India Uncut

This blog has moved to its own domain. Please visit for the all-new India Uncut and bookmark it. The new site has much more content and some new sections, and you can read about them here and here. You can subscribe to full RSS feeds of all the sections from here. This blogspot site will no longer be updated, except in case of emergencies, if the main site suffers a prolonged outage. Thanks - Amit.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The cosmetic war on terror

DNA reports that "President Pervez Musharraf has claimed that 80,000 troops were operating against the al-Qaeda terror network," and also that "Pakistan helicopter gunships and ground forces attacked a militant camp in North Waziristan early on Wednesday, killing around 30." So is the War on Terror, and particularly against Al-Qaeda, moving towards a successful conclusion? I don't think so.

As I'd pointed out here, Pakistan's economy is booming because of all the foreign aid, in various forms, that has poured into it since 9/11 -- mostly from the US. The aid is coming in because Pakistan is a necessary ally in the battle against Al-Qaeda, and will continue to come in as long as Al-Qaeda exists. It is, thus, in the interests of Musharraf to make sure that the threat from Al-Qaeda remains. At the same time, he has to keep up the impression that he is, indeed, fighting the extremists -- thus, these cosmetic moves.

Peace with India is a similar issue. It is in US interest for India and Pakistan to be at peace -- one is a strategic ally in the war on terror, the other a huge market and an economic bulwark against Chinese domination in the region. Heck, it's equally in the interest of the people of both the countries. Whose interest is it not in? Why, the army in Pakistan, of course.

The military is the dominant institution in the country, and the biggest chunk of government spending goes into defence. This is only justified by the conflict against India. If India and Pakistan achieve lasting peace, that justification disappears. You think the military is going to shoot itself in the foot?

So despite Musharraf's posturing, is there any hope that progress can be made on both wiping out Al-Qaeda and Indo-Pak peace? Well, yes. And much as we may shudder at the thought, that progress depends on the US, and how much pressure they put on Musharraf. They're the source of the foreign aid that keeps Pakistan going, and it's about time they demanded a bit more bang for their buck.
amit varma, 1:12 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

I recommend: