Pakistan searches for a response to Lahore shrine bombing

July 5, 2010

sufi shrineNearly a week after suicide bombers attacked one of Pakistan’s most popular shrines in Lahore, it remains unclear how the country should, and indeed will, respond to a fresh wave of attacks in its heartland Punjab province.

The government has announced plans to hold a national conference on ways to combat terrorism to try to limit the political bickering which erupted between the federal government led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Punjab provincial government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif over who was to blame.

But it is far from clear what that conference is supposed to achieve beyond a show of unity to convince Pakistan’s long-suffering people that politicians are fighting in their interests, rather than against each other.  Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has suggested the government could be open to talks with some elements in the Pakistani Taliban – echoing a call made by Sharif.  The politicians do not, however, explain how they think this would stop the bombings, and indeed what kind of terms would be needed in any putative peace deal.

As it is, the identity of those behind the bombing of the Data Durbar in Lahore is uncertain. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, has denied responsibilty for the attack. If it did turn out to be responsible then arguably – and this is a subject of much controversial debate – Pakistan could trade a slowdown in military operations against it in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in return for an end to violence in the country’s heartland.

But what if the TTP were telling the truth and it was not involved in the bombings? Another possible culprit is al Qaeda, possibly working through one of the sectarian Punjab-based groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to which it has been linked. Al Qaeda has no reason to talk to the Pakistan government – it knows it is ultimately a pawn in the bigger battle for influence in Afghanistan – where the bottom-line U.S. price for any kind of eventual political settlement would require a severing of ties between the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Another option would be a crackdown on the Punjab-based groups which are believed to have made common cause with both al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. Labelled as the “Punjabi Taliban” – an unhelpful description which tends to obscure the very real differences between Punjab-based militant groups – they have caught the public eye more and more recently.  But with the Pakistan Army drawing many of its recruits from the same pool of conservative, rural, Punjabi families that supply the Punjab-based militant groups with volunteers, it would be hard – maybe impossible – to launch a military crackdown. And the police force is neither equipped, nor powerful enough, to tackle them.

In any case, the attack on the shrine in Lahore is not the first “wake-up call” for Pakistan about the danger posed by militant groups in Punjab. That came last year, with the attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi. If a raid on the most powerful institution in the country was not enough to create a change of policy, then why would the attack on Lahore?

Scroll out to the bigger picture, and there are some very fierce – possibly existential – battles going on. One is the obvious one between Pakistan and India that has been playing out since 1947,  in which Pakistan – by most accounts – made up for its relatively small size by nurturing groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed to fight India in Kashmir.  Another is Pakistan’s own struggle for influence in Afghanistan, where it is seen as looking to the Afghan Taliban to join a government in Kabul which will be – if not friendly – at least not unfriendly.

Less noticed, but equally important, is the intense rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran – both of whom have a stake in how the cards fall in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The growth of sectarian anti-Shi’ite groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba in Pakistan is usually traced to this rivalry, as Saudi Arabia sought to shore up Sunnis against the perceived danger of Shi’ite activism following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Finally, overlay on top of all of that a battle for the soul of Islam itself – between those who believe its future lies in a return to the life of the Prophet Mohammed and his companions and those who want to modernise the religion ( and in the case of South Asian Sufism, synthesise it with the mystical faith of other religions) – and you have a battle comparable to the very violent Protestant Reformation in Europe in the 16th century.

For all the talk about responding to the attack in Lahore, these problems will not be solved soon.

And then read this, A Lament for Lahore, on how it might have been.

(Photo: The widow and child of a man killed in the attack on the shrine)


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“First they came …” is a popular poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group. In Niemöller’s first utterance of it, in a January 6, 1946 speech before representatives of the Confessing Church in Frankfurt. The poem is re-written for today’s Pakistan.

“First they came…”, Terrorists of Pakistan.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the Hindus and Sikhs, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Hindu or Sikh;

Then they came for the Ahmadis, and I did not speak out—because I was not an Ahmadi;

Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Christian;

Then they came for the Shias, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Shia;

Then they came for the Human Rights Activists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Human Rights Activist;

Then they came for the women, and I did not speak out—because I was not a woman

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out

Posted by rrdas | Report as abusive

Has there been anybody who didn’t warn the Pakistanis publicly or privately that they were playing with fire? Even outstanding Pakistanis like Galatians Kazoos agree these terrorists need to be shut down across the board.

However, it’s now a political issue. There are strong parallels in the political complexities with how Hindu extremists like the Bajrang Dal operate in India. Same situation. Extremists operate under the protection of a sympathetic state/provincial government while a nervous central government tries to get a grip on the situation.

The difference, however, is that the Bajrang Dal aren’t under the patronage of the federal government or Army in India.

The solution will have to be a wholescale rethink of Pakistan’s relations with “non-state actors. Beyond that maybe they even need to tear a page from the Indian Playbook and break up Punjab to create a more balanced federation.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

It’s already clear who the conference will blame. It’ll be the Americans and the drone attacks. Such is the depth of Pakistani moral courage. Heck, we’ve seen some Pakistanis on these forums blame the victims. What can ya say?

This is why I’ve said that Pakistan toady has strong parallels to pre-war Germany where the national victimhood narrative was played up and blame was placed on the minorities. Sadly, Niemoller’s poem is an accurate reflection of the Pakistani public’s attitude towards terrorists who target minorities.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

All the political parties must forget their differences and show consent on this important issue of terrorism. Unless and until we get rid of this menace, we won’t be able to run our other affairs in their entirety.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive


A simple question to show you why this problem can’t be solved: do you support the use of terrorism in Kashmir?

If you do then you are part of the problem. You see, every one of these groups has somebody somewhere who supports them. And unless Pakistanis reject terrorism completely nothing will change. After all what’s the difference between a Pakistani and an Indian or Afghan or NATO soldier getting killed? If it’s okay for these groups to kill them then is it not okay to kill Pakistanis they consider to be infidels (all non-Wahhabist/Deobandi Sunnis)? This is why Pakistanis should reject all terrorism and demand that the government and Army stop supporting them anywhere.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Corrections: …outstanding Pakistanis like Talat Masood…

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the good general several times. He’s always maintained that supporting terrorists was wrong…even to deal with India and Kashmir. He didn’t support it because he worried about consequences like this. Unfortunately, one wonders if today’s crop of generals in Pakistan have his wisdom.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive


You summed it all. Thanks for your post.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive


I think Pakistan is truly screwed. The United States did have a civil war, a war of ideals. Pakistan is far from having a war of ideals with itself. The sane voices in Pakistan are often labelled as “unislamic”, “5th column reporters”, or “traitors”.

One has yet to figure out, how reason, rationality and above all….Humanity….how can you breed out the cultural cruelty towards non-muslims and muslim minorities?

I am still shocked that on this blog, that more Pakistani’s are not downright angry at the butcher of these minorities…this silence and lack of emotion from most Pakistani’s is quite disturbing and a troubling trend. Looking the other way…this is exactly how the JEWS were killed in Germany…people just started looking the other way and not saying anything…this is what Pakistani’s appear to be doing as well.

Pakistan’s troubles cannot be fixed by any means, as long as the average people believe in keeping down minorities and believe the status quo of labelling other sects as illegal muslims or non-muslims…..I am sorry…but to some extent, the blame is on the people themselves.

This really comes down to the old concept of “infidel”. In such a modern world, this term needs to be tossed out or redefined somehow, as it will give rise and justification to human actions such as cruelty, subjugation, inhuman treatment and unspeakable horror against some non-muslims by some muslims.

Pakistani’s are not rejecting terrorism, if they were, they would do it, with the ferocity and drive of the civil rights movement. It does not seem that protecting minorities with a different religious point of view is politically popular. As I said earlier, Pakistan has done a great job defining what a muslim is, just not what a human being is.

