Author: Brian M. Downing is the author of several works of political and military history, including The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. (NSI News Source Info) January 28, 2009: Pakistan might collapse. It faces regional insurgencies, political failures, rising Islamism (in the public and army alike), and reprisals from India over the Mumbai attacks. The trouble in the US’s principal though duplicitous partner in the war on terror is all the more worrisome because it has nuclear weapons. A great deal of Pakistan’s trouble is the fault of its military, which has thwarted political development, supported terrorism, and encouraged Islamism. US foreign policy has played a supporting role as well.Pakistan Allows Kashmir Raids, Militants Say, Officials from three Pakistani militant groups that the government of Pakistan has allowed Islamic guerrillas to resume small-scale infiltrations into Indian-controlled Kashmir. India has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan halt the practice, which brought the two nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war this spring. From its inception in 1947, Pakistan was predisposed to military rule. The British colonial army of the subcontinent was drawn predominantly from the Punjab, a region that became part of Pakistan upon independence. From that point on, the Pakistani army was more unified and capable of concerted action than were the political parties. Seeing itself as embodying the nation far more than they did, the army would push aside civilian governments and assume the reins of power when it saw fit. There’s no edifying morality play here. Pakistan’s political parties are corrupt, oligarchic patronage networks that bear considerable blame as well for the bleak situation today. The Pakistani army, more so than the political parties, benefited from Cold War dynamics. India, though more powerful than Pakistan and hostile to China, chose a path of nonalignment and so Pakistan (along with Iran) became the US’s partner in the region. Arms and money and advisors flowed in, adding to the army’s hypertrophy. The military used its muscle in politics often and the results were not good. Military governments thwarted the development of stable political partnerships and coalitions, failed to integrate the various provinces of the country (Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province) into a national whole, and also failed to find a political arrangement to limit sectarian clashes. Among the military’s greatest errors has been encouraging Islamism. It did so because less religiously driven Pakistanis were insufficiently fervent to carry on efforts to control Kashmir and to avenge the stain upon national honor brought by the loss of East Pakistan in 1971 – a loss that a neutral observer might unhesitatingly ascribe to the army’s ineptitude. The army set up camps to train guerrillas to carry on the war with India over Kashmir, and political movements to rally Islamist passions for the Kashmir cause. Some of those camps were in Afghanistan, where oversight from Kabul was low and plausible denial to New Delhi a bit higher. The Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 greatly strengthened the army (especially a section of it), which at the time was ruling the country after overthrowing and executing Ali Bhutto. The US and Saudi Arabia poured money into Pakistan to aid the various mujahadin groups fighting just to the north in Afghanistan, most of whom could readily be considered Islamist in nature. The supply effort was entrusted to a section of the military – the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). In order to inspire new recruits for the war in Afghanistan (and for the struggle over Kashmir and revanchism over the loss of East Pakistan) madrasas were funded. Along the way, the ISI became a state within a state, an army within an army, a praetorian guard within a praetorian guard.
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