Defeating the Taliban in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

November 22, 2009

Brian Clougley is a South Asia defence analyst.  Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

When the Taliban insurrection in Pakistan began in earnest, in 2004, the Pakistan army did not have enough troops in North West Frontier Province to combat the growing menace.  It was not possible for the army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps to conduct operations without considerable reinforcement.  In any event, the role of the lightly-armed Frontier Corps has always been more akin to policing than to engaging in conventional military operations. Dealing with inter-tribe skirmishes and cross-border smugglers is very different to combating organised bands of fanatics whose objective is total destruction of the state.

It was therefore decided to redeploy some units and formations from the eastern frontier to the west, but the main problem with the decision, no matter its appropriateness, was that troops facing India along the border and the Line of Control in Kashmir are skilled in conventional warfare tactics but not trained in counter insurgency (COIN). Retraining was essential if there was to be a properly conducted campaign against militants in the west of the country. The process requires much time and energy. (The British, for example, had
to design a training programme lasting up to eight months before units were considered effective to fight the terrorist Irish Republican Army. The US belatedly dealt with a similar problem before deploying units to Iraq, having learned the hard way.)

But there is another important factor in Pakistan’s equation of redeploying troops : the attitude of India.

The Indian government and people reacted strongly to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in September 2008 — quite understandably — and blamed Pakistan for fostering those who carried them out. Many in India considered that Pakistan actually had some formal and official role in assisting the attackers, and most Indians – spurred by an active media – now firmly believe that Pakistan was involved. In this atmosphere it was tempting for politicians, especially those of ultra-nationalist persuasion, to beat war drums and threaten Pakistan
with dire consequences if there were another terrorist outrage – which there is almost certain to be.

Although there was no reinforcement or movement of troops on the Indian side of the border after the Mumbai atrocities, Pakistan could not forget the major deployment, Operation Parakram, that took place in 2002 following a terrorist assault on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. There was no reason to be complacent concerning Indian intentions, given the similarity of the Mumbai and Delhi attacks and the ensuing rhetoric, and Pakistan’s armed forces were required to remain vigilant. There could be no question of lowering guard on the eastern border unless there were assurance from India that it would not engage in military action. This was not given.

Even after the initial outburst of anti-Pakistan bellicosity had died down, there came carefully composed but confrontational statements by major national figures who could not be ignored, and they came in a period of especial concern to Pakistan – the very time at which it was necessary to continue relocating troops from the eastern frontier area in order to combat the menace of terror and insurrection in the west.

On 4 June 2009 the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of India’s South-Western Air Command, Air Marshal KD Singh,  declared that  “In case of a misadventure by Pakistan in shape of major terrorist attack or the attack like the one we had on the Parliament, attack on our leader, a major city, public or hijacking an aircraft, can obviously lead to a reaction from India, which could be a short intense war.”

Then on 1 November 2009 India’s Home Minister, Mr Chidambaram, was reported as saying “I’ve been warning Pakistan not to play any more games. Let Mumbai be the last such game. If they carry out any more attacks on India, they will not only be defeated, but we will also retaliate with the force of a sledgehammer.”

The threat from Delhi, which many of us observers had considered to have been negligible, given the apparent pragmatism of the government of Dr Manmohan Singh, was spelled out in blunt and menacing terms. Given the prominence of those who warned so clearly of conflict, the prospect of an attack could not and cannot be treated lightly. For this reason many senior military officers in Pakistan argue that withdrawing units from the border could have serious consequences if India decided to engage in a “short, intense conventional war,” as a result of another terrorist attack. If there were strident enough allegations in India that the culprits had been trained in Pakistan, then there could be war. The army, the senior officers felt, would be failing in its duty if it dropped its guard along the frontier; so there had to be compromise, which, in military affairs as in most others, invariably results in a less-than-desirable solution.

The recent operations in the tribal areas, concentrating on South Waziristan, have necessarily been affected by the requirement to balance east and west troop numbers. It is much to the credit of the Pakistan army that it managed to restore peace in Swat and appears to be well on the way to effecting the same in South Waziristan. But the main challenge is to maintain control and prevent the insurgents from again taking over.  Concurrently there is the requirement to speedily rebuild the 200 girls’ schools that were destroyed by the fanatics, to implement a civilian-dominated justice system, and engage in large-scale social and economic development. This will take time, and, above all, commitment by skilled professionals whose security must be guaranteed, along with that of the population.

It should not be forgotten that there was no insurrection in the Tribal Areas before the US invasion of Afghanistan.  Although the tribes were never pussy cats, and often there had to be firm action taken when they went over the top in inter-tribal squabbles or other mayhem, there was no Taliban control. That ascendancy developed as a result of a flow of vicious fanatics from Afghanistan who were displaced by US and ‘Coalition’ operations.  It is absurd to loudly condemn Pakistan for “failing to seal the border,” when there are tens of thousands of US troops along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. If they can’t seal it from their side, with all their hi-tech gadgets, how can anyone expect the Pakistan army to seal the Pakistan side?

The other thing that US experts might consider is keeping quiet. For the White House National Security Adviser to pronounce that Pakistan must now conduct military operations in North Waziristan is not simply bizarre, it is insolent. The Pakistanis have had enough of people telling them what to do. Their military operations are being conducted with professionalism. It would be a good thing if a bit of professionalism and discretion were to be exercised by all the clever Washingtonians who drop into Islamabad to lecture those who are trying to cope with an emergency for which the US is largely to blame.

61 comments

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Mr. Cloughley levels caustic accusations against Indians and “Washingtonians” as he calls them.His primary presumption or should we say insolent demand is that the rest of the world- especially the New Delhians and the Washingtonians- should buy Pak army/ ISI strategy of using non-state actors to indulge in terrorism in India.His demand is “PLASUIBLE DENIABILITY” be permitted indefinitely so that Pak can continue using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.Mr.Cloughley should seriously try his hands in writing fiction!

The observations about India are factual and cannot be denied : Mr Chidambaram threatened Pakistan with war.Whether or not Indians believe that ISI is behind every disaster that befalls their country is irrelevant.There is no mention, never mind a ‘demand’ of ‘plausible deniability.’Let’s keep to the facts and try to avoid nationalistic propaganda — on both sides.

Posted by Brian Cloughley | Report as abusive

The point is Pakistan is fighting against Indian and CIA sponsored terrorists and the report cant be neglected, highlighting terrorists were taken out by US army. They were primarily for waging a war into Pakistan so US can have a walk in Afghanistan. CIA director visit to two south asian countries is an episode of that….

Posted by Taufiq Ahmad | Report as abusive

“Brian Cloughley has studied South Asian affairs since the late 1970s and is South Asia defence analyst for Jane’s Sentinel, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He updates the material monthly and writes for other Jane’s publications. A March 2009 study in Jane’s Intelligence Review (JIR) described India’s airfields and possible intentions along the Line of Actual Control with China, and a major piece of 16 July examined Pakistan’s counterinsurgency operations in the North and West of the country, abutting Afghanistan………..”Brian CloughleyNo doubt from Pakistan point of view, a well written article. With multiple books to his credit, he is well qualified to give his opinion.”His demand is “PLASUIBLE DENIABILITY” be permitted indefinitely so that Pak can continue using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.Mr.Cloughley should seriously try his hands in writing fiction!”RajWho is more qualified to give an impartial opinion??MR. Cloughley or Mr.Raj.Here is the link in today’s Nation editorial for you to read.http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-n ews-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opini ons/Editorials/22-Nov-2009/Plain-talking

Posted by babag | Report as abusive

Raj bahi…don’t blame the messenger. Just because Reuters.com is in your backyard….don’t have to publish what Indian public like. You should more focus on 9/29 Malegaon bombing inside job….and find out who actually killed Hemant Karkare. Also who was behind Samjohta Express bombing? No one buys Mumbai twisted bollywood drama which was also inside job.

Posted by k. khan | Report as abusive

Brian,I am sure as a defence analyst, you are fully aware of wide gap in mobilization times between the two Armies. Pakistan’s has significant advantages here compared to India. That makes Pakistani claims about being overwhelmed by any Indian attack, overblown at best, disingenuous at worst.When Mumbai happened, the Pakistanis seemed all too eager to mobilize and to tussle with India. And this is fully understandable. It is far easier to motivate an army to fight an outside enemy than an insurgency within. So let’s not exclude the motivation factor. The PA seems utterly laggardly when it comes to tackling the insurgency but when it comes to India, they are always ready to man the barricades. They had sustained higher levels of readiness before the last commandos were even killed in Mumbai. At this point the so-called threatening statements had not yet happened. India was still in shock, not yet ready to react. And the nationalists were not in power in India, so their statements were hardly worth giving credence to.It seems to me that the Pakistanis wanted a way out of their struggles in the tribal areas and whether by design or by accident, they hoped the Mumbai attack would provide a path to leave the FATA. Indian restraint seems to have dented their plans.As for other criticism, about Washington, for example. I accept those. And even among us military types, there is sympathy for the Pakistani position. It is tough to control the border. And mistakes are made (for example the recent US redeployment away from border areas). However, the criticism from Washington and Brussels would be blunted if the Pakistanis at least showed some enthusiasm for tackling the insurgency inside their country, which would remove or at least disrupt the safe havens that Afghan insurgents have in the FATA, all while letting the Pakistanis secure their own country. It’s hardly an extreme demand to ask a neighbour to secure their own property.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

India’s tactics could be to weaken the Pakistani effort in South Waziristan by keeping a majority of its forces focused on its Eastern border with India. By keeping up the pressure on the India-Pak border, Pakistan might find it difficult to contain and eliminate the terror elements in South Waziristan. A weakened Pakistani military can be an advantage to India because it perceives the Pak military to be the creator of these elements that have wreaked havoc in India. If Pak army can be engaged in a series of conflicts one after another, it will not have the resources and time to sustain proxy wars with the Indian military. You can see this very clearly. Typically by this time, militant attacks and military retaliation will be at its peak in the Kashmir valley. Also, after the Mumbai attacks, India has not seen that many bomb blasts and terror attacks emerging from Pakistan. For the past one year, Pakistan has been on a tail spin. So India’s cost effective strategy would be to up the rhetoric, put pressure on Pakistan using all fronts (international diplomacy included) thereby not allowing to move more of its resources towards fighting the elements that threaten the very existence of Pakistan as a nation. I see Pakistani leaders allege Indian involvement in Balochistan and even support the TTP through its Afghan consulates. That could be another attempt to keep Pakistani military face internal trouble on a steady basis and the resulting terrorist attacks on Pakistani security establishments and public can keep the country preoccupied. If Pakistan crumbles as a result, and assuming that India is doing what I presume, it can back fire on India in the long run. If a steady state of internal engagement cannot be maintained inside Pakistan, it will lead to its collapse and India will be the next one on its path of destruction. Already Afghanistan has fallen. Pakistan is turning into Afghanistan. India should be very careful. Hope they see what the long term repercussions are and do the right thing.

Mr. Claughley shows a strong anti-Indian bias in this article. Many cold war Westerners like Mr. Claughley still have sympathy for Pakistan despite its deep engagement with global Islamic terrorism. So long as that terrorism is directed at India or other neighbors, these people do not care. That it how it was even after 9/11. Mr. Claughley conveniently avoids mentioning about the airlifting of hundreds of Pakistani military personnel from Kunduz as the US began to bomb Afghanistan. A lot of terrorist elements were allowed to sneak through Pakistani border and set up camps on the Pakistani side. At that time the Pak military was sitting in a comfortable position, having won the acceptance of the US as an ally against terrorism and the US not poking at its terror policies against India. Until Obama came to power, that status quo remained effective and Pakistan could pretend to be fighting a war on terror as an ally of the US, while sustaining terrorist activities against India with impunity. The Bush administration was only interested in Iraq right from the start and threw money at the Pakistani military and shifted all its priorities away from Afghanistan. Mr. Musharraf himself has admitted diverting the money towards anti-Indian activities. I do not see any mention of these events in the above article. This article is making a monster out of India and a lovable puppy out of Pakistan. What the author does not realize is that Pakistan is paying the price for what it has been doing. India has every right to defend its territory against Pakistan sponsored militancy. These kind of warped articles can cause more harm than good at times like these.

Well said Mr Cloughley! US carping abt cross-border infiltration always baffled me when their troops in Afghanistan do absolutely nothing to stem the flow in either direction. America perhaps has become too used to outsourcing everything, from call centres to wars. Time for it to pitch in with some of the dirty work too. It is after all, both our mess to clean.

Posted by Shaan | Report as abusive

Thank you Brian for an excellent article. It is refreshing to see a writeup of such frank and unbiased opinion. We don’t get to see such reporting and whenever an observer looking in from the outside of the Pakistan, India theater states what should be so obvious, it is termed as fiction or even a conspiracy. So much so that Reuters found it in its own interest to include the disclaimer at the beginning of the article “Brian Clougley is a South Asia defense analyst. Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone”. This disclaimer, which is missing from all the previous posts on this blog, if nothing else, is kind of amusing. Are we to surmise from the disclaimer or lack thereof from all the others is that Reuters is responsible for the contents and endorses the opinions expressed in earlier articles? That is a rhetorical question and I really am not expecting an answer :)Let me address a couple of assumptions that most commentators, analysts and common readers alike make so flippantly. The first one is the insistence of every so-called consultant, adviser, analyst and/or expert on Pakistan that the Pakistan army bowed to pressure from Washington to go after the so-called ‘Taliban’. Various reasons are given for the timing and scale of the operation, the most prominent of them is the threat from Washington of cutting off financial aid to Pakistan. The second one is that the army realized the Taliban have somehow ‘suddenly’ become an ‘existential’ threat –to borrow a term from the madam secretary of state. Or the fact that the army suddenly realized that the Taliban could take over Islamabad. No one wants to even hint at the possibility that the army took this step when the public opinion turned against the Taliban, and that happened after the Tehrik-Taliban of Pakistan’s (TTP) real intent of exacting control of the area for political gains was exposed by their words (calling democracy, judiciary and political structure in Pakistan as un-islamic) and deeds (read: blowing up schools, committing murder in cold blood, slitting throats of the innocent civilians and thrashing of children). How can any military/security/political expert ignore the fact that such a massive operation cannot be launched at a day’s notice? The whole operation was all drawn out and planned in advance, only the timing was crucial, a week earlier and the Pakistani public consensus would have called it too hasty, a week later and these thugs would have spread even further and had committed even more atrocities.As for Pakistan’s insecurity over Indian intentions, history has taught the Pakistan army to be under no illusions that India has good neighborly intentions. The redeployment of Pakistani troops from the eastern border to take part in the North Waziristan operation is not an easy one for the army, nor does it result from a sudden newly born confidence in India’s good will towards Pakistan. Some kind of surety must have been given to Pakistan that America would rein in India and prevent it from any misadventure on Pakistan’s borders.This was evident from the flurry of activity on the diplomatic front with back and forth visits by American government officials to Islamabad apparently to pacify the civilian government and Gen Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command doing the same at the GHQ in Rawalpindi. I cannot imagine what guarantees were given to the GHQ but they must have been pretty substantial and solid in order for the Pakistan army to move the troops away from Indian side.

Great observation. We usually hear the westerners lamblasting Pakistan or whoever and asking them to “do more.” But then we forget why arent there are greater numbers of check points established in the afghan side–only a quarter of those checkpoints established in Pakistan. Then we hear the “great obama” still mulling over sending troops to Afghanistan but insisting the Pakistanis to keep fighting all these terrorists. I dont know but that sounds weird since we here in America are thousands of miles away while the Pakistanis have to coexist with either a talibanized Afghanistan or a pseudo democratic afghanistan incase of western pullout.On top of that, their newly elected govt has to put up with new delhi, which says “wants peace” but according to a recent US think tank report, is “hardly acting in a way to promote peace” with Pakistan. I guess New Delhi has bigger fish to fry, like the Maoists resurgence in half of india’s districts and assamese revolts (a blast just took place yesterday).Its time for the Nato to sit together with both the pakistanis and the Iranians and Turmenistanis and formulate a plan, for its these countries who are adversely impacted and if we cant talk to Iran then atleast lets hear what Pakistan has to say. Remember, its the Pakistanis who succeeded in Swat and Buner while the Americans and Nato forces still struggle. They understand the culture and still have links like most intelligence agenies keep links with their formal partners.

Posted by johan | Report as abusive

Defense analysts and Experts are best positioned to interpret and analyse strategies and war games, but as an Indian citizen, i can only state what i see as indian governments long standing motives and agendas. We are very extremely aware of the threat that fundamentalism poses to our country. We are a nation with poverty and social in equities which can and have been exploited in the past by several interest groups. The fall or destruction of Pakistan as a state is not and can’t in the foreseeable future be in Indian interests. Several people have noted this on blogs all over the internet. There is a crusade element to extremist elements that the Pakistani civil society is fighting and if this reaches our borders more than it has, it only means havoc for us. The religeous crusade element (between the two largest religions in the world) cannot be overstated, it is the cause of a majority of conflicts around the world and India does not have the wherewithal to contain it on its own. In fact in some measure it can be argued its not even Indian fight at all. Bottomline is a stable Pakistan is extremely important to India. Manmoham Singh has gone to great lengths stating this on every occassion possible. It is unreasonable to say the Chidamabaram saying that another attack on our country will not be dealt with firm action! which country’s home minister will say that yes come and bomb us and we will allow you leniency. Brian’s argument seems forced which is not the worst thing about it. The problem with his analysis to me is that he is further deepening mistrust among Pakistani people about India who (at least the large majority that makes sure BJP and RSS don’t come anywhere close to power and even if they do they come with adequate controls in place through coalitions etc.)have only frustration and no agenda regards Militancy and Pakistan.In foreign policy terms india’s objective is to get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and have some economic clout. toboth these ends propagating terrorism in Balochistan or anywhere else will be a very wrong strategic move. these are basics that Indian governments whoever they may be understand as do Indian people. We cannot move away from Pakistan its a geographic reality for us. So growth and terror free environment in South Asia is important to us.

Posted by Rahul | Report as abusive

Let’s keep to the facts and try to avoid nationalistic propaganda — on both sides.-Posted by Brian CloughleyHere is a FACT for you, why do Pakistanis blame bomb attacks on CIA/RAW/Mossad when the Taliban clearly admit to it?It is ironic that you want to stick to FACTS when your article is nothing more than harping sycophancy from the Pakistani diaspora of a cottage industry of conspiracy theories.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Brian,Just a couple of thoughts…In your essay you have not mentioned what Pakistan can genuinely do to reduce tensions with India to make an Indian troop cut a sensible option. India’s attitude comes with good reasons – what can be done concretely to change that attitude?Threatening with war is one thing. Actually carrying out a strike is another. When was the last time India carried out a strike against its neighbour in response to a terrorist attack? The 1999 conflict, as far as I know, was not initiated by India.The threats, if I remember correctly, also specified (in most cases) that the targets would be militant training camps across the border. Something similar to what the US Predators and, if rumours are to be believed, US forces are anyways doing in border regions of Pakistan. I am realistic enough to understand why US can do it and why India cannot do it. But the point is : if Pakistan cannot control ‘non-state’ actors on its soil, would it not be unrealistic to expect India to lower its guard or acquiese to a cut on the number of troops deployed on the border?US has long played a successful behind-the-curtains role in containing the Indo-Pak conflict – in 1999, in 2002, and in 2008. With China and US (atleast as long as it is involved in Afghanistan) in the play, doesn’t it seem a bit overly paranoid to claim that the eastern front is still susceptible to an attack?You are probably right that the problems in Pakistan started with US invasion of Afghanistan. But the vicious fanatics coming in to Pakistan from Afghanistan were in part cultivated by US and Pakistan in the first place.I am not an analyst, Brian – but seriously, there is something really wrong in the way this whole thing is projected. At the end of the day, this mess was created by US and Pakistan together. It is really between them to solve it. And it sounds pretty hypocritical now to suggest that India tolerate further aggression from state or non-state actors in Pakistan only so that Pakistan can effectively deal with the Taliban insurgency and the US can exit Afghanistan without losing face.

Posted by Paritosh | Report as abusive

All those who have mooted this line – of Pakistan’s inability ot shift troops from its eastern border – should also examine why India needs to keep troops on its western borders. From an Indian viewpoint the answer is simple – history.Most major skirmishes that have taken place between the two, have been instigated by Pakistan; 1947, 1965 and even in 1971 – war broke out and Indian forces crossed the international border only after Pakistan initiated air attacks on, I think it was, 3rd Dec 1971 in the western front. Moreover, whenever troops have been thinned out or redeployed between sectors, infiltration from across the border has intensified. Should India continue then to take Pakistan for granted and not consider it a threat? Lets face it, India has more reason to expect a sneak Pakistani attack then Pakistan has to fear one from India. The past can be ignored only at great peril.Pakistan has been ruled by its army for the majority of its 62 years. Surely, when in power, the very least it could have ensured over time, is that it carried out comprehensive threat analysis and allotted adequately trained military to safeguard itself – otherwise it is guilty of neglect.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

Mr. Claughley: “The observations about India are factual and cannot be denied : Mr Chidambaram threatened Pakistan with war.”You are trying make Pakistan a dove of peace. If Pakistan was like Tibet, a peaceful and nonviolent country, darling of the whole world etc and Indian Defense ministers keep threatening it with war then your words make sense. Here we are talking about India which has been a victim of Pak sponsored terrorism and our defense minister is saying what he is saying because we have had enough of it. Therefore your analysis here looks more irrelevant and non-sensical to a large extent. When New York was attacked by terrorists, what did the US do? Offer bouquet? Come on, try to understand the perspective instead of taking a stubborn attitude.”Whether or not Indians believe that ISI is behind every disaster that befalls their country is irrelevant.”Thanks. India will still do what it has to do. Your statements appear irrelevant. You are making it worse for Indians who need international sympathy for suffering from Pakistan sponsored terrorism. Not only you, your Western governments are selfish in dealing with terrorism. If it affects you, you have one rule and if it affects others, their sentiments are irrelevant.You are sending the wrong signals to Pakistanis and are encouraging them to stay on with their attitude towards India.”Let’s keep to the facts and try to avoid nationalistic propaganda — on both sides.”Easy for you to say. Sitting on a high pedestal you can afford these words. The only way you people learn is by experiencing what others have experienced. Islamic terrorism will not die that easily because of ignorance and attitude shown by Westerners like you. So it will only spread until you too become a victim of it and realize that you have been petting the wrong cat all along. You being an “expert” on South Asia makes me wonder how deep ignorance is in the West. If global policies are made by “experts” like you, it is no wonder the war on terrorism never went anywhere.

“The observations about India are factual and cannot be denied : Mr Chidambaram threatened Pakistan with war”- Posted by Brian CloughleyYou make it seem as if India’s threat was unreasonable & you also lack appreciation for India’s restraint after the Mumbai attacks. If it wasn’t for the presence of the US/NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan, India would’ve certainly & rightfully retaliated against Pakistan for sponsoring terror against India. You also fail to realize & acknowledge that India has been a victim of Pakistani sponsored terrorism for over 2 decades & finally Indian patience has justifiably, worn thin.@ Mussafir: “As for Pakistan’s insecurity over Indian intentions, history has taught the Pakistan army to be under no illusions that India has good neighborly intentions”And what history would that be, my friend?The distorted & fictional version taught in Pakistani schools, which has been exposed by Pakistani intellectuals like Dr. Hamid Nayyar & Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy?

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

It’s interesting that not all Western defence experts see things the same way:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000 1424052748704779704574552581090014784.ht mlGanesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

But there is another important factor in Pakistan’s equation of redeploying troops : the attitude of India.– Posted by: brian.cloughleySo it is India’s fault to guard its borders and preventing another attack on Mumbai or Delhi.The Pakistans are the innocent victims for running 100s of terrorist nurseries across the border, providing fire cover to terrorists sneak in to India and for providing Govt protection to terrorist leaders and founders.India shouldn’t give hard time to terrorists while crossing the border in to India. India should open “WELCOME CENTERS” on it’s side of border to make the terrorists feel better.