At the risk of sounding lame and humorous, it seems that sending in Greenpeace to save “endangered species” in Pakistan, maybe warranted.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Sectarian violence in Pakistan seems to indicate a much worse rot that is self inflicted. Pakistani military establishment invested heavily into radicalization in the 1980s and beyond. What we are seeing today is the fruition of those efforts. Though Pakistanis would love to blame the Americans for encouraging Jihad against the Soviets, Pakistan went along with it because its goals were different and it saw a lot of gain from that alignment. Pakistan helped itself to build the nuclear bomb technology to give the needed deterrent against India, and the plan was to launch massive Jihad into Kashmir after the war in Afghanistan ended. Everyone knows this and there is no need to repeat it here. This kind of plan comes with its risks. Pak generals took that risk and it did not pay off for them. Al Qaeda’s global efforts derailed Pakistan’s regional goals. This has invited the Americans back and turned the Af-Pak region into a war zone. And the blow back has resulted in the poison beginning to eat Pakistan itself. This is not going to stop if the government uses violence to quell it. Violence only strengthens militancy. Pakistan does not have any resources to undo everything. It has taken three decades to get this far. It will take even longer than that to change everything. A whole new generation has grown amidst all this radical indoctrination. They are not going to disappear into thin air any time soon. At the fundamental level, Pakistan has been rotting. And it is beginning to shake its very foundation. I do not know if there is any way out of this or not. Though Pakistanis claim everything is all right, only a miracle could save their country from the flames that their generals have set up for them.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

A very significant sections of the pak population, and within the army/ISI support the ideology behind these terrorist attacks. They disapprove sufism, Ahmedis calling themselves muslims and so on.

Islam has to be “purified” according to this mindset. In this context, prospects are pretty grim.

There is a news item in Dawn today indicating suicide bombers were from Lahore itself.

Talking about this as a law and order problem which will be quickly fixed by military action is fantasy.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

@Singh, Seeker of Truth,

You guys, just think how refreshing, new and courageous it would be, if the Pakistani youth were to take on such a charge of social revolution against militant-ism in their cities, demanding justice, equality and freedom for ALL people, regardless of

I saw how charged and angry Pakistani’s were with the sacking of the chief justic Chaudry, facebook and the blasphemous cartoons depicting the great prophet Mohammed and those were perfectly bonafied reasons for Pakistani’s to be upset.

But when you compare those situations to the butcher of Ahmadi’s and Sufi’s, the world barely saw a trickle of Pakistani’s protesting or rallying in the streets for justice against these senseless suicide murders.

Is this because they are scared, don’t care, or feel that somehow the victims deserved it? It is probably any and all of the above reasons and that is quite disturbing. Are these qualities associated in the eternal quest for a more “pure” Pakistan?

I have been saying for some time now that the political mindset has to change. The tool for doing that in Pakistan, unfortunately can only happen with the help of the Army…they created the Frankenstein…only the PA can dismantle and destroy the Frankenstein of Militantism, which has shaped the minds of Pakistani’s and the political landscape.

Also, we often here the Soviet occupation as the sole source of militantism, while it did originate, from there, it was only 8 years long and despite that Pakistan’s have weaponized militant islam jihad for almost 22 years, three times longer than the soviet occupation.

I ask my Pakistani’s friends this….does this not make Pakistan far worse than the Soviets for nursing militantism? I am tired of hearing the same excuse of Kashmir and conspiracy stories of Indian interference in Balochistan…those old tired excuses are running thin and don’t hold ground under any sort of professional scrutiny.

The world is yearning for a Pakistani awakening within people’s minds to expel militantism from their soil, for good. There are just too many Pakistani’s doing the safe thing and just towing the status quo.

Things will continue to get worse for minorities and militancy will continue to grow like a virus in Pakistan, because at the grass roots, nobody has the political or moral will or courage to take this demon on. There is plenty of cheap talk from the fearless leaders of Pakistan, yet not even a drop of action to prevent it at its source.


