Monday, November 05, 2007

More on Pakistan

The latest from Pakistan:
Pakistan's government on Sunday executed a nationwide crackdown on the political opposition, the news media and the courts, one day after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule and suspended the constitution.

Police throughout the country raided the homes of opposition party leaders and activists, arresting at least 500. Top lawyers were also taken into custody, and 70 activists were detained at the offices of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the eastern city of Lahore. Police confiscated the equipment of journalists covering the raid and ordered them to leave the premises. All independent television news stations remained off the air for a second straight day. The prime minister, meanwhile, said that elections could be delayed for up to a year.
As Nat-Wu said, this all sounds like what happened in Iran. Musharraf could lose his grip on power and Islamic extremists could take over, except while Iran is years away from having one, they'd have nuclear weapons.

Despite "outrage" from the White House over the crackdowns and promises by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to review our $150 million-a-month assistance program to Pakistan, our policy is not likely to change:
The Bush administration signaled Sunday that it would probably keep billions of dollars flowing to Pakistan’s military, despite the detention of human rights advocates and leaders of the political opposition by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the country’s president.
Aside from the fact that this Faustian deal undermines the admin's message of democracy, the U.S. military aid we give isn't even helping our fight against Al Qaeda all that much:
Despite billions of dollars in U.S. military payments to Pakistan over the last six years, the paramilitary force leading the pursuit of Al Qaeda militants remains underfunded, poorly trained and overwhelmingly outgunned, U.S. military and intelligence officials said.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf cited the rising militant threat in declaring a state of emergency on Saturday and suspending the constitution.

ut rather than use the more than $7 billion in U.S. military aid to bolster its counter-terrorism capabilities, Pakistan has spent the bulk of it on heavy arms, aircraft and equipment that U.S. officials say are far more suited for conventional warfare with India, its regional rival.

That has left fighters with the paramilitary force, known as the Frontier Corps, equipped often with little more than "sandals and bolt-action rifles," said a senior Western military official in Islamabad, even as they face Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters equipped with assault rifles and grenade launchers.

The arms imbalance has contributed to Al Qaeda's ability to regroup in the border region, and reflects the competing priorities that were evident even before this weekend between two countries that are self-described allies in the "war on terrorism" but have sharply divergent national security interests.

The situation also has emerged as a significant obstacle as the United States and Pakistan seek new approaches after a series of failed strategies in the frontier region, where Osama bin Laden and other top Al Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding.
More problems:
Plans to build up the Frontier Corps are not universally supported by U.S. military officials. Loyalties within the corps are thought by many observers to be divided. Members are recruited mainly from Pashtun tribes with long-standing mistrust of outsiders. Most reject militant ideology, and have suffered hundreds of casualties in the fighting. But many also are devoutly religious and feel some degree of sympathy for the Islamists' cause.

"There is a push-back among some that the Frontier Corps is not a reliable ally of the United States," said Seth Jones, a military expert at Rand Corp. "The concern is that you give them additional training and equipment, and they could end up helping militants rather than taking action against them."

Perhaps as a hedge against those concerns, the U.S. Special Operations Command has recently begun exploring efforts to pay off tribal militias in the region that are not affiliated with the Pakistani government, and arm them to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban militants, a source familiar with the discussions said.

"You can't buy them, but you can rent them," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions. "There is a very serious effort to look at this."
That's probably the best hope we have right now for anything good to come out of this.

UPDATE: Other Western countries are reconsidering aid. The Duch government just froze millions of dollars.

1 comment:

Xanthippas said...

Yeah, that strategy is really paying off. I suppose Musharraf seizing "emergency powers" isn't any kind of signal that we might be doing things wrong.