Monday, December 01, 2008

I thought it would be a good idea for Indian readers of this blog to get a sense of a typical day in Pakistan, so here goes: 28 dead in sectarian violence in Karachi, security forces battle militants in Bajaur (9 dead), a gunbattle in Bannu between security forces and theTaliban leaves 11 dead, security forces had to intervene in a clash involving rockets and automatic weapons between two groups of the Marri tribe in Kohlu (3 dead), and those are just from the top stories in the Dawn. On a good day.

Clearly this is a government battling multiple forces on multiple fronts that can barely hold itself together. Launching or threatening to launch attacks on Pakistani soil at this time is going to divert the government's attention from the battle in Waziristan against the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Any attempt to weaken the Pakistani government at this time risks creating a massive black hole of a failed state from the border with India all the way to Iran. Sounds like a jihadi wet dream.

Fortunately, saner voices seem to be prevailing in South Block. The key sentence is:

India’s response, [sources] said, would distinguish between the government of Pakistan, whose President Asif Ali Zardari came on Indian television last night and promised to co-operate, and organisations or agencies alleged to be involved in a terror network.

But here's a snapshot of the internal debate within the Congress (is it my imagination or is only The Telegraph reporting the really important stuff?):

The CWC hawks suggested snapping of diplomatic ties with Pakistan, ending trade, and even calling off the bus service. Some wondered aloud about a military option, provoking an angry response from Pranab.

The foreign minister reminded the gathering about some “basics”, such as that India and Pakistan were nuclear nations and any “adventurism” would draw global attention. The meeting left it to Manmohan to decide on all diplomatic and military options.

CWC members said the party needed to be aggressive since every leader realised how the Congress was losing face and credibility.

Thumbs up to Pranab; thumbs down to the hawks (by all accounts this includes Rahul Gandhi) who clearly simply want to put on an aggressive show for the 'something must be done' brigade, regardless of the consequences for interstate relations and the global struggle against jihadi militancy (my euphemisms for GWOT are becoming increasingly unsatisfactory).

Oh and for every Simi, there's a Sharmila Tagore (watch the whole thing). This whole 'Enough is Enough' campaign is all very well, but the anger needs to be channeled into something productive. Not war-mongering and communal tension.

I've been following your blog ever since your detailed post regarding the parliamentary vote earlier this year; your updates have been a real pleasure to read, thank you. I am especially heartened to see the reactions here and else where on the blogsphere regarding Simi Garewal's vacuous remarks on NDTV, and the general television media's treatment of the Bombay attacks as a variety show, at best. Sharmila Tagore as a voice of reason, you say? Could you please include a link to the particular video -- I can't seem to find it on the NDTV website. And thank you, once again!

PS: "On Straight On!" :)
thanks for the encouragement diya's days! very curious about who you are. there's clearly a BCBS connection, yes?!

have linked to sharmila's interview. watch till the very end, especially from 3:00 onwards. the woman should be an ambassador.
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