Sunday, March 8, 2009

Failed States II

This week Pakistan commands our attention alongside Afghanistan as both countries seem to teeter on the brink of an abyss. Last week I wrote about Afghanistan and Failed States, this week we lead off with this column by Thomas Barnett.

In my latest book, "Great Powers," I advance the controversial notion that America's success in spreading our model of globalization around the planet will force us into many compromises with local extremists seeking cultural sanctuary from its revolutionary norms of individual emancipation. My argument is that - as a rule - most such compromises will be generational, for what is "radical" to elders soon becomes "normal" to youth.
But then I'm confronted by the recent political agreement between Pakistan's faltering government and the ascending Taliban in Swat Valley, whereby the latter is granted judicial emancipation from Pakistan's laws to enforce Islamic sharia.
Is not such accommodation a form of national suicide?

Read the whole story:

Offering another view of how Shariah Law would be administered, is this next post from LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT by Anwaar Hussain.

Now that the state of Pakistan has effectively rolled over, paws up, at the feet of the beheaders, it is time to get a glimpse into the abyss the state has brought us onto.

But before that glimpse, the lessons first.

The lesson that other militants draw from the state’s capitulation to the Taliban in Swat; the more brutal, the more ruthless, the more insane your actions against the state and the common citizens, the more concessions you can extract. If the Swat Taliban, essentially only a few hundred unruly Pathans, can bring the government of Pakistan down to its wobbly knees, why can’t the same be done in the heart of Punjab by the sons of the soil? Witness the brazen Lahore attacks.

The lesson that common citizens draw from the shameful debacle; the state is simply incapable of protecting their lives and property therefore safety lies in meekly kowtowing to the people who kill in the name of God. Witness the sad happiness of the poor Swatis after the truce with the militants was announced by the provincial government. These are the same people who, just over a year ago in the election of 2008, had comprehensively booted out religious parties in favour of a liberal, secular party to rule them.

This post is written with a pen that barely contains the rage of the author towards those who in the name of religion, impose a level of barbarity, mostly aimed towards controlling women and the weak.

Read more:

Turning our attention back to Afghanistan, this post by Agha Amin, author and former officer in the Pakistani Army comments on a recent pessimistic article by former CIA officer Milton Bearden, entitled, Curse of the Khyber Pass.

1-I am rather disappointed with this article.

2-Milt does not realise that British occupation of Afghanistan was a success story.The brits with about 15 lakh an year controlled Afghanistan's foreign policy and Afghanistan did not harbour any anti British groups with success.

3-Afghanistan's problems are centred in its neighbours.The USSR failed not because the mujahids were more martial butb because the USSR failed to realise that the centre of gravity of the problem was the Pakistani base being used by USA and Saudi Arabia.A simple solution that the USSR could have followed was massive aid to India to mount a conventional invasion of Pakistan.As a matter of fact this if done in 1983-87 would have finished the Afghan problem.

4-Presently the Afghan problem is again centred in its regional neighbours.Now no one including Russia,China,Iran,Saudi Arabia and parts of the powers that matter in Pakistan do not want the USA to succeed in Afghanistan.SEEN IN THIS CONTEXT THE USA ULTIMATELY WILL HAVE TO :

1-Agree on a settlement of Afghanistan in alliance with Russia,India and Central Asian States.

2-Divide Afghanistan into a Northern Alliance led North and a wasteland of Talibans in the south.
3-Maintain air bases to pound targets of opportunity in the region think its a myth to think that Afghanistan cannot be pacified.
In 17th century Kabul had a Hindu Rajput Governor and Kandahar and Herat was Persian ruled.

I am surprised that respectable US analysts are so pessimistic.
Agha Amin is an outspoken observer who brings a prospective of one seems to know the lay of the land. His observations are sometimes biting and controversial, but always worth the consideration of his point of view.
Read more:

I realize the photos that accompany this post are disturbing, but I make no apologies for using them. The mistreatment of women is one of the greatest anchors holding back the advancement of a society to raise itself out of the abyss of poverty and disconnectedness.

The point raised by Tom Barnett in his column is that Pakistan can follow the example of how the United States is able to co-exist with the 562 tribal areas inside her borders. First and foremost, those tribal areas are able to exist by conforming to the Constitution of the United States as well as state laws. Pakistan as a nation must have enough power to enforce the barest constitution guarantees of basic civil rights. Without that, we must then accept the fact that parts of this world will forever remain festering sores, that the world avoids and hermetically seals off from transmigration. The course seems clear that the world can not ignore and disengage from confronting this problem. It will take the combined skill and courage of all to use the tools of diplomacy, intelligence, military and most of all economics to help pull these disconnected societies out of an abyss from which for many there seems no escape.

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