You can bet if the U.S. left Afghanistan tomorrow, Pakistani establishment will start reigning all of its militants and refocus them back to do more terrorism upon India, full well knowing that the Indian Army has to keep law and order there and hoping to re-politicize the eternal suffering of the Kashmiri’s at the hands of the Indian Army. The Kashmiri suffering started with Pak militants crossing the LOC into Kashmir.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive


BTW, thank you for that englightening post. The murder of minorities in Pakistan is a national moral failure, even if it was done by the hands of a few common criminals. I am not saying that all Pakistani’s are to blame for it. It just underscores the national mindset towards minorities there and with exclusionary mindsets, are born groups which will indulge in such radical behavior.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

There are several players involved in this problem. See the latest Guardian article about UK’s intelligence propping up Al Qaeda leaders even after 9/11. These guys are no angels and do not care if the rest of the world burns. Pakistan is burning not only because of its own warped choice, but also due to the morons in UK and the US. 2010/jul/05/bin-laden-radical-islam-coll usion

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

As you know people in Punjab and Sindh wouldn’t have converted to Islam without sufism. Indic Islam if you could find a name for it….now…they have made a bargain with the devil.

Singh, i agree western powers have played a negative role. But paks more than eagerly voluntered for Jihad.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

And kpsingh’s anti-western reflex kicks back in.

Pray tell what would you have the West do when pro-western governments were falling left, right and centre. How would the Cold War have turned out for example if the mujahideen in Afghanistan had not been supported?

Sadly it’s exactly these kind of ignorant chip-on-the-shoulder mindsets that kept the West and India apart during the Cold War and threaten to do the same today if they are lent any credence. Imagine where Bangalore would be if all the Indian diplomats thought like kpsingh when Clinton and then Dubya sought out better relations with India leading to trade relations that facilitated an IT boom.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

[…] protests in Kashmir also coincide with some fresh soul-searching in Pakistan over the role of militant groups – some of whom were once nurtured to fight India in Kashmir […]

Posted by Kashmir protests: another tragedy of timing « Read NEWS | Report as abusive

I have said before and I’ll say it again: too many strong parallels between Pakistan today and the Weimar Republic/early Third Reich. Then they went after the Jews. Today, it seems that anybody who’s not Sunni is fair game in Pakistan.

And may your god help you if you aren’t Muslim (or defined by them as Muslim) and live in Pakistan today. You’re just there for target practice for Sunni terrorists.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

I’ve said it before and I too will say it again :):

Until and unless we/they drain the swamps, we’ll continue wasting too much energy shooting individual mosquitoes.

Abuse of Islam for political expansionism is the root cause for this hateful ideology. As long as mosques will continue to be used to preach the ideology of “us vs them” instead of solely focusing of spiritual aspects, this bloody mess ain’t going anywhere.

It is so unfortunate for the followers of this faith that their religion was hijacked (my word-of-the-week btw) by power-hungry people at a very early stage since its inception. Look at the irony that opposition of clergy and establishment of direct contact between Man and his God was the most salient feature behind the acceptance of Islam and these days, its caught between the vicious power struggle of same clergy kind of setup that it opposed. From that viewpoint, it looks like that may be this hijacking of a religion is perhaps an essential phase in the life of a religion and some not-so-distant future holds great positive reforms for this religion too.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

“Abuse of Islam for political expansionism is the root cause for this hateful ideology. As long as mosques will continue to be used to preach the ideology of “us vs them” instead of solely focusing of spiritual aspects, this bloody mess ain’t going anywhere.”

–>This is exactly what I find troubling is when some muslims get a mob mentality and preach God’s name and utter death against someone in the same breath. (Iran, Pakistan, Palestine). This separation of state and god must occur, if people are ever to become aware, educated and live a peaceful existence.

Since when did God ever give permission to any person to associate his name with an evil act upon anybody? You cannot blame poverty or outside forces for such an abominable act. Philosophically, it does not make sense for would-be religious people to utter violence and god in the same breath, because if you do, you are actually serving two masters. Nobody is a saint here, but you cannot serve two masters and expect a favorable outcome.

In most religions these days, unfortunately the more politicized it becomes, the more militant and Godless it becomes and spirituality of religion takes a back seat and reason and rationality enter into the lowest possible state.


I agree with keithz, nothing will be furthered and no gain made, if you continually reminisce of the cold war days and how the U.S. treated India. India is so much more of a global grade player and can’t be poked and proded like some animal.

