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Pakistan’s Dueling Military Cultures

Ccristine fair

C. Christine Fair, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Aqil Shah, The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Pakistan’s military has been in the global spotlight for several decades. Within the country, it has shaped both state and society, including arbitrating key decisions — from foreign policy to economic management. A large number of Pakistanis view it as a “guardian” of the state. Yet, scant scholarship exists on the institution itself and the roles it has played. Instead, hagiographical accounts from Pakistani authors (mostly retired military officers) and media commentary that often overlook the important questions dominate the discussion.

Two new books published in quick succession have expanded the debate and provide new insights into the workings of the Pakistani military. The first is a provocative assessment by Dr. C. Christine Fair entitled Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and second is Aqil Shah’s in-depth study, The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan. Both books extend the scope of research by relying on the military’s own literature, and by bringing to light lesser-known dimensions of the internal norms and processes that determine its organizational culture and outlook. […]

Exodus from Pakistan’s troubled north presents risks, opportunities

By Raza Rumi, Special to CNN

Polio

 

Pakistan’s much-awaited military offensive in North Waziristan was launched more than a week ago, and followed an attack on Karachi airport that left at least 36 people dead.

Due to the strategic calculations of the Pakistani state, North Waziristan has steadily fallen into the hands of motley militant networks, and has become a mountainous zone for the Pakistani Taliban to recruit, regroup and launch attacks against the country.

The Pakistani Army conducted a similar operation in the Swat Valley in 2009, not too far from the tribal areas, that has been a relative success in reclaiming territory. It is unclear which direction the latest operation will go. But a major humanitarian crisis is brewing in the wake of the new offensive.

As of Wednesday, the government had registered over 450,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who have been fleeing the area in view of the aerial bombardments and warnings by military authorities. There are fears the figures could be much higher. […]

My Name is Khan and I am not a Terrorist: IDP’s of North Waziristan

Here are some of my tweets shedding light on the plight of IDP’s of North Waziristan and the long forgotten miseries of FATA.

Karachi airport attack a sign of wider security challenges

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on Karachi airport, that’s killed at least 28 people, including the ten suicide terrorists.

The militant group says the attack was in revenge for the killing of their leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who died in a US drone strike last year.

The United States has offered to help Pakistan in investigations, but it’s not clear if the offer will be taken up.

So what has led to this huge security lapse in Pakistan’s biggest and most violent city?

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Raza Rumi, Pakistani journalist, columnist, blogger and consulting editor for the Friday Times

RUMI: Karachi is Pakistan’s largest urban centre, where the writ of the state has been withering over time. And you have, as a result, nearly one-third of the city functioning as a stateless zone where private militias, extremist organisations rule the roost and control affairs. So in such a situation, it is easy for sleeper cells or other terrorist networks to breed and exist. And this is what’s happened, that they perhaps were there for some time and had local intelligence, and they managed to breach the security of an otherwise well guarded airport.

[…]

June 10th, 2014|Extremism, Pakistan, terrorism|0 Comments

Af-Pak: End this End Game

Published last month here

Pakistan will have to focus on bilateral trust building: with US, Afghanistan and India. This sounds daunting but there is no alternative to stronger diplomatic engagement

A day’s visit to Kabul is hardly sufficient to make an informed comment on the status of the Afghanistan imbroglio. The unfortunate term ‘end game’ implies that for much of the world and regional powers it is all about carving zones of influence in post-Nato Afghanistan. The US wants to exit but is mulling over a partial presence. India wants to consolidate its partnership with the Afghan government and people. Iran has its concerns based on the Sunni strands of extremism. The Central Asian states want to profit from the new arrangements. And, Pakistan, the vital player in the region, wants to ensure that the future Afghan government is not hostile. Above all, it is concerned about being ‘encircled’ by India on its eastern and western borders.

Pakistan, due to its peculiar history and irreversible geography, holds the critical cards in the future process. How far does it have leverage over the Taliban groups is a matter of debate. The country’s detractors say that Pakistan’s influence with the Taliban groups is a stumbling block in holding direct negotiations with the Taliban groups that the US has initiated and wants the Afghan government to extend and deepen this process in the months to come.

There is another view that despite the contacts, Pakistan does not control groups such as the ‘Haqqani network’ and if it pushes them to the wall they could very well turn against Pakistan itself. There are also views on the perceived power of the groups, such as the Quetta Shura, which allegedly operates from Pakistan.

The ‘gaming’ on Afghanistan has generated narratives on all sides. Afghan public opinion is sceptical of Pakistan. The US/NATO narrative is growing resentful of Pakistan’s policies. And within Pakistan, growing anti-Americanism and a particular populist understanding of history have led to paranoia about US intentions towards Pakistan. More worryingly from the Pakistani State’s perspective, the emerging US-India-Afghanistan axis mediated through strategic pacts, aid, relations with the leaders of non-Pashtun Afghan population, among others, are factors which pose a ‘strategic’ threat.   […]

September 6th, 2012|Afghanistan, Published in Hard News|2 Comments