Saturday, December 25, 2010



“The News”, a daily of Pakistan, has carried on December 24, 2010, an analysis by Amir Mir, the well-known Pakistani journalist, of acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan during 2010.It covers data up to December 23.

2. According to this analysis, till December 23, there were 52 acts of suicide terrorism resulting in 1224 fatalities as against 80 acts in 2009 with 1217 fatalities. Though the number of suicide attacks came down from 80 in 2009 to 52, the lethality of the attacks increased with the largest number of fatalities in a year since the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and their associates such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), another Uzbek group, stepped up their acts of suicide terrorism after the Army raid in the Lal Masjid of Islamabade in July,2007.

3.According to Amir Mir, the number of fatalities due to suicide terrorism rose from 837 in 2007 to 965 in 2008. It went up to 1217 in 2009 and 1224 till December 23,2010. During 2010, the largest number of attacks were in the Khyber Pakhtunkwa province (KP) with 25 attacks resulting in 416 fatalities. There were 12 suicide attacks in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with 381 fatalities followed by Punjab with seven acts of suicide terrorism resulting in 312 fatalities. There were four incidents in Balochistan with 81 deaths, two in Sindh with 28 deaths and another two in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) with six deaths.

4.The Pashtun belt in KP and the FATA continued to be the worst affected. Thirty-seven of the 52 attacks were in the Pashtun belt with 797 deaths. There were 15 attacks in the non-Pashtun areas with 427 deaths. Muslims killing Muslims and Pashtuns killing Pashtuns has become the defining characteristic of the the Pashtun Taliban. As against this, the Punjabi Taliban has concentrated its attacks in Pakistani territory on non-Deobandi and non-Wahabi Muslims consisting of the Shias, the Barelvis and the Ahmadiyas. The expression Punjabi Taliban is applied in Pakistan to the LEJ, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Of these, the LET, which is the closest to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), did not indulge in any act of terrorism in Pakistani territory. Its main focus was on India and Afghanistan.

5.Of the 1224 fatalities till December 23,2010, 1055 were civilians as against 863 out of 1217 in 2009 and 169 belonged to the security forces. Of those from the security forces killed,62 belonged to the police, 48 to the armed forces, 26 to the Frontier Constabulary, 24 to other para-military units and nine to the ISI. Of the civilians killed, 151 were Shias and 103 were Ahmediyas. Three American nationals were among those killed in 2010. On an average, suicide bombers killed 102 persons per month in 2010, compared with 2009’s average of 101 killings a month.

6. Earlier on August 5,2010, the “Dawn” of Karachi had carried an analysis of suicide terrorism in Pakistan by Manzar Zaidi, a strategic affairs analyst. His analysis covered all suicide terrorism before and after the Lal Masjid raid. It brought out two facts. Firstly, before the Lal Masjid raid, suicide terrorism in Pakistan was largely a Punjabi phenomenon confined to Sindh and Punjab. There were no acts of suicide terrorism in the Pashtun belt. After the Lal Masjid raid, it has become a largely Pashtun phenomenon with the Pashtun belt being the worst affected. Secondly, there has been an increase in attacks on military-connected targets after the Lal Masjid raid.

7. The analyses carried by the “News” and the “Dawn” covered only acts of suicide terrorism. They did not cover other acts of terrorism such as the targeted attacks on Shias by the LEJ in Karachi and in the cities of Pakistani Punjab and acts of ethnic terrorism involving the Mohajirs and the the Pashtuns in Karachi. Interestingly, there have been no acts of suicide or suicidal terrorism involving the Afghan Taliban in the non-Pashtun belt. The attacks of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group, headed by Jalalludin Haqqani, have been confined to the Kurram Agency in the FATA where there are a large number of Shia Pashtuns, who have become the victims of frequent attacks by the Pakistani as well as the Afghan Taliban as well as by the LEJ.

8. Neither the intensified operations of the Pakistan Army in the Malakand Division of KP and in South Waziristan, Bajaur and Mohmand agencies of the FATA nor the intensified Drone (unmanned planes carrying missiles) strikes by the US in the FATA have dented the motivation of the Pashtuns----Pakistani and Afghan--- taking to suicide acts of terrorism directed against the civilians and suicidal attacks (fedayeen attacks) against the Pakistani security forces.

9. The insincere counter-terrorism policies of the Pakistan Army come in the way of the restoration of law and order in the Pashtun belt. The worsening internal security situation and the persistent US criticism of its inaction against the Talibans and Al Qaeda demand that the Pakistan Army act firmly at least against the Pakistani Taliban. But,its interest in recovering its strategic depth in Afghanistan dictate that it avoid firm action against Pashtun terrorism. Its continued use of Punjabi terrorism against India demands that its support to the Punjabi terrorist organizations remain undiminished. The Pashtun terrorists are its strategic assets in Afghanistan. The Punjabi terrorists are its strategic assets against India.

10.Unless there is an end to these contradictory and insincere policies, the US-led NATO forces are not going to prevail in Afghanistan. Nor is the US going to prevail against Al Qaeda in North Waziristan. Despite two years of intensified Drone strikes, the US is nowhere near victory against either Al Qaeda or the Talibans. Ground operations in Pakistani territory could lead to a disruption of NATO’s logistic supplies to its troops in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory. They are, therefore, unlikely. Deniable covert actions with the help of Pakistani assets well-disposed to the US could be an alternative, but the US has avoided building up a covert action capability which can be tried on the ground.

11.The fear of Pakistan becoming a failed State prevents the US from acting tough against it. Soft options have failed to nudge Pakistan into acting against the terrorists. Hard options such as the denial of military and economic assistance are avoided lest there be a collapse of the State of Pakistan. The time has come to examine whether the collapse of Pakistan is something to be dreaded. A collapse could lead to a spell of sectarian anarchy, but not necessarily to the triumph of Al Qaeda and the Talibans. The very fact that the international community is prepared to let Pakistan collapse could induce some good sense in the thinking of its army and intelligence establishment. The army thinks that the world cannot afford to let Pakistan collapse. It has to be told that the world is prepared to let it collapse if it does not act against terrorism emanating from its territory effectively. (26-12-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Srudies, Chennai. E-mail: )


Esoteric said...

The talk about Pakistan's collapse is both alarmist and overstates the instability the country faces.

The collapse could have been a possibility if Pakistan had a surge in insurgencies that pitted one community against the other and took a political color.This is not to say that there is not enough rot in the system.

The situation very different.Punjab remains the centre of power and is political stable,the judiciary activism is under control.The army still calls the shots and maintains enough control over its men and material.Bureaucracy have always been stronger power brokers than the politicians.

Most importantly,the elite landowners and military maintain their control.With China providing assistance,it enhances the Govt's position.We must remember that 1000casualities in 2010 have occured due to Naxalism and that has had no impact on the India's story.Traditionally, Pakistan has had a gun culture (atleast since 77') and unless Punjab starts unravelling from a security and political standpoint the country will survive and maybe thrive.

So to that extent, Pakistan has managed to fool the Global players that its unstable and can come undone unless they are supported from outside.

Divisions along ethnic lines within the military could be a faultline but there is no indication of that yet.

The analogy that I can think of is India that is the widespread poverty amongst 70% of Indians despite the economic miracle of last two decades...Pakistan is the opposite the stable core that has suvived the upheavals on the periphery.But its just my opinion!


harihar said...

Dear Mr. Esoteric,

There is nothing alarmist or exaggerated about the talk of Pakistan's collapse.

The 'internatinonal migraine' has begun to devour itself, a process that that has been gathering momentum from the time that it emerged as a 'frontline' state in the fight against communism and later, incredibly enough, against terrorism.

A wholly artificial construct without any civilisational basis waiting to self-destruct. That sums up the story of Pakistan's tenous existence today.

Collapse Pakistan will under the weight of its own contradictions. Neither the Chinese, nor the Americans nor the Indians who believe in the 'a-stable-and-democratic-Pakistan-is-in-India's-interest' theory will be able to prevent the collapse when it comes. The only sensible option is preparing to manage the consequences thereof as best as possible.

Esoteric said...