You should take comfort knowing that Manmohan Singh came to the G20 audience in Canada and when he talked, he was a commanding presence as the PM of India. He is the only professional economist AND leader of a country. They all listened. Times have changed…so should perhaps your point of view. The Indian diaspora in Canada, UK and U.S. have greatly prospered and have much political clout, especially with regards to India and the direction it is going. You need not worry about India, it is in good hands.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

I am guessing kpsingh is just old. He reminds me of a conversation I had with a US diplomat posted at the US embassy in India. He said you come across two types of bureaucrats in the Indian Foreign and Civil services.

The first is a cold war relic. He (and it’s usually a he) is usually an upper caste Hindu who loves all the trappings of status (that come with caste and position), barely does a lick of work, is happy with being in middle management, and utterly despises the West because he hasn’t moved past Nehruvian anti-colonial rhetoric.

The other (usually the subordinate of the first) is likely to be far more educated, has exposure to the West and Western values (either through formal education, or travel or friendships with Westerners), has a modern and forward looking and confident outlook, doesn’t give a hoot about the cold war (being raised after it), is far less concerned with caste and status issues, works twice as hard, is twice as smart and is fully aware of global geopolitics and how and where India fits in.

Sadly, the American observed, you usually have to deal with the former to get to the latter….and it’s the first kind that’s still in charge. He wasn’t wrong. My experience, and those of almost everybody I know who’s dealt with India in any official capacity relates the same story.

The first kind like kpsingh, harbour Cold War grudges two decades after the fact. The latter bunch as signing global treaties adressing global issues (like nuclear proliferation and climate change), gamed out India’s IT boom, and are confidently taking India forward.

To bring this back to Pakistan….this is an area where Pakistan can learn a lot from India. Despite the frustrations mentioned above, India is slowly developing a mature and capable civil service, something Pakistan is sorely lacking (perhaps through design on the part of the PA). Pakistan’s civil service is competent but very small (particularly in the core policy making functions). Good administrators are rare. And that severely impedes progress.

Myra…excuse the diversion. Thanks.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

KeithZ: “I am guessing kpsingh is just old.”

I have always tried understand the geo-political situation from various angles. There are two sets of issues involved in South Asia – India versus Pakistan is one. Then there is a super set that involves the Western powers. In the past there was the USSR. It is gone, leaving behind the remaining two sets. For Indians, the first set is the most critical one. Unfortunately events and decisions related to the super set have direct consequences to the subset. As Indians, we’d like to be confined to our subset and be independent of the superset. We have always tried to understand why the situation with Pakistan has been so complicated and what has helped this rogue nation wriggle out every time it has been cornered. In the past, people from the West just did not understand or care about India’s woes. This was true prior to the arrival of Obama and even continued to a lesser degree. India still is perceived as a thorn in the flesh as far as decisions and actions regarding Af-Pak is concerned. Pakistan has managed to slip out of the grip by pointing at India. In order to get Pakistan to co-operate, the West has chosen to ignore India’s position. I have seen comments even from you that India should think of getting out of Afghanistan. I see comments from Western authors asking India to resolve Kashmir issue, just so that Pakistan can be made to co-operate to solve Western issues. Soon Pakistan might demand that India pay them a yearly tribute and the West might accede to that as well. Look at it from our stand point. Until 2009, Pakistan mostly got away with most of its evil acts and it was due to Western connivance. To me, only the sub-set matters and the superset is merely dragging things away.

India doing business with the West is a totally different regime that involves businessmen, chambers of commerce, diplomats etc. Geo-politics is a different ball game. The West has been using Pakistan and its terrorist machinery to achieve its goals in other parts of the world as the Guardian article points out. It makes a mockery out of the global war on terrorism. I am now wondering if Bin Laden search was abandoned by the neocons because he had other uses for them. May be the ISI knows this and the CIA knows this too. So they are merely dancing around the bush instead of burning it off.

