Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pakistan & Osama

Ever since our special forces team sent Osama bin Laden off to Never-never Land, we have been inundated with speculation about Pakistan’s role in sheltering him and what that might mean for our relationship with Pakistan. What did they know, and when did they know it, is the repeated theme of our news commentariat.
In my mind, there is no great mystery here, but perhaps I am jaded.
When we lived in New Delhi during the 1964-1968 period, we experienced one of the several Indo-Pak wars.  It’s a bit iffy to refer to them as “wars’ actually, since the encounters never seem to last very long.  In our case, Pakistan began their incursions into India, and had their nose bloodied for the effort. I still remember sitting on our bursatti in New Delhi during a blackout. The Paks were equipped with US jet fighters, and the Indians were equipped with Russian SAM missiles for air defence. I remember thinking, “god, I hope the Russians know what they are doing with these SAM missiles.”  I also remember thinking, “man this is a really screwed up world, with us aiding the Pakistani’s and the Russians, our enemy, assisting the Indians. How did we ever get into such a f___ed up relationship?”
The wars never last very long, and Pakistan always comes out the worse for wear. After a time, I began thinking, “hmmm . . . these Pakistani war efforts resemble something. Oh, I know, they resemble the Arab obsessive-compulsive behavior toward Israel. Every now and again, the Arabs, singly or in combination, get it into their heads to attack Israel. So, they mount their attack, the Israelis get pissed, and shoot back, generally with devastating results, and the Arabs withdraw, sometimes with less territory than they had before (see the Golan Heights).  Ditto with Pakistan.
In the case of Israel and the Arabs, it was always at least clear what the Arabs were about. They wanted to “drive Israel into the sea”, i.e., to destroy Israel. That they kept doing the same thing over and over, while hoping for a different result seems to suggest a form of insanity, but maybe it is simply stupidity . . . perhaps too much time in the hot sun. But for Pakistan, it has never been clear what they want.  They’re clearly not intent on pushing India into the sea. I know, I know, they really, really want Kashmir.  But they ain’t gett’n Kashmir. Seems as though they would have gotten that message by now. They’re like an obsessive-compulsive crazy person.—ok, once more with feeling . . .
But given their history, why is anyone unclear about Pakistan  sheltering bin Laden?  The ISI has been a rogue agency within Pakistan for decades. They do what they want and the Pakistani military doesn’t interfere. Seems clear that the ISI has been the responsible real estate agent for bin Laden and that the Pakistani military has known about it.  The Pakistani government isn’t really in control of the country—their entire northwest provinces are semi-autonomous regions, assisted probably by the military and/or the ISI as needed. The “democratic” government of Pakistan is tolerated by the military and the ISI.
Maybe someday Pakistan will turn to democracy seriously, blow up their ISI and rein in their military. Until then, we should always expect the worst from our good friends, the Paks.  And until then, the Pakistanis will have to contend with eating Indian dust, as the Indians roar into the 21st century as one of the world's super-powers.
And on another planet, it is rumored that the Republican party has decided that Jeb Bush is their favored candidate for President, since the Bushes worked out so well for them last time.
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