TXT “SWAT” TO 20222

IDP7

“Americans can text the word “SWAT” — to the number 20222 and make a $5 contribution that will help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees provide tents, clothing, food, and medicine to hundreds of thousands of affected people.” – Secretary Clinton, May 19th, 2009. You can make up to 5 such contributions.

IDP

IDP3

IDP2

IDP4

Now, this last photo taken by Rahma Muhammad at Bacha Khan Chowk next to Mardan College needs some discussion.

photojpg

In the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, many banned “religious” organizations, specifically the militant groups, were prominent contributors to the charity and relief work. Jamaat-e Dawa, previously known as Lashkar-e Taiba maintained a full hospital and many shelters under its humanitarian wing, Idara Khidmet-e Khalq (Department for Service to the People). This is now renamed as Falah-e Insaniyat Foundation (Welfare of Humanity Foundation). That camp, pictured above, has a telling banner: “مسلمانوں کا قتلِِ عام بند کيا جاۓ” (Stop the Rampant Killing of Muslims). Along with the prominently displayed flag. That rhetorical “Muslims” cannot be easily dismissed by the Pakistani military, which in its ham-fisted operation has displaced nearly a million civilians in order to kill or capture mere thousands. The math doesn’t add up, does it? Whatever the alternatives might be, this all-out military assault was the only thing that would satisfy the bloodlust here, and the schemers there. We, the American tax-payers, need to see that military power in action against the TALIBOTHRA.

Therein lies the rub. The displaced million are already persona non-grata in Lahore or Karachi. They are already at the mercy of international donors. Where is their state? What recourse or recompense do they have against this military assault? The chicken-hawks will exclaim that it is their just rewards for hosting the TALIBOTHRA; or maybe they are the necessary collateral damage. In the mean time, those speaking to them, about them are these militant organizations. It isn’t as simplistic as “hearts & minds” – but it is as simple as “state as protector”.

UNCHR can help in the short run, but it is the people of Pakistan who will need to embrace the displaced and get them back home, as soon as possible.

Update: Do see this interview done in Karachi w/ some displaced citizens. Thanks to Adaner. (Turn on the CC in English).

69 Replies to “TXT “SWAT” TO 20222”

  1. Pingback: Just a Thought VI
  2. “I mean, how is one supposed to have an opinion on what’s happening in the Ukraine? Or are we not supposed to care or be curious about anything that doesn’t happen in our own backyards?”

    You can certainly have an opinion on anything anywhere in the world. All I’m saying is that when discussing Ukraine, for example, one should listen to and reflect upon what Ukrainians think, regardless of one’s own qualifications. In this thread, you seem to be implying “I’m an academic, I know more about Pakistan and it’s issue than actual Pakistanis”. I’m saying, no that’s not always the case.

  3. Dear Akbar,
    I’m not trying to assimilate you benevolently or otherwise. As for being in politics, these are political discussions, whether or not we are politicians.
    I deplore the silencing of debate and I am very glad that Ward Churchill (whom I think to be a total idiot) won his case against the University of Colorado and has been restored to the faculty of that university. I think he deserves to be paid damages and that those who brought about his expulsion have a lot to answer for.
    As for the total information or surveillance state, I can assure that my views (so readily of facilely caricatured as “neo-conservative”) will do me no favors in my line of work (academia).

  4. Pingback: Dear Spencer
  5. “Akbar your comment, “when you cannot tell difference between Kabir and Akbar,( whtas the difference they all look same), I guess I rest my case” is despicable.”

    Spencer my apologies, as it hurt your feelings. As you see in my comment#3 I already said sorry. I had been typing and released my comments without realizaing that in your commeni, you had corrected your mistake, So this is my bad.

    “I think your hyper-sensitive comments about Islamist fascism…”

    This phrase was introduced by you first time in
    discussion in you earlier comment #31 and I quote you

    “As I said before, I don’t expect that the U.S. government (or any of the major political parties in Pakistan) to steadily and resolutely oppose what I take to be a kind of islamist fascism,”
    I was merely trying to geta clear idea, what you mean by this term. I did not introduce it in the discussion.

    “your paranoia about Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch together with your manifest and recurrent race-thinking speak volumes about your politics. ”

    First of all I am not in business of politics. I am a physician treating HIV/AIDS patients in an Indigent clinic associated with an academic center. I see multi-ethnic (black/white/hispanic/refugees, you name it)patients, with athiest to anytype of religious persuations, gay to straight and beyond.
    Secondly , I have no reason to be paranoid about campus watch and Pipes of this world. I was merely thinking about people like Norman Finklestein, Ward Churchill, Joseph Macade, Prof. Robinson etc., politicinas like senator Fullbright, Paul Findley, Cynthia Mckinney etc. And I did not Imply you will have anyrole in it what so ever but we live in age of Total Information Awareness/Survillence state.

    “We’re done.”

    Please do not give up on me. Believe me I am yearning for “benevolent assimilation”.

  6. And, by the way, I think it would be more accurate to say that Faiz was a Communist in the sense of being a member of the Communist Party. Certainly, his English translator, Victor Kiernan (himself a member of the Communist underground inside the British Raj in the 1930s) speaks of him as such in his autobiographical writings. Or, at least, so I recall.

  7. Marxism as a political project isn’t viable anywhere. We aren’t talking about that. One can make a Marxist argument without it being translatable into political practice. The question is whether or not as a mode of analysis it illuminates anything or not.
    As for the issue of insider/outsider, tell me how experience bears on this question exactly and why the talk of insider status isn’t just about silencing others. I still don’t get it. I’ve already said that, of course, one potentially gains insight from experience (though not necessarily). What more is there to say on the subject? On the whole, that sort of talk is self-provincializing and anti-intellectual. I mean, how is one supposed to have an opinion on what’s happening in the Ukraine? Or are we not supposed to care or be curious about anything that doesn’t happen in our own backyards?

  8. Spencer, no one is denying that Faiz Sahab was influenced by socialism. What I was trying to get at was that Marxism is no longer a viable part of Pakistani political discourse. It was at one point, but (fortunately or unfortunately) it’s not now.

    I’m not questioning your right to speak on Pakistan, I just think that academic credentials are not always as good as the experiences of people who actually come from the country in question.

  9. Akbar your comment, “when you cannot tell difference between Kabir and Akbar,( whtas the difference they all look same), I guess I rest my case” is despicable. I think your hyper-sensitive comments about Islamist fascism and your paranoia about Daniel Pipes and Campus Watch together with your manifest and recurrent race-thinking speak volumes about your politics. We’re done.
    As for your comments about Marxism, Kabir, I would point out to you that whether we are talking about Eqbal Ahmed, Aijaz Ahmad, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmad Rashid (once but no longer), Tariq Ali, or any of a number of others, the Pakistani intellectual tradition is full of Marxists and socialists (anyone who grew up in pre-Zia Pakistan would inform you of that). But I’m sure they are all just so many “westernized” intellectuals to your way of thinking. But speaking for myself, I wouldn’t want to try to understand Pakistan without their writings or the intellectual framework with which they operate.
    Obviously, people who grow up in a place have a valuable and indispensable perspective. But your comments are directed at questioning my right to speak on the subject at all.

