by Andrew Buncombe, Anne Penketh and Omar Waraich
Pakistan was locked in crisis last night, with the government pressed by
Washington to deepen its conflict with Islamic militants in the lawless
regions on the Afghan border, and obliged to call in the International
Monetary Fund to stave off financial catastrophe.
In the rugged north of the country, a major military offensive to root out
Taliban militants has created a flood of up to 200,000 refugees and pitched
Pakistani against Pakistani, Muslim against Muslim, in a conflict some are
beginning to regard as a civil war.
A new US intelligence estimate meanwhile has warned that the renewed
insurgency, coupled with energy shortages and political infighting, means
that Pakistan, which is the only Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, is "on
"Pakistan is going through the worst crisis of its history," according to a
leaked letter signed by the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the main
opposition leader. It is a view shared by Imran Khan, another opposition
leader, who says that the political and economic meltdown "is leading to a
sort of anarchy in Pakistan".
"How does a country collapse?" the former cricketer asked. "There's
increasing uncertainty, economic meltdown, more people on the street,
inflation rising between 25 and 30 per cent. Then there's the rupee
Pakistan is experiencing power cuts that have led to hourly blackouts, a
doubling of basic food prices and a currency that has lost a third of its
value in the past year. "The awful thing is there's no solution in sight Ð
neither in the war on terror nor on the economic side," Mr Khan said during
a visit to London. Heightening the sense of national emergency, the
government yesterday turned to the International Monetary Fund for $15bn
(£9.3bn) to cope with a balance of payments crisis caused by a flight of
capital, after previously saying that applying to the IMF would be a last
Almost every day there are retaliatory attacks against police and soldiers
and Western targets. Hundreds of soldiers and an unknown number of civilians
are losing their lives. The national parliament rejected the US influence on
the government by adopting a resolution last night calling for an
"independent" foreign policy and urging dialogue with the extremists.
The military operation against the so-called Pakistan Taliban is
concentrated in the largely autonomous tribal areas that border Afghanistan.
A total of 120,000 troops and paramilitary forces have been deployed against
what senior officers say is a skilled and tenacious enemy. "They do not
fight in one place, you cannot fight them in one place. It's basically
guerrilla warfare," said Lt Col Haider Baseer, a military spokesman. "The
area is mountainous, it's vast. And everybody carries a gun. It's the
Long accused of failing to confront the militants, the military angrily
points out that up to 1,500 soldiers and many more civilians have been
killed in such operations since 2001. America has triggered national anger
by dispatching troops from Afghanistan to attack a Pakistani village. At the
same time, Pakistani officials point out that US and Nato forces in
Afghanistan are looking to negotiate with the Taliban - something they have
previously criticised Islamabad for doing. . . .
Michael T. Klare, "Energo-fascism:
The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences," TomDispatch.com, January 16,
Michel Chossudovsky, "Pakistan
and the 'Global War on Terrorism'," Global Research, January 8, 2008
Simon Tisdall, "Bush Secret Order Sends
U.S. Into Pakistan," Guardian, September 12, 2008
Tariq Ali, "The
Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power," Scribner
(September 16, 2008)
[If you believe the usually 'western' media, the U.S. is still an ally of
Pakistan and India is still a neutral country. In reality the U.S. and India
are allied in a war against Pakistan and China.
Foreign policy elements in India and the in U.S. see China as their
respective big strategic enemy. But both want - for now - avoid an open
conflict. The center of gravity in this silent war against China are the
hydrocarbon reserves in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa and the
transport routes for these.
The war in Afghanistan and the war in Pakistan can be seen as proxy wars
between these three big powers over the energy issue.--"Who
Is Behind the Bombing in Islamabad," Moon of Alabama, September 22, 2008]
[Forty years ago, the United States began to mount raids into Cambodia and
to undermine the government of King Sihanouk in order to cut Vietcong supply
As a result, America's war with Vietnamese Communism spread into Cambodia,
leading to the triumph of the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide. But
these horrors occurred after the U.S. itself had quit Vietnam and after the
U.S.-backed regime in South Vietnam had collapsed. Washington's widening of
the war benefited neither America nor its local allies.
The U.S. is now making the same mistake in Afghanistan and
Pakistan.--Maleeha Lodhi and Anatol Lieven, "Heeding
the lessons of another war," International Herald Tribune,
October 1, 2008]
[In reality there are four different wars being waged from the tribal areas
of Pakistan. . . . .
The pivotal piece in this equation is the fact that the ouster of foreign
forces from Afghanistan is not the ultimate aim of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The aim is to control Pakistan and establish a Taliban-style government in
the country.--S. Amjad Hussain, "Realities of Pakistan's woes not
apparent to all," Toledo Blade, October 20, 2008]
Caroline Wadhams, Brian Katulis, Lawrence J. Korb, Colin Cookman, "<
b>Partnership for Progress: Advancing a New Strategy for Prosperity and
Stability in Pakistan and the Region," Center for American Progress,
November 17, 2008
[The blowback from the Afghan conflict in Pakistan is more serious still. In
less than eight months, Asif Ali Zardari's new government has effectively
lost control of much of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to the
Taliban's Pakistani counterparts, a loose confederation of nationalists,
Islamists, and angry Pashtun tribesmen under the nominal command of
Baitullah Mehsud.--William Dalrymple, "Pakistan in Peril,"
nybooks.com, February 12, 2009]
Carlotta Gall, "Reinstatement of Pakistan's Chief Justice Ends a Crisis, but It Might Lead
to Another," nytimes.com, March 17, 2009