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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 23-Feb-2009
Desperate Pakistan government capitulates to Taliban in Swat Valley

Web Log - February, 2009

Desperate Pakistan government capitulates to Taliban in Swat Valley

The government agrees to impose Sharia law in exchange for "peace"

Pakistan Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with Afghanistan on the left <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Pakistan Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with Afghanistan on the left (Source: BBC)

A local local government official announced a "permanent ceasefire" with the Taliban militants on Friday. Pakistan has agreed to remove its army from the Swat Valley region, where it had been fighting the Taliban, and to implement Sharia, or strict Muslim law, in the entire region.

The capitulation comes after months of Taliban terror that included beheadings, kidnappings, and the destruction of girls' schools. Nearly half of the civilian population have been forced to flee their homes. The Taliban agreed to a ten-day ceasefire on Monday, and now the government seeks to extend it to a "permanent peace."

Even so, the Taliban have not accepted the deal, and they have not agreed to end terrorist activities.

A Taliban spokesman said, "[W]e will see what will be done by the government of launching Sharia law, then we will decide."

The Pakistan government has made several "peace agreements" in the past with the Taliban. Each of these peace agreements has failed. In each case, the Taliban continued with terrorist attacks, and used the time to regroup and rearm.

The terrorist attacks certainly didn't stop during last week's so-called "ceasefire." The Taliban are Sunni Islamists, and their terrorist attacks are generally directed against either westerners or Shia Muslims. On Thursday, a Shia official was gunned down in a city near the Swat valley, and on Friday, a suicide bomber blew up in the midst of the Shia funeral procession for the gunned-down official.

On Saturday, a senior government official in Swat Valley was kidnapped.

In an article last July, I explained the following map in detail:

Afghan-Pak-India ethnic map
Afghan-Pak-India ethnic map

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Briefly, the Taliban are drawn from the Pashtun ethnic group (green on the map). The Afghanistan Pashtun were easily defeated by coalition forces in 2002 because they were in a generational Recovery era, having just fought a brutal civil war in the early 1990s.

However, the Pashtun of Pakistan are still in a generational Crisis era, and they're crossing the border into Afghanistan. They're being joined by Arab al-Qaeda terrorists and other Sunni Muslim extremists, who are being drawn to the region like bees to honey, thanks to the American involvement in Afghanistan.

It's quite possible that if the war in Afghanistan were simply against Afghan Pashtuns, then there wouldn't be a war. In a Recovery era, they have no desire or taste for war whatsoever, and any halfway reasonable approach would create a truce. For example, an approach similar to the "surge" in Iraq would probably bring the hostilities to an end, as they have in Iraq.

But the Afghan war is not simply against Afghan Pashtuns. It's against an increasingly large army of Taliban and al-Qaeda Islamists who are based in the Pakistan's FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), where the Swat Valley is located.

The United States is being increasingly drawn into this escalating war. Within the last week, the Obama administration has increased the number of American troops in Afghanistan, and has expanded drone missile strikes within Pakistan.

In an article I wrote last July, during the middle of the election campaign, I quoted an interview given by Obama, and I concluded the following: "This portion of the interview makes it clear that Obama is just as strident about Afghanistan as Bush was (and is) about Iraq. Obama is just as "pro-war" as President Bush is, as vice-president Dick Cheney is, Donald Rumsfeld is, as the neo-cons are, etc., etc., except that he's "pro-war" about a different war, and a far more dangerous war, and a war far more likely to escalate."

Some people accused me of being "ideological" when I wrote things like this, but nothing I've written was or is ideological. We're now seeing the unfolding of exactly what I wrote, as the youthful Obama escalates the war in Afghanistan, in order to prove that he's not "weak" on terror.

The strategy of al-Qaeda and the network of Sunni Islamists is clear, as I've described many times: Emulate Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979 by using terror to trigger a new Sunni revolution in some country. Once they have control of one country, use that as a base to launch attacks on other countries, establishing a new Muslim Caliphate. They failed in Iraq (in a generational Awakening era), and they will fail in Afghanistan (in a generational Recovery era), but they are succeeding in Pakistan (in a generational Crisis era).

The importance of the victory of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Swat Valley cannot be underestimated. Sunni extremists need a secure region that they can use for training and coordination. Afghanistan used to be that place before 9/11, but the Afghan war destroyed the Taliban/al-Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan.

It's taken several years, but al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been slowly but surely restoring their infrastructure. They began in the tribal regions on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and are now expanding into northwest Pakistan.

Taking control of Swat gives them control of a larger region, and a launching pad for strikes designed to bring down the Pakistan government in Islamabad.

Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, is a Shia Muslim, and his assasinated wife, Benazir Bhutto, was from Pakistan's leading Shia family since independence in 1947. You don't have to be an Islamist terrorist in Pakistan to wish to be rid of Zardari. It would be natural for Sunni Punjabis to make political alliances with Sunni Pashtuns (Taliban) to oppose Zardari on a variety of fronts. And the situation is made worse by the fact that the country Pakistan is close to bankruptcy.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a re-fighting of the massively genocidal war following the 1947 Partition that created India and Pakistan is coming with absolute certainty. Both India and Pakistan are becoming increasingly polarized between moderate and extremist groups, and this polarization extends to Afghanistan, where American forces are slowly but surely being drawn deeper into the conflict.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, as well as more frequent updates on this subject, see the Afghanistan, Pakistan and India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (23-Feb-2009) Permanent Link
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