  10. “The term Islamist fascists refers to a fascist brand of politics that speaks in the name of Islam. It says nothing whatsoever about Islam as a religion or Muslim people per se any more than do the terms Hindu fascism or Christian fascism. ”
    So now we are talking. As we acknowledge that
    1) It is a fascist brand of politics that speaks in the name of Islam.
    2)It says nothing whatsoever about Islam as a religion or Muslim people per se any more than do the terms Hindu fascism or Christian fascism.
    Then we can move on to the conclusion that some very cunning people are bringing their political agenda to realization by these means, right? So politics is art of possibilities. As we eastablish these are very cunning people, so they must have brains. Then we can say, may be they have some motives, demands etc, rational or irrational does not matter. That means there can be a dialogue, right? But no, at some point in history we have entered in a bizzaro world where, this “Islamist Fascism” has attained a unique, supernatural status. Only prescription the doctor says is to eradicate all who can be labelled as such, with millions dollars a piece missile if needed. There is a problem, we said it is a political startegy adopted by some, so is the military strategy the only answer and that too quick, no time to waste!Next problem is who decides who is liquidated and who is not?Who is the judge, jury, and the excutioner? Are they not the same people who told us Iraq had WMDS and Saddam is in bed with UBL. Funny part is that while CIA tortured detaines to get an Iraq link, intellectuals are assaulting everybody’s intelligence to eastablish once again that there is link between all things “Taliban”. While they chide others for harbouring US/India/… conspiracy theories, unwittingly or wittingly themselves not only believe in such theories from otherside but actively chart the course of their actions based on such . Tragedy is that they have real firepower to hurt people. So how is this consesus evolevd. From CIA torture to Yellowcake, from Judy miller/NYT to Fred Hiat, and chose your favourite neocons, they have the leading /cutting edge information tools at their hands, and That is what some are complaining about, that enough is enough. First you saved us from “Evil Empire”. And now you want to save us from your creation. (That help you to defeat the Evil Empire).
    This is the question which begs an answer?

  11. Spencer, I think whatever people’s academic qualifications, living and growing up in a particular culture gives you certain insights into that society that simply studying it from the outside cannot. Trained social scientists have a lot to add to the discussion, but they would also gain from listening to people who are actually part of the society at hand. For example, someone who grew up in pre-Zia Pakistan and then also experienced zia-era Islamization would be able to tell you a lot more about the realities than someone who simply studied Islamization from the outside.

    With all due respect, as Akbar has pointed out, you have a certain “Western” framework and ideology that you are trying to apply to Pakistan and it’s not always successful.

    And I think if you asked Pakistanis, they wouldn’t be pushing for Marxism or whatever, most of them (like most other people) want to get ahead in life. They would push for justice, equity,etc. but they wouldn’t express it in those terms. They would probably express it in Islamic terms. Marxism calls for religion to become irrelevent right? That’s not going to work in Pakistan where Islam is not going to become irrelevent.

  12. “Akbar your complacency when you write “I think most Pakistanis are very happy with capitalism, they just want to make money, educate their children and get ahead in life” is truly breath-taking. ”

    Spencer where exactly did I make these comments?

    “As for your gratuitous comments about my attitudes towards “brown people,” I think you would do well to treat your interlocutors with greater respect.”

    I treat my interlocuators with great respect and care. However I am sorry I cannot show any reverence to those who are not deserving of my respect, does not matter who they are. I am debating their thoughts and Ideology and not their personal life.

    “Your comments about Albright, Pipes, and Campus Watch are likewise gratuitous and undeserving of reply.’
    Well fair if my respected interloculator thinks so.

    “The term Islamist fascists refers to a fascist brand of politics that speaks in the name of Islam. It says nothing whatsoever about Islam as a religion or Muslim people per se any more than do the terms Hindu fascism or Christian fascism. The term’s meaning is plain.”
    This term was coined and has been used by thinktanks, politicians, commentatotrs, who have a certain word view. Since you used it too, so It is hard for me to discern, you mean something different by it.
    But as a metter of common sense when you are dealing with a country where >97% population professes to accept some sort of Isalm as their faith, using such terms is not going to get us anywhere. Besides that people who are still using this term might just be left holding the bag, as Bush ERA terms are vanishing fast even though the policies continue.
    Now when you cannot tell difference between Kabir and Akbar,( whtas the difference they all look same), I guess I rest my case.

  13. Yes, Qalandar, you’re right. Sorry about that Akbar. It was Kabir who wrote the bit about people being “very happy with capitalism.”

  14. Kabir, you ask, “Spencer, while no one is discounting your academic credentials, don’t you think that Pakistanis or people of Pak-origin might have a better feeling for the dynamics of their country than someone who is (arguebly) an outsider to that cultural milieu?” And the simple answer is “no”. As I wrote with reference to James Mill I don’t think that the understanding of social dynamics arises from the mere fact of living in some place or in some particular culture. In fact, I find the proposition positively bizarre. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that on the subjects under debate here I would rather hear the analysis of a trained social scientist (whatever his skin color, religion, or “culture”) than I would want to hear the opinion of someone who just happened to be Pakistani (or whatever other nationality or culture may be under discussion, including my own).
    Kabir, you also wrote, “I don’t see what relevance Partition has to the topic at hand (thus I didn’t understand why Spencer brought it up in the first place)”
    The reason why I brought it up (along with much else besides) was to highlight that the struggle with the Taliban is essentially POLITICAL and that, as with political struggles in the past, the sort of ethnic categories Sepoy wants to deploy are of extremely limited explanatory capacity. What I wrote was quite clear, “The linguistic and ethnic diversity of Pakistan didn’t stop the Muslim League’s (regressive) demand for Partition in the 40s, it didn’t stop the decades of military rule that followed, it didn’t stop the prosecution of the Bangladesh War, it didn’t stop Bhutto’s (again reactionary) call for Islamic Socialism, and it didn’t stop the Zia coup, so what makes you think the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country is going to stop Talibanization?” It was a direct reply to Sepoy’s challenge: “lets cross over that Durand Line and tell me why “Talibanization” will flourish amongst Sindhis, Punjabis or Baluchis?” As I pointed out, Talibanization already flourishes in the (predominantly Punjabi) Pakistani military. Certainly, I didn’t intend to start a whole debate on the Partition. It’s hardly my fault if others want to seize upon one thing in my post and run off in another direction with it.

  15. Akbar your complacency when you write “I think most Pakistanis are very happy with capitalism, they just want to make money, educate their children and get ahead in life” is truly breath-taking. Pakistan is one of the most impoverished places on the planet and I dare say that “most Pakistanis” might, if asked, beg to differ with your characterization of their views.
    As for your gratuitous comments about my attitudes towards “brown people,” I think you would do well to treat your interlocutors with greater respect. Your comments about Albright, Pipes, and Campus Watch are likewise gratuitous and undeserving of reply.
    The term Islamist fascists refers to a fascist brand of politics that speaks in the name of Islam. It says nothing whatsoever about Islam as a religion or Muslim people per se any more than do the terms Hindu fascism or Christian fascism. The term’s meaning is plain.

  16. Qalandar, I think I don’t fully understand what Spencer meant by using the term “regressive” in that context. To me it seemed like a value judgement after the fact that Partition was a bad thing. While one can believe whatever they want, I feel that such a value judgement doesn’t help us to understand why it happened or the subsequent history of Pakistan. Of course I know that the Muslim League not only responded to fear of Hindu Raj but also stoked it as you say. Anyway, I don’t see what relevance Partition has to the topic at hand (thus I didn’t understand why Spencer brought it up in the first place).

  17. PPS — the struggle against Taliban-types is one thing, but this massive displacement of 1.5 million people is, I suspect, a kind of theater by the Pakistani military. Massive aerial bombardment cannot be the way to defeat the Taliban — that method doesn’t seem to have worked for NATO in Afghanistan either. The other sad thing is that it re-affirms the place of the military in the Pakistani public’s imagination, and thus is hardly conducive to the democratic space.