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

In this atmosphere it was tempting for politicians, especially those of ultra-nationalist persuasion, to beat war drums and threaten Pakistan with dire consequences if there were another terrorist outrage– Posted by: brian.cloughleyWell, Pakistanis should count on their blessing for living next door to India. Compare India reactions to What Regan did to Libya or Bush did to Taliban/AQ. Bush was almost going to send Pakistan to stone ages had Mushy chosen otherwise!!!There is a good chance US or another country will run over Pakistan well before INdia does!

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

In this atmosphere it was tempting for politicians, especially those of ultra-nationalist persuasion, to beat war drums and threaten Pakistan with dire consequences if there were another terrorist outrage– Posted by: Brian.cloughleyWell, Pakistanis should count on their blessing for living next door to India. Compare India reactions to What Regan did to Libya or Bush did to Taliban/AQ. Bush was almost going to send Pakistan to stone ages had Mushy chosen otherwise!!!There is a good chance US or another country will run over Pakistan well before INdia does!

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

There could be no question of lowering guard on the eastern border unless there were assurance from India that it would not engage in military action. This was not given.– Posted by: brian.cloughleyActually we’d like that. We’d like the Taliban to take care of Pakistan. We have no desire to get our hands dirty. JUst the US is standing in between and asking us to be more sympathetic, considerate etc.Did you forget the video where the Talibans were spanking a teenage girl for refusing to marry them?

Posted by Sunny | Report as abusive

Brian,I am curious about your take, more specifically on the incidents surrounding the Mumbai attack. You said in your article that it was understandable that the Indians wanted to blame Pakistan for the attack but then go on to lambaste them for doing just that.Surely, there’s a double standard at work here. The day after 9/11 Bush was threatening justice, Wild West style on the perpetrators of the attack even though they hadn’t even figured out who they were yet. In its rage, the US assisted by the rest of the West went after two countries. Yet we now expect the Indians to have some kind of uncommon reserve when it comes to dealing with terrorism emanating from Pakistan (state sponsored or not). And they had one of the attackers in their custody to boot, who provided quite the tale. I am sure you have access to the more umm ‘definitive’ version of that testimony…so you might know what I’m talking about.No wonder we can’t engage the Indians to do anything (like back off on Pakistan). Articles like yours do nothing to help overcome the trust deficit that those of us on the working end are trying to overcome.Moreover, your article does fan the flames of mistrust here. Yes, the Pakistanis were right to expect Indian retaliation. You can only poke the elephant so many times in the eye before he decides to stomp on you. But were they right to expect outright invasion or was that just an excuse for the Pakistanis to avoid slogging it out in FATA? I don’t know a single analyst who predicted any sort of ground incursion other than maybe a SOF strike on any terror camps. Does this really require several Pak Army divisions to repel? You know as well as anybody else that even the most verbose and bellicose Indian statements did not imply general war but some kind of punitive military action….for which the Pakistanis would have responded in kind, and that would have been that.I also take issue with your effort to sell the Pakistani line on the insurgency: it’s all the fault of the US. How so? The Paks were controlling the Taliban right until the Americans showed up. Had they done their job, 9/11 would not have happened, and they would have kept their precious ‘strategic depth’. However, the ISI’s due diligence failed and the Taliban decided to give preference to AQ over its ISI handlers. This is not the fault of the US. Nor is it the fault of the US, that the Paks ignored the influx of jihadis into the FATA post-invasion until it really became a menace.It’s quite obvious that Pakistan has decided to hedge its bets in case the US (and NATO) pull out early from Afghanistan. That’s fair enough. We can respect the fact that they have interests in Afghanistan and might want to preserve their options. But don’t expect the US to take it lying down, without any complaints, and don’t feel sorry for the Pakistanis when one of their strategic options bites them in the six.You really should chat with your working governmental counter-parts in the UK and Australia. It’s quite clear that they don’t share your views on the recent turn of events.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Dear brian.cloughley,Are not happy that finally India has made a strategy to save innocent Indians form terrorists attacks coming from Pakistan?You seem to be fine when terrorists kill 170 innocent people but you seem to be very distressed when India wants to punish those terrorists!!!

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

It is much to the credit of the Pakistan army that it managed to restore peace in Swat and appears to be well on the way to effecting the same in South Waziristan.– Posted by: brian.cloughleyAnd you forgot to mention that NOT A SINGLE top taliban leader was caught in SWAT or Wazaristan. All of them safely went to neighboring places and ISI didn’t know anything.And there are recent CIA reports that ISI had relocated Mullah Omar from Quetta to Karachi, out of reach of US drones.

Posted by Sam | Report as abusive

Musaafir: “As for Pakistan’s insecurity over Indian intentions, history has taught the Pakistan army to be under no illusions that India has good neighborly intentions.”I am curious what history you are referring to. Can you point out the historical incidents where India has attacked Pakistan first?Musaafir: “The redeployment of Pakistani troops from the eastern border to take part in the North Waziristan operation is not an easy one for the army, nor does it result from a sudden newly born confidence in India’s good will towards Pakistan. Some kind of surety must have been given to Pakistan that America would rein in India and prevent it from any misadventure on Pakistan’s borders.”I am fairly sure the fact that India didn’t even attack after Mumbai probably at least helped re-assure the GHQ that India is not going to come after Pakistan. Moreover, various Indian politicians have made statements to that effect, that they would rule out strikes on Pakistan as long as Pakistan was tackling the insurgency. All the US probably did is hammer this point home.The tensions in this case are largely dictated by Pakistan in this relationship. If the ISI does it job and monitors the “non-state actors” then there will be limited tension between the two countries as long as there are no attacks. You can’t expect Indians, though, to remain silent after an attack. Would Pakistanis be silent if such an attack took place in Pakistan and an Indian terrorist was caught and confessed what our young Ajmal Kasab has? However, cooler heads prevailed, thankfully.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Remember, its the Pakistanis who succeeded in Swat and Buner while the Americans and Nato forces still struggle. They understand the culture and still have links like most intelligence agenies keep links with their formal partners.- Posted by johanA ridiculous comparison. Comparing two districts to a widespread insurgency is a rather flawed comparison. There are many peaceful districts in Afghanistan too. One recent stat estimated that 90% of the violence in Afghanistan took place in 10% of the districts. The Paks can start giving us lessons when they defeat all the Taliban. Simply playing shuffleboard with them does not count. They did not defeat them in Buner and Swat. They displaced them. That’s not quite what we’re going for in Afghanistan. After all, Brian is already complaining here about too much displacement from Afghanistan. If we took the Pakistani approach to the problem, there’d be more troubles in Pakistan.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

The other thing that US experts might consider is keeping quiet.– Posted by: brian.cloughleyYeah and wait for another 9/11 or 26/11. Would you be able to locate Pakistan on a map after another 9/11???Take our advice or our 5000lbs bombs!!!

Posted by Ronny | Report as abusive

The Pakistanis have had enough of people telling them what to do.–Posted by: brian.cloughleyCan you tell me what have done so far? All top taliban/AQ leaders still live there under ISI protection.Why do we need to tell them, reward them for keeping their house clean? Isn’t it their job to do so? Why do they deserve a country of they are a danger to themselves and to neighbors? Can you show me another country similar to Pakistan???

Posted by Ronny | Report as abusive

Brian,Your article is no different than what one reads about the various conspiracy theories floating inside Pakistan. They are cheap and add no value. Your article lacks professionalism and is clouded with pre-judgment. Read the following link and you will realize that your article fits right in the middle of it all.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asi a/8369914.stm

Gist of the story…1. Pakistan must be given full credit for its “sincere” fight against its Frankenstein-the Taliban.2. India must not be allowed to defend themselves from Pakistan sponsored terrorism, because Pak army cannot loose concentration on western border.3. Pakistan faces existential threat from India, not from its home-breed terrorists.Now some facts:1. Pakistan army, not the Indian army was mobilized after Mumbai attack.2. L-E-T leadership and infrastructure still intact and flourishing. That speaks the volume of PA mentality towards LET.3. Two terrorists are caught recently by FBI for plotting against India, no prize for guessing that both of them have deep Pakistan link and are of Pakistani origin.4. Little bit of history lesson for so-called South Asia defence analyst Mr. Cloughley: India did not even cross LOC during Kargil war when Pakistani army invaded Kashmir hand in glove with Mujahids.

