I see no joy, I see only sorrow, I see no chance of your bright new tomorrow
I don’t believe this; note the lack of any direct evidence, not even packets of Indian steel balls. What I do believe is that we’re heading for a serious catastrophe with regard to Pakistan. As I’ve said before, the American meta-narrative seems to be that it’s something like a 50s-70s rightwing military dictatorship in Southeast Asia or Latin America; everyone is secretly communist but we’ve got to support El General or, god knows…
But this is drivel; the facts are that nobody votes for the Islamists. Even in the NWFP, they didn’t break 15 per cent. All the things we claim to support are embodied in the politics we’re making enemies of – the lawyers’ movement, the middle-class activists behind the PML-N, the working class support of the PPP. Les forces vives de la nation, you could say. Both the working class, and the new mobile phone network bourgeoisie (it’s more than symbolic that the missing at the Marriott include the CFO of Mobilink).
But we’ve been encouraging Mr 10% to dishonour his agreement with the PML, thus dropping the movement for democracy in it. As soon as Mr 10% got his new status as Musharraf 2.0, supported by his own party and the near-mafia in the MQM (thanks, Mark Lyell-Grant), the Americans began doing airmobile raids over the border and the Pakistani army began shooting back.
Here is sense:
Second, contra the apocalyptic prose of the LA Times, the main concern of the Pakistani elite is not that tribal extremists from a thinly populated hinterland will take over Pakistan, an urbanized, populous, and industrialized country of 120 million people. The main concern is that the democratic institutions haltingly restored in the post-Musharraf era will be swept aside by violent unrest and a return to military rule if Pakistan is forced to bow to the United States’ demand for an all or nothing military solution in Afghanistan and western Pakistan.
But it goes beyond that; there is absolutely no possible goal in the NWFP or Afghanistan that is worth risking making things worse in Pakistan. We could, after all, quit Afghanistan. (We did it before.) But in Pakistan, there is the huge modern army, the nuclear bombs, the coast on the oil tanker routes, the special relationship with Saudi Arabia, the Indian and Chinese dimensions. Even Osama bin Laden in person is not worth this stuff. Strategy beats tactics.
And just to speak of tactics, Britain is in the first line to lose here. The Army’s main supply route to Helmand is vulnerable to the Pakistani Taliban, the Baluchistan Liberation Front, and the Pakistani army. And there’s a good reason why you can get regular flights from Manchester to Islamabad. We don’t need this shit.
There was a time when a Labour prime minister was involved in a war, in which the Americans were too. They wanted to do something crazy, irresponsible, and vicious; they wanted to go nuclear in Korea. Clement Attlee went straight to Washington to say no; some disagree as to what impact this had, but at least he was trying. Brown should head right for Washington and say no. No intelligence cooperation, no help with the financial crisis, everyone out of Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible. I’d vote for him.
(Note that there certainly was something going on in there: a sailor who was a crypto technician?)