  18. PS– I of course do not mean to suggest that the demand for Pakistan came “out of nowhere”; i.e., given the wealth of scholarship showing how, beginning in the nineteenth century, “Indianness” came to be constructed in terms of “Hinduness”, the latter being defined as the very essence of the new nation state, this was not an especially inclusive basis on which to “found” the nation as far as Muslim Indians were concerned. But equally, that history does not mean that the demand for Pakistan was inevitable, or the only viable “counter-mobilization”, even if it was, ultimately, the most successful one.

  19. Re: “While you may see the League’s demand for Pakistan as “regressive”, you must understand that there were many complicated reasons behind that demand, one of them being the real fear among Indian Muslims that British Raj would simply be succeeded by “Hindu Raj.” ”

    These are two separate issues: i.e. one might have real fears, and concrete reasons for insisting on a regressive political position, but that is a separate issue from whether or not the political position is nevertheless regressive (I might add that the Muslim League was not only responding to the real fear of “Hindu Raj”, but also stoking that fear, and by the end rather shamelessly, with no regard for the communal violence that was likely to ensue from its stance — e.g. the way the League de-stabilized Khizr Hayat Khan’s Unionist government in Punjab in 1946-47).

    Re: “Jinnah and the League only demanded a seperate country after Congress rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan, which was the last compromise.”

    One might argue that the Cabinet Mission Plan (which enshrined a right of secession in the provincial groupings) was not much of a compromise, but in any event, that was not the rhetoric of the Muslim League. There is the Ayesha Jalal view that seeks to assert that the demand for Pakistan was basically a bargaining chip and only a last resort, but no attempt is made to account for the rhetoric of the demand for Pakistan, which was certainly not that way. That is, if such an absolutist demand was being made “insincerely”, given the communally charged context of India in the 1930s and 1940s, it was really the height of cynicism and irresponsibility. [It’s the sort of thing one would expect from a litigator, but does not make for sagacious politics.]

    Anyway, the above is off-topic, and obviously no-one (certainly not me) is suggesting that this should have any bearing on Pakistan’s independence. [Although the late Khan Abdul Wali Khan (ANP) was of the view that the this history was relevant to Pakistan’s future troubles: i.e., his view was that Pakistan was a “reward” to the pro-Western Muslim League (i.e. initially seen by imperial conservatives as a bulwark against anti-imperial nationalism; and later on, in the post-1945 context, as anti-left, socialist Nehruvian etc.), and that Jinnah was conscious of and very solicitous of this distinction between him and the Congress left. Thus to expect the ruling elite of the country to be anything other than what it turned out to be — irredeemably pro-status quo (in this context pro-landlord), pro-Western/anti-left — would have been unrealistic. No doubt Khan’s book (“Facts are Facts”) is polemical and marred by a conspiratorial tone, but he does have a point.]

  20. “I think you are in some sense right that I consider the facts to be less salient than you do. Or, rather, I consider different kinds of facts to be the salient ones.”

    Spencer, with all due respect to your qualifications and your passion to engage in debate. Your whole understaniding can be reduced to a simplistic notion of that, the brown people over yonder need to be protected from “Islamist Fascists” (a term that is useless and loaded with Ignorance of Islmic thought and history and its contribution to modern civilization). So if few millions get displaced and few hudred thousands(human beings just like me,you and our loved ones) get killed, it is a price worth paying(facts be damned along wiht who is to pay that price), a la Madeline Albright.
    Rest assured of decency of muslim folks, if you were spreading this hokum on some other forum , you would have been laughed away by now.
    If I was Sepoy Iwould be careful in taking your bate, as there is no cure for willfull ignorance and besides likes of Daniel Pipes and Campus watch , would love to have a dossier on any aspiring academician with a taste for knowledge and fairness.

  21. Spencer, while no one is discounting your academic credentials, don’t you think that Pakistanis or people of Pak-origin might have a better feeling for the dynamics of their country than someone who is (arguebly) an outsider to that cultural milieu?

    It’s easy to judge from the present perspective and see Partition as “regressive” and a “defeat for the left in both India and Pakistan.” It’s also easy to argue from present circumstances that Partition was the best thing to happen to India (as some commenters on a prominent South Asian American site believe). But, I think we need to recognize the reasons why that demand was made and the insecurities of Indian Muslims at the time. Anyway, Partition occured and imagining a united India is counterfactual. I think most Pakistanis would insist that good or bad, we are now an independent country, and that’s the way it should stay.

    I don’t believe in Marxism, and think that it’s been proved wrong wherever it was tried, though I concede that communism under Stalin was not communism as Marx intended it. Unfortunately, in practice communism too easily turns into fascism. I believe in liberal democracy and the welfare state. Also, mainstream Pakistanis aren’t interested in Marxism or the left, so I don’t see how applicable it is to our context. The Lawyers Movement was a fight for an independent judiaciary and rule of law, something critical in a democracy. I think most Pakistanis are very happy with capitalism, they just want to make money, educate their children and get ahead in life.

  22. Kabir: I am a trained historian of modern S. Asia and am fully aware of the complexity of the politics behind the demand for Pakistan. I am not simply familiar with the politics of late colonial South Asia, I teach and research it and know whereof I speak. And I am perfectly aware of the validity of many of the ML’s criticisms of the Congress, but I think that the ML’s demand for Pakistan was nevertheless extremely simplistic and has proved to be catastrophic not only for the subcontinent’s Muslims, but for the politics of the region as a whole. Partition was a major defeat for the Left in both India and Pakistan.
    As for my Marxist “obsession” with the working class and the Left, I would argue that it and no other framework is capable of grasping Pakistani history. And why would think it inappropriate in the Pakistani context? What is different about that context? Is not Pakistani society capitalist as much as any other country? Or do you also subscribe to the (Stalinist) theory of the “semi-feudal” character of Pakistani society? Of course, your admitting that Pakistan is as capitalist as the U.S. or any place else and has been capitalist for its entire history as a nation (which is my position) would not necessarily mean that you would agree that Marxism is appropriate for understanding its history, as you might consider Marxism to be misguided in all cases. But I certainly don’t see why Marxism should be considered an inappropriate framework only in the Pakistani context.

  23. Spencer, with all due respect, I don’t understand why you are bringing Partition into this discussion. While you may see the League’s demand for Pakistan as “regressive”, you must understand that there were many complicated reasons behind that demand, one of them being the real fear among Indian Muslims that British Raj would simply be succeeded by “Hindu Raj.” While I wish they hadn’t been that insecure, that was the very real fear at the time. Second, Jinnah and the League only demanded a seperate country after Congress rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan, which was the last compromise.

    I don’t understand your obsession with the working-class and the left. What if that is just not an appropriate framework in the Pakistani context?

