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The implosion of Pakistan
The most dangerous place in the world
Pakistan is a failed state but not a terrorist state
Articles on Pakistan before 2011

  • (september 2011) The implosion of Pakistan.

    Ten years later, here is a quick summary of what happened (now that a lot of dust has settled).

    The Taliban were created and funded by:

    • Covert aid from Pakistan's secret services (ISI) for what is de facto a weapon of mass destruction (Islamic extremists) to complement the country's nuclear arsenal and conventional forces
    • Heroin production and exports to the West
    • Funding from Saudi Arabia for Islamic fundamentalists
    • The withdrawal of the USA from the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union
    The effect of the 2011 terrorist attacks on the USA:
    • Popular desire for revenge in the USA
    • A widespread campaign of disinformation by the US government
    • A complacent US parliament
    • A muzzled US press that does not dare to contest the president's theories
    • A rapid US rearmament after the brief lull of disarmament that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union
    • Emphasis on catching the terrorists rather than on nation building
    • Emphasis on preventing other attacks rather than on respecting international law
    • Exposing the inadequacy of Cold War-era military strategy and intelligence service (CIA)
    The effects of the US invasion of Afghanistan:
    • Defeat of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (that does not consistute a serious element of the Taliban anymore)
    • Multiple terrorist attacks across Europe, North Africa, Indonesia and the Middle East
    • Interrogations, jails and security subcontracted to private contractors subject to little oversight because the US military is not prepared for the task
    • Rebuilding subcontracted to corrupt and incompetent US companies
    • Prisoner abuses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Arab countries tolerated or even encouraged
    • Erosion of the credibility of international law (United Nations, Convention of Geneva)
    • Justification and motivation for Islamic "terrorists"
    • Warlord federalism funded by the USA in Afghanistan
    • Low credibility of the central government in Afghanistan
    • Rebuilding lower priority than fighting Al Qaeda, i.e. Afghanistan remains in ruins
    • Alleviating poverty in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not a priority at all
    • Resurgence of the Taliban
    • Boom of heroin production and exports
    • Flee of thousands of Islamic fighters to Pakistan, and Talibanization of northwestern Pakistan and of Quetta
    • Economic slump in Pakistan while India is booming
    • Increase of Sunni suicide bombings against Shiites in Pakistan
    • Meltdown of Pakistani government, military and society
    • Islamic militants turn against Pakistan
    • Pakistan has almost 300 suicide bombings in the ten years since september 2011, killing more than 4,600 people, but before september 2011 it had only one suicide bombing in its entire history
    • Anti-USA sentiment in Pakistan
    • The USA is willing to let the Pakistani help the Taliban regroup in exchange for Pakistan arresting Al Qaeda terrorists
    • Double game by the Pakistani secret services and army towards the USA
    • Nuclear proliferation (Iran)
    • Tolerance for the totalitarian and corrupt regimes of the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia as well as for Pakistan's dictator, which leads to worse human-rights situations in the region as political dissidents are arrested under the pretext of fighting terrorism and to higher corruption as lucrative contracts with the US military are snapped by the ruling families
    • The war on terrorism provides excuses to totalitarian regimes to wipe out the opposition by fabricating ties to Al Qaeda
    • Bitterness by mainland China that sees US troops deployed all over Central Asia and reacts by forging closer ties with Central Asian states
    • Increased tension between India and Pakistan, which in turn removes Pakistani troops from the Afghan border, which in turn helps more Islamic fighters flee to Pakistan and set up bases there
    • Boom of the opium trade in Afghanistan
    Success stories in Afghanistan:
    • Five million children went to school in 2005, and many of them were girls
    • Hundreds of newspapers, magazines, radio stations and tv stations open
    • A new currency was introduced in october 2002
    • A new fast highway was built between Kabul and Kandahar
    • The Afghan economy grew 15% during 2002-04
    Pakistan is a dysfunctional state:
    • Nuclear scientists independently sold nuclear secrets to other states (1987) and met with Islamic terrorists
    • The army independently attacked India (1999)
    • The secret services independently funded terrorist attacks against India (2000s)
    • The Pakistani police arrest hundreds of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists while the secret services and the military patronize Taliban, Kashmiri militants and Sunni extremists
    • The Kashmiri conflict has caused the secret services of Pakistan to become more powerful than the civilian government
    • The militarization of Pakistan has come at the expense of education and development
    • One of the lowest literacy rates in the world but one of the highest number of madrassas in the world
    • Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam wins rigged elections (2002) in the northwestern provinces and in Balochistan of Pakistan, and becomes a protector of the Taliban in Balochistan and of both the Haqqani fighters and Gulbuddin Hikmetyar's militias in the northwest, while the Balochis (largely secular) stage their fifth popular revolt
    • News media always claimed that the 2001 terrorist attacks were not carried out by Arabs but by the CIA and Israel
    • Pakistan's nuclear program caused the USA to sign a nuclear treaty with India
    • Earthquake (2005) and floods (2010)
    • The highest number of drug addicts in the world (5 million people in 2000)
    • An endless power struggle among four entities: the army, headed by general Ashfaq Parvez Kayani; the spy agency (the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate), led by Ahmed Shuja Pasha)[Note: replaced in 2012 by Zaheer-ul Islam], that is the main supporter of Islamic jihadists in the region; the democratically elected president Asif Ali Zardari; and the Supreme Court (headed by chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry) that caused the collapse of military dictator Pervez Musharraf.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (august 2011) The most dangerous place in the world.
    The side effects of an action are mostly unpredictable, and some actions end up having much more spectacular side effects than their direct effect. The killing of Osama bin Laden (an event that has left most of the world's public opinion largely indifferent) might be one of them. It certainly proved that the USA eventually kills its enemies. It probably demoralized and weakened Al Qaeda (which was on the way out anyway after the Arab Spring movements offered a more viable alternative to the young Arab masses). It may have appeased the public opinion in the USA that demanded revenge for the terrorist attacks of 2001. But the obvious effect has also been to terminate the friendship between Pakistan and the USA that had already been tested by the drone attacks on Pakistani territory and other unilateral military actions by the USA inside Pakistan and in the Pakistani sphere of influence inside Afghanistan. And the main effect has been to cause a massive crisis of confidence and identity in Pakistan.
