That India should accuse Pakistan of involvement in recent Islamic-terrorist outrages in Bombay was to be expected. That the accusation would turn out to be so well founded so quickly, was not. The only lasting solution to the problem of Pakistan is the disappearance of Pakistan from the political map of the world. This goal is realistic, but it cannot be achieved by overt war because of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It can be achieved, however, by exploiting Pakistan’s fundamental weakness: its ethnic, regional and tribal disunity. Actively supported by the civilized world, India need not send any terrorists to Pakistan. She should merely provide support to Baluch, Sindhi, and Northwestern tribal separatists – support of the kind that Islamabad has been giving to Kashmiri jihadists for decades. A Pakistan-free world would be a better and safer world. It can be done and it should be done.
U.S. counterterrorism officials now support India’s claims of Pakistan’s involvement in the attacks in Bombay. They have identified Pakistan’s powerful Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as the key source of support, finance, and protection for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Islamic terrorist group that almost certainly carried out last month’s attacks. If Pakistan’s involvement is proven – Islamabad’s usual denials notwithstanding – for the non-Muslim world this should be the final straw: proof positive that Pakistan is an irredeemably flawed entity, inherently unable to turn itself into a stable polity or a benign global presence, let alone a half-decent regional neighbor. It needs to be quarantined and its disintegration along its many ethnic-tribal lines actively encouraged.
The problem of Pakistan has been addressed in this column twice over the past six months.
Commenting the resignation of Pakistan’s former president (Musharraf, Out of Tricks, News & Views, August 20), we noted that the myth of Pakistan as an ally of the United States in the “War on Terrorism” should be laid to rest, because that country
remains the epicenter of global jihad, a breeding ground for the new echelons of “martyrs,” and it meets the criteria for a slot on the Axis of Evil. In fact, Pakistan is an enormous Jihadi campus in which some ten thousand madrassas prepare over one million students for the Holy War… It can hardly be otherwise in a country founded on the pillars of Islamic orthodoxy. [It is] the worst violator of the ban on nuclear proliferation, thanks to the work of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear program. … He felt that giving nuclear technology to a Muslim country was not a crime. The sentiment is shared by Pakistan’s elite, military as well as civilian, as befits the first modern state to be established on openly Islamic principles.
For as long as the country’s Islamic character is explicitly upheld, we warned, Pakistan cannot reform itself without undermining the religious rationale for its very existence. We concluded that there should be “fewer illusions in Washington about the nature of Pakistan’s problems—and about the problem of Pakistan for the rest of the world.”
Two months earlier we focused on the role of the ISI in supporting Islamic insurgents in Afghanistan (Pakistan, The Taliban’s Indispensable Ally, News & Views, June 11), prompted by a major study by the RAND Corporation that accused “individuals within Pakistan’s government” of effectively crippling American attempts to stabilize the country:
Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan, funded by the Pentagon, merely confirms what Chronicles readers have known for years: that the regime in Islamabad is unwilling and unable to act in any manner inconsistent with its Islamic roots and ethos… If we look at the growing list of terrorist attacks and foiled plots in North America and Western Europe, it is evident that plots stemming from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region are the single most important threat to Western security… The long list of Pakistan’s proven or suspected links with numerous terrorist attacks in recent years – and notably the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 – illustrate the ambivalent role of Pakistan in the “War on Terrorism.” The ability of the establishment in Islamabad to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds has been an affront to all enemies of jihad for years.
And finally, on the occasion of Pakistan’s 60th anniversary last year we noted that the ISI is a key link in the global network of Islamic terrorism (Pakistan at 60: A Most Uncertain Ally, News & Views, August 17, 2007):
Not only Taliban but most other Islamic extremist and terrorist movements all over the world were born out of ideas conceived in the battlefields of Afghanistan and subsequently matured and spread from Pakistan’s political, military, and religious establishment. These movements enjoyed the support of the Pakistani military-intelligence structures, and most notably its powerful Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (ISI), a leading promoter of state-sponsored terrorism. It grew rich and mighty, thanks to the U.S. role in helping Islamic fundamentalists fight the Soviets in the 1980s.
In the aftermath of Bombay the diagnosis stands, and urgently demands suitable therapy.
The only lasting solution to the problem of Pakistan is the disappearance of Pakistan from the political map of the world. This goal is realistic, but it cannot be achieved by overt war because of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It can be achieved, however, by exploiting Pakistan’s fundamental weakness: its ethnic, regional and tribal disunity.
In Baluchistan, a huge region bordering Iran and Afghanistan, there is a strong independence movement resulting from what Le Monde Diplomatique’s Selig S. Harrison desribes as a “slow-motion genocide” of tribesmen:
Some 6 million Baluch were forcibly incorporated into Pakistan when it was created in 1947. This is the fourth insurgency they have fought to protest against economic and political discrimination. In the most bitter insurgency, from 1973 to 1977, some 80,000 Pakistani troops and 55,000 Baluch were involved in the fighting.
Most of Pakistan’s natural resources are in Baluchistan, including natural gas, uranium, copper and potentially rich oil reserves, yet Baluchistan remains the most impoverished area of the country. The natives are bitter, and consequently in the current insurgency – unlike that over three decades ago – Islamabad has not been able to play off feuding tribes against each other. For the first time it faces a unified nationalist movement, under younger leadership drawn not only from tribal leaders but also from an educated Baluch middle class. Steady and reliable foreign help would do wonders for that movement.
In neighboring Sindh, nationalists who share Baluch opposition to the Punjabi-dominated military and political elite are reviving their long-dormant dream of a sovereign Sindhi state, or a Sindhi-Baluch union that would stretch along the Arabian Sea from Iran to the Indian border. The assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto – a native of Sindh – a year ago was widely blamed on the Punjabi establishment, with Sindhi nationalists complaining the Punjabi elites treat the province as occupied territory. They say the province might have more influence if the Punjabis stopped killing their leaders. Benazir Bhutto was not the first to die in Punjab: her father Ali was hanged by General Zia ul-Haq – a Punjabi – in 1979. Sindh has the potential to contribute to the prediction that Pakistan may splinter apart within ten years.
The Pashtuns, South and North Waziris and other restive groups in Pakistan’s permanently volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas will be less willing to support Islamic militants if their nationalist grievances are recognized and supported. The model exists in Iraq’s Sunni “triangle,” where the marriage of convenience between Sunni Arab nationalists and Islamic extremists was broken when the U.S. accepted that no Shia police or military should lord over Sunni areas. A solid promise to the elders of each tribal group in Pakistan of complete self-rule – up to and including sovereign statehood – and the tangible means of achieving it (plus a few million in cash here and there, to sweeten the deal) would quickly end their association with the religious extremists, and make one-fifth of Pakistan ungovernable to the Punjabi elite.
The possibilities are enormous. They should be explored and exploited creatively. Actively supported by the rest of the sane world, India need not send any terrorists to blow up Pakistan’s trains, hotels and restaurants. India merely should provide “moral support” to Baluch, Sindhi, and assorted tribal separatists – support of the kind that Islamabad has been giving to Kashmiri militants for decades. President Mohammad Karzai should do the same from Afghanistan, and he might be happy to comply. After all, a fundamental and irreversible removal of the Pakistani state so stubbornly supportive of his Talibani foes may be a precondition of his own survival.
In this scenario the nuclear arsenal bequeathed by Dr. Khan to Pakistan’s military becomes irrelevant. It should be taken out, of course, but in any event when Pakistan starts imploding its generals will not be tempted to use the bomb any more than Soviet generals were tempted in 1990-1991. They will withdraw into their Punjabi redoubt instead, where they will have only their own people to terrorize and exploit until they are killed by the insurgent mob or forced into Saudi exile.
A Pakistan-free world would be a better and safer world. It can be done and it should be done. Ceterum censeo Pakistanem esse delendam.