  24. Sepoy, my point is and has been that the Taliban are part of a larger islamist political movement. As in Afghanistan in the 1980s there were many various and conflicting groups under the umbrella “mujahideen,” we can speak of the Taliban as a broad political movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There were numerous islamist (and leftist) groups involved in the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Khomeini had to maneuver both to left and right for years to finally assert his undisputed leadership over the Islamic Revolution there. Similarly, there were numerous groups on the right jockeying for hegemony in Germany in the 1920s and 30s. During the struggle with republic, they presented a united front. The mere fact of a plurality of groups doesn’t really say much politically to my mind. The issue is what sort of politics do they share? How are they rooted in the same authoritarian psychology and ideological forms? This and only this sort of analytic understanding helps one to understand how they are linked globally not only to their fellow islamists in other countries, but, indeed, to their Christian, Hindu, and atheist fascist “enemies.”
    The word “neo-con” doesn’t scare me. But, certainly, unlike you, I don’t share their preoccupation with “Westernized” middle classes as the supposed basis of democratic movements.
    As for demands going back to the 1980s and 1990s, the situation changes with changing circumstances. Moreover, the demand was politically regressive then too.
    I don’t say that major cities will fall to the Taliban, but that the government will acquiesce in Talibanization. The ascendancy of the Taliban will take a political not a military form. Did the cities “fall” when Zia came to power? The fact that the U.S. presumably backed the Zia coup and wouldn’t support the takeover by a Taliban sympathetic military officer wouldn’t be the most important aspect of the event, should it take place. In other words, you don’t have to look to Afghanistan or Iran to imagine what islamization in Pakistan will look like. It’s already got a strong legacy in the country.
    The linguistic and ethnic diversity of Pakistan didn’t stop the Muslim League’s (regressive) demand for Partition in the 40s, it didn’t stop the decades of military rule that followed, it didn’t stop the prosecution of the Bangladesh War, it didn’t stop Bhutto’s (again reactionary) call for Islamic Socialism, and it didn’t stop the Zia coup, so what makes you think the ethnic and linguistic diversity of the country is going to stop Talibanization, a movement that already has strong support inside the Pakistani state apparatuses?
    I think you are in some sense right that I consider the facts to be less salient than you do. Or, rather, I consider different kinds of facts to be the salient ones.
    Regarding Afghanistan, obviously the situation there is much worse than it is in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, entire populations continue to live under Taliban rule and the American invasion has done nothing for them, except perhaps ravage their country even further. But, unlike you, I see the two political-military contexts as deeply inter-related.
    As for “the socio-economic make-up of a typical political worker in PPP,” etc., I dare say I understand the matter as well if not better than you do, though I understand it on the analogy of the operation of political parties in India, a matter which, I will remind you (since you lay such store by expertise), I have studied as a professional historian (and amateur field researcher) in India and which you have never studied professionally in Pakistan. Do you really think that the that “the socio-economic make-up of a typical political worker” in the Communist Party of India, the Shetkari-Kamgar Paksha, the Congress, or the Shiv Sena in Pune and Mumbai is particularly different from that of their counterparts in Karachi or Lahore?
    Of course, I think democracy in Pakistan will be built by the Left. Democracy has only ever been built by the Left in every country where it can be said to exist and I don’t expect Pakistan will make an exception to the rule. I should point out that I use the terms working class and Left as normative, not as descriptive categories. Of course, there are parties and political movements chiefly composed of working class people which are fascistic or at least reactionary. The issue is one of program and mode of organization (and the relation between the two).

  25. Spencer, like said before, it is not just you but many folks out there that suffer from the bogeyman syndrome. Some deluded folks may subscribe to the neo-con and evangelical’s Armageddon battle cry and believe this to be biblical prophecy.

    Most Pakistanis detest the bad elements in the Taliban and scores of other extremist groups. Similarly, they loathe the corrupt and rogue elements in our Establishment and Uncle Sam’s Mafia-style and gung-ho foreign policy.

    Fortunately, many folks do not fall for the mass-hysteria generated by the Western media and neo-con and those with vested interests about the Taliban are coming – the Taliban are coming crap similar to the one during the Cold-War when the bogeyman were the Reds!

    Unfortunately, it seems that Uncle Sam & Co can only survive with a perceived enemy. Once the Cold-War ended – there aren’t any dirty commies to bash!

  26. “As for my familiarity with the realities on the ground, what are the realities of which I betray such ignorance and which so completely undermine my point of view? I am happy to be directed to consider new facts, new information – but how am I to react to the blanket claim that I don’t know the facts”

    Spencer: The “Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan” – your Taliban, who are not the same Taliban as in Afghanistan – were not a party to the Swat deal. The Swat deal was made between the political govt. of Zardari and the Sufi Muhammad’s Tehrik-e Nifaz Fiqh Muhammadi, an organization and a demand that dates back to the late 80s/early 90s. They made the deal promising that they will control TTP. They failed. The deal failed.
    Now, this “fact” tells you two things: Swat has a long gestation of resentments towards the state of PK which have very little to do with the ideological Talibanization that you are so convinced will sweep Pakistan. Second, that even within Swat there are more than one type of “bad guys”. While, I am sure from the point of view of a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I am, on the other hand, not interested in sacrificing civilians to neo-con agendas. Hence, my distrust of the military, the military action, or the US intervention.

    What I find remarkable in all of your comments is how little “facts” matter to you. You hold some specter of “working class poor” and “Left” as the necessary pre-conditions of democracy in Pakistan. Do you actually know anything about the political landscape inside Pakistan? Can you, for example, tell me the socio-economic make-up of typical political worker in PPP or in ANP or in MQM? You continue to stress that the major cities etc. will fall to the Taliban but you fail to point out how? How will it happen?

    I hate to continue this dialogue with you, since we have been going at it for some weeks. But explain this to me. Why hasn’t Kabul fallen to the Taliban? Given your understanding of the rate of accumulation in Pakistan (10,000 take over 110 million or convert them or terrorize them), why hasn’t that same calculus occurred in Afghanistan? I am specifically speaking pre-surge. In other words, why is it that Pakistan is deemed to fail (now), but Afghanistan is not flying the Taliban flag even after 5 years of minimal US/NATO troops and no major military operation.

    If you care to be honest in your response, you will invoke ethnic and linguistic differentiations between the Tajik and Pakhtun populations in Afghanistan. So, lets cross over that Durand Line and tell me why “Talibanization” will flourish amongst Sindhis, Punjabis or Baluchis? Which isn’t to downplay the sub-nationalist movements among those groups, either. But, you see how silly it begins to look, doesn’t it?

    Actually, I am sure you don’t.

  27. Jan, I would only add that Margolis’s commentary on the Huntington Post is totally bush-league to say nothing worse. Are we really going to start talking about “tribals” and “lowland Pakistanis”? Can you take this stuff seriously? Is the Taliban some kind of expression of Pashtunwali? Is that Margolis expects us to believe?
    Satter in The News makes a point that many here should take to heart: “In Pakistan, the US is accorded more credit and discredit for its ability to control events and decisions than is due. Our obsession with perceived US power manifests itself in two ways: one, as willing abdication of ruling elites to the whims and edicts of the US administration as an imperative to continue to enjoy power; and two, in the form of conspiracy theories based on the assumption that the US controls everyone from Zardari and Kayani to Fazalullah and Baitullah and that all our miseries are part of a grand sinister design of the US to break Pakistan up.” The slavishness of the elite towards America derives precisely from the fact that their parties promise the Pakistani people no real alternative to the status quo. Of course, if there were a real radical politics in Pakistan, its leaders would not be Washington’s toadies (though that would hardly be an important accomplishment). But one seriously wonders to what extent Satter would actually support the sort of radical movement necessary to break the dependency on the U.S. that he bemoans.