Posted by swarup | Report as abusive

Mr. Cloughley,I suggest you read this article from the BBC news website:Ahmed Rashid: Pakistan conspiracy theories stifle debate.Your own article is no more and no less than a diplomatic attempt of giving terrorists and non-state actors from Pakistan a face of innocence.If Reuters believed your article to be an unbiased and totally neutral view then there would be no need for the disclaimer.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

@ Keith;”You know as well as anybody else that even the most verbose and bellicose Indian statements did not imply general war but some kind of punitive military action….for which the Pakistanis would have responded in kind, and that would have been that.”Can you say what you mean by punitive military action? Or more specifically, how would India take effective military action without running the risk of escalation? As you must know, this is one of the main reasons India has not retaliated before, because it can’t work out how to do it effectively.Do you accept that the way India and Pakistan signal their intentions to each other are often open to misinterpretation given the mistrust? Or in other words, if you were responsible for military deployment in Pakistan, would you ignore Chidambaram’s words?@ Sunny:”We’d like the Taliban to take care of Pakistan.”Beware of what you wish for. It is also not the view expressed by the Indian government which acknowledges that India would be among the first to suffer if the Taliban were to overrun Pakistan.@ Bulletfish:”If Reuters believed your article to be an unbiased and totally neutral view then there would be no need for the disclaimer.”That’s a standard disclaimer that goes on all guest contributions.@ All,There is a certain amount of shooting the messenger here. What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army. Yet few of the comments specifically address that issue.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army.- Posted by Myra MacDonaldWhen 10 Pakistani men armed with automatic weapons; communication devices; food and water cause the amount of carnage they did in Mumbai, then the comment by Mr. Chidambaram is understood. Once Kasab was captured I saw a Mumbaiker on TV stated that we (India) should go to war with Pakistan. However, this did not happen. WHY? If India retaliated then we would have a whole new carnage on our hands. By not attacking and showing restraint, the world can see that we are not like the monsters who caused the Mumbai attacks nor their monetary begging directors.One year later we have had nothing for Pakistan, but ‘conspiracy theories’ over ‘foreign hands’ in supporting Mossad/CIA Taliban in South Waziristan.However, there were arrests in Italy of a Pakistani father and son who provided support to the Mumbai attackers.Above all there is an error in the article:The Indian government and people reacted strongly to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in September 2008.The terrorist attacks started on 26 November 2008.Myra, please tell Mr. Cloughley to get the FACTS right.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive

Myra you said -”There is a certain amount of shooting the messenger here. What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army. Yet few of the comments specifically address that issue.”When did Chidambaram make the warning – 1 Nov 2009, which is about a full year after the Mumbai attacks. Do you mean to say that Pakistani army had not moved in against the Taliban in the last one year expecting such a statement from Chidambaram.Wow!!!

Myra ”Can you say what you mean by punitive military action? Or more specifically, how would India take effective military action without running the risk of escalation? As you must know, this is one of the main reasons India has not retaliated before, because it can’t work out how to do it effectively”KARGIL, the experiment of a low intensity war which did not rapidly turn into a fullfledged armageddon is recorede in history.Myra ”There is a certain amount of shooting the messenger here. What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army. Yet few of the comments specifically address that issue”Below is the para quoting Chidambaram, Myra can you be kind enough to note the date the quote was made. As stated earlier by one of the postster, Most of thePA mobilisation had happened even before the 26/11 tragedy had come to an end. This month is the anniversary of the 26/11 incident. Headley and Rana have been arrested in USA, First info reports appearing in NYT suggest another 26/11 type attack being planned by LeT in collobaration with a Military officer (ex or present will know soon) to instigate a reaction from India i.e. Troop mobilisation.Chidambaram has made his statement for his audience i.e. Indian voters, that there will be punitive action taken. This could be in the form of pre-emptive strikes too.Who is going to confirm if a 100 charred bodies in Muzaffrabad were actually non-state actors or state actors!From article – Then on 1 November 2009 India’s Home Minister, Mr Chidambaram, was reported as saying “I’ve been warning Pakistan not to play any more games. Let Mumbai be the last such game. If they carry out any more attacks on India, they will not only be defeated, but we will also retaliate with the force of a sledgehammer.”

Posted by uday kumar | Report as abusive

(Moderator, please replace the comment I posted a few minutes ago with this amended version)Myra,The messenger is being shot because there are reasons to believe he is not being truly neutral or impartial. Take this example:> Many in India considered that Pakistan actually had some formal and official role in assisting the attackers, and most Indians – spurred by an active media – now firmly believe that Pakistan was involved.Brian Cloughly is attempting to portray as mere nationalistic opinion facts that have been universally acknowledged even by the FBI. There is a captured terrorist, alive and well, who has provided detailed and verifiable information on the entire operation. Detailed telephonic transcripts including references to military figures involved in the operation are available. If this was a fabrication, it has taken quite some effort to tie together into a convincing whole, implying a competence even India’s most patriotic souls wouldn’t credit the Indian government with. No, this is no conspiracy theory. It is fact.Yet Mr. Cloughly insists on spinning this as an Indian conspiracy theory, as if nothing has been proven. He thus discredits his subsequent thesis with this patent dishonesty and richly deserves the ridicule he is receiving here.> What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army.I don’t know about you, but I thought the bigger takeaway from this article is that there are two completely independent views of the current situation.The view from the US:1. Terrorists from Al Qaeda attacked and killed 3000 people in New York, most of whom were US citizens.2. The US is justified in seeking justice for its citizens and in ensuring that they are not attacked again.3. The Al Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban backers are holed up somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.4. The US wants Pakistan to attack these militants from their side while Western forces attack them from the Afghan side.5. Unfortunately, the threat to Pakistan from India prevents Pakistan from deploying more of its forces from the border with India to the border with Afghanistan, jeopardising the effort to capture or destroy the Al Qaeda/Taliban militants.6. Therefore India must be pressured to lower tensions with Pakistan so that Pakistan can help the US achieve its war aims. i.e,. “Don’t let your war get in the way of our war”The view from India:1. Terrorists from across the Pakistan border have repeatedly attacked targets within India, killing hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Indian citizens over the years.2. There is strong and mounting evidence that there has been official funding, training and indoctrination of these terrorists by elements of the Pakistani military and the ISI.3. India is justified in seeking justice for its citizens and in ensuring that they are not attacked again.4. Unfortunately. thanks to the leakage of nuclear secrets and material from China and to the blind eye turned by the US both to the terrorism support and the nuclear proliferation, India is now hostage to nuclear blackmail that prevents it from retaliating as the US has done in Afghanistan.5. In spite of conclusive evidence of official Pakistani support for terrorism against India, India is being pressured into exercising the sort of restraint that the US never exercised. I.e., the US war is getting in the way of India’s war.The conventional view is the first one, but after Mumbai and after increasing evidence that militancy and a jihadist mindset permeate all terrorist groups (i.e., that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists), it appears that most Western analysts are slowly beginning to understand the legitimacy of the second view. Unfortunately, Mr. Cloughly is not one of them. He appears not only dishonest but also behind the times.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

