Pakistan Likely Model of What's to Come

May 1st, 2005  

Topic: Pakistan Likely Model of What's to Come

In October, the Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of Islamic fundamentalist parties, was elected and given control of the provincial government in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), located on Afghanistan's eastern border. Since the election, the alliance has quickly picked up where the Taliban left off; they've burned videocassettes, discouraged music, and are attempting to place the region under Shariah, or Islamic law. The most alarming aspect of the MMA's rise is that they would not have been elected if it weren't for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The U.S. military presence in Afghanistan greatly increased the anger and resentment felt toward U.S. foreign policy in Central Asia and the Middle East.The subsequent invasion of Iraq boosted this anger yet again. The While anger and frustration were felt throughout the world by those who had joined in large global demonstrations to protest the preemptive invasion of Iraq, these emotions have been traditionally most evident in Muslim-majority countries; in many Muslim countries, populations generally feel that the U.S. "war on terror" is actually a "war on Islam."

Pakistani society is absolutely virulent toward U.S. foreign policy, as was seen from the results of a recent Pew Research poll. This anger has created a backlash against the United States, making it easier for Islamic fundamentalist parties who speak out against U.S. policies to take power through democratic elections. As Liz Sly writes in the Chicago Tribune, the MMA's "electoral platform of hostility to the U.S. resonated with many ordinary Pakistanis."

The election of the MMA is causing problems for the Bush administration and is bound to further exacerbate an already delicate situation. The U.S. military is having trouble securing the unstable border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The U.S. government claims that militants in Pakistan, sympathetic to the Taliban, and hostile to the United States, are traveling into Afghanistan to mount raids on the U.S. military and the central Afghanistan government of U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai. After mounting such attacks, the militants are able to sneak back into neighboring Pakistan. In early June there was a battle in the border region near Spin Boldak between Afghan forces and suspected Taliban, which killed almost 50.

Because the MMA is sharply against current U.S. foreign policy, it is not working to discourage such attacks. And with a population seething with anger at the United States, it is very hard for Washington to prevent the growing threat arising from the Afghan-Pak border. This has caused a conundrum for Washington. The Bush administration is also aware that its continuing pressure on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is threatening to destabilize his regime. Continuing hatred toward the United States is creating the possibility that other provinces in Pakistan will follow the North-West Frontier's example and embrace Islamic fundamentalism more than they traditionally have.

The greater danger is the threat of this political system becoming the new Islamic model: one in which parties can garner public support best through anti-Americanism. This would be a significant blow to the Bush administration, as it would solidify the already popular sentiment that U.S. foreign policy is creating hatred and disillusionment in many corners of the globe. Such a trend not only further radicalizes those on the fringe and those dedicated to violent means but also those of the mainstream, thus turning them towards groups such as the MMA. It is this gravitational pull towards a more anti-American world that the White House has been trying to combat through its assortment of public relations campaigns and its everyday rhetoric of "liberation."

The situation in Pakistan is really a specific example in a larger movement in which current U.S. foreign policy is sowing many of the seeds it is attempting to destroy and creating significant negative effects: a resurgence in nationalism, a trans-Atlantic diplomatic schism, and, perhaps, a new era of nuclear proliferation.

The current "war on terrorism" is largely a war on militant Islamic fundamentalists who may pose a threat to U.S. interests. Yet by interfering in the affairs of Muslim-majority countries as part of the "war on terrorism" -- often unilaterally -- the United States is indirectly giving credence to the anti-American attitudes of the fundamentalist parties and groups. This paradox explains why as the "war on terrorism" progresses, attitudes toward the United States become more negative. And as attitudes become more negative, we can also expect a heightened level of violence directed toward U.S. interests at home and abroad.

Report Drafted By:
Erich Marquardt
May 5th, 2005  
First of all, I am amazed that how reporters can project the geo-political scenario by making them look very dire sometimes.

I would like to point out few things as a correction!

-> Firstly, Pakistan is a nation of both conservatives and moderates. But that does not influences its geo-political situation especially for USA.

-> Secondly, Pakistan military is self-sufficient to contain any un-wanted voilence. Like Pervaiz Musharraf once said that we have Tanks, Big Guns, Missiles and Airpower and what weapons does the militants along with there collaborators (MMA?) will use to dispose off a proper war-machine!

-> Public sentiments are Anti-american but they are not willing to adopt to voilence to make there voice heard because the consequences would be terrible. (Note: Pakistan is not Bengladesh and no one messes with army here!)

-> Everybody knows that having a tussle with US will have very strong implications.

-> MMA seems strong to the outer-world but trust me! I know there weaknesses very well and Govt is waiting for the right time to exploit them

-> About 100,000 troops are deployed in both NWFP and Balochistan provinces and they are playing an effective role in de-stablizing Al-Qaeda Network there along with support from ISI, CIA and FBI. Consider the level of voilence in Afghanistan and compare it to Iraq and you will notice tremendous difference.

-> Hundereds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fugitives and there Pakistani collaborators have been arrested and sent to Camp-X in Cuba. Many others are being kept in Pakistani Jails.

-> If MMA is so strong then how come they could not stop the famous "Anti-Al-Qaeda Operation in Wana (NWFP)", in which 300 militants were killed. MMA only knows how to shout and nothing else!

-> Sorry to disturb your stance, but the things I have mentioned are more of the facts then some media propaganda or projection.
May 5th, 2005  
Didn't Paskistan have several younger members of their Military Officers Corps removed for supporting the MMA and covertly planning anti Gov demonstrations?
May 5th, 2005  
Originally Posted by 03USMC
Didn't Paskistan have several younger members of their Military Officers Corps removed for supporting the MMA and covertly planning anti Gov demonstrations?
Yes! but there numbers are not to be taken seriously!

Before the start of the Afghan War (Operation Enduring Freedom), 10 core commanders out of total 12 along with PM Pervaiz Musharraf favoured of joining hands with US in its War Against Terror, which served as a golden oppurtunity for Pakistan to curb fundamentalism and boost development in neglected areas!
May 6th, 2005  
Pakistan's government has been toppled by their own military general's quite a few times.
There have been a lot of coups in your country, take this recent one in which Musharraff overthrew Nawaaz Sharif by falsely accusing him of being a traitor.
What guarantee is there that Musharraff won't be overthrown similarly, especially when the rest of the religious extremist groups are against him
If the military falls for their agenda, a similar coup is not far away