  28. What was Swat like before, that is, under the Taliban, after the people of Swat were sold out by their government? A land of peace and justice?
    That said, I agree that this operation seems to be so barbaric as perhaps to be unworthy of support. It seems altogether possible that the Pakistani Army is as entirely incapable of expelling the Taliban from Swat as it was of defending it from them in the first place. Reading the reports certainly one despairs. To me, this is more evidence of Pakistan’s being a failed state “on the brink,” etc., i.e. all the characterizations that many people here seem to object to so strongly. No doubt, it is the fruit of the terrible half-century tie-up between American imperialism and the Pakistani oligarchy. Still, it pains me to see it.
    I don’t think that in the absence of a military defeat the Taliban will cease to destabilize the country, making it impossible not only for capitalists to invest, but no less certainly making it impossible for anything like a real mass democratic movement to emerge in the country. There is no doubt in my mind that if, as so many here seem to wish, NATO were to pack up and leave Afghanistan tomorrow, the result would be a regional catastrophe ending, in all likelihood, in a war with India that will, among other terrible effects, generate an internal refugee problem that will dwarf that resulting from the Swati operation. Again, unlike Sepoy and Saadia and many others here, I see great potential for the political, economic, and humanitarian situation in Pakistan to get much worse very quickly. Clearly, the Pakistani military is utterly ill-equipped to defend the country from this sort of threat. More importantly, unlike most, I see no organized political force capable of really reversing the political tide (and I don’t think mere population or urban centers constitute a political obstacle to Talibanization).

  29. As in Iraq, ignorance and military arrogance continue to drive US Afghan policy. President Obama’s people have no more understanding what they are getting into in “Afpak” than did the Bush administration. Obama is getting extremely bad advice from his so-called Afghanistan “experts” and the Pentagon’s gung-ho, would-be crusaders. (Kicking a Hornet’s Nest in Pakistan by: Eric Margolis)

    What would be Swat like after this season of death and destruction is over and the last Talib has been killed, captured, or has managed to melt into the general population, now fleeing in terror, generating a massive exodus that is already making headlines around the world and brining millions of dollars into the coffers of the rulers? (After the season of death by: Dr Muzaffar Iqbal)

    So long as our ruling political and military elites seem singularly focused on appeasing the US … the intentions of our leaders will remain suspect and anger against the US will continue to brew. It is time to write a new act and wind up the dog and pony sho[w] (http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=178988)

  30. I should point out also that I never belittled the Lawyers Movement, I simply said that it would have to be integrated into a much more broad-based movement of the organized working poor of Pakistan before I would start speaking of a real democratic movement in the country.

  31. I know something already of the modern history of Pakistan. I would point out that if you despise the forces which the U.S. has done so much to foster in both Pakistan and Afghanistan from the Zia coup to the CIA backing of the mujahideen, then I don’t understand why you don’t applaud the significant change of course that has resulted in the Afghan War and the pressuring of the Pakistani government to de-islamicize. As I said before, I don’t expect that the U.S. government (or any of the major political parties in Pakistan) to steadily and resolutely oppose what I take to be a kind of islamist fascism, but to the extent that they are fighting that battle now I don’t object. As for the “Yanks” going home, this would not mean Pakistani autonomy, it would only mean other and perhaps less savory forces moving in to fill the vacuum – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, and India – many of whom already exert a strong influence in the region. One positive development, as far as I am concerned, of the change of American policy in the region since 9/11 is the re-orientation of the U.S. towards Indian aspirations and away from those of the Saudis. It may be resented by the ISI and the Pakistani military (as the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last year made clear), but I think it very much in the long-term interests of the people of Pakistan.

  32. ‘Why are you telling me this? ”

    To bring in the context in which the current struggle is happening.

    ‘Why exactly are noble laureate economists “mine”?”

    My apologies .

  33. Why are you telling me this? You think I would have supported Kissinger and Zia? I would point out to you, however, that it wasn’t Kissinger and Zia that sealed Bhutto’s fate, it was the PPP’s collusion with Yahya Khan in backing the war to suppress the 1970 election results, the decision that launched his regime and which required him to distance himself from precisely those forces in Pakistan that would have allowed him to bid defiance to both Kissinger and Zia.
    Let me ask you a question: Why exactly are noble laureate economists “mine”?
    As for my understanding of Pakistani values, I think the desire for freedom and well-being is no different in Pakistan than it is anywhere else. There is nothing Pakistani about them.

  34. “If they don’t realize this fact and think instead that the issue is just about pleasing the U.S., it is only an index of the relative immaturity of the political debate (something unsurprising given the near total absence of leftist parties and trade unions in Pakistan).”

    Spencer all I can say is “Ignorance is strength”

    Once upon a time in 1973 we had a left of center govt. in Pakistan. It nationalized all the banks ( Imagine your noble laureates are recommending to nationalize US banks now though temporarily, and land of Magna Carta has effectively nationalized its banks). The education was cheap, imagine there were tens of medical colleges and other univerdities started. Books were free. In medical schools the fee was less than curent days english medium KinderGaartens in Pakistan. The regimen had its flaws. Still many feudals in key position but homeless farm workers were alloted land to buuild small houses to get them out of clutches of Land owners and Induatrialists. But the regimen committed another cardinal sin of pursuing nuclear power. So one Henry Kissinger pronounced “We will make you an Example.” On night of july 3, 1977, Zia UlHaq ,then chief of Army Staff met with American Ambassador and on July 4,1977 he declared Martial Law. He was respoding to agitation by PNA a collection of all Pakistani religious parties from JI to JU I, JUP and whatever, the progeny and protectors of most of present day religious parites. Some of those were thought to be on American payrole as dollars became cheap those days. So on July 4,1977, our national nightmare began. Rest is history any body who is not reading comprhension challenged and willing to take Ideological blinkers off , can find it. Pakistan is some 170 million people. Majority of people do not trust America , do not trust Military(just recently in vote, Musharraf,s Kings party was trounced in elections), and majority is happy with Mullah conducting the religious rites but not running the country. When you belittle Lawyers movement in country with 20 years of military rule with in 30 years space, you are showing a very suprficial understanding of the country you chose to bless with your advice.
    Also you claim to understand “Pakistani Values”. Can you elaborate on that as it might help advance some understanding as of where you coming from?

    \

  35. As Pakistan “going communist,” I think Yes Man you are ignoring the “fact” that that would be a betrayal of Pakistani “values.”