Harihar-Let me clarify that neither am I soft on terror or belong to any pro-pak lobby,before you assign a motive to my views.

At the outset,am not sure what the unravelling of Pakistan is supposed to mean.

Does it mean a military coup when the PA feels democracy has again failed and it should come back as saviours of the country?
Does it mean division of the country into 3-4 parts? If so, will PA not intervene and take control?
Does it mean foreign occupation by US/NATO forces after over running resistance from insurgents?
Does it mean insurgents take effective control of PA and Nuclear assets and usurp the GOP?

That Pakistan is an international migraine or whether or not it has a civilisation basis to exist as a nation-state bears no relation to its survival vis-a-vis extremist forces.A closer scrutiny of the situation will inform that the core of the country is unaffected just as core of India is from Naxalism.

The fact is that its a country under severe economic and extremist pressure.To a certain extent there is a void that hasnt been filled against the extremist forces.In other words, while there is a unstated govt policy to support extremist forces that can be used against India/Afghanistan as an instrument of statecraft,primarily to ensure its survival.

Im sure you will concur that this strategy was adopted after 71 war(1977 onwards), as an asymmetrical warfare tactic.The Pakistani elite including PA faced a tough time after 1971 and directed the anger against it towards its neighbours.Politically and socially,Pakistan doesnt have a counterweight to these forces yet.Even though large urban centers and educated masses remain immune to this radicalisation.Infact, this muted majority is starting to pressure GOP to put development on top of its agenda.

Given, that the extremist forces remain in effective control of the state or close knitted non-state actors.For Pakistan to unravel a new elite must takeover, thats not going to happen even if extremists take over the state as they are actually controlled as an asset by the state actoes or their agents.Like in India, Pakistan is giverned through agents of the state like the landlords in remote areas rather than the state directly.How do you usurp a Govt where none exists? Unless, the landowners lose control does the situation unravel.

Last but not the least,reduced tensions with Pakistan are in India's and regions interests.Whether a stable Pakistan reduces tensions is a moot point.However,its foolhardy to think a collapsing state with nuclear assets and large standing army will not try and turn the attention of its people to its neighbours in times when polity gets divided and there are situations of civil war.That unsolicited attention cannot be in India's interest.

harihar said...

Dear Esoteric,

This is becoming an interesting debate. Let me state at the outset that I do not ascribe any motive whatsoever to you. Neither do I wish that Pakistan implodes or self-destructs. For that might, indeed, be 'foolhardy' as you have suggested.

Yet, the issue is not of what one wishes or desires. The question is what is the objective reality. The reality is a nuclear-armed country in which the army is the ultimate source of authority, in which political parties and leaders are mere birds of passage without any real power and which has unleashed dangerous demons that it cannot control in pursuit of a foreign policy calculated to inflict damage on its neighbours.

Countries such as India have long cherished the hope that, one day, enlightenment would dawn on Pakistan's rulers who would adopt pragmatic policies conducive to the maintenance of peaceful bilateral relations which, in turn, would promote the larger goal of regional peace and harmony. Unfortunately, these fond hopes and expectations have been belied time and time again, at the cost of a great deal of bloodshed and the loss of innocent human lives.

It is time that India and the rest of the world face up to the prospect, nightmarish though it may seem, of a nuclear-armed, military-dominated state that continues to wield terrorism as an instrument of state policy breaking up into three or four pieces. It broke up into two in 1972 despite countries such as the USA chasing the mirage of a united Pakistan till weeks before the birth of Bangladesh. Can it happen again in the second decade of the 21st century? That is the question that must engage the attention of all serious Pakistan watchers and analysts as 2010 draws to a close.

Esoteric said...

Dear Harihar,

Good that we have are not ascribing motives and desires.I welcome your digression but would like to point out some other points worth considering.

I agree the problem is the Nukes and the overarching influence of the military in affairs of the state.I agree that India has tried to make peace with Pakistan,the 71 intervention in Bangladesh apart.

The creation of Bangladesh is not a good enough indicator of what will happen in Pakistan now.The reason is that the East and West Pakistan's were one country but two people's in culture and influence, the twain didnt meet.In other words, the relationship was really tenous from day one.The separation become official divorce in 1971.
The elite of united Pakistan was always in the west. The west had the military might and the large landowning elite that controlled the political space.Thus, Mujibur Rahman's victory at the hustings was never going to be acceptable to Lahore and Rawalpindi.Hence, the civil war and creation of Bangaldesh.

A similar scenario can only play out in current Pakistan if the Islamic Parties do better than the 10-20% of the vote share they get right now.The other way, they could come to power and divide the country into parts as you mention is if they take control of a section of the military and create a separate state..for the sake of conjecture in Sindh.With the pressures being put on PA to fight Taliban in FATA and North Waziristan, there could be misgivings in the rank and file.However, any uprising within the ranks that will topple the current regime is unlikely.

This is not to say that there are not insurgencies and that they arent taking toll.But you must acknowledge that the core of Pakistan remains Punjab and Sindh.If Balochis declared itself as a free country, no one needs to rejoice.It will only force closing of the ranks in P & S.Ofcourse, Punjab remains the nerve center of the country and they dominate. MQM and other parties have been in a veritable state of civil war in Sindh.However, law and order or political or constitutional stability has never been a hallmark of Pakistan.Constitutions have been written,flouted,imposed whenever a new leader has come to power.The military has large landholdings and stakes in business houses.

In India Radia tapes have revealed the nexus between Politicians, businesmen and the media. In the same way,Pakistan has its own nexus of Militarymen,Businessmen, bureacrats and some politicans.So its quite certain that a political process, judicial process cannot create this break-up.Only an internal implosion can,which somehow leaves PA helpless.This has not come to pass because the top brass of military is not radicalised.They created the radicals.A Hafiz Sayeed might be powerful enough to not be prosecuted for 26/11 but he isnt powerful enough to create his own fiefdom in Punjab.

The drone attacks have surely angered the local populations but the backlash has been deftly directed towards the US.Everytime,PA has moved against the insurgents they have been paid by attacks on ISI,Police headquarters etc.This has reduced ability of PA to fight insurgency.In other words,PA has to walk a tight rope by moving against insurgents when the pressure mounts from US-NATO and then pullback when the locals and militia complains or fights back.This rubber band is stretched to its limit.No amount of pressure would persuade PA to do more, as it will amount to suicide.Fortunately, Obama and NATO in the meanwhile are running out of cash and hence the rubber bands elasticity is within tolerance limits of the WOT brigade.

Despite the suicide attacks and drone attacks and the army action against the extremists from time to time, Pakistan is holding its 31st National games in Peshawar as we speak.

Im not sure how the three-four parts break can take place. Maybe Im missing the faultlines.Please enlighten me.


harihar said...

Dear Esoteric,

You have raised valid questions. I must confess that I do not have answers to all of them. For that matter, I do not have answers to several of my own questions about Pakistan! But, let me assure you I am not in the business of "digression." We are discussing deadly serious business here.

The faultlines? Well, I am tempted to give a few answers. An independent Baluchistan. An ungovernable FATA beyond the control of anyone --- bar the Haqqanis, perhaps! The Mohajirs, the Sindhis and the Pashtuns at each other's throats in Sindh, particularly in Karachi --- a veritable tinderbox at all times. Gilgit-Baltistan crafting an independent destiny. And the 'core' Punjab, burning bright as the jihadis light a thousand fires...

One can go on and on. The faultlines there are aplenty. Mr. Raman, I am sure, can delineate them much better than many of us can.

But you have yourself admirably summed up the crux of the problem. And that is, the military, which called all the shots in Pakistan, provided the cementing glue that kept that wholly "artificial construct without any civilisational basis" together, no longer does so. Increasingly, it it is the likes of the TTP, the LeT, the JeM, the HuJI, the LeJ, the 313 Brigade and Al Qaeda that call the shots in Pakistan. What does that portend? That is the zillion dollar question that confronts all of us, if of you ask me.

We can go on and on and on... But, something tells me that we are not in the business of scoring minor debating points. I repeat, all of us have a lot of serious thinking to do.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!


Esoteric said...

I concur...

Wish you and Mr Raman a very Happy and Prosperous New Year !