Pakistan Tells US It May Move Troops:
December 28, 2001 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Pakistan Tells US It May Move Troops: So what happens to the alliance against terrorism, and recalling 4,000 troops, do they seriously think in a war that number would make a difference, or is all of this a ploy to get the US to back Pakistan in the war against India.
posted by bittennails (25 comments total)
 
Old adage: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now it is: the friend of my friend might become my enemy unless he reverts told adage.I am not sure what I just said but it seems appropriate.
posted by Postroad at 12:41 PM on December 28, 2001


Shit...
Add this to the Palestine/Isreal debacle, and our own current 'war against terror' in Afganistan (with the possibility of branching into Iraq and Sudan) and we've got a huge problem on our hands, folks....
...World War Three, anyone?
posted by tiger yang at 12:44 PM on December 28, 2001


...World War Three, anyone?

I've thought about that since the war on terror began. In fact, Bush's "If you're not with the United States, you're against us" sounded like a clarion call to World War Three to me.
posted by CreequeAlley at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2001


As someone who calls Mumbai home, and has family living there, I am deeply concerned. At the same time I fully support India's decision.
posted by riffola at 1:20 PM on December 28, 2001


Yeah, I have to admit having these two nuclear powers facing each other on a battlefield makes me more than a little nervous.

Especially since the US has been traditionally an ally of India...and they us. I don't know how we could stay uninvolved if war broke out, if for no other reason than to secure Pakistan's nukes. Securing Pakistan arms would no doubt be considered an act of war against Pakistan...but if we don't secure them, it's quite feasible that an exchange of missiles could occur. At least, that has been the opinion of various foriegn "experts" whom I've heard address the issue.

I personally would like to think that nobody would actually launch a nuke, but the experts seem to consider that to be rather naive.
posted by dejah420 at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2001


Dejah420, I don't think the United States traditionally has been an ally of India. We've been an ally of Pakistan. India was the leader of the non-aligned nations movement, and bought Soviet arms during the Cold War; Pakistan bought arms from the United States.

Too bad. India is a democracy and should have been a U.S. ally all along.

Pakistan is behind the attack on India's parliament. Imagine if an unfriendly neighbor (for the sake of argument, let's say little ol' Cuba) sent terrorists to car-bomb and shoot up the U.S. Capitol. That, basically, is what Pakistan did. But whereas Cuba is harmless and could be squashed like a bug, such is not the case with Pakistan.

The U.S. must support democratic, multicultural India in this cause. Pakistan attacked India on the assumption that the U.S. wouldn't object strenuously. We should tell Pakistan that for every soldier it moves out of western Pakistan, we will replace him with 10 U.S. soldiers. Stick the bastards with the dilemma they deserve for attacking India and daring the United States to do anything about it.
posted by Holden at 1:40 PM on December 28, 2001


The front page of the Hindustan Times is less than reassuring.
posted by Fat Buddha at 1:41 PM on December 28, 2001


Yeah, I have to admit having these two nuclear powers facing each other on a battlefield makes me more than a little nervous.


The only reason the media keeps harping on nuclear powers is because makes the story more dramatic. The US is a nuclear power and is currently engaged in a real military action and when Rumsfield was ask point-blank if nukes were to be forbidden he refused to make that promise.

I'm seeing a lot of racial stereotyping and xenophobia with the assumption that Pakistan or India would sooner use the bomb than the US or its EU allies. The "brown man" is not some irrational savage and the fact remains that the US is the only country to ever us nukes in warfare. If someone was taking odds on who would use the next nuclear weapon the US and some terrorist group would be at the top, not India or Pakistan. They understand M.A.D. just as well the US and the USSR does.
posted by skallas at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2001


Especially since the US has been traditionally an ally of India


Not so! During the cold war, the US was much closer to Pakistan. India bought Soviet weapons and tended to side with the USSR in the UN. Pakistan, on the other hand, was an American military-industrial complex customer, and allowed US spyplanes to fly out of their airfields. Things have changed a bit recently, but not nearly to an extent that would make it appropriate to call the US a "traditional" Indian ally. A good, quick, summary of the historical situation is found at the beginning of this salon article.


As a side note, it's always seemed to me that cold war US foreign policy prefered it's poorer allies as dictatorships. This is apparent both in the case of the (democratic) India vs. (dictatorial) Pakistan situation as well as in the US's rather shameful involvements in Central and South American politics during the cold war. Just interesting, is all.


posted by mr_roboto at 1:49 PM on December 28, 2001


Some folks think that the US has decided to use India as the bludgeon with which it forces Pakistan to play ball on the question of Taliban/Al-Qaeda fugitives (Pakistan hasn't been as cooperative as it appears in the media). The argument presented to Pakistan would be "arrest everyone we're asking you for, or we won't stand in the way of India". Under that scenario, this possible redeployment would be Pakistan attempting to call the US bluff.

The question, then, is whether or not the US is bluffing vis-a-vis supporting India. The wildcard here is China -- India and China haven't exactly been pals, and China has recently been very nice to Musharraf. I'd bet that China and Pakistan have been trying to work out some sort of side-deal, since China needs someone to counterbalance Indian influence in the Himalayan region.

(since I had been planning to visit India next year, including Ladakh, I'm really quite peeved at the whole affair)
posted by aramaic at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2001


Holden:
"Pakistan is behind the attack on India's parliament"

You have some irrefutable evidence that the rest of the world doesn't have access too? How nice of you to condemn so clearly, makes the decision making so much easier on the rest of us.

Idiot.

Musharraf isn't an idiot, he knows better than to be aggressive unnecessarily in this situation. In fact since taking over he has been fairly progressive in his attempts at peace-making. Chances are these were terrorist acts carried out by smaller fanatical groups. Not backed by the Pakistan government.

I really am quite tired of people criticising Pakistan for its lack of democracy. Democracy cannot work in a country where only 14% of the population is literate. A more ideal scenario would be a benevolent dictator. Musharraf, so far, has proved to be just that. I am not blind to his faults and have a fair idea of the political reality of Pakistan to know hwo far from perfect that is, but it is better than the mock-democracies Pakistan has suffered in the past.

Besides, Pakistan isn't the only south-asian country with Nukes. It bothers me how no one sees India as needing just as much of a watchful-eye as Pakistan. If Pakistan feels its borders are threatened by India then it has every right to move its troops wheresoever it damn well pleases. National interest is always a top priority. America has lived by that creed, time we allowed others to consider the same option.
posted by samishah at 2:10 PM on December 28, 2001


Holden:
"Pakistan is behind the attack on India's parliament"

You have some irrefutable evidence that the rest of the world doesn't have access too? How nice of you to condemn so clearly, makes the decision making so much easier on the rest of us.

Idiot.

Musharraf isn't an idiot, he knows better than to be aggressive unnecessarily in this situation. In fact since taking over he has been fairly progressive in his attempts at peace-making. Chances are these were terrorist acts carried out by smaller fanatical groups. Not backed by the Pakistan government.

I really am quite tired of people criticising Pakistan for its lack of democracy. Democracy cannot work in a country where only 14% of the population is literate. A more ideal scenario would be a benevolent dictator. Musharraf, so far, has proved to be just that. I am not blind to his faults and have a fair idea of the political reality of Pakistan to know hwo far from perfect that is, but it is better than the mock-democracies Pakistan has suffered in the past.

Besides, Pakistan isn't the only south-asian country with Nukes. It bothers me how no one sees India as needing just as much of a watchful-eye as Pakistan. If Pakistan feels its borders are threatened by India then it has every right to move its troops wheresoever it damn well pleases. National interest is always a top priority. America has lived by that creed, time we allowed others to consider the same option.
posted by samishah at 2:11 PM on December 28, 2001


Holden:
"Pakistan is behind the attack on India's parliament"

You have some irrefutable evidence that the rest of the world doesn't have access too? How nice of you to condemn so clearly, makes the decision making so much easier on the rest of us.

Idiot.

Musharraf isn't an idiot, he knows better than to be aggressive unnecessarily in this situation. In fact since taking over he has been fairly progressive in his attempts at peace-making. Chances are these were terrorist acts carried out by smaller fanatical groups. Not backed by the Pakistan government.

I really am quite tired of people criticising Pakistan for its lack of democracy. Democracy cannot work in a country where only 14% of the population is literate. A more ideal scenario would be a benevolent dictator. Musharraf, so far, has proved to be just that. I am not blind to his faults and have a fair idea of the political reality of Pakistan to know hwo far from perfect that is, but it is better than the mock-democracies Pakistan has suffered in the past.

Besides, Pakistan isn't the only south-asian country with Nukes. It bothers me how no one sees India as needing just as much of a watchful-eye as Pakistan. If Pakistan feels its borders are threatened by India then it has every right to move its troops wheresoever it damn well pleases. National interest is always a top priority. America has lived by that creed, time we allowed others to consider the same option.
posted by samishah at 2:12 PM on December 28, 2001


Oops. Bloody computer is messed up. Sorry for the triple posts.
posted by samishah at 2:14 PM on December 28, 2001


I kind of agree with Skallas. I dont think India is even considering using the Nuclear weapon. Neither does Pakistan's current dictator strike me as a lunatic. The real danger is probably not that the governments of India or Pakistan would resort to a nuclear war, the danger is that there are is a powerful lunatic fringe in Pakistani politics and society that would not be above passing technology and the material to build a radioactive bomb to crazies like Al Quaida or Laskar a Taiba. A lot of that crowd genuinely believes in the idea of suicide as a short cut to heaven.

.....A fair amount of public debate and soul searching happens in Indian media and polity on the subject of Nuclear warfare. Amitav Ghosh wrote a fairly objective article in New Torker in '98 excerpted here after India tested the bomb. Dr. Amartya Sen, a Nobel laurete in economics wrote a thoughtful essay. available on the net that shades more light on the subject. From what I read on the Indian media Indian polity and defense establishment IS NOT looking to deploy Nuclear weapons. Whoever I talked to dismissed the prospect.

Incidentally, This story in TOI seems to indicate that both India and Pakistan are trying to bring down the level of tension through diplomatic channels.
posted by justlooking at 2:28 PM on December 28, 2001


I'm seeing a lot of racial stereotyping and xenophobia with the assumption that Pakistan or India would sooner use the bomb than the US or its EU allies.

Just because you're seeing racism and xenophobia doesn't mean that it's there. The US and its EU allies don't need to use nuclear bombs - they have overwhelming conventional superiority.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is much weaker militarily than India, has a pretty questionable internal power structure (the ISI is very powerful and only nominally under the control of Musharraf), and has demonstrated poor foresight in foreign policy. It's not difficult in the slightest to conjure up plausible scenarios in which a Pakistani/Indian war would lead to a nuclear exchange.
posted by jaek at 2:31 PM on December 28, 2001


What’s more, if you believe western media opinion, the US’ war on terrorism was a great success. Judging from this perspective, India should be bombing the hell out of Islamabad by now.
posted by raaka at 2:46 PM on December 28, 2001


Pakistan's entire history with Afghanistan the last 20 years -- helping the US & Saudis funnel aid to the mujahideen, then favoring factions in the 1992-94 interim government, then building the Taliban into a movement to sweep away the mujahideen, was a policy known as "strategic depth". Essentially Pakistan is a small country, and would be vulnerable to long-range missiles and air power. They hoped to use Afghanistan as a client state fallback position where they could "safe" their air force and other military assets in the event of a serious war with India. (Remember how Iraq did the same thing in the Gulf War, borrowing airfields in Syria and Iran.) As such, this couldn't have come at a worse time, strategically, for Pakistan; and from India's perspective, for good or ill, they're facing a diminished, nervous Pakistan.

skallas: I don't know that anyone is basing their fears of nuclear war on the ethnicity of South Asians. It's more having to do with two countries who have gone to war head-to-head several times already and share a border and a long history of ethnic tension, combined with nuclear weapons being a new and destabilizing element. And there's the asymmetry, with Pakistan being a significantly weaker military foe compared with India. As such, Pakistan has a much more sensitive first-strike trigger.

I think Musharraf is a sensible man, perhaps the most sensible leader Pakistan has had in some time. But he may not be in complete control of the situation, because there are important elements in his own government and even his mostly-loyal military who may seek his downfall, and aren't above generating a nasty crisis to bring it about. He's badly cornered, and has little choice but to capitulate to India on the Kashmir terrorism groups. That's going to look bad; the US one week, India the next. If he has vision, he could seize this moment as a launchpad for a bold peace initiative to solve the Kashmir problem for once and for all. I'm not certain he has the leeway for that, though.

Let's hope things stay cool until the "summit" in Nepal.
posted by dhartung at 3:46 PM on December 28, 2001


Judging from {the US} perspective, India should be bombing the hell out of Islamabad by now.

well put it seems silly that america would set the example of warfare and not assume that other countries would take the hint. its a case of country see country do simple as that
posted by jojomnky at 3:55 PM on December 28, 2001


Trickier than it looks.Hopefully ,The Hindu Times front page is here
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:57 PM on December 28, 2001


Doh! or even here
posted by Fat Buddha at 4:19 PM on December 28, 2001


This op-ed in NYT provides a good analysis of the scenario.
I hope I am not double posting. I tried posting this a few secs back. Didnt work.
posted by justlooking at 4:19 PM on December 28, 2001


Talk about realpolitick! Given recent events India can hardly be blamed for waving a big stick if it thinks Pakistan is responsible for or harbouring terrorists. I have read in several places today references to the Bush doctrine re terrorists.
Wether there is a doctrine or not the message is that terrorists will be flushed out wherever they are.States that harbour terrorists can expect no sympathy.Nice of the NYT to explain to us that it only applies if you are a superpower.
This op ed in the Guardian is quite good,explains that P akistan has at least made symbolic gestures which is reassuring.
This from The Nation is good also.
posted by Fat Buddha at 5:21 PM on December 28, 2001


British foreign secratary came out strongly condemning Pakistan yesterday . This is the coverage in BBC.

Re: the link I posted here on the op-ed in NYT:
A friend of mine called me up a few minutes back to remind me that while Nicholar Kristof agrees that Pakistan has been aiding and abetting the terrorists, he is essentially asking India to go easy on them. That doesnt sound like much of a solution. He also said the same guy was asking US administration to go easy on Mullah Omar a few months. Well......
posted by justlooking at 7:03 PM on December 28, 2001


Skallas Said:
I'm seeing a lot of racial stereotyping and xenophobia with the assumption that Pakistan or India would sooner use the bomb than the US or its EU allies.

Then Jaek said:
Just because you're seeing racism and xenophobia doesn't mean that it's there. The US and its EU allies don't need to use nuclear bombs - they have overwhelming conventional superiority.

I'd tend to agree with Jaek here... at least for me. The reason we aren't concerned about the US using nukes is they wouldn't be worth the political risk, wouldn't be effective, and the USA and EU has a plenty large conventional military to do anything they might want.

India has a larger conventional army than pakistan, if, hypothetically, they do a full scale invasion -- what happens? I don't think Musharraf would use nukes, but his government is what, 2 years old? What happens if he loses power?

There are VERY GOOD reasons for being more worried about nukes here than in the US action in Afghanistan... and I don't think racism is a primary reason for that worry (although for some folks is certainly part of it).
posted by malphigian at 8:22 PM on December 28, 2001


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