The West has its evil side. Though you may not like to admit it, we have directly suffered from it. We also see double standards – Terrorism is only that directed at America and its allies. The others seem to be children of a lesser God. Headley could not be accessed by Indian interrogators for a long time and lot of diplomatic efforts were needed. This is when both the US and India were affected by the Mumbai attacks.

It is interesting to note that my initial reference points at UK intelligence using Al Qaeda for its activities in the Caspian sea region and Yugoslavia. And some of it went beyond 9/11. While Blair preached staunch support for the war on terror, his intelligence department was still going hand in glove with the same elements that were being chased. I can connect the dots. Looks like you have assumed to be the sole representative of the West and are not able to put things together. And you are calling me a cold war residue.

Respect and reliance have to be mutual. It should not place one party at a high pedestal and the other submitting at its feet. Looks like that’s the kind of vision you still have. That, in my opinion, is the colonialist and cold war mindset. You need to come out of it. I wonder why a Canadian citizen is so upset when I am bringing in a reference about UK. Canada might be a great place. But why are you defending UK? We Indians do not trust the British much. They have been quite severe towards India compared even to the US. The US has warmed up with India. UK is still sitting on the wall.

One gets cautious after touching a boiling vessel. That memory will always be there because one does not know clearly what is brewing inside.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

KeithZ: I am not a civil servent. I am an ordinary citizen of India. You seem to draw major conclusions with very little sampling. India is huge and diverse. Most Indians are ignorant of what is going on. I’d say about 95 percent of the population lives in its own world. The rest 5% is the one that has interest in global issues. And there is a vast diversity in that population ranging from staunch Communists to socialists to liberals to anti-Indian to pro-West and neutral. I know of people living in India, who hate India. And they are not Muslims by the way. My community has been affected severely by the policies of the Congress Party. There are members of my community who hate India for what has happened to their kin. We’d like good relations with all countries. That’s what Nehru wanted to do. But cold war polarized the world and its effects have not disappeared entirely. I’d say the worst villains today are the Saudis and guess where they are sitting comfortably. No one even has the audacity to call a spade a spade. Saudis are protected by the West at all costs. We know Iraq war happened because of the Saudis. GWB sent his troops back into Iraq to topple Saddam not because of WMDs but he became a threat to the Saudis. The US is still nice to Pakistan for the same reason. Taliban cannot be crushed because Saudis are behind it. Saudi Arabia is the real villain and Pakistani military is its hitman. That is why the West is simply dancing around.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

G-W: “I agree with keithz, nothing will be furthered and no gain made, if you continually reminisce of the cold war days and how the U.S. treated India. India is so much more of a global grade player and can’t be poked and proded like some animal. ”

I am not anti-West. I criticize where things are not right as I see it. Just because India and the West are getting closer, I do not want to drop any caution. The West has been unreliable before and it can happen again. With the events that are unfolding, one cannot be certain which way things would go. When Pak trained militants attacked the Indian parliament, India was ready to go to war with Pakistan. Nuclear destruction or not, India was willing to go ahead with the risk. It was sat down by the US with the threat of pulling back all business out of the country. This is because US efforts in Afghanistan would be affected by this war. And the Pak military establishment is exploiting this weakness to the hilt. Any time it is pressurized, it turns around and tells the US about Indian threat. To prove its point it provokes India with a militant attack. And the US backs down. This has been going on and on. Tomorrow, if it suits them, the West can tell India to take a royal hike if they see any big resolution for their efforts that might need sacrificing India. One cannot forget history in order not to make the same mistake twice. We have to learn from our experience. I’d be cautious no matter what. Keith can say whatever he wants. He lacks our experience and perspective.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive


I understand your reticence. However, I really don’t think it’s warranted. What does the US have to gain from India being insecure? Answer me that. Western governments aren’t allowing their multi-nationals to pour in billions into India only to see their investments and citizens get blown up by cross-border terrorists.

That said, the West also has to cover its own behind. Undoubtedly, mistakes were made in the past. One big one was not compelling Pakistan to dismantle the Jihadist infrastructure post-Cold War. But we are where we are. If you were sitting in London or Washington, what would you have your government do? Not co-operate with Pakistan at all? Unfortunately, we have to co-operate with them and so we do. That said, nothing is static. And you can bet that relations with Pakistan will be cast in a new light as soon the last Western soldier leaves Afghanistan.

