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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Aug-2008
Pakistan government crisis deepens, following Musharraf's resignation

Web Log - August, 2008

Pakistan government crisis deepens, following Musharraf's resignation

The government is completely rudderless as suicide bombers shock the country.

(My computer went down this week, leaving me way behind on a lot of stuff -- both articles and e-mail. I hope to catch up in the next few days.)

The fantasy among Pakistani people has been and continues to be that all of Pakistan's troubles were caused by President Pervez Musharraf's relationship with the United States in fighting the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. And so, the fantasy continued, as soon as Musharraf was gone from the Presidency, Pakistan's troubles would disappear. It would be change you can believe in, no matter who replaced Musharraf.

Unfortunately, the Taliban aren't cooperating.

Bajaur in Pakistan's  Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the scene of increasing warfare between the Taliban and Pakistan's army <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
Bajaur in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the scene of increasing warfare between the Taliban and Pakistan's army (Source:

There have been several major terrorist attacks in Pakistan since Monday. The latest occurred on Thursday, in the town of Wah, just outside of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. Two suicide bombers simultaneously attacked two separate entrances of a large manufacturer of munitions at shift change time. 70 people were killed.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, a suicide bomber in the Swat Valley in NorthWest Frontier Province (NWFP) killed 59 people in a hospital emergency room, in an attack on Shiites. (The Taliban are Sunni extremists, allied with al-Qaeda.)

At the end of the week, on Saturday, four people were killed in two suicide bombings, again in the Swat valley.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for these attacks, saying that it's in retaliation for the Pakistan army's military campaign against the Taliban in the tribal regions.

According to BBC reporter Owen Bennett-Jones, the entire country is in denial about what's going on. He describes a period of increasing danger to the entire country, including new terrorist bombings, but the people don't talk about it, the politicians don't talk about it, and the media don't talk about it. The coalition government, having control of the Parliament, and now having driven Musharraf out of office, don't want to deal with the violence at all. According to Bennett-Jones, the coalition government is simply telling the army to do what it wants. The army is coming back and complaining that the politicians have to do their part by educating the public about what's going on.

In fact, political opinion in Pakistan appears to be split on the Taliban/al-Qaeda question. Some groups, including both the protesting lawyers and many Urdu-language newspapers, are openly supporting al-Qaeda and the Taliban against the Pakistani government.

In fact, the reinstatement of the country's Supreme Court justice, who was suspended by Musharraf early last year, remains a major source of political haggling in the coalition government in Parliament.

So, with Parliament haggling over political trivia while the NWFT burns with suicide bombings and warfare, I'm always reminded at times like this of how when the Muslims were approaching the center of Constantinople for the final conquest of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the people of the Senate were having a lengthy political debate about whether angels were male or female.

At any rate, the Parliamentary coalition appears to be falling apart. The victory of Musharraf's opposition in February caused a great deal of euphoria, as it was believed that the new government would negotiate with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and bring an end to the violence. Instead, violence has been steadily increasing. Then it was hoped that the resignation of Musharraf would end the violence, but the events of the last week seemed to have dashed those hopes.

The two coalition leaders are:

Zardari and Sharif hate each other, but they've been united in their mutual hatred for Musharraf. But now that they've brought down Musharraf, their differences have become more important, and this is hindering their ability to name a candidate to replace Musharraf as President.

As leader of the PPP, the party with the largest representation in the government, Zardari is the logical choice. However, Sharif doesn't want to give Zardari the full level of power that Musharraf had, and wants Zardari to accept the presidency with less power. A long-time correspondent of mine from Pakistan put it as follows:

"Just to add to your knowledge, a new president will most likely be some one from Pakistan People Party (the ruling Bhutto party headed by Asif Ali Zardari). You are right in saying the new president will be some one younger and/or less knowlegeble/competent than the existing one. BUT the reason obviously will be Zardari's urge to maintain his control without himself becoming the president (Zardari has a very poor image even among PPP supporters). Yes the country, now, indeed seems to be in trouble. Iam afraid your predictions months back are proving right. I dont know if I should congratulate you on that."

However, late Saturday, the news is that Zardari is agreeing to run for President, although the details of the agreement with Sharif are not yet known.

It may be that the events of the last week have brought Pakistan close to a full regeneracy.

Recall that, in generational theory, the "regeneracy" is an event or series of event that end the political bickering and unify the country behind the leader. In a country where there are fault lines between different ethnic or religious groups, the regeneracy solidifies the unity of each of the groups. It's called the "regeneracy" because civic unity is "regenerated" for the first time since the end of the previous crisis war.

(For information about the term "regeneracy," see "Basics of Generational Dynamics.")

Among the Pakistani people, February's euphoria has now been shattered, and more and more people are beginning to understand that their country and their way of life is coming under attack. This switch from euphoria to anxiety or panic among masses of people tends to make people take extreme positions, and that can lead to a regeneracy.

In fact, this does appear to be happening, according to an editorial in the Lahore-based Daily Times:

"Editorial: ‘Mind-forming’ effect of terrorism

"Two suicide attacks kill 70 ..." -- Sabir Nazar <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: Daily Times)</font>
"Two suicide attacks kill 70 ..." -- Sabir Nazar (Source: Daily Times)

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside Pakistan’s main army munitions factory at Wah on Thursday, killing 70 workers in “the deadliest attack on a military installation in the country’s history”. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) owned the attack, its leader Maulvi Umar saying, “Our bombers carried out today’s attack. It is in reaction to military operations in Swat and Bajaur. Similar attacks will be carried out in other cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi”.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s reaction was that Pakistan had to “take the war on terror to extremists’ doorsteps because it cannot be won on the defensive”. Mr Rehman Malik, adviser to the prime minister on security, said, “Some foreign hands might be involved in terror activities in DI Khan, Kurram Agency and Swat”. On the other hand, the leader of Jama’at-e Islami, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, asked the government to “pull out troops” from the Tribal Areas and bring “relief” to the displaced persons of Bajaur, Kurram and Waziristan.

Many Urdu newspapers have begun to reverse the incidence of mobilisation in the Tribal Areas. Instead of saying that troops have been sent to the Tribal Areas in response to terrorism, they editorialise that suicide-bombing trouble in the big cities has started after the troops were sent into the Tribal Areas. Thereafter, some have squarely placed the blame on the policy of following the “American diktat” in a negation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Most TV anchors on Thursday night followed the same cue. On Thursday too, protesting lawyers in Lahore were seen holding placards bearing pro-Al Qaeda slogans for the first time since their protests for an “independent judiciary” began.

Clearly, the Pakistani mind is changing under pressure from the Al Qaeda strategy of suicide bombing. In the same week, Al Qaeda struck. ...

The Pakistani mind is turning pro-Al Qaeda in the same measure as it is turning against the government in Pakistan. The fundamental reason is the inability of the state to protect its citizens and assert its writ on its territory. Past military strategies have caused the state power to decline in relation to those that it allowed to wage jihad. Unless the state fights back with all the means at its disposal and defeats the terrorists, it will be seriously endangered. And the final shock will come, not from Al Qaeda, but from the economy which is slowly giving up the function of sustaining Pakistan’s population."

Thus, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we could be seeing a major shift of public opinion in Pakistan. This could be the reason why Zardari suddenly agreed to run for the Presidency, but it also could mean that violent fault lines are close to some kind of explosion.

Meanwhile, in the India-controlled portion of Kashmir, tens of thousands of Muslims in a new generation of young Kashmiris are now demonstrating violently against the Indian government, demanding independence from India. As of today, these growing demonstrations are India's problem. But with events moving so quickly, something could happen at any time to make them Pakistan's problem.

There's a tough contest going on these days between Pakistan and the Caucasus over which is the most dangerous region in the world. Today, with things in Georgia seeming to be settling down for the time being, Pakistan is once again the winner. (23-Aug-2008) Permanent Link
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