Just a Thought VI

Via Babu, in re to this

Refugees are easily radicalized, and if the Pakistani army, which carries out counterinsurgency with a bludgeon, continues to create thousands of new ones, with no government plan for their return to Swat and the reconstruction of their homes, it’s quite possible that the long-bearded men under the black-and-white flags at the traffic circle will find a receptive audience for their message.

Postcard from Mardan, George Packer.

7 Replies to “Just a Thought VI”

  1. “It’s taken his family six months – and the counsel of “peaceful” clerics – to reverse the process.”

    – The Exorcist (2009) Or “Why the Taliban won’t take over Pakistan” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0607/p06s07-wosc.html?page=1
    A piece allegedly aimed at quelling fears and demystifying TAlIBOTHRA, makes TALIBOTHRA seem like some sort of weird psychological phenomenon. Rejects the 60-mile-from-Islamabad thesis as hyperbole (which is a moot point now), yet raises the specter of Nuclear terrorism and the mysterious virus of “Talibanization.”
    Either way, if “the real threat sn’t the Taliban occupying urban territory. It’s their ability to attract followers “, then how would a massive military action help?

    “At an upscale coffee shop in Islamabad, the 20-something reaches for his cellphone and pulls up a photo of a young man with a Taliban beard.”

    – What’s a Taliban beard?

  2. “…..it’s quite possible that the long-bearded men under the black-and-white flags at the traffic circle will find a receptive audience for their message.

    Visitors and Hosts in Pakistan
    by Kathy Kelly, June 10, 2009

    “I asked my friend how families cope when a bomb suddenly blasts their home in the middle of the night. Do they have any kind of first aid available to help the wounded? “You see this,” he said, pointing to the long shawl that I happened to be wearing, a customary part of every village woman’s dress, “they try to use this [as a bandage], because it is all they have.” I imagined the shawl rapidly soaking up the blood of a dying Pakistani man, woman, or child.

    On the morning of the 20th, the other villagers had rushed to the section where the missile had hit, hoisting injured survivors onto their shoulders and carrying them across rough, hilly terrain to the nearest road (about three miles away from the village) where, lacking vehicles of their own and with no hope of receiving an ambulance visit, they waited for a car to stop, their only means of reaching a hospital.

    The first car they saw did stop, but its driver refused to take any of the wounded for fear that his action would be noted by an unmanned U.S. drone, and that he himself would face the same reward for his hospitality that the village had received.

    The villagers walked along the road until another car stopped and did agree to take some of the wounded to a nearby center run by the International Commission of the Red Cross.”

    http://original.antiwar.com/kelly/2009/06/09/visitors-and-hosts-in-pakistan/

  3. In “Children of the Taliban” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy interviewed a few IDPs; one child relates the story of his 13 year old cousin who was killed in a US/Pak missile strike on a madrassa, and how he witnessed his body being “eaten by dogs.” The kid said he wanted to become a Taliban fighter when he grows up.

    The tribes people might’ve seen a lot of brutality at the hands of the Taliban militants, but on some level they can still “relate” to them, they’re the same people, and negotiations can be made where the two can live side by side, even. But the Pak army is perceived as more of a “foreigner”, and the blind BANG with which they conduct their operations, and the mess they leave, makes them more loathsome to locals (generally speaking.)

    So it’s not too farfetched to imagine that the people displaced by military operations, deeply affected by where it’s left them, with no livelihood and with little hope of help from the government… WILL be receptive to the beard brigade.

  4. USA is responsible for up to a million Iraqi deaths since the invasion. And after a few tough years, it seems things have quieted down. So….maybe you’re blowing this whole “You create new terrorists by bombing people” theory out of proportion. When you bomb people, alot of the times they just take it and go somewhere else. If people by nature would spring up and become violent militants because they were harmed by the government or other entities, then pakistan wouldnt still have a feudal system. Those serfs would have rised up.

  5. Steve Walt:
    “That’s my second concern: does it make strategic sense to displace upwards of three million people in order to go after around four thousand Taliban, most of whom aren’t “global terrorists” in the same way that al Qaeda is? The Pakistani army has reported only light losses thus far, which suggests they aren’t risking their own soldiers in careful counter-insurgency operations but are relying instead on firepower and other indiscriminate tactics (which helps explain why people are fleeing in such large numbers and could be why the region has been off-limits to reporters). If the operation has left a lot of destruction in its wake, as seems likely, will it make the government or the Taliban more popular in the long run? And given that we helped egg the Pakistani government into this, are we likely to get blamed for it down the road?” http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/06/01/taking_it_to_the_taliban

    “The inability to cope with a crisis caused by its own military action means that Pakistan’s government is ceding influence to others (radical groups in particular) that are quick to fill the vacuum” http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/pakistan-s-war-on-civilians

    “Every time the army drops a bomb or fires a bullet in the north-west it is in danger of stirring up resentment among some civilians which will create new enemies in future years. The militants in Swat may well lose the battle over the coming days and the future of Baitullah Mehsud appears increasingly uncertain. But unless the Pakistani government – and indirectly the international community – changes its tactics, the Taliban can still win the war. ” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8078947.stm

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