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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 6-Nov-07
Risk of Pakistan meltdown increases as Musharaff clamps down

Web Log - November, 2007

Risk of Pakistan meltdown increases as Musharaff clamps down

We're raising the "conflict risk index" for Kashmir from 2 (medium risk) to 3 (high risk).

Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff faced massive international and domestic pressure on Monday, and even threats of a coup, in the third day of the country's state of emergency.

Musharaff's order suspends freedoms of speech and assembly, shutsdown broadcasts by independent media, and jailed some 1500 activists and politic opponents, including some in the judiciary. In his televised speech on Saturday, he said that the courts and the media were, in effect, supporting the al-Qaeda terrorists that were becoming increasing violent and powerful within the country. "I personally, with all my conviction, and with all the facts available to me, consider that inaction at this moment is suicide for Pakistan, and I cannot allow this country to commit suicide."

You can be certain that Musharraf is reacting to events that occurred when he was just five years old. In 1947, Britain relinquished control of the Indian subcontinent, which was partitioned into (Hindu) India and (Muslim) Pakistan. The Partition and the independence of India and Pakistan triggered a massive genocidal bloodbath that even a five-year-old could never forget. Today, with rising religious and ethnic violence, he sees the same forces building. Musharraf's motivation is not political. Musharraf is making a desperate and panicky move to prevent a recurrence of the 1947 bloodbath.

Domestic and international politicians and media are oblivious to this. They're condemning Musharraf's declaration, saying that its ONLY purpose was purely political -- to retain political power. The BBC report asked the question that was typical of the media: "Will the White House do anything to punish its ally?" The implication of the report was that President Bush would do nothing -- also for political reasons.

A rare serious analysis of the situation in Pakistan was given by Arnaud de Borchgrave (pronounced AHR no de BOHR grahv) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN on Sunday. Here are some excerpts:

"Well, what's unfolding is a failing state that is also one of the eight nuclear powers in the world, Wolf. This is the worst nightmare that anybody can think of. Doesn't mean that the nuclear weapons are going to be used by bad guys tomorrow against us among the terrorists, but there is that danger. ...

The arsenal is controlled by the military, and the warheads are separated from the launchers in different parts of the country, which is their security system. But beyond that, I don't know how they're controlled.

What we do know is that two of the four provinces in Pakistan are controlled by people who are pro-Taliban and pro-Al Qaida. The Red Mosque in downtown Islamabad has been retaken by the bad guys, by the pro-Taliban people. We know that Osama bin Laden is -- has got almost a 50 percent approval rating in Pakistan out of 160 million people. And that Musharraf himself is in the single-digit approval. ...

I don't see how [a return to] democracy would prevent a return to sanity in that country. Right now, it is out of control. The military, as you know, have been defeated in the federally administered tribal areas, in the north, especially North Waziristan and South Waziristan. Several hundred soldiers were captured without a fight. I mean, this is a very bad situation. ...

ISI [The Pakistan intelligence service] is still very active all over Afghanistan. And Taliban ... and Al Qaida have virtually won against the Pakistani army on the border, which enables, of course, the ISI to repenetrate Afghanistan and in effect, turn against -- I mean, counteract India's influence, which has grown quite strong, in Afghanistan, in recent times.

[When asked if this is right now the most dangerous situation in the world:]

Without any question. Just think of Pakistan as one of the eight nuclear powers and out of control."

Other reports indicate that Musharraf has become extremely unpopular in both the general public AND in the army, and that the portions of the army are turning against Musharraf.

The Pakistan people were shocked on Friday when paramilitary army forces, fighting Taliban militants in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), dropped their arms and surrendered, rather than fire on Muslims. The Islamic militants paraded the Pakistani fighters in front of the press before allowing them to leave.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's important to know how deep the opposition to Musharraf goes among the Pakistani people. With the enormous hostility in the mainstream media to Musharraf, especially for his pro-Bush and pro-American policies, it's hard to for me to make that judgment from here in my apartment in Framingham, Mass. After the Saturday proclamation, the press had been predicting massive street demonstrations and riots across the country on Monday.

There were indeed demonstrations on Monday, but the major participants appear to the group of lawyers who protested against Musharraf in March, following Musharraf's suspension of the country's Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Chaudhry is currently under house arrest.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is playing an ambiguous role. You'll recall that she narrowly escaped death two weeks ago from suicide bombers, during her triumphal return from eight years of exile. At that time, it was thought that she and Musharraf would make some kind of agreement to govern the country jointly.

Bhutto has refused to fully condemn Musharraf, and even holds out the possibility of further negotiations, but she's called for immediate cessation of martial law, and is threatening street demonstrations.

Now here's the point: On Sunday's interview with Arnaud de Borchgrave, excerpted above, they quoted an excerpt from an e-mail message that Bhutto had sent to de Borchgrave the previous day. The excerpt read:

"The fact that militants hold open meetings without fear of retaliation proves that the Musharraf regime is totally inept, unwilling or colluding in their expansion. Our rapprochement talks with Musharraf have foundered in the quicksand of his failing promises."

The issue here is that Bhutto's stance is far more confrontational than Musharraf's is.

Indian subcontinent, showing the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.
Indian subcontinent, showing the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.

This is exactly what generational theory tells us to expect. Musharraf grew up during the bloody Partition genocide and is in the "Artist" generational archetype, so named because they tend to be very sensitive and always willing to compromise. But Bhutto was born after the war ended, and is so is similar to the arrogant, narcissistic people in America's Boomer generation.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

This is why I've said so many times that Musharraf himself is almost indispensible to Pakistan. When he's replaced, he'll be replaced by someone younger who will be much more confrontational than he is. Even if he retains power, then he's likely to be weakened enough that he'll be forced to become more confrontational himself.

For these reasons, I now believe that the risk of all out war between Pakistan and India in the next six months has gotten considerably greater. The epicenter of such a war would be the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.

As de Borchgrave says, Pakistan is the most dangerous region in the world today, "without any question."

I am therefore going to raise the "conflict risk level" for Kashmir from 2 (medium risk of war within 6 months) to 3 (high risk of war within six months).

This is the first change in the conflict risk graphic since February, 2006 - over 1 years ago. The new graphic is as shown on the right.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 6-Nov-2007
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 3
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

There are many scenarios that could lead to war. For example,

For those who think that a "minor" confrontation could not lead to all-out war because people are too "sensible" to do that, remember that Pakistan and India are in generational Crisis eras. The risk-averse people in Musharraf's generation are almost all gone, and the leadership throughout the country are the far more confrontational post-war generation. The possibility of a panicked response on one side or the other is great. That's how generational crisis wars begin.

If Musharraf survives the current crisis and the country returns to a more peaceful state (something not likely in a generational Crisis era), then we can consider changing the risk level back to 2.

As I've been saying for years, India and Pakistan are headed for a war re-fighting the 1947 genocidal war with 100% certainty. Only the timing is unknown. The current crisis may provide the catalyst. (6-Nov-07) Permanent Link
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