(Moderator, please replace the comment I posted a few minutes ago with this amended one)Myra,The messenger is being shot because there are reasons to believe he is not being truly neutral or impartial. Take this example:> Many in India considered that Pakistan actually had some formal and official role in assisting the attackers, and most Indians – spurred by an active media – now firmly believe that Pakistan was involved.Brian Cloughly is attempting to portray as mere nationalistic opinion facts that have been universally acknowledged even by the FBI. There is a captured terrorist, alive and well, who has provided detailed and verifiable information on the entire operation. Detailed telephonic transcripts including references to military figures involved in the operation are available. If this was a fabrication, it has taken quite some effort to tie together into a convincing whole, implying a competence even India’s most patriotic souls wouldn’t credit the Indian government with. No, this is no conspiracy theory. It is fact.Yet Mr. Cloughly insists on spinning this as an Indian conspiracy theory, as if nothing has been proven. He thus discredits his subsequent thesis with this patent dishonesty and richly deserves the ridicule he is receiving here.> What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army.I don’t know about you, but I thought the bigger takeaway from this article is that there are two completely independent views of the current situation.The view from the US:1. Terrorists from Al Qaeda attacked and killed 3000 people in New York, most of whom were US citizens.2. The US is justified in seeking justice for its citizens and in ensuring that they are not attacked again.3. The Al Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban backers are holed up somewhere in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.4. The US wants Pakistan to attack these militants from their side while Western forces attack them from the Afghan side.5. Unfortunately, the threat to Pakistan from India prevents Pakistan from deploying more of its forces from the border with India to the border with Afghanistan, jeopardising the effort to capture or destroy the Al Qaeda/Taliban militants.6. Therefore India must be pressured to lower tensions with Pakistan so that Pakistan can help the US achieve its war aims. i.e,. “Don’t let your war get in the way of our war”The view from India:1. Terrorists from across the Pakistan border have repeatedly attacked targets within India, killing hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Indian citizens over the years.2. There is strong and mounting evidence that there has been official funding, training and indoctrination of these terrorists by elements of the Pakistani military and the ISI.3. India is justified in seeking justice for its citizens and in ensuring that they are not attacked again.4. Unfortunately. thanks to the leakage of nuclear secrets and material from China and to the blind eye turned by the US both to the terrorism support and the nuclear proliferation, India is now hostage to nuclear blackmail that prevents it from retaliating as the US has done in Afghanistan.5. In spite of conclusive evidence of official Pakistani support for terrorism against India, India is being pressured into exercising the sort of restraint that the US never exercised. I.e., the US war is getting in the way of India’s war.The conventional view is the first one, but after Mumbai and after increasing evidence that militancy and a jihadist mindset permeate all terrorist groups (i.e., that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists), it appears that most Western analysts are slowly beginning to understand the legitimacy of the second view. Unfortunately, Mr. Cloughly is not one of them. He appears not only dishonest but also behind the times.Regards,Ganesh

Posted by Ganesh Prasad | Report as abusive

“There is a certain amount of shooting the messenger here. What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army. Yet few of the comments specifically address that issue.” MyraI agree there has been some shooting the messenger and that does take away from the validity of a contrary opinion. However, to be fair, most have also gone beyond just that and justified why and where they hold a different opinion.With hindsight it is always easy to suggest that this should not have been done or could have been handled differently. I would, however, really be interested to hear what an impartial observer thinks as to how India should have reacted to the 26/11 attacks as regards Pakistani involvement (state/non-state/individual  /organisation) Or, ‘their alleged involvement’ if they prefer to refer to it as such.Again with hindsight, does anyone feel that maybe the Pakistani authorities too could have handled things differently or showed more sensitivity? Or, are they totally justified in their response and are they being pressurised unnecessarily by the Indian establishment?Somehow no one wants to suggest what should have been done. It is always easier to judge than to go out on a limb and make a counter suggestion – other than to say this should not have been done.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

@ Uday Kumar,”KARGIL, the experiment of a low intensity war which did not rapidly turn into a fullfledged armageddon is recorded in history.”Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out.@ Hima Bindu”When did Chidambaram make the warning – 1 Nov 2009, which is about a full year after the Mumbai attacks. Do you mean to say that Pakistani army had not moved in against the Taliban in the last one year expecting such a statement from Chidambaram. Wow!!!”The Pakistan Army moved a significant number of troops from their eastern border earlier this year — which is why it had two divisions available to fight in S. Waziristan. The redeployment coincided with an easing of tensions between India and Pakistan which followed a meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and President Zardari in Yekaterinburg in Russia. The question under discussion in this post was whether the army could redeploy even more troops.Ganesh,I haven’t spoken to anyone, including Indian analysts, who consider it to be an established fact that Mumbai was officially ordered by Pakistan or the Pakistan Army. This viewpoint was however quite prevalent in the Indian TV media immediately after 26/11.If you want to compare U.S. military action with potential Indian military action in Pakistan it would be better to compare like-with-like. Here is how Bruce Riedel assessed America’s chances if it decided to try to attack Pakistan in the event of a Taliban takeover:”The United States would discover the same difficult choices Indian leaders have looked at for a decade. Striking terrorist training camps achieves virtually nothing since they can easily and cheaply be rebuilt.”http://www.nationalinterest.org  /Article.aspx?id=21644Also I’m not sure it’s fair to consider there to be a western view and an Indian view. Both are democracies and there are different opinions in both countries (as shown by the domestic criticism of Manmohan Singh’s own moves to repair relations with Pakistan.)Perhaps a better question would be to ask what are India’s interests and realistically how does it best achieve them (even if at times, this may seem counter-intuitive)?For example, do you think it’s in India’s interest that Pakistan move more troops to fight the Taliban?What happens to India’s interest if the U.S. tries to reach some kind of accommodation with the Taliban in Afghanistan as suggested here:http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect  /dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakista n/11-us-involved-in-secret-talks-with-se nior-taliban–il–06Those are not easy questions to answer, but they do help frame the discussion. Nobody expects any country to act against its own national interests.MyraMyra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive

Myra Says:I haven’t spoken to anyone, including Indian analysts, who consider it to be an established fact that Mumbai was officially ordered by Pakistan or the Pakistan Army. This viewpoint was however quite prevalent in the Indian TV media immediately after 26/11.Then why did ISI disappear Kesab’s family, guarding his village and put 2 journos in jail for writing about Kesaba?http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/24/s tories/2009112460721500.htmDo you think INdian media invented this news? Can you or Brian go to Kesab’s village and interview 10 people? Why are you guys so sympathetic to mass murderers?

Posted by Ronny | Report as abusive

“What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army” – Posted by Myra MacDonaldMyra, Brian:It’s pretty much in the Pakistani establishment’s hands if it wants to avoid war with India. Al it has to do is reign in it’s ‘non-state actors’ & there will be no war.But instead of doing just that what do they do?Free the master-mind of the mumbai attacks Hafiz Saeed & invite him to dinner parties.Let another anti-India terrorist Azhar Mehmood build a top-notch terror facility right in their backyard.No action taken against or to dismantle any anti-India terror group.In light of these actions/inaction by the Pakistani establishment, the Indian Govt has no choice but to raise the level of rhetoric & issue repeated warnings against Pakistan in order to keep them in check. If Pakistan really wants to avoid war with India all it has to do is take some concrete action against these anti-India terror groups & India wanted terrorists & you will automatically see India reciprocate by taking steps to reduce tensions. So, instead of blaming India for keeping the tensions high, the global community needs to put pressure on Pakistan to take the steps needed to reduce tensions with India.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive

Myra says ”Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out”So didn’t the 26/11 reaction from India escalate because USA had intervened and looking back these past 12 months surely the Americans had a good plan in mind, as Brian say a very cost effective retaliation. Check this link – http://www.newsweek.com/id/223794 – on Headley-LeT and the next attack.Looks like the PA is only short of releasing their most potent arsenal next to provocate India into a fight, god forbid.There is a saying in sanskrit ”Veenashkali viprith budhi”, which means ”A twisted mind leads to self-destruction”.

Posted by uday kumar | Report as abusive

“What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army” – Posted by Myra MacDonaldMyra, Brian,Do you guys believe in criminal justice system? US has punished criminals. India has not punished yet. India forgave criminals for past actions and only said that it might punish in future if they repeat crimes again.Which part is beyond your logic? Criminal justice system says criminals should be punished for all crimes including past ones. Are you people still supporting criminals and blaming India?

Posted by Soman | Report as abusive

Myra says:”Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out”You need to check facts again. According to Sharif, he had no knowledge of Musharraf’s private projects. Even Mushy didn’t take whole army into confidence and only few of his buddies had complete knowledge about Kargil. Sharif had no control over army and fearing a military coup, he was asking Clinton for help and insight!And Pak army didn’t withdraw. 90% of their soldiers were buried in their bunkers by IAF. Even Pak army didn’t collect their dead bodies and Indian army did the last rites.So Americans and Sharif had nothing to do Kargil. It was Mushy’s wild imagination gone wrong cuz he miscalculated Indian response (according to his own book).

Posted by Ramin | Report as abusive

Myra,Your intentions are good, but hope you are able to see Indian position also. Your robust defense of Pakistani position is very impressive. You articulate them better than pakistanis themselves.Plausibly we are not going to find transcripts of a power point slide presentation given by Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha to General Kayani at the ISI headquarters outlining how the Mumbai terrorist attack will be carried out.Is it possible to in source it to some retired majors in Karachi to plan and carry out Mumbai? Plausible and definitely deniable.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu karam_OmbleIf this brave police officer Omble didn’t martyr himself to himself to capture one pak terrorist alive, there would have been an article by Mr.Cloughley, there is no proof Pakistanis were involved at all. And we would be explaining otherwise. Think about it!!!That’s how pakistan’s terrorism strategy on unarmed Indian civilians is supposed to work- smokes and mirror.

@When did Chidambaram make the warning – 1 Nov 2009, which is about a full year after the Mumbai attacks. Do you mean to say that Pakistani army had not moved in against the Taliban in the last one year expecting such a statement from Chidambaram.Wow!!!- Posted by Hima BinduHima: Thanks for the date.Myra, any comment.Pakistan’s problem has always been “cause and effect” understanding.Seems like Myra got affected too. I have no hopes from Brian from what I know he writes. I have better chance with Zaid Hamid.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

@“The United States would discover the same difficult choices Indian leaders have looked at for a decade. Striking terrorist training camps achieves virtually nothing since they can easily and cheaply be rebuilt.”Myra quotes ReidelSo why worry about Chidambaram’s sledgehammer? This statement tells that Indians are not going to attack Pakistan terrorist camps since it is going to be useless (i think counterproductive).

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Keith,You have put forward some very valid points, and I am sure you would be open to valid answers as well and maybe understand the other side of the argument as well. Let me give you one example. Pakistan has not forgotten what role India played in 1971 in East Pakistan. India might not be the father of Bangladesh, but it certainly was the doctor responsible for delivering it in the OR. All you have to do is read some of the transcripts of Nixon-Kissinger conversations released a little while ago. I will not repeat his expletive laden conversations when he was describing the then Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi in particular and the Indian state as a whole, but one important sentence was “They are starting a war there.” describing the Indians and what they were attempting in East Pakistan.No one can deny the historical fact that India took advantage of the unfortunate situation in East Pakistan and took direct part in helping the insurgency by arming and training the Mukti Bahini, and in some cases Indian personnel were disguised as the Mukti Bahini. If you can see for one moment where Pakistanis are coming from you would understand the paranoia and the hysterics and conspiracy theories attributed to the ‘foreign hand’ involvement in the insurgency in the tribal areas and/or Baluchistan. Pakistanis will always be wary of Indian intent. No one can know what is lurking in a person’s heart and hence the semantics and words are the only means of conveying a message across. Hence, if the rhetoric contains the word war, for all intents and purposes it does mean war.You say, and I quote: “…various Indian politicians have made statements to that effect, that they would rule out strikes on Pakistan as long as Pakistan was tackling the insurgency.”And you expect Pakistanis to believe the above or this? And I quote: “You can only poke the elephant so many times in the eye before he decides to stomp on you.”or even this: Air Marshal KD Singh, declared that “In case of a misadventure by Pakistan in shape of major terrorist attack or the attack like the one we had on the Parliament, attack on our leader, a major city, public or hijacking an aircraft, can obviously lead to a reaction from India, which could be a short intense war.”I mean, these are not just warring words. In the face of explicit threats of war, do you expect the Pakistanis to sit tight and lower their guard? Especially in the current atmosphere of mutual distrust? Unless that’s what you want of Pakistan, a subdued neighbor, who knows his place is under the feet of the big Indian elephant?Also, Pakistanis are not the only ones who believe in conspiracy theories and rumors. As recently as June of this year Indian legislators were demanding a probe be initiated into links between Pakistani ISI and the Indian RSS. I mean, even Zaid Hamid could not come up with such absurd talk.There is no comparison between the progress India has made since independence and how far ahead it is in the economic race with respect to Pakistan. India is big, in numbers as well as size and resources, but that places a great responsibility on India as well. Instead of intimidation, threats and mixed signals, there should be a return to talks and solve problems on the table rather than in a foxhole.

Myra: “Can you say what you mean by punitive military action? Or more specifically, how would India take effective military action without running the risk of escalation? As you must know, this is one of the main reasons India has not retaliated before, because it can’t work out how to do it effectively.Do you accept that the way India and Pakistan signal their intentions to each other are often open to misinterpretation given the mistrust? Or in other words, if you were responsible for military deployment in Pakistan, would you ignore Chidambaram’s words?”None of us foresaw any kind of Indian armoured thrust through Punjab as revenge for the Mumbai attacks. I did, though, think the Indians would strike back and had a running bet with a colleague (who didn’t think they would). I am still floored by their resolve, especially that of the Indian government, given the pressure from the media, the opposition parties, etc. So, yes, the Pakistanis were right to expect some retaliation. However, to suggest that Indian tanks would be rumbling through Lahore is more than a little paranoid. It’s even more fantastical to suggest that Chidambaram’s statements be given the weight the Pakistanis did nearly a year after the attack. If anything, I’d argue the rapid mobilization of Pakistani forces did more to risk escalation and increase the potential for miscalculation than anything the Indians did, who didn’t even bother cancelling leave for Army personnel.I daresay, that more and more, there is a prevailing view that Pakistan will use India as an excuse to get out of anything they don’t want to do. Mumbai demonstrated this. They delayed deployments to Swat and the FATA even as things got worse, and cited the Indian bogeyman as an excuse, when in all reality there is no credible way that India could have attacked in any time-frame more than a few weeks after the Mumbai attacks.Myra: “Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out.”But that’s the point. During Kargil, the pressure was applied by the Americans (and the Chinese) on Pakistan not on India. Other powers trusted that India would behave itself and not cross the international border. So there is little reason to believe that if India had hit back against Pakistan, it would have been anything more than an airstrike or a special forces strike against training camps.If there was any escalation beyond that, I could foresee it coming from the Pakistani side more than the Indian side. If anything, Kargil showed that the Pakistani won’t pass up an opportunity to get aggressive with India if a chance exists.Now what a strike could have gotten India is a whole other discussion. You are right that they wouldn’t have gained much and probably lost far more in the bargain. In this case, getting the Americans involved and getting international condemnation of Pakistan was far more beneficial for India than any military retaliation could have been.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive

Myra: “Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out.”Since 1999, paks have been spinning America saved India, and because of American pressure ONLY the Kargil ended up as a fiasco.The truth is America pressured pakistan not out of kindness towards India. Indian PM, the govt conveyed in no uncertain terms absolutely no scope for any negotiation WHATSOEVER until and unless pakistan army vacates the positions it occupied. All options to evict them i.e escalation were on the table.Pakistan has initiated 4 wars 47,65,71, 99 ; only the first one ended in territorial gain (getting POK) but entangled and created the Kashmir mess.65 resulted in a declaration advantageous to India, and was diplomatic and military fiasco. Same goes for 99.Although it is very common for paks to describe all of them as victorious.Mercifully we have a phtograph like this:http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/1971/ Dec16/Surrender1.jpgOtherwise they will say pak army never surrendered.

Musaffir writes: “India is big, in numbers as well as size and resources, but that places a great responsibility on India as well. Instead of intimidation, threats and mixed signals, there should be a return to talks and solve problems on the table rather than in a foxhole.”India has been responsible. If it was any other country by now Pakistan would be in rubble. Look at what the Americans did after 9/11. India has held its horses. It has been Pakistan that has been the aggressor all along. You mention India’s size, power etc above. But your country has had the audacity to disrespect that and engage in confrontation. That is the problem. Did your country act responsible in the case of Afghanistan? It exploited the situation and gained mileage from it. Pakistan did not get involved in the anti-Soviet proxy war without seeking gains from it. And it gained a lot of destructive power that it unleashed on India after 1989. And India has taken all the bullets and has progressed economically. What does that tell you? Indians are not seeking a war and your country is. It has been itching to use the nukes. Musharraf had grand plans for Kargil. He was hoping that India will take the bait and attack Pakistan. He had nukes ready. He couldn’t care less what happened to India or his own country. Your generals have such huge bloated heads that they have failed to look around themselves and realize the poison that was spreading all around them. Now they are fighting fire in all directions and you people still blame India. India has been a very responsible power and it is being appreciated worldwide, excepting by your country. If you want us to respect you, first do that yourself. We are not waiting at your gate for your acceptance. You can stay where you are. We are moving ahead. Only we do not want stones being thrown at us from your side. If you did that, we will mind our own business. But that will leave you with nothing constructive to do, like nation building, educational and industrial infrastructure building etc. Your country has gotten used to firing bullets in the air. And staying quiet will drive your leaders insane. Your country needs psychological help to remove the paranoia it has acquired over the years.

