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May 07, 2009

Is Pakistan really about to implode?

If you watch American cable news, you get the sense that the government of Pakistan is about to fall to the Taliban any day.

Pakistan is mounting a major offensive against Taliban less than a hundred miles from Islamabad. There's a big difference between being near the capital and being in a position to march on the capital and take it over. Pakistan has a modern army of 700,000. The Taliban are a militia.

Obviously, it's worrisome that the the Taliban have more or less taken over the Northwest Frontier Province. They didn't take it all by force, though. Pakistan struck a peace deal with the Taliban which has now gone sour, hence the offensive. 

The Taliban is not going to overrun Islamabad any time soon. Let's be clear about what we need to be worried about in the short term, as opposed to over-hyped doomsday scenarios.

A more realistic scenario is a military coup, but there could always be a military coup in Pakistan. The military is the strongest institution in the country and, realistically, the civilian leaders serve with the acquiescence of the armed forces. The media narrative is running together the offensive against the Taliban militia and the friction between Pakistan's top general and its president. The civilian government isn't unstable because the Taliban are 90 miles from Islamabad, the Taliban are 90 miles from Islamabad because the state is weak. The underlying sources of the instability are much more complicated.

In the standard narrative, military coup leads to the military handing over nukes to the Taliban. But what's the evidence that this would actually happen? Even if there are some factions within the military who are sympathetic to the Taliban, is there any reason to believe that they are the ones who are in a position to take over? There might be, but I'm not hearing any.

If media reports are to be believed the pressure is coming directly from Pakistan's top general. Do we have any reason to think he's in the pocket of al Qaeda? Another hypothesis floating around is that unnamed junior officers loyal to al Qaeda will seize control of the military--a coup within a coup. But do we have any reason to believe that that such an organized faction presents a credible threat, or even exists. I'm not talking about al Qaeda sympathizers leaking nuclear secrets. We know they exist. I'm asking whether there's any evidence that there's a faction within the Pakistani military that is willing and able to oust the current leadership.

I'm beginning to think the United States is effectively encouraging a coup by letting the media embellish the fantasy of an imminent nuclear armed Taliban. Maybe that's deliberate. Or maye it's a risk the U.S. is willing to take in order to build American public support for an Af-Pak escalation. There's a potential synergy here: weakening the president might also soften him up to allow US troops on Pakistani soil, which he has resisted so far.

Update: Pepe Escobar contrasts reality and illusion on Af/Pak in the Asia Times, via Steve Hynd.

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Lindsay, you need to understand that before being ousted by the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban there numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The US certainly did not take all or most of them prisoner when it invaded, and they just melted away across the border into Pakistan, which really has no actual functioning border with Afghanistan.

As for the Taliban being "just a militia" - why don't you ask the Soviet Red Army commanders about this, since they were defeated by just such a militia. Again, those people did not just evaporate when the Soviets withdrew, they stayed around to form the militants we are seing today. They are highly experienced in warfare, and in any case, Pakistan is not bringing 700,000 troops into the fray.

Even the army of America's strongman, the Shah of Iran, were the most powerful in the region when he was toppled. That didn't stop Khomeini's revolutionaries from toppling the govt and gaining power. Pakistan's army of 700,000 is dwarfed by its population of 130 million, of whom the overwhelming majority are very poor. There's no shortage of madrassas busy teaching religious ideology to young boys right now, even as we speak.

The militia didn't march to Moscow.

I'm not trivializing the more general Taliban problem. My question is whether the force in the Swat Valley is in any position to overthrow the government today. Do they have the weapons, do they have the training, for that matter, are they even trying to overthrow the federal government at this point?

Lindsay, as someone who comes from the region, I have to disagree. Pakistan's military are driven by Islamic nationalism, which is what led them to create the Taliban in the first place. They're like Blackwater, except much bigger and with less papertrail.

Islamic solidarity is what led Pakistan to share its nuclear bomb secrets with other countries. It certainly wasn't the work of A Q Khan all by himself. All those large military transports he was commandeering weren't going unnoticed by a snoozing military. That's why the Iranians now have P-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium to get a bomb of their own (P as in Pakistan).

Holbrooke (your negotiating man on Bosnia) was very adamant that the US does not want a military coup. That's because the Pakistan military is part of the problem, and not the solution. He understands that the key to solving this problem is in getting the Pakistani army to finally become subordinate to the civilian institutions of govt. Once the Pakistani military starts obeying the civilian govt, then the civilians can start trying to deliver on their promises to the outside world.

I'm not trying to trivialize the threat the the Taliban, or Islamic fundamentalism pose to Pakistan. I'm just asking whether there's any reason to believe that the Taliban of the Swat Valley are in any position to overthrow the government of Pakistan this week.

No question, the military can overthrow the president any time. And they might well do that, but if the military did decide to oust the president, would the current leadership want to make common cause with the Taliban? If not, do the pro-Taliban forces in the military have any realistic prospect of joining forces and ousting the current military leadership?

If the US doesn't want a military coup, they should stop letting Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus from going around saying "There could be a coup anytime, anytime now. Just sayin'..." Holbrooke is one of the few U.S. officials who's actually saying sane things about how he doesn't expect Pakistan to fall next week.

I disagree with Sanjay's assessment (as someone with close roots in the region myself). The Pakistani military is driven by "Islamic nationalism" to the extent that it is driven by a conflict with India that stretches back to the point of Partition, not because it is driven by a prior desire to create Taliban-like entities as an end in itself---the Taliban is at best an instrument. That conflict has a name and begins with "K", and its resolution (probably by formalization of the LoC) and a concomitant reduction in India's ambitions to be a Regional Power would do wonders for stability.

A military coup will not result in a transfer of nuclear weapons to the Taliban---the last one didn't---and the Pakistani military will not allow an actual Taliban government in charge of the country or the capital.

In any case, nuclear weapons are an enormous red herring.

Iran and Pakistan are not quite comparable. Pakistan's leaders are not the Shah, and Pakistan's Taliban are not the Ayatollah Khomeini. There's a weird tendency to lump Muslim phenomena into one uniform sort of alarmism.

Even the army of America's strongman, the Shah of Iran, were the most powerful in the region when he was toppled. That didn't stop Khomeini's revolutionaries from toppling the govt and gaining power. Pakistan's army of 700,000 is dwarfed by its population of 130 million, of whom the overwhelming majority are very poor. There's no shortage of madrassas busy teaching religious ideology to young boys right now, even as we speak.

It's not at all clear that the large majority of Pakistanis would go along with a general Talibanization program and lots of reason to think that they wouldn't. The places near the Afghan border are not even that comparable to all of rural Punjab.

But yes, the Pakistani government is quite weak especially given the Swat Valley situation. That doesn't mean that the level of attention is warranted. I largely agree with Lindsay's critique of the standard assessments of the situation.

There will be no peace and no solution to the current crisis until the maps are re-drawn and Pakistan and Afghanistan cease to exist in their current form. Pakistan has an historic aspiration to include Afghanistan within its borders (as it does with Kashmir and other parts of India). The "a" in Pakistan represents Afghanistan. This aspiration goes back to that arch schemer Jinnah - a better name for Pakistan may have been Jinnistan (the fact that he drank copiously, smoked and was an effete homosexual is beside the point and totally irrelevant).

The political/miltary Pakistanis will lie, cheat, scheme, deny, send in the paramilitary (but never the army), do everything possible to convince Mr Obama that they are serious about tackling the Taleban. But they aren't and they never will be. Because getting rid of the Taleban is pretty much the same as denying their hidden and secret historic aspirations. Don't you see? The Taleban can help unite Pakistan-Afghanistan-Kashmir into a Greater Pakistan, which is what the Pakistani elite really wants. After that "positive" outcome, they can deal with and get rid of the foolish mullahs.

We have fools as political leaders. They know nothing of history and they learn nothing from it. Keep pouring in the billions Mr Obama; and then see it run down the toilet or get siphoned off to enrich some fat Punjabi.

That's ridiculouser than ridiculous. In the 40s there was a fantasy of pan-Islamic unity, and there's lots of lip service to it in Pakistan from time to time, but it hasn't been a serious idea for a long time. Pakistan's entanglement in Afghanistan is a leftover from cold war politics. The Kashmir conflict is a nice present to the region from the British.

Ian, if you want to be taken seriously, I'd advise against constantly referring to Pakistanis with the same language an anti-Semite would use to refer to Jews. I'd also advise dropping the gratuitous complaint that Jinnah was "an effete homosexual." People reading your comment might be forgiven for assuming you're some kind of fanatic, either pro-Indian or anti-Muslim.

I strongly disagree with Mandos.

Certainly Pakistan created the Taliban, as a guerrilla force to take over neighboring Pakistan and turn it into a satellite state. That fact is indisputable. Taliban didn't just spring up on their own. I question Mandos' knowledge and his ethics, in not recognizing that fact.

Obviously Mandos is peddling the slanted Pakistani line when he claims that Kashmir is some kind of justification for Pakistan creating Taliban to harass both neighboring India and Pakistan. Everytime Pakistan is faced with international oppobrium, it immediately tries to blame everything it does on India. That's crazy, and it's fanatical. Clearly Mandos wants to parrot that tired old line.

If Pakistan continues to war against all its neighbors due to its own irredentism and revanchism, then it's only going to burn itself out until it triggers its own collapse.

The Pakistani military is not looking to assume power through an overt coup, as it was only recently forced to relenquish power to a civilian govt, under US pressure. Instead, hardliners within the Pakistani military are looking to achieve a de facto takeover of the country by giving back-channel support to Taliban in advancing across the Pakistani landscape. The Pakistani military will essentially twiddle its thumbs, or at most put on a mere show of fighting the Taliban, while letting it gradually establish control over the entire country.

Nuclear weapons are certainly not a red herring, since the prospect of them falling into the hands of irresponsible rogue actors is a major concern to the entire world. Just because Pakistanis aren't wise enough to see their responsibilities, doesn't mean the rest of the world can afford to forget them.

Certainly when Pakistan's Zia-ul-Haq instituted Islamic Law -- including the infamous Hadood Ordinances which declared that a female rape victim must produce 4 male witnesses or else be accused of adultery -- the people of Pakistan allowed it to happen, since they didn't have a say in the matter, while the men with guns did.
Certainly, Pakistan's past has shown a blind willingness to follow.

Yes, Pakistan's leaders are not the Shah -- they're actually worse. Mr "10 Percent" Zardari is considered the epitome of corruption, and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is also a man known to have used his establishment ties to have amassed great wealth. Iran under the Shah at least had oil wealth to buffer it, while Pakistan is such an economic basketcase that it can't even stand on its own feet, instead completely dependent on massive doses of foreign aid.

Given the extreme danger to the world that would result from a Taliban takeover of nuclear-armed Pakistan, or even from stray nuclear materials falling into Taliban or AlQaeda's hands, the word has every justification in being concerned.

Alon, if you want to sound credible, I'd seriously suggest you re-read Ian's comments, which don't make any use of anti-semitic imagery. If anything, Pakistanis and their defenders on the Left seem to be more inclined towards anti-semitism and other forms of Shylock-baiting (including against the "evil Hindoos" of India, who have shown a greater ability to keep their house in order, and in achieving development through economic growth).

Certainly Pakistan created the Taliban, as a guerrilla force to take over neighboring Pakistan and turn it into a satellite state. That fact is indisputable. Taliban didn't just spring up on their own. I question Mandos' knowledge and his ethics, in not recognizing that fact.

Pakistan created various things at the behest of the USA in a giant Cold War play the results of which it was stuck. I certainly question your ethics in peddling convenient Indian propaganda. I certainly never raised the subject of the actual origins of the Taliban, and this is a change of subject that is just a rhetorical sleight of hand. I *did* say that Pakistan may have had instrumental reasons for supporting the Taliban, in the same way that the USA or China has instrumental reasons for supporting various violent movements.

Obviously Mandos is peddling the slanted Pakistani line when he claims that Kashmir is some kind of justification for Pakistan creating Taliban to harass both neighboring India and Pakistan. Everytime Pakistan is faced with international oppobrium, it immediately tries to blame everything it does on India. That's crazy, and it's fanatical. Clearly Mandos wants to parrot that tired old line.

Poor, poor innocent India. Faultless, morally pure as the driven snow of the Himalayas.

If Pakistan continues to war against all its neighbors due to its own irredentism and revanchism, then it's only going to burn itself out until it triggers its own collapse.

Contrary to what you might think, I have often felt that it would be better for Pakistan to relinquish the Kashmir claims. This does not absolve India of fault nor does it absolve the US or the world to ensure that Pakistan's interests are fairly protected. The solution remains formalization of the LoC.

The Pakistani military is not looking to assume power through an overt coup, as it was only recently forced to relenquish power to a civilian govt, under US pressure. Instead, hardliners within the Pakistani military are looking to achieve a de facto takeover of the country by giving back-channel support to Taliban in advancing across the Pakistani landscape. The Pakistani military will essentially twiddle its thumbs, or at most put on a mere show of fighting the Taliban, while letting it gradually establish control over the entire country.

A boring paranoid fantasy. The Pakistani military is not designed for a counter-insurgency operation. It is designed for conflict with India. The US has always preferred Pakistani dictators, or when they become inconvenient, rulers that collude with military. Genuine democracy movements in Pakistan are purely endogenous as they are in Afghanistan and in most of the world.

Nuclear weapons are certainly not a red herring, since the prospect of them falling into the hands of irresponsible rogue actors is a major concern to the entire world. Just because Pakistanis aren't wise enough to see their responsibilities, doesn't mean the rest of the world can afford to forget them.

Nuclear weapons are a red herring. The train has left the station. The horse has run out of the barn. It is a propaganda tool, and "irresponsible rogue actors" is code.

Certainly when Pakistan's Zia-ul-Haq instituted Islamic Law -- including the infamous Hadood Ordinances which declared that a female rape victim must produce 4 male witnesses or else be accused of adultery -- the people of Pakistan allowed it to happen, since they didn't have a say in the matter, while the men with guns did.

Guess who gave him the guns and why...

As terrible as the Hudood Ordinances are, I just lahve the way they are thrown around in irrelevant contexts as a propaganda instrument. Well, whatever works to get those lurid Western imaginations churning.

Yes, Pakistan's leaders are not the Shah -- they're actually worse. Mr "10 Percent" Zardari is considered the epitome of corruption, and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is also a man known to have used his establishment ties to have amassed great wealth. Iran under the Shah at least had oil wealth to buffer it, while Pakistan is such an economic basketcase that it can't even stand on its own feet, instead completely dependent on massive doses of foreign aid.

The Shah was a horrendous dictator and looter and the oil wealth buffered nothing---that was the whole *point* of the Iranian Revolution. You would condemn Iran to the Shah because you don't think India should compromise on Kashmir.

In any case, my point was that the Taliban (=motley crew of annoyed Pashtuns + class warfare) doesn't have anyone the calibre of Khomeini.

Given the extreme danger to the world that would result from a Taliban takeover of nuclear-armed Pakistan, or even from stray nuclear materials falling into Taliban or AlQaeda's hands, the word has every justification in being concerned.

S00tcas3 n00x!!! Har har.

The Convenient Indian Propaganda drivel has a long way to go before it reaches Cheneyan proportion. This is all so 2004, man.

Alon, if you want to sound credible, I'd seriously suggest you re-read Ian's comments, which don't make any use of anti-semitic imagery. If anything, Pakistanis and their defenders on the Left seem to be more inclined towards anti-semitism and other forms of Shylock-baiting (including against the "evil Hindoos" of India, who have shown a greater ability to keep their house in order, and in achieving development through economic growth).

FAIL.

In any case, Sanjay's apparent assent to Ian's desire for the dissolution of Pakistan is a geopolitical nonstarter. For one thing, China would have something to say about *that*. The Asia Times article linked by Lindsay has some bearing on the topic. It may or may not be a Pentagon fantasy, but if it is, it's a really dangerous one and will not help anyone.

re Hudood: remember how before VS turned to PUMAism, we discussed how so many people have no problem with sexism at home but then discover their inner Gloria Steinems when they read about sexism in Muslim countries?

I was recently banned from Corrente after I brought a friend of mine onto their site whose first observation was exactly the same thing. True story. Blogospheric politics can be weird at times.

"Pakistan created various things at the behest of the USA in a giant Cold War play the results of which it was stuck. I certainly question your ethics in peddling convenient Indian propaganda. I certainly never raised the subject of the actual origins of the Taliban, and this is a change of subject that is just a rhetorical sleight of hand. I *did* say that Pakistan may have had instrumental reasons for supporting the Taliban, in the same way that the USA or China has instrumental reasons for supporting various violent movements."

What revisionist history. Pakistan armed and supported fundamentalist militants to destabilize Afghanistan long before the Soviets invaded, or the Americans got involved. It was Pakistan's General Zia-ul-Haq who approached the USA to obtain their backing for the guerrilla campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and not the other way around. These facts only seem like "Indian propaganda" to a sectarian hardliner like yourself.

"Poor, poor innocent India. Faultless, morally pure as the driven snow of the Himalayas."

India certainly has a far better track record than Pakistan. Again, a sectarian Pakistani nationalist like yourself will only try to reflexively shift any blame away from Pakistan and onto India.

"Contrary to what you might think, I have often felt that it would be better for Pakistan to relinquish the Kashmir claims. This does not absolve India of fault nor does it absolve the US or the world to ensure that Pakistan's interests are fairly protected. The solution remains formalization of the LoC."

It's terrorist-sponsoring Pakistan which bears fault on Kashmir and Afghanistan, not India. There is no issue of protecting Pakistan's interests, since it's the one who's been waging offensive war. Clearly, it's Pakistan which opposes formalization of the LoC, not India. You seem to be fundamentally ignorant of this fact.

"A boring paranoid fantasy. The Pakistani military is not designed for a counter-insurgency operation. It is designed for conflict with India. The US has always preferred Pakistani dictators, or when they become inconvenient, rulers that collude with military. Genuine democracy movements in Pakistan are purely endogenous as they are in Afghanistan and in most of the world."

Again, claiming that Pakistan's army is not designed for this or that, is a procedural argument and not a credible one. The fact is that if Pakistani authorities use this as an excuse to allow Taliban to sweep across the country and potentially seize nuclear weapons or related materials, then the world isn't going to accept that feeble excuse, and is going to act. You might as well be saying that your dog ate your homework, or the sun was in your eyes, for all the relevance it has. Pakistanis certainly made known their preference for dictators when they embraced Musharraf's coup with open arms. So much for the credibility of the Pakistani public.

"Nuclear weapons are a red herring. The train has left the station. The horse has run out of the barn. It is a propaganda tool, and "irresponsible rogue actors" is code."

Code! Hah, now who's speaking the language of paranoia! The train which has left the station or the horse which has left the barn is in danger of being hijacked by Taliban, and certainly the world isn't going to accept that. Reveling in your fantasy of global conspiracy against Pakistan isn't going to prevent rational international powers from preventing Pakistan's irresponsibility from destroying the world.

"Guess who gave him the guns and why...
As terrible as the Hudood Ordinances are, I just lahve the way they are thrown around in irrelevant contexts as a propaganda instrument. Well, whatever works to get those lurid Western imaginations churning."

Heh, guess who overthrew the civilian govt and executed its head over international opposition, including from the West. I find your token criticism of the Hudood Ordinances to be less that convincing, as you obviously seem to be far more concerned with Pakistan's precious image -- like any sectarian Pakistani nationalist masquerading in liberal sheepskin.

"The Shah was a horrendous dictator and looter and the oil wealth buffered nothing---that was the whole *point* of the Iranian Revolution. You would condemn Iran to the Shah because you don't think India should compromise on Kashmir."

Nonsense, the Shah was no friend of India. He supplied arms to Pakistan during the previous war with India. Yet his dictatorship and looting were nothing compared to what Pakistani leaders have done to their country, and clearly the Iranians have always had a higher standard of living than Pakistanis. Iran's quality of life statistics have always been higher than Pakistan's. Clearly the number of poor and illiterate people supporting the Taliban creates a much greater danger of it overthrowing the govt in Islamabad.

"S00tcas3 n00x!!! Har har.
The Convenient Indian Propaganda drivel has a long way to go before it reaches Cheneyan proportion. This is all so 2004, man."

Again, everything is cast by a sectarian Pakistani nationalist like yourself as "evil Indian propaganda".
The reality is that it takes very little nuclear material to cause catastrophic damage in the form of a dirty bomb. No special skills are required to bring this about, just theft of a small amount of material.
I don't see you as any kind of liberal at all -- I think you're a sectarian Pakistani nationalist who's learned to commiserate with liberals in order to protect and promote a very illiberal and sectarian agenda.

"In any case, Sanjay's apparent assent to Ian's desire for the dissolution of Pakistan is a geopolitical nonstarter. For one thing, China would have something to say about *that*. The Asia Times article linked by Lindsay has some bearing on the topic. It may or may not be a Pentagon fantasy, but if it is, it's a really dangerous one and will not help anyone."

Yes, China would also strongly oppose the collapse of North Korea's despotic regime and the ensuing freedom of its people. China supports rogues like North Korea and Pakistan as its twin fists against its local regional adversaries, Japan and India.

Clearly this strategy of cultivating and supporting international rogues is collapsing, and China is unlikely to have the wherewithal to save it. Given that China's leaders are increasingly fearful of their own population become restive from economic downturn and overthrowing them, the leadership in Beijing are increasingly unwilling to divert precious resources towards propping up crumbling rogue client states who have become black holes swallowing up endless amounts of foreign aid, while clamoring for more.

Also, recent events like the Red Mosque seige in Islamabad, where Chinese were taken hostage, have certainly awakened Beijing to the dangers of uncontrollable fundamentalist fanatics capable of acting against China, including stoking rebellion in a Muslim-majority province like Xinjiang.

Sanjay, you're engaging in a lot of projection. Mandos isn't a sectarian nationalist; he's just someone who's fed up with Hindutva nuts who hate women at home and then turn around and say Islam is terrible because of its treatment of women. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones first. Western neocons at least can say that the West treats women better than Islam; Indian ones have no such excuse.

"re Hudood: remember how before VS turned to PUMAism, we discussed how so many people have no problem with sexism at home but then discover their inner Gloria Steinems when they read about sexism in Muslim countries?"

Alon, sexism can't be combated thru mere activism, but clearly requires economic transformation to provide a fundamental underpinning for a level playing field. In this respect, I think that liberal myopia has relegated them to pure activism and "awareness" campaigns, along with heaping doses of conspiracy theories and other irrational contrivances to explain the lack of effective results.

You seem to be implying that Indians are hypocritical to criticize Pakistan's Hadood Ordinances, and that they should get their own house in order first. I disagree, I think India is steadily making strides to get its own house in order in this respect, and this is due to people moving beyond the same old knee-jerk presciptions of the left, and a new embrace of economic pragmatism.

Indians have taken criticism about their social problems for a long time now, and you'll never see any of them saying, "Oh yeah, well why don't you criticize Pakistan's sharia laws first?"

The reality is that India isn't bound to the 7th Century the way that Pakistan is. The modern Indian state was not founded on any anchor to cultural holdovers from the 7th-Century or otherwise. Pakistan clearly was, and that's why it's failing today, unlike India.

Indians aren't merely whining about their inability to get from point A to point B. They're designing new low-cost cars that will meet those needs. The latest announcement is a new initiative to build low-cost, well-designed neighborhood communities complete with schools, hospitals and amenities, at ONE-FIFTH the going market price. This is how the needs of the poor are solved, and not through the hollow activism of the left, or through quests for imagined "lost glory" of the 7th Century. It's sad to see both deluded groups embracing each other to each shore up their failed approaches.

Sanjay is right, I am not a liberal in the conventional American sense. What I actually am is not his business. The rest of what he says is propagandistic drivel. The leadership of Pakistan is at fault for many things, the biggest error being the lack of land reform which *really* accounts for the economic differences between India and Pakistan---the salutary benefits of dismantling customary economic hierarchies have been demonstrated the world over.

India has annoying wannabe aspirations of being a Regional Power and sanjay's nationalism reveals the longstanding inferiority complex ascribed thereto. India has been fairly intransigent at resolving the issue because it's a wonderful nationalist focus. Same to a large extent with Pakistan. I remember the times when India demanded that discussions focus on other issues and Kashmir be left off the table. Beyond that we can chase our tails across sanjay's endless nationalistic verbal diarrhoea but to the relevant readership I think he makes me point for me.

Mandos' opinions reflect Pakistan's sectarian nationalism, which is of course desperately willing to make strange bedfellows with anyone, including even liberals, for the sake of convenience.

The fact that he's choosing simple tit-for-tat "I know you are, but what I am I" gibes (ie. he's accusing me of sectarian nationalism, parroting what I said to him) shows the hollow bankruptcy of his rhetoric.

India has no ambitions of hegemony -- that's simply Pakistani propaganda. We're talking about a country that doesn't even grant equal rights to minorities, and our "unconventional liberal" Mandros refuses to recognize that. In other words, he's not liberal at all. Even Obama doesn't buy Pakistan's tired old lines.

There are ample analyses of Pakistan's hollow identity being written about everywhere today:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124208442748008601.html

Plainly, Mandros & Co are standing alone all by themselves, while the world moves on.

We're talking about a country that doesn't even grant equal rights to minorities

That would be India under BJP rule, when the government claimed a train accident was actually the result of terrorism and then encouraged Hindu mobs to burn Muslims in Gujarat.

That WSJ article is non sequitur and inane. It smashes headlong into the failboat when it decides to classify empires---all of them being to various *LARGE* degrees violent, vicious, and rapacious in their imperial modes. It's *terribly* ironic that an Indian nationalist like sanjay should endorse an article that suggests that British colonialism was "in between", but this is the central contradiction of Indian triumphalism---the desire to paper over reality so as belong to the club. Wannabe. Dude, you and I are brown. Deal.

The Kissingerian analysis of countries and spaces is also inane, especially since I can use it to classify Canada with Pakistan. Canada is neither cause nor space exactly, it's ethnically riven, and it definitely tries to use plausible deniability whenever its interests come mildly into conflict with US ones.

But the comparison is absurd. That's because the rubric is stupid, and is merely what we expect from WSJ opinion pieces that take Kissinger seriously.

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