  36. Babu wrote: “As for the deal between the state and the Taliban a few months back, if you’ll recall most of the local people in Swat, Buner, and environs weren’t for it either. They saw it as a capitulation on the part of the state, leaving them to fend for themselves. The fact that now, after so much pressure from the Obama administration, the government IS launching a big offensive only exacerbates the impression that they (Zardari & Co.) are more interested in what Washington thinks than protecting the local people against the Taliban. You might disagree, and you’re perfectly right to note that the Taliban started it, but that doesn’t do anything for the people who have been sent fleeing with only what they could carry.”
    My whole point was that the people of the region were against it. ( Anyway, what would it mean to say, politically, that people “want” Taliban rule, so we should let them have it?). Given that the people of the opposed Taliban rule, it is fair to say that the Pakistani Army betrayed its responsibility to defend its citizens by making a deal with the Taliban. Those who apologized for that decision at the time cannot now in good faith profess their horror and outrage at the consequences that flow from it. As for the “impression” about Zardari’s government being more interested in Washington’s approval, I don’t see what difference it makes. At the end of the day, it’s a Pakistani political crisis. American troops will someday soon leave Afghanistan. It’s the people of these two countries that have to fight their political battles. If they don’t realize this fact and think instead that the issue is just about pleasing the U.S., it is only an index of the relative immaturity of the political debate (something unsurprising given the near total absence of leftist parties and trade unions in Pakistan).
    Babu also wrote: “What [Sepoy’]s saying, as far as I can tell, is that it’s no long-term solution to do so without a concurrent, sustained, humanitarian intervention that makes the people look to the state instead of Islamist parties for protection.”
    Sure, but there is a military question. The Taliban are directly challenging the sovereignty of the Pakistani state and there is no way to settle the matter peacefully. They will have to be defeated or their demands will only increase. That much seems clear enough. Then there is issue of the more or less total incapacity of the Pakistani state to deliver social services to the refugees. Not only the limited resources of the Pakistani state but its highly retrograde class composition are objective constraints to any humanitarian effort on its part (because the resources will be diverted by corrupt bureaucrats, etc.). It doesn’t matter whether aid comes in the form of dollars or in commodities – in a capitalist economy the one is readily convertible to the other. In other words, grain, medicine, etc. will simply be misappropriated and sold for profit on the market, with the relevant officials pocketing the money.
    The Pakistani state is built upon a history of oligarchy and betrayal. It is not in legitimacy crisis. It lacks legitimacy. Still, any successful democratic movement will have to democratize this failed state inherited from the past. It cannot hope for anything from the Taliban.
    Salman writes: “I think that our tax dollars have gone into the aid provided to Pakistan and the aid has been military.”
    To this I would reply it isn’t simply that the aid is military, but that the Pakistani state is a military state and is therefore incapable of efficiently providing for the delivery of any sort of humanitarian aid (without effectively suspending its own sovereignty, as happens in African countries where NGOs constitute a parallel state). Why should think the Pakistani government capable of distributing or supervising the distribution of aid when it cannot provide any social services to its people right now?
    Saadia wrote, “The facts are: the Taliban do not pose a serious (or even real) danger to the state or to the people of Pakistan.”
    This “fact” is supposedly supported by the news reports? Apparently the political destiny of the Taliban in Pakistan is a “fact” that a journalist can establish!
    When you speak for Pakistani democracy, you identify the ground on which we disagree fundamentally. However much you wish to paint me as an uninformed State Department tool, I submit to you that the project of advancing Pakistani democracy cannot advance without and unless there is also a military conflict with the Taliban. It’s not the only front in the democratic struggle, nor are the the Pakistani Army or NATO forces allies to be relied upon in the longue-duree struggle for Pakistani democracy. But to imagine that any secular democratic movement can gain a real foothold in Pakistani, i.e. that genuine organization of the urban working class can take place, while islamist guerrillas operate in the country is, to my way of thinking, misguided in the extreme. So, you see, I am arguing, rather, not against democracy, but for it. I am claiming that the struggle for greater democracy in Pakistan, a struggle that would ultimately challenge not only Islamization, but the bloated and blood-sucking military-bureaucratic establishment, the landlord class, and the bankrupt party political order. But, again and to repeat, any such movement would necessarily emerge in and through the defeat of the Taliban. So, you see, the issue is hardly one of celebrating imperialism. On the contrary, it’s a matter, at least as I see it, of realistically assessing the political situation in Pakistan today on the basis of a fundamental commitment to democratic internationalism.
    My view is that strategically the Lawyers Movement, say, or the larger if more inchoate democratic movement in Pakistan cannot expand and grow without taking a side in the military struggle taking place. I see bogus compromises as made with the Taliban in Swat as merely allowing the Taliban to consolidate and entrench themselves. It bespeaks fear and ambivalence on the part of the government and Army, and I for one am glad to see the struggle resumed, because the scale of the humanitarian costs, great as they are today, can in fact greatly increase. Compromise with the Taliban is only going to make things worse in the long run, because their demands are ultimately irreconcilable with democracy, secularism, and indeed civilized life in Pakistan and they will not rest satisfied until they implement their total program. Every day that the government continues to rest supine in the face of the Taliban challenge, the situation gets worse and Taliban grows stronger. This is why the subject of IDPs is secondary to the military issue – it is a crisis that flows from a war which the Pakistani government did not start, but which it must finish if there is to be any security that the population of Pakistan is not going to be further brutalized.
    I certainly support criticism of the military tactics employed by the Army. Similarly, I support demands for IDP relief. But the fact remains that the Taliban have brought a war to Pakistan and I support the Pakistani government in its attempt to defeat them.
    Sepoy writes: “You fail to betray even a cursory understanding of realities on the ground – so wedded are you to your ideology. Be that as it may, you are factually wrong here: “And don’t you see that the situation has been made worse by the original agreement between the state and the Taliban, which you supported?” I didn’t support the agreement, I simply tried to point its legal and political history.”
    When I read your posts they read like support for the government’s treaty with the Taliban. I stand by my interpretation of your comments at that time. And, indeed, at the time there were some who posted in response to you criticisms very much in the spirit of mine.
    As for my familiarity with the realities on the ground, what are the realities of which I betray such ignorance and which so completely undermine my point of view? I am happy to be directed to consider new facts, new information – but how am I to react to the blanket claim that I don’t know the facts? And what exactly is the ideology that you think me wedded to that renders me impermeable to these supposed facts? Do you think that if I went to an IDP camp in Pakistan and stared at “the facts on the ground” it would tell me anything about how to politically assess the dynamics generating the historical outcomes today?

  37. dude, where in here does it say that they are directly sending funds to the government:

    http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/4a16b3d02.html

    many individual donors (especially those foreign to the affected region) don’t send supplies directly to UNHCR. individuals send money, so that the agency can purchase said supplies and provide them those affected. it’s about efficiency, man.

    and who, exactly, are you accusing of blackmail?

  38. tsk – you are the one who missed the point. Charity to Pakistan should include only foodgrains, clothes etc. No dollars please. Pakistan establishment will spend those dollars in creating more training camps for terrorists.

  39. “Solution? Pakistan should become communist”
    Alternative solution would be for Yanks to shove their dollars and go, while taking the elites/feudals they have cultivated along.

  40. I’m so glad to see pictures of displaced girls keeping up with school in spite of all that is happening to them. Thanks sepoy!

    If anything, think of the donations as contributing to more books :)

  41. Pakistan’s government spends less than all its neighboring countries on education — 2.4 percent of its gross domestic product, compared with the United Nations’ recommended norm of 4 percent in developing economies like Pakistan.

    The present (2004) projected adult literacy rate in Pakistan is 54% (male 66.25% : female 41.75%)

    India: 2001 government statistics hold the national literacy to be around 64.84%. Female literacy is was at a national average of 53.63% whereas the male literacy was 75.26%

    Within the Indian states, Kerala has shown the highest literacy rates of 90.02% whereas Bihar averaged lower than 50% literacy, the lowest in India

    Solution? Pakistan should become communist

  42. that’s awesome, dude40K. talking smack on charity. bonus for completely missing the point, too.

  43. More blackmail – give us money and aid otherwise we will unleash Lashkar-e-toiba and Jamat-e-Dawa on you.

    Nice going – how different is this from the Pak govt which negotiates with a gun on its own head?

  44. Re: “Pakistan doesn’t have a national school system. Think about that.”

    It is difficult to engage with this statement, because I am not sure what your context or “benchmark” is. That is, relative to France, I suspect Pakistan “doesn’t have a national school system”; relative to Afghanistan or the DRC, it probably does; relative to Saudi Arabia, it has a more progressive national school system. I suspect Pakistan’s is comparable to the national school systems of a number of developing countries (ahead of many; behind many). This it is hard to “[t]hink about” the proposition when it isn’t obvious what thought the proposition is itself the product of.

    Re: ” large number of inhabitants are serfs, because feudalism still thrives. in 2009!”

    I agree with your suggestion that this is an atrocious situation. But the “in 2009!” suggests that this sort of poverty and degradation is somehow alien to the present period. On the contrary, it is one of the abiding features of the modern-day world: all across South Asia, and in some other parts of Asia, one can find indentured labor that is, whether or not serfdom, highly un-free and exploitative. One can find millions more such workers in Africa as well. Not to mention the situation of both manual and domestic labor in the otherwise prosperous petrodollar economies of the Persian Gulf.