Keith thinks from military POV and overall startegic advantages India would have in case India attacks Pakistan. He does not see India attacking, given the history and output of the attacks. Zakaria, soon after 26/11, said attack is a possibility that India would thunk but not do since it would further radicalize the nation and terrorists.Myra is all full of theory. she is chasing statements and getting mileage out of that. Sorry Myra, but that’s the way I see. I do not see much logic there. If there is any, it is shifty logic.Even during Indian operation Parakarm and Indian and Pakistani troops tense standoff for months, I knew that India will not attack Pakistan.fact is India never attacked pakistan. Even in 1971, the formal war as started by air raids in India by PAF. Perhaps during operation Parakaram after parliament attack, India was provoking Pakistan—-may be.Only a stupid of first order will attack pakistan when Pakistan is already imploding. An Indian attack will glue all terrorists and civilians, politicians and generals together with a sweet music of attack India.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Osama Bin Laden alive and well in Pakistan with new wifeAccording to a former member of the Pakistani Intelligence Service, Osama Bin Laden is in Pakistan, where he has been since the Tora Bora showdown.The source said that Bin Laden has been an asset to the Pakistani government and has enabled Pakistan to get financial and military aid from the United States.http://www.examiner.com/x-20010-N Y-Economy-and-Politics-Examiner~y2009m11 d23-Osama-Bin-Laden-alive-and-well-in-Pa kistan-with-new-wife

Posted by Johnny | Report as abusive

“Kargil did not escalate because the Americans intervened and persuaded then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to order the troops out.” MyraI think this is half the story really, with a googly thrown in, A quick reading gives the impression that the US took the intiative to stop hostilities or else things would have gone out of hand. I seem to have a different perspective on the US involvement and how it came about.At this time, I am unable to give precise references (over time I have forgotten the sources) where it was generally established that the Pakistanis after initial penetration, were in disarray and wanted a face saving way out. The only quick reference I did find which does not give out too many details is at wikipedia (where else?):http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karg il_WarA perinent quote about the final stages……”Following the outbreak of armed fighting, Pakistan sought American help in de-escalating the conflict. ……… However, President Clinton refused to intervene until Pakistan had removed all forces from the Indian side of the Line of Control.[55] Following the Washington accord on July 4, where Sharif agreed to withdraw Pakistani troops, most of the fighting came to a gradual halt, but some Pakistani forces remained in positions on the Indian side of the LOC. In addition, the United Jihad Council (an umbrella for all extremist groups) rejected Pakistan’s plan for a climb-down, instead deciding to fight on.[56]The Indian army launched its final attacks in the last week of July; as soon as the Drass subsector had been cleared of Pakistani forces, the fighting ceased on July 26. The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day) in India. By the end of the war, India had resumed control of all territory south and east of the Line of Control, as was established in July 1972 as per the Simla Agreement”The fact is that Sharif wanted to quit, wanted the US to intervene and the US laid down conditions to that intervention. In spite of Shariff, Musharaff wanted to fight on and finally things came to a halt when the Pakistanis were pushed back. I think this is more in line with what transpired.Another interesting article that I do have is by retired Air Commodore M. Kaiser Tufail which gives a picture of the serious professional rivalry between the various arms of the military at the time. The introduction to the article is a good pointer”It is telling not just for failure of Pakistan’s war planners but also the precarious relationship between democratic institutions and military ones. War, as Clausevitz said, is diplomacy by another means. There is definitely a need for an Kargil Commission in Pakistan to sort out those responsible for what turned out to be a travesty for all concerned especially as to how Pakistani military runs its affair and where the war policy is made. “http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2009/0 2/12/paf-in-kargil-a-paf-warrior-speaks- out/

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

““The United States would discover the same difficult choices Indian leaders have looked at for a decade. Striking terrorist training camps achieves virtually nothing since they can easily and cheaply be rebuilt.”Myra, for once I do not have to begin by saying I disagree! Certainly the camps will come back. Just like the LeT resurfaces under another name. It is still necessary to make a statement and send out a message. One cannot eradicate terrorism, one can at best bring it under scrutiny and make things difficult, but surely that is not reason enough to let matters be.”I haven’t spoken to anyone, including Indian analysts, who consider it to be an established fact that Mumbai was officially ordered by Pakistan or the Pakistan Army. This viewpoint was however quite prevalent in the Indian TV media immediately after 26/11.”Myra, there were two english language channels which were hell bent, and still are, trying to start a war. In fact I think their anchors probably wake up every morning and are surprised to find that it hasn’t started yet in spite of the programmes they carried the previous night. They are in fact laughable and I think if you track what media critics have to say about them, every week in the print media, you know that no one, but no one, takes them seriously. To use them as a source, even when serious analysts and commentators don’t advocate it, would ruin anyone’s credibility.The larger issue however is not that it was officially ordered, but those who did help and provide planning and training were closely involved at one time or another with the establishment. Many take refuge and try to wish it away by saying they are retired and/or therefore non-state actors – that is a no brainer. Aren’t they still drawing their pensions and other retirement benefits from the state?

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

At last we have someone like Brian, who understands the real concerns of the Pakistanis. Keep up the good work at leasr you look at situation from outside the box.As a Pakistani I feel we cant blame anyone else for our problems also have to realise that we can overcome any challenges we face but NOT coprehensivly if we have outsiedrs meddling in our internal affairs. be it the US drones, or indian stelling us how bad our Pak Forces are without even pcking a finger what their army has been, still is doing in Kashmir…OCCUPATION!Try to flick few channels and see how the Pakistani media is always trying to improve the the situation except for (hamid zaid). Then try to view couple of indian news channels constant pakistan bashing when they have enough they turn to china. Childish news anchors india and indians needs to be mature and if they want the respect they need to act like a big brother in the region than interfering in every nook of other countries as they have done so in sri-lanka, nepal, pakistan always nO1 and even the beanglis dont like their behavior. Something MUST be wrong, anyway hope common sense prevails instead of lunatics on both sides maybe little more on the indian sides reading the comments and their beloved media.

Posted by MAJID | Report as abusive

““What I took away from the article was the extent to which Chidambaram’s warning influenced thinking in the Pakistan Army”Well in that case I think Chidambaram, in an interview last night on TV has solved the problem:’In an exclusive interview with NDTV on whether Indiais safer, a year after 26/11, Home Minister P Chidambaram says war with Pakistan is not an option.”…..we have brought enormous pressure to Pakistan and I think some of our friends continue to apply pressure to Pakistan. But beyond that it would be rash to speculate on any other kind of action.’http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/c hidambaram_on_handling_pakistan_post-261 1.phpMyra, do you think there will be another rethink in the Pak Army now?”The redeployment coincided with an easing of tensions between India and Pakistan which followed a meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and President Zardari in Yekaterinburg in Russia. The question under discussion in this post was whether the army could redeploy even more troops.”My inference from this is that if India downgrades it talk of action, Pakistan would be able to redeploy more troops to fight the war in Afghanistan or its own internal militancy. I think this question has been raised often enough and answered too. Yet, it keeps popping up without any debate on the responses to it.So my question is, what about India’s threat perceptions on its western flank? Why is Pakistan justified in expecting India to create problems but unrealistic for India to have similar apprehensions about Pakistan’s intentions? Pakistan may have legitimate concerns, why is India not expected to have any? Is it because they deflect attention from the ‘other’ war on terror?

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

the writer of the article needs more research about the so called tribal area. In the so called tribal area the Pushtoons happen to live and right now they are giving dancing lessons to the marines, one sniper pinning down a platoon of marines. I would not underestimate these warriors who have never been defeated in history. Since Pakistan Army’s intrusion in their territory the Capital and the military headquater can no longer be defended by the elite Pakistan Army. The author needs to revisit his notes on the tribal people.

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@ Editor
this is not Pakistan but rexminor. you need not edit my input and then publish it under the name “Pakistan”. I am neither a Pakistani nor do I represent Pakistan!

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive