. As democrats you can have an opinion,but to practically impose it you need to act rather than throw blames back and forth over public forums. Act like realistic men/women and fight for your defense in the real world.

Posted by Jennifer Khan. | Report as abusive

Message to Riz:

With all due respect, I think you are being highly immature here. Bringing up the Samjhauta express in every one of your posts is not helping your case. Samjhauta express is still being investigated and there have been many speculations. On one hand There is the Hindu extremism angle to it. But on the other hand there are also reports coming out (even from the USA, which has named some Pakistanis such as Arif Qasmani, affiliated with LeT), that there may be a Pakistani/Muslim extremist angle to it. Let the investigation proceed, and if it is proven that Indians are behind it, then we’ll talk.

People like you claim that Hindu extremists are behind the Samjhauta express attack, and that the Indian government is trying to hide it. Well I’d like to remind you that many Indians and Hindus were killed in that attack. Also, the Godhra incident. Hindus claim that Muslims burnt a train carrying Hindu Pilgrims (which then led to post-Godhra Riots), and there are many eye witnesses which claim the same. However the Indian government hasn’t done anything about it. Should Hindus start saying that the government is protecting Muslim extremists?

That being said, there is no denying that Hindu extremism exists in India. Of course it does, just like extremists (white supremists) also exist in USA. However that is not the debate here, as the Hindu extremists are not tearing the country apart. Moreover, the Hindu extremists in India have never attacked India, whereas the Jihadis in Pakistan have vowed to bleed India to death.

SO lets stop talking about Samjhauta express, ok?

The problem is in Pakistan. Pakistan has been supporting terrorists since the beginning of its existence. And THAT is why India hates Pakistan, and THAT is why India got itself involved in 1971 (another reason would be that huge number of refugees were pouring into India thanks to the genocide being carried out by Pakistan army).

Operation Gibraltar, for example, in the 1960s was done by Pakistan to create anti-India sentiment in Indian Kashmir. However, it failed. But Pakistan kept at it, created violence in Kashmir, carried out terror attacks, etc. For this reason we went to war in the 1960s. After this Pak learned that they cannot beat India, so they even established jihadi elements in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to weaken India from both sides and create terror throughout India. For this reason India found it beneficial to use 1971 to break off east Pakistan, and thus try to get rid of the jihadi threat from there (this plan was only partially successful, as many jihadi groups with links to ISI still exist in Bangladesh).

India doesn’t hate Pakistan because of partition. It’s because ever since 1947, you guys have been creating trouble in our country. It was you guys who initially invaded Kashmir in 1947. India only came into the picture after the Maharaja and Abdullah asked India for help.

Personally speaking, I would be glad if India was helping Balochi separatists. Give Pakistan a taste of its own medicine, and it would probably help take Pakistan’s mind off of Kashmir.

But I know India wouldn’t get itself into that mess; it is too busy trying to become a superpower and contain Chinese aggression.

But it’s ok. The way things are going, Pakistan will destroy itself. It needs no external enemies. It’s enemies are within. And all of those who do not recognize that their real enemies are within (practically all Pakistanis) are all responsible for Pakistan’s self destruction.

So you can put false accusations on India all you want. Its not effecting us. It’s you guys who are suffering from this ignorance.

Posted by Rahul | Report as abusive

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