“War on terror” gravy train!

by Omar Ali

My take on the Pak army’s current position oscillates between Taqi’s opinion and the opinion of Dr. Manzur Ejaz. I was fully behind Dr. Manzur Ejaz this morning. But its getting late at night and I just saw Kamran Khan and so maybe its time to put on a more pessimistic hat…

Rationally, Dr. Saheb is one hundred percent right. The army has a huge stake in Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan’s economy has no future if we are in a state of near-war and proxy war with India, Pakistan’s economy has even less of a future if NATO regards Pakistan as an enemy instead of an ally. India’s economy is growing rapidly. Peace will allow Pakistan to attach on India’s growth. Given its lower population density, reasonable infrastructure in Punjab and Karachi, relatively homogeneous heartland,and favorable location (Iran-India pipeline, central Asian transit trade, easier to ship things from Karachi to East Punjab than it is to go via Gujarat, etc.) Pakistan can actually start making serious money relatively quickly and that means the army will make money. China is also focused on economic growth and trade between India and China is exploding. Pakistan can get a share in all that. The peace dividend, in other words, is real and almost immediate.

Meanwhile, the jihadis are certifiably insane and are already a huge threat to the Pakistani state. America, NATO, Japan, Korea, all will pay good money to go after them and the job will take so many years, the army has no reason to worry that its “war on terror” gravy train will dry up anytime soon. Socially, Pakistan is not really ready for Jihadists rule. The jihadis have absolutely no workable program for a modern state….the case for ditching the jihadis and making peace with India seems open and shut. (Of course, INDIA may not cooperate either, but we are focusing right now on what the Pak army is thinking).

So are there some reasons to doubt this rational analysis?

1. The army may calculate (miscalculate in my opinion, but who said they cannot miscalculate?) that peace with India will deprive them of their ability to keep everyone else in Pakistan under their thumb. Or (even more stupidly) that it will deprive Pakistan of its reason for existence.

2. Some geniuses in NDU spend their life looking at rivers on the map and writing position papers about how Pakistan will shrivel and die if we don’t “have Kashmir”. Outsiders tend to think this his just the usual institute of strategic studies bullshit, but I have yet to meet an army officer who did not wholly or partly believe this.All sorts of other gory details about evil devious Hindu Brahmans and their determination to eat every last Muslim baby are added as needed. Again, outsiders tend to think this is “just propaganda” and expect that the army can distinguish between genuine maniacs like Babu Bajrangi and mainstream Indian politicians, but maybe the outsiders are giving the army too much credit? As you may know, even senior army officers seem to believe this propaganda by the time they have had a few drinks. This is an old hazard in the world of propaganda: the propagandists tend to fall for their own propaganda, especially when they live in some echo chamber where alternative views don’t get in anyway.

3. Some in the army and its “think tanks” (Shireen Mazari?) may think that it is more rational to destroy India before it becomes a serious power, and they may imagine that their BFFs in China actually want the same. It does’nt matter if Wen Jia bao doesnt actually think in these terms. What matters is that Shireen Mazari and General Tinpot bahadur imagine that the Chinese want this to happen. Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a sane person, but far too many Pakistani army officers are listening to Zaid Hamid and Ahmed Qureshi, not Dr Manzur Ejaz. What if they take those nutcases seriously?

4. The problem of true believers. Again, outsiders tend to think that Islam and the whole neo-wahabi paradigm are basically means to an end. Tools used by the Pak army to get its goodies, just like Republican candidates use evangelical Christianity. But what if a lot of people in high places actually believe that Allah is waiting for them to unite the Ummah and lead it in its eternal struggle against the infidels?

5. There is the issue of some events that don’t make a lot of sense if the jihadi option is actually being shut down: the determined refusal to launch frontal propaganda against the jihadis; the fact that ISI mouthpieces are constantly working to stir up anti-American and anti-Indian feelings and spreading confusion about the jihadi menace; The attack on Mumbai and the determined effort to present it as some kind of Indian plot;The mysterious survival of all senior jihadi leaders; Masood Azhar; Daood Ibrahim; Ahmed Saeed Shiekh; Haqqani network; Fazlullah, etc. And the line taken by army spokesmen like Kamran Khan; Shireen Mazari….too many loose ends…

5. Finally, there is the issue of nutcases. Every nation has some maniacs who need to be kept in asylums or employed in low level police jobs or as prison guards in Texas. If this kind of person makes it to some place where they can plan another attack on Mumbai, then all bets are off.

Dr. T has mentioned the Nazis. The sophisticated, highly civilized German nation ruined Germany and all of Europe in 12 short years of Nazi rule. At some level, Hitler’s initial actions seemed rational. Rationalists fully expected that he would also know where to draw the line. They were proven terribly wrong. What if the true believers are not thinking of means but ends?

I look forward to being proved wrong.

Courtesy: CRDP, Fri Jan 1, 2010

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