Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 20-Apr-2009
Is Pakistan's government close to total collapse?

Web Log - April, 2009

Is Pakistan's government close to total collapse?

More analysts are saying so, and predicting dire consequences.

A web site reader has called my attention to the PBS Frontline video, "Pakistan: Children of the Taliban."

This is probably the best piece of reporting on Pakistan that I've ever seen. Instead of interviewing politicians, the reporter, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, goes deep into the NorthWest Frontier Province and the tribal areas to show huge expanses of devastation. She talks to real people living in these areas, including Taliban children, and children who are victimized by the Taliban.

Frequently on this web site, I talk about children growing up during a generational Crisis era as suffering a kind of "generational child abuse," because of all the horrors of war around them. In generational theory, these grow up to be people in the "Artist archetype," because of their sensitivity. America's last Artist generation was the Silent Generation, so named by Time Magazine in the 1950s because they did their jobs and never complained.

(For more information on generational archetypes, see "Basics of Generational Dynamics.")

You can really see this in the PBS Frontline video. It's heartbreaking to see a nine year old girl describe vividly a beheaded man in the town square that no one can remove for fear of being killed by the Taliban.

And watch the boys describe how it's their duty to kill the enemy, including each other, their long-time friends. The boys always look downward when they talk, afraid and possibly ashamed of what they're saying.

(Update. A Pakistani web site reader sent me the following:

"While I personally agree with your recent article and also agree with your interpretation of the mannerisms of some of the children, my wife wanted to point out that, since this is a religious and conservative area, the boys may be averting their gaze / looking downward because the interviewer is a woman.

There is a concept in Islam of "ankhon ka parda" (covering of the eyes). This means that, as a man, you do not look at a woman directly unless she is your mother or sister. It is not uncommon in that part of Pakistan."

Even so, it's heartbreaking to hear those words about killing each other come out of the mouths of otherwise nice little boys. (Added 25-Apr) )

Even if there were going to be no war, the personalities of these children would already be determined. What they've already seen and lived through -- and so far it's only a tiny fraction of the horrors they WILL see -- will make them similar to each other, but very different from their parents. This is the most dramatic kind of example of how people's attitudes and behaviors are affected much more by what generation they're in, rather than what they see on TV, or learn from their parents or teachers.

Obaid-Chinoy interviews a madrassa cleric who trains boys to become suicide bombers. She asks him, "Who do you think will win this war?" He says:

"It's in our blood. No matter how many Muslims die, we'll never run out of sacrificial lambs. Non-Muslims only think about this world. But Muslims consider this an opportunity to achieve martyrdom. Someone who sees death as a blessing -- who can defeat him?"

I strongly urge every reader of this web site to watch this PBS Frontline report for the full 38 minutes. It will really give you a feeling for the sense of desperation that the Pakistani people are feeling today, and how serious the situation is.

Official map of Pakistan, with the addition of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), highlighting Swat Valley <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source:</font>
Official map of Pakistan, with the addition of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), highlighting Swat Valley (Source:

In February, the desperate Pakistan government capitulated to the Taliban in Swat Valley, agreeing to implement Sharia law in exchange for a hoped-for end to terrorist attacks. Obaid-Chinoy's report comes Peshawar, near the Swat Valley, and from the tribal areas.

However, not surprisingly, this desperate capitulation by the Pakistan government has not brought any peace. To the contrary, it's only whet the appetite of the Taliban, who are now using their complete control of Swat Valley as a launching pad. The Taliban have now refused to lay down their arms. Instead, the violent attacks have continued, and they've been quickly consolidating their gains, taking control of additional regions south of Swat, and moving closer to Islamabad every day.

A recent NY Times story explains the technique that the Taliban are using. It's a technique that's as old as time. The Taliban use violence to drive away the landlords, then distribute their property to poor people. By the time the property runs out, the Taliban are in full control, and maintain it through terror and intimidation.

The Taliban, who are Sunni Muslims working with al-Qaeda, are linking up with Sunni Muslim Punjabis, and are infiltrating into Punjab province and as far south as Karachi. The increasing rate of terrorist attacks in Lahore and around Islamabad are causing people to panic.

Analysts are increasingly talking about the possibility of a total collapse of Pakistan's government.

David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, recently said that, "within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state."

Kilcullen points out that, "Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American Army, and the headquarters of al-Qaida sitting in two-thirds of the country which the government does not control."

Analysts in India are even more concerned about the "Talibanization of Pakistan." According to Maroof Raza, a Delhi-based strategic affairs analyst, if Pakistan falls