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April 13, 2009


It is interesting that when the Pakistani military is urged to combat the Taliban, they say that Pakistani public opinion limits their options. Pakistani public opinion was also opposed to handing the Swat Valley over the the Pakistani Taliban, but in that case, the leadership ignored public opinion.

Pakistani public opinion is also opposed to the military controlling the commanding heights of their economy, reserving the best farmland for military cronies, and setting up special banks just for military men. Yet, once again, Islamabad is able to disregard Pakistani public opinion.

Pakistani public opinion is in favor of breaking up large landowning families, yet the government depends on such families - so once again public opinion is cast aside to serve the interests of the Pakistani elite.

Pakistani public opinion is in favor of breaking up large landowning families, yet the government depends on such families - so once again public opinion is cast aside to serve the interests of the Pakistani elite.

While true, it is also true that all governments mainly exist to serve the interests of their elites, not least the 'democracy' of the USofA...It is utterly without doubt that the Obamanistas have chosen to side with the bankers--the elites--agains the rest of us...

Building a sustainable infrastructure in Afghanistan I understand. There the warlords and imams are the closest thing to social structure and by definition we have to co-opt them into a system that will eventually age out out.

But the same approach in Pakistan will fail - "incentive money" will simply drain into highly organized cesspools of corruption without realizing our goals.

The Pakistani military econ machine will always protect its interests. Since the citizens are heavily interwoven it is pretty much up to them to realize when their "pet" extremists are no longer affordable.

The Taliban was not given the time to realize sheltering extremists was a suicidal move. The Pakis have had plenty of time and have been equally well rewarded for not cleaning house. Paying them still more is not the silver bullet.

The model for Pakistan is much closer to that of House Saud. I'm personally not interested in winning the hearts and minds of Pakistanis and Saudis. It's a bottomless money pit to people who already are well up the Malthusian chain.

US/India/Af pressure on the borders increases the pain on the military machine. It destabilizes the corrupt Pakis, forces them to pay a real price. Keeping incentives in place for factional opposition provides the release valve. But a release valve is not what drives an engine.

Very good post - here as well as Lieven's.

KXB - What's the support for Pakistani public opinion being against allowing the Taliban to control SWAT? I'm not saying you are wrong, but I have seen very contradictory things about this. Obviously, the large numbers of families who have left were not in favor.

In any event, the Pakistani parliament was nearly unanimous in making the recommendation to Zadari to sign off on the Islamic law deal and he's done it now.


Pakistan's pro-U.S. president signed a regulation late Monday to put a northwestern district under Islamic law as part of a peace deal with the Taliban, going along after coming under intense pressure from members of his own party and other lawmakers.

Asif Ali Zardari's signature was a boon for Islamic militants who have brutalized the Swat Valley for nearly two years in demanding a new justice system. It was sure to further anger human rights activists and feed fears among the U.S. and other Western allies that the valley will turn into a sanctuary for militants close to Afghanistan.

Whatever criticism may come, Zardari can claim some political cover — the National Assembly voted unanimously Monday to adopt a resolution urging his signature, although at least one party boycotted. Earlier, a Taliban spokesman had warned lawmakers against opposing the deal.

Only the opinions of people willing to kill for them matter in the Pakistani environment. Opinion without a way to enforce it is meaningless. The insurgent advantage is that it is more capable of singling out those who oppose its opinions for punishment than US SOF, US drones, or any official Pakistani military force. So despite the higher technology of the latter, the insurgents are better at coercion when and where it matters.

Remember insurgent advantages simply reflect their superior ability to repress people, it does not reflect any "will of the people" or more morally compelling argument from their side.

Pakistan probably could use some politics divided along the class vector instead of the ethnosectarian & regional vectors as well.

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