As for India and the West, understand that it’s awkward for us to be in the middle. What you see as the US backing down from Pakistan, is really an effort to avoid being in the middle. Put yourself in the shoes of the US President for a second. You have Pakistan on one side complaining about Kashmir and India agression. And India on the other hand complaining about Pakistani terrorism. And then there’s their own interests, which are overwhelmingly security concerns emanating from the region. Whatever they do, someone maligns them. So their choice always tends to be the one that minimizes conflict immediately.

This is why pressure was applied on India following the Parliament attacks. But ultimately the choice was India’s. You talk as though the US prevented India from attacking Pakistan. Care to explain how they did that? India could have easily pursued military action. It risked a few sanctions but nothing much. It could have done so after Mumbai as well. But didn’t. That India hasn’t gone to war with Pakistan isn’t because of US (or anybody else’s) pressure. It’s because your government has rightly calculated that nothing much is to be gained from war with Pakistan. If anything, India would be cast and confirmed as the aggressor.

Heck, I once had an Indian official himself tell me that India can absorb a hundred Mumbais. It’s just a matter of public opinion. He’s right. Look at the economic fall-out from 9/11 versus the Mumbai attacks. 9/11 caused billions in damages and contributed to a recession. The Mumbai attacks didn’t have any material impact on the Indian economy. But the consequences for Pakistan on the other hand were worse. With every attack in India, they are significantly maligned globally. Their reputation as a source of terrorism is being cemented. And as that happens, things like foreign investment and tourism are taking their leave from the country. So that Indian official was right. Please don’t assume that it’s automatically the West that’s constraining India’s actions. Sometimes, you just have some smart fellows in Delhi who’ve calculated that Indian restraint is worth far more than risking nuclear war with Pakistan.

As for my perspective, as someone who still has family in the region, I assure you that my perspective is more than academic.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

KeithZ: I agree with your view that one does not have to be paranoic about the West based on the past. Being cautious is not tantamount to being paranoic. Sure Pakistan is being slowly isolated and cornered and one can tell its effects very clearly in the form of increased violence there. The last time Pakistan faced the pariah status was when Zia Ul Haq took over power. The nation managed to turn the whole thing around and became a frontline nation in the war against the Soviets. Ahmed Rashid, in his work, “Descent into chaos” writes that the Soviets were lured into a “bear trap” by the Pakistani military with CIA. Things to trigger Soviet invasion were set off months in advance. Once the Soviets got in, Zia’s dream of a nuclear armed, fundamentalist Pakistan began to emerge. The US made sure that no country could come on the way of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb development (“Nuclear Deception” by Adrian Levy and Catherine Clark). The CIA and state department removed all evidence of Pakistani transactions for Maraging Steel and other critical hivac components. And they tipped off Pakistanis of a potential Indian/Israeli joint strike on Kahuta. Reagan lied to Congress repeatedly that Pakistan did not have a bomb. The lie was exposed the hard way by India using a military exercise named Brass Tacks. Pakistan took the bait and began to arm its fighter jets with nukes. The situation became grave and AQ Khan was fooled into proclaiming Pakistan’s nuke capability, delivery systems and what it would do to India. Reagan had been certifying that Pakistan did not have the capability to redesign the carriers on F16 to deliver nukes. Anyway that is old story. The jist of this story is that if another exigency arises, all bets are off. Pakistan has managed to trigger a global level conflict in its vicinity and place itself in a strategic position to win all its favors. I am sure 9/11 was another such trigger in which Pakistan willfully co-ordinated with Al Qaeda. They probbably planned everything out on what the reaction would be, where to hide the assets, how to lay low and how to drag the whole thing. In the bargain, Pakistan got to take billions of dollars which found its way to the same elements, strengthening them. This, I’d call as the “Eagle Trap.” Pakistan has managed to milk the US for about a decade and this plan has run out. Who knows what the next trick would be. All the elements it bred and sustained are still there. Saudis are backing everything at the same time. We Indians can see this, and it will not be obvious to the Westerners. Kashmir cage is being kept deliberately rattled to keep the elements aligned with Pakistan’s objectives. We are sitting next this criminal state which is manipulating the West at its will. Though it appears to be at the receiving end, the reality is the other way around. We are surprised that the sophisticated West is unable to realize this. We do not think Westerners are dumb. If they are dancing to Pakistan’s tunes, then there is some purpose that fits their agenda as well. Otherwise why would they be stretching it this far? That is why when I saw the Guardian article on what the UK intelligence was doing in Kosovo and Chechnya using Al Qaeda elements after 9/11, I sat up and took note. It fits into my reasoning. There is an ulterior reason and its objectives are being manipulated by Pakistan so that it can derive maximum gain out of it for its own regional goals. We are trying to see how this trickery can be exposed and untangled. If the West can turn straight once in for all, and be sincere in its efforts, then it will encourage people like us to trust them more (not that it matters, but there are many like me in India).

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Pakistan leaders should not suppress its citizens and wage a war like the Brits did in the colonial times. The myth of the Punjabi army superiority is being smashed by the Pashtoons tribesmen and there is still time to save the country from the army brinkmanship. The military in the country must be nationalised and the use of military against the civil population should be legislated as illegal. The history of Pakistan has seen many military rulers since the civilian Govt. time and again called for the army to suppress the civilian population. Let the civilian Govt. not repeat the mistakes of former civilian Govzs.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

[…] long Pakistan can withstand what it sees as blowback from the Afghan war. A new wave of attacks, including on the country’s most important Sufi shrine in Lahore, have raised fresh fears about stability in its heartland Punjab province. Pakistan has faced […]

Posted by Towards a settlement in Afghanistan; on terms and timing « Read NEWS | Report as abusive

Keith and G-W:

You doubt posters who do not trust the West or USA over their policies.

I think one should not trust anyone blindly–be that West or not. Cold war is an old thing according to you. Agreed. Could you then explain how Bush Admn handled as serious an issue as global terrorism by attacking Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with A-Q and WOT and WTC attack? Even a street vendor knew that there is no WMD in there. Shrugging it off as “distraction” is not an explanation when so many Iraqis died and the WOT was forgotten, hurting the region with Taliban NOW out of control and whole area a big mess and back to pre-9/11 days. With that iraq war alone, I doubt the USA policy in general–notwithstanding change in admn. Either the USA is stupid or cooking something. We often blame Pakistan that they do not label all terrorists as terrorists. USA is not far behind than Pak. We have seen how well the USA is willing to label terrorists as terrorist. Pakistan-based anti-India terrorism is at least 20yr old and India is saying which to this blog writers is a news. It is a sad fact that the USA needs to feel the heat or fear the terrorists attack before they label anyone thus. Have we not seen already? There is a need to befriend the USA but not close eyes on stupid policies. I always doubt the USA using economic sanctions to arm twist Pakistan. That is just not going to happen with so many factors. Now we see US-Pak civil nuclear deal is being thrown around as new thing to reward Pak. This cannot get anymore stupid.

So yes, what other explanation than “distraction” has been given for the unnecessary Iraq war.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

that previous post was mainly for Keith. G-W is welcome though.

Can be discussed under different entry since this is not relevant here. But I saw Keth-KP Singh posts and thought to add my 2 cents.

Thank you

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Those who originate from the east and study in the west should try to understand the language and the culture of the western countries. It is not difficult to acquire university education, PHD and assemble enormous knowledge. But very complex to understand the knowledge. Let me hasten to state that there are no terrorists in the world. State terrorism yes and the resistance from the individuals and groups of people we have been witnessing in the past several decades. Have I made the world events transparent. Now please tell me who are the terrorists you are talking about all the time, repeating the propaganda from one side who believe to have the patent for labelling individuals and groups as insurgents and terrorists. We as individuals do not have the patent on terrorism! We should simply regard them as criminals if need be. Both peaceful and violent resistance has always been the part of the history of mankind. Have a nice day.
Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive