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a time for fear
 
Thursday, January 15, 2004  
Boom Bye Bye

The battles for the cities are expected to begin next summer. In the mean time, during the long harsh winter that is already well advanced, the mujahideen will lie low in their caves, from where, for the first time, they will launch a series of suicide missions.
The Taliban announce strategy, October '03

And so far they have remained true to their word; as the toll of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan tops 100, pressure is mounting on Musharraf to flush out remaining Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives based in the Pashtun area - a rocky Islamist enclave along the Pakistan/Afghan border, untouched by Pakistan law. A Pakistani military operation in early January was ineffectual, amounting to a few minor skirmishes; further operations are expected, on the insistence of Washington. The Pentagon suspects that the Afghan resistance movement is receiving supplies, weapons and training from the ISI and elements of the military, and want to gauge the extent of Musharraf's benign complicity in this aid. Asia Times Online claims that

Washington "requested" from Islamabad a list of military operators who served in Afghanistan under cover during and after the fall of the Taliban...This request was apparently fulfilled, and marks one of the most significant developments in Pakistan's cooperation with the US as the list, with a little bit of extrapolation, provides detailed information on the activities of the Inter-Services Intelligence's key military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region.

Again, this seems crucial in the context of two attempts on Musharraf's life in December; I am convinced that the ISI is involved in a conspiratorial alliance aimed at removing the President, wresting control of Pakistan, and creating a secure Islamist base for war. I also believe that Musharraf knows this, and is willing to give the US their scoop on ISI operatives for that very reason. It seems that the Islamists have gone too far to fail, and have failed, losing their best chance of killing Musharraf. He is now more willing to cooperate with the US precisely because Islamist insurgency in Pakistan has proved a direct and urgent threat to his survival.

The US drive a hard bargain, forcing Musharraf to confront the power and duplicity of the ISI and Islamist military officers in Kashmir, but also in Pakistan's lawless Islamist territories. US intelligence has pinpointed the South Waziristan region - an area not under the direct rule of central government - as a key Taliban and al-Qaeda base. The US are planning a future military offensive in South Waziristan and across the border in the mountains around Shakin: a pincer movement it is hoped will trap resistance forces. The US is determined to destroy Taliban resistance before it kicks off a declared summer offensive; it also wants to arrest internal disaffection among those in the Northern Alliance who oppose Afghanistan's new US-backed constitution, and prevent an alliance with mujahideen warlords like Gulbudden Hekmatyar.

Meanwhile, despite a rather civilized meeting between Musharraf and Vajpayee, Pakistan and India continue their mutual destabilisation by fermenting proxy wars in minor but strategically-charged regions (the India-Pakistan war has now turned Cold, like a miniature version of the US-Soviet deep freeze). While shaking hands in public, Musharraf and Vajpayee continue to (in effect) support or aid insurgencies in areas other than Kashmir; low-level tactics that keep out of the headlines. In the province of Balochistan in the south of Pakistan, various Separatist organisations and rebel sleeper cells have reawoken and made contact; rocket attacks and bomb blasts have been reported in the regional capital Quetta. Balochitan has strong familial ties with India and Pakistan believes that the Indian government is taking an active part in fostering the Separatist groundswell. Similarly, in Sindh, Pakistan claims that covert Indian agents have been infiltrating the local "Nationalists" in an attempt to undermine the Punjab establishment. Pakistan, on the other hand, gathers covert forces against Indian insurgency in the Punjab and Manipur regions.

All around trouble afoot and apace. Either that or 04 could conclude the first phase of the War on Terror, with a clear victory one way.

Dramatic Prediction!

Either: the Islamic states erupt, overthrow and fight in a pan-Arab Islamist coalition; the terror networks regroup, reconnect, recruit afresh and attack with devastating force.

Or: the remnants of al-Qaeda and the Taliban are wiped out along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan; terror cells remain scattered, disconnected, without leadership or base; Arab nations acquiesce to US demands; and bin Laden is discovered to be dead, or alive and then killed.

Anyway, get your cards on the table now. (Oh, fuck off.)

11:21 PM

 
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