  45. “Secondly, a large number of inhabitants are serfs, because feudalism still thrives. in 2009!”

    Here are some stories to broaden the contex!

    “* Consider the exceptional history teacher, Ira Solomon, teaching in East Saint Louis, Illinois, a town extraordinary in its poverty. This is what he tells Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities:

    “This is not by any means the worst school in the city,” he reports, as we are sitting in his classroom on the first floor of the school. “But our problems are severe. I don’t even know where to begin. I have no materials with the exception of a single textbook given to each child. If I bring in anything else–books or tapes or magazines–I pay for it myself. The high school has no VCRs. They are such a crucial tool. So many good things run on public television. I can’t make use of anything I see unless I can unhook my VCR and bring it into the school. The AV equipment in the building is so old that we are pressured not to use it….”

    “Of 33 children who begin the history classes in the standard track,” he says, “more than a quarter have dropped out by spring semester…I have four girls right now in my senior home room who are pregnant or have just had babies. When I ask them why this happens, I am told, ‘Well, there’s no reason not to have a baby. There’s not much for me in public school.’ The truth is,… [a] diploma from a ghetto high school doesn’t count for much in the United States today….Ah, there’s so much bitterness–unfairness–there, you know….”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/yates05202009.html

  46. Yes man
    Pakistan indeed has a national educational system.

    “Secondly, a large number of inhabitants are serfs, because feudalism still thrives. in 2009!”
    Speaking of serfs, what is the difference between a feudal serf and a Carporate serf?Corporate serfdom is not only thriving but being bailed out by the tax dollars of same serfs! It is funny that some the corporate serfs also assume the duties of Imperial Philosophers.

  47. Yes Man: Pakistan _has_ a national education system. I am a product of it, however flawed.

  48. It is NOT just Spencer reading too much into the Pentagon and Pak Army propaganda manuals. There are some who also try to be politically correct due to various factors including ideological reasons. Fortunately, there are many who do not buy into this whitewashing of a human tragedy of unlimited proportions.

    These “show and awe” are meant for the galleries in the West – than to fight the Taliban – who most probably vanished into their mountain hideouts. Frankly, most folks probably want both the Military, Inc. and the Taliban vanish from the precinct of the so-called Land of Pure – as they have much adulteration and impurities of the other kind.

    A good read: TINA, TIANA & TATA in Pakistan
    http://progpak.wordpress.com/2009/05/18/alternatives-in-pakistan/

  49. Pakistan doesn’t have a national school system. Think about that.

    Secondly, a large number of inhabitants are serfs, because feudalism still thrives. in 2009!

    So when we talk about the pakistani “state” what are we referring to? Czarist Russia? early 19th century America?

  50. I don’t know how much precision is possible in a military action, Pakistani or otherwise. I am perhaps too cynical but military actions tend to go crazy a bit too often for comfort. I know at this time I’m supposed to be waving the Chand Sitara and buying the “support your troops” ribbon, but Pakistan Army’s Bajaur campaign is an example of how it operates. “The Pakistani military has adopted a scorched earth policy toward the Taliban in Bajaur, tearing down houses and using them as bunkers, and displacing an estimated 200,000 civilians from the region (some have become refugees in nearby Afghanistan).
    Pakistan says it has killed about 1500 Taliban and captured 500 “foreigners” ( from Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan–not, apparently, from the Arab world), and that 500 local militants are still holding out. Over 70 Pakistani troops have been killed in the fighting since August.” http://www.juancole.com/2008/10/pakistani-military-takes-towns-in.html

    This may be another factor in population flight : “The desperate Taliban are conducting forced marriages with local families, presumably to bind them politically to the movement and raise operatives’ morale. They are also said to be forcibly inducting local young men into their forces. It is hard to gauge the accuracy of these charges, since some may emanate from families that had shifted to the Taliban” http://www.juancole.com/2009/05/2-americans-killed-in-afghanistan.html

    Either Pakistan Army is poorly equipped to fight without invading a territory or they want to make a spectacle out of it.
    There

    Speaking of Sudan, “Saviors and Survivors” was a good read.

  51. Salman: I guess what I’m thinking (tentatively, not having any kind of military know how) is that for this many people to be fleeing, the Pakistani army must be going crazy, with no attempt at precision (perhaps I am being unfair, but all the other million+ displacement situations in the world are ones where someone is actually trying to get rid of people — DRC, Sudan, etc., no?)

  52. Qalandar: According to The News Pakistan, half of Mingora’s population is displaced. From what I gathered, the population was 175K in 1998. That’s just one town, although I think the largest in Swat. I remember reading last year that about 400K IDPs were displaced from FATA. More IDPs are on the way (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provinces/09-govt-begins-preparations-for-expected-waziristan-idps-szh–08 ) as Army plans to extend the operation.

    “In fact, the ruling ANP-PPP coalition in the province is already calculating that the figure of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) could rise to 2.5 million because the military action that it enthusiastically recommended is continuing and would definitely last longer than planned or anticipated. And if one were to take seriously the statement by our globe-trotting president about starting new military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that includes the two Waziristan, we are bound to have many more IDPs living miserable life in the makeshift camps or in urban slums.” … “In the heat of the moment, not much thought is being given to the political, economic and social fallout of such large military operations involving excessive use of airpower and heavy artillery in densely-populated mountain valleys with weak economies and fragile environment. All we hear are statements and slogans demanding more attacks so that the enemy is crushed once and for all. There is little tolerance for divergent opinion and anyone with a different viewpoint is condemned without realizing that we are supposed to be a democratic country..” Rahimullah Yusufzai http://www.thenews.com.pk/editorial_detail.asp?id=178542

  53. Saadia, just out of curiousity, and no offence intended, does one feel pressured these days to proclaim that they detest Taliban? Actually this question has been lingering in my mind ever since I read Mamdani’s Good Muslim Bad Muslim.

  54. I can’t get my head around these numbers: how can 1.5 MILLION people be displaced if the army is moving against a few thousand militants? [That’s not a rhetorical question, I genuinely want to know.] That’s an astounding number, and six times the number of Tamils displaced in Sri Lanka’s north and east (which have a larger population than the Swat valley) — I just don’t get how that can be.

  55. Spencer, you really must start checking your facts before expressing your opinion. This latest comment is so ridiculous that I’m almost embarrassed on your behalf. Note that ‘facts’ are not the same as the propaganda spewed out by the media-military complex, American or Pakistani. or Indian, or Israeli, for that matter. The facts are: the Taliban do not pose a serious (or even real) danger to the state or to the people of Pakistan. The parallels between the anxieties of the liberal-left here and the liberal elite in Pakistan never ceases to amaze me, especially these days, and one of them has to do with this bizarre anxiety conjured up at the mere mention of the Taliban. Something weird in the subconscious there (ooo, now you’ll tell me I’m not a real Marxist), which it would be fun to explore eventually. I detest them myself and would hate for them to grab any power in Pakistan whatsoever, but that aint happening, so relax. what IS happening is a real good drama being staged for the likes of you (and your counterparts in Pakistan) who can now rest assured that the Pakistani army is now doing the ‘right’ thing. Amazing how easy it was to restore the credibility of an institution that had just taken a royal drubbing from a committed pro-democracy movement. But maybe you don’t like the idea of democracy in countries like Pakistan – so messy and ‘unstable. Also, how amazing to make people forget that the Taliban are the creation of the very institution that is now being praised for doing nothing more than creating the biggest humanitarian disaster since Rwanda. Even assuming that the army WAS now interested in controlling these pawns it had created, do you usually use a sledgehammer to put in a thumbtack? Which counterinsurgency manual have you been reading? Oh – sorry – it’s probably the US military’s. In any case, don’t you think the proof od the pudding is in the eating? Let’s do the math, shall we? Over a million people displaced, hundreds killed, the army now celebrated as the savior, and the Taliban still not consigned to the dustbin of history. Wow. Let’s celebrate this amazing achievement.

  56. Spencer,

    As far as I can tell, albeit from afar, that there are Swati grievances (Look up the PDF at “Swat Now” at CM). I don’t think that “Taliban” represent/express those grievances but that isn’t to say that those grievances don’t feed into militancy.

    I don’t know if Sepoy means to say that this is an American war by saying,”We, the American tax-payers, need to see that military power in action against the TALIBOTHRA.” Sepoy would know better what he means to say. I think that our tax dollars have gone into the aid provided to Pakistan and the aid has been military. I have heard and read people say something to the tune of – Taliban are so many miles from Islamabad and Pakistan has nukes that can fall into Taliban’s hands, and we have given Pakistan billions of dollars so why wouldn’t the Pakistan army take action. In my opinion, such rhetoric comes at least partly from a desire, perhaps out of fear, to see “military power in action against the TALIBOTHRA.”

    “Why reproduce the Taliban rhetoric that this is an American war” – Actually that “rhetoric” comes from several other perspectives and not just from that of Taliban (whatever that may be). Marking such type of “rhetoric” as Taliban, can mean that the person producing such “rhetoric” is Taliban-sympethizer / closet-Taliban /”Taliban-type” or a Talib himself. Such wonton labeling of people as being in some way aligned with Taliban, is one of the ingredients that make Taliban the TALIBOTHRA (in my opinion). You could label the point I made as an apology for Taliban, and if you do, I could label your act as some form of McCarthyism, but this isn’t grade school. My point is that “Why reproduce the Taliban rhetoric” sort of rhetoric leads nowhere.

    The “military expulsion” from what I gathered, is being carried out by, as Juan Cole put it, invading Swat. So far the “their military expulsion” has expelled over a million people. This may produce and enhance the very threat that the military action is supposed to eradicate. ” ‘I want to pick up a gun and fight the Taliban and the army,’ says shocked Said Quraysh, shaking with rage as he erects a tent in a camp for civilians fleeing Pakistan’s fighting.” http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/pakistan+fury+at+civilians+dead%2C+homes+razed-rs

    Apart from the possibility of enhanced militancy, mass migrations of such sort (http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-unwelcome-in-karachi-unable-to-return-qs-01 ) in Pakistan’s urban centers cause further turmoil, ethnic tensions being just one such problem, to be exploited by political forces. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7884222.stm

    Furthermore, I don’t think that “Taliban” is a monolith. Even within a certain area, “Taliban” are a loose umbrella grouping with rifts within. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0510/p06s01-wosc.html

    I try to keep up with news and current affairs, but that isn’t my primary vocation. So, no sarcasm intended, can you elaborate on “Had that agreement never taken place, they would not be so entrenched and they would not have been to have their way with the people of the region for these last few months, killing or expelling their enemies?” I thought Taliban were already well entrenched and this deal might help the government gain a better foothold in Swat http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7959100.stm . I can be totally wrong on this one, which is why I am asking for explanation.

    A couple of good recommendations I got from a commentator here were:
    Pakistan’s Troubled “Paradise on Earth” by Kamran Asdar Ali
    http://merip.org/mero/mero042909.html
    Who are the “Taliban” in Swat? by Humeira Iqtidar
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/email/who-are-the-taliban-in-swat

  57. Spencer: You fail to betray even a cursory understanding of realities on the ground – so wedded are you to your ideology. Be that as it may, you are factually wrong here: “And don’t you see that the situation has been made worse by the original agreement between the state and the Taliban, which you supported?” I didn’t support the agreement, I simply tried to point its legal and political history.
    See
    http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/imperial_watch/swat_now.html
    http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/noted/opinion.html
    http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/homistan/reading_swat.html
    http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/homistan/pakistan_day_2009.html

    Now, I certainly don’t expect you to be overtly familiar with my postings, but I expect the common courtesy of plugging a word in the search box up yonder.

  58. Spencer, I think the point is simply that if the Pakistani state is going to engage in large scale military action of this kind, it is counterproductive to do so without making provisions for regular folks (most of whom would also like to see the Taliban go). The US certainly has an obligation here as well, given both our on-the-ground military posture in the region, and the rhetoric coming out of the Obama administration and major news outlets (not to mention the scattershot shenanigans of the Bushies). All of these latter factors add to the pressure on the Pakistani state to intervene boldly… which only brings us back to the main point here. Unless the Pakistani state and the Pakistani urban classes are also prepared to help shelter the IDPs, then leaving the humanitarian portfolio to groups like Jamaat-e Dawa only enhances the prestige of such groups in the eyes of people who need, above all, food, water, medicine, and shelter.

    I don’t at all see how saying this “reproduces Taliban rhetoric.” I mean, first of all, are you actually trying to suggest that United States bears no historical responsibility for the current situation? Or that there has not been a ramping up of rhetoric coming out of the US suggesting that the only way to deal with the situation in Pakistan is militarily (either by proxy through the Pak state or remotely, with drones)? Sure, Sepoy is being cheeky by labeling it the “specter of Talibothra” or whatever, but don’t dismiss such factors out of hand as simply irrelevant to how events on the ground are playing out on the ground in Pakistan, and will continue to do so.

    As for the deal between the state and the Taliban a few months back, if you’ll recall most of the local people in Swat, Buner, and environs weren’t for it either. They saw it as a capitulation on the part of the state, leaving them to fend for themselves. The fact that now, after so much pressure from the Obama administration, the government IS launching a big offensive only exacerbates the impression that they (Zardari & Co.) are more interested in what Washington thinks than protecting the local people against the Taliban. You might disagree, and you’re perfectly right to note that the Taliban started it, but that doesn’t do anything for the people who have been sent fleeing with only what they could carry.

    And thus, back we are right where we started. No one, Sepoy least of all, is denying that the Taliban are a bunch of knuckleheads who deserve to be driven the f**k out of Dodge. So go ahead and blame them all you want. What he’s saying, as far as I can tell, is that it’s no long-term solution to do so without a concurrent, sustained, humanitarian intervention that makes the people look to the state instead of Islamist parties for protection. In fact it’s worse than not being a solution — it’s a key part of the problem, and always has been.

  59. I really don’t understand your perspective, Sepoy. Who caused this bloodbath and humanitarian crisis, the Taliban or the state that opposes them? Do the Taliban express some authentic grievance? Are they somehow fighting for justice or national liberation in Swat? If not, then why do you oppose their military expulsion? Why reproduce the Taliban rhetoric that this is an American war, that, as you put it, “the American tax-payers need to see that military power in action against the TALIBOTHRA”? And don’t you see that the situation has been made worse by the original agreement between the state and the Taliban, which you supported? Had that agreement never taken place, they would not be so entrenched and they would not have been to have their way with the people of the region for these last few months, killing or expelling their enemies. This situation was completely foreseeable then, which is why I strongly opposed the deal made with the Taliban at that time. After all, it was never “merely” about imposing the Taliban’s brand of shariah law in the region, it was also about the Taliban’s exercising of sovereignty in the region, i.e. a direct challenge to the Pakistani constitution, such as it is.

Comments are closed.