    The only institution that was respected and that seemed to work in Pakistan was the army. Civilian structures are corrupt and incompetent. The army was supposed to be just the opposite. The US strike against Osama bin Laden proved that it is not the case: word in the street is that the Pakistani army was aware of Osama's presence, and, if that were not the case, the Pakistani army would be guilty of a worse crime, i.e. of having been fooled by Osama even before it was fooled by the USA. Either it was so incompetent that it didn't realize the world's most wanted fugitive lived near a military base, or it was so corrupt that even the world's most wanted fugitive could buy the military's silence. On top of it, the USA managed to fly in and out undisturbed, which is not exactly a sign of competence and efficiency by the Pakistani agencies in charge of preventing and stopping an invasion of the country.
    The net result is that Pakistan is more unstable than ever. Nobody enjoys any degree of popular support. Since its founding, Pakistan has been ripped apart by an internal civil war between Shiites and Sunnis that has claimed tens of thousands of victims; it has fought wars against India and fought a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; it has never acquired full control over the Baluchis who have their own separatist movement in the south; now it has a new civil war between the Pakistani Taliban and the government. The Osama affair has been the last straw: even the most optimistic Pakistani now thinks that the country is doomed.
    As the country collapses the temptation to take advantage of the situation is probably strong for many people ranging from generals to secret services to the Taliban themselves. There are two obvious opportunities: Afghanistan and India. The USA is leaving Afghanistan without having finished the job, and that provides Pakistan with a golden opportunity to reassert itself in that region and regain a bit of self-esteem.
    India has never retaliated for the numerous bloody terrorist attacks that were traced back (so says India) to Pakistan's secret services.
    So far India has been a model of tolerance. When struck, the USA retaliated with two wars that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (not counting the proxy wars in Somalia, Yemen and so forth). When struck, India did not strike back. An Indian should be proud that her/his country has shown more moderation and tolerance than the USA. The killing of Osama is a case in point. One should not be too proud that the USA violated international law by a) entering illegally a foreign country and b) executing a man (and a few people who just happened to be around including a woman) without a proper trial. The question is whether India should learn from the USA or the USA from India... Since the constituion of the USA problaims people innocent until proven guilty, technically speaking Obama killed an innocent (no trial, no proof, not guilty) and a few bystanders after trespassing into other people's property. The world in which most of us want to live is a world in which a country refrains from taking the law in its hands. The world in which most of us don't want to live is a world in which a self-appointed superpower decides unilaterally whom to invade and whom to kill. Some of us come from that world: it's called "European civilization"; and it managed to kill a few hundred million people in a few centuries, all based on the presumption of being morally superior. The world in which we want to live is the world in which India does not attack Pakistan.
    Alas, the opposite is happening: more and more Indians ask why is the USA entitled to counterattack but India should refrain from doing so. The country of Gandhi is becoming a follower of George W Bush as its young people listen more to hip-hop music than to the ragas.
    If a major terrorist attack is carried out by Pakistani-affiliated terrorists, the chances that India would retaliate are no longer negligible. Then the chances that a humiliated Pakistan escalates the confrontation to nuclear weapons increase dramatically. It doesn't even need to be an oder from the civilian president: someone in the military might have the power to do so without any formal authorization. Popular support might be enough to justify a nuclear strike (the vast majority of Pakistanis is convinced that India routinely fabricates or exaggerates all charges against the Pakistani-based militants).
    The world also has to hope that the recent riots in Kashmir will not escalate. If a full-fledged civil war erupted in Kashmit, it would be difficult for the Pakistani military to stay out of it.
    As for Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the USA opens the doors to increased Iranian influence. Iran was a staunch opponent of the Taliban (and probably the only country to take military action against them before 2001). It is a natural ally of the anti-Taliban front in Afghanistan once the USA leaves the region. The chances of Iran and Pakistan vying for control of Afghanistan will also increase dramatically. These are all failed countries, and now the only glory for their failed regimes can come from military victory.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2011) Pakistan is a failed state but not a terrorist state. Pakistan has killed or captured over 400 Al Qaeda members since 2001. Pakistan has lost more soldiers and police officers in the war against the Pakistani Taliban than the USA in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has tried to assassinate Pakistan's former president Musharraf and several government officials.
    Osama bin Laden has been found hiding in Pakistan near a military compound, and the world finds it hard to believe that nobody in Pakistan's army or security services knew about Osama's whereabouts. However, this is the same country in which a nuclear scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, got rich by selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya under the nose of his president and of the generals. Everybody "knew" that someone in Pakistan was selling nuclear secrets to rogue regimes, the same way that everybody "knew" that Osama bin Laden was hiding somewhere in Pakistan. This is an odd country, in which officials sometimes have less power than foreigners (for example, Pakistan could never conduct the kind of drone-based bombing that the USA has been carrying out). In a sense, the situation is even worse than what Pakistan's nemesis India claims: Pakistan is not a sponsor at all of terrorism, but it would be better if it were because we could at least say that the government and the military can do something about it. The truth is probably the opposite: they are totally powerless.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
    Back to the world news | Top of this page

  • Articles on Pakistan before 2011
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2009 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
    Back to the world news | Top of this page

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.