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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Jul-07
Pakistan: Over 106 dead in spectacular assault on radical mosque in Islamabad

Web Log - July, 2007

Pakistan: Over 106 dead in spectacular assault on radical mosque in Islamabad

Radical students hoped to spark an Islamic revolution against Musharraf.

Map of Islamabad, showing location of Red Mosque and various government buildings. <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Der Spiegel)</font>
Map of Islamabad, showing location of Red Mosque and various government buildings. (Source: Der Spiegel)

A spectacular 8-day siege ended on Wednesday after 36 hours of house to house fighting in a mosque complex near President Pervez Musharraf's office in Pakistan's capital city.

Known as Lal Masjid or Red Mosque, it's a large complex of buildings with mosques, madrassas and dormitories for housing hundreds of female students studying there.

It all began last January, starting with by dozens of female seminary students studying and living at the madrassas within the mosque complex.

The female students then demanded that the government impose Taliban-style sharia law and arrest the prostitutes in downtown Islamabad. After a while, the female students would come out in black burqas with long bamboo sticks and threaten the prostitutes. (Talk about gender issues and sexual symbolism!)

In March they kidnapped three women who they claimed were prostitutes, as well as two policemen, but let them go shortly, because they "repented."

By this time, the situation was becoming international news, and it was happening around the same time that Pakistan's lawyers were rioting and demonstrating over the suspension of the country's Chief Justice. The situation drew outside Islamic militants, and undoubtedly some of these young males were attracted by the women there as well.

The last straw came when dozens of students kidnapped nine people, including six Chinese women and a Chinese man, leading to protests from China. The people were released, but Musharraf demanded their surrender.

The situation escalated into a 36-hour siege and gun battle that ended on Wednesday in bloodbath.

It turned out that the Red Mosque had a huge cache of weapons that apparently had been brought there is the last few months.

Most Pakistanis support Musharraf's move, since he apparently had no choice. But questions are being raised about why he let the situation go on for so long, and how he allowed such a huge collection of weapons to be accumlated.

The questioning is more critical because the Red Mosque was practically right down the street from Musharaff's own offices. And how did so many weapons get carried into the Mosque, under the noses of the Intelligence Agency offices?

Violent Islamist cleric Ghazi Abdul Rashid <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
Violent Islamist cleric Ghazi Abdul Rashid (Source:

The leading cleric for the Red Mosque was Ghazi Abdul Rashid who called for his own death to spark an Islamic revolution. He said that he would rather be martyred than give in to the government, and he was killed during the siege.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the interesting part of this story is the desire to "spark an Islamic revolution."

The major inspiration for such things nowadays is the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. It was sparked by violent student riots, and so it's national for radical Islamists to hope that new student riots will spark a new Islamic resolution.

However, a little arithmetic shows that the probability of a similar reaction at this time in Pakistan is much lower than the probability of that reaction in Iran in 1979.

Iran's previous generational Crisis war was the Constitutional Revolution, that ran from 1905-1909. So, in 1979, 70 years had passed since the end of the last crisis war.

Pakistan's last crisis war was the war with India that ended in 1947, so today only 60 years have passed since Pakistan's last crisis war.

Those 10 years make a big difference, since they mean that there are are still a significant number of people around who survived the last Crisis war, and who therefore will do anything possible to prevent another such war from occurring. These people include parents and relatives of the radical students in the mosque, and they also include Musharraf himself, who was born in 1943, and who has done a remarkable job maintaining peace with India.

That's not to say that a crisis war in Pakistan is impossible today; it's just that it's less probable than it will be in 10 years, and it's less probable than it was for Iran in 1979. Crisis wars are triggered by mass panic, and people who have already survived one crisis war are very unlikely to panic in a way that will cause a new crisis war.

A study of over 100 crisis wars throughout history leads to the following table that shows the chances of a new Crisis war, based on the number of years that have passed since the end of the preceding crisis war:

    # years  of total  Generational Era
    -------  --------  ------------------
      0- 40      0%    Recovery / Awakening eras
     41- 49     11%    First half of Unraveling era
     50- 59     33%    Second half of Unraveling era
     60- 69     25%    First half of Crisis era
     70- 79     16%    Second half of Crisis era
     80- 89      4%    "Fifth turning"
     90- 99      6%
    100-117      5%

As this table shows, Crisis wars have occurred frequently by the 60th year following the end of the previous crisis war (and, in fact, the peak year turns out to be year 58). But most crisis wars wait until after 60 years, so that as many people as possible who survived the previous crisis war are gone.

Right now, it doesn't seem likely that the Red Mosque crisis is going to spark a new crisis war, civil war, or "Islamic revolution."

But it certainly will raise the level of fear and anxiety in the population. Thus, the next time some crisis arises, the level of fear and anxiety may be enough to cause the panic that leads to a new crisis war. Based on Pakistan's history, however, the new crisis war is not likely to be an "Islamic revolution"; it's much more likely that it will be a civil war between different Muslim ethnic groups in Pakistan, leading to a war with India.

If Musharraf disappears, for whatever reason, then he will be replaced by someone from a younger generation who will be much more militant towards India, and the probability of a new crisis war will increase substantially.

Generational Dynamics predicts there will indeed be a new genocidal crisis war between India and Pakistan, and since both countries possess nuclear weapons, there's little doubt that they will be used. It's impossible to predict when such a war would begin, but if Musharraf disappears and is replaced by someone from a younger generation, things will certainly start moving along. (12-Jul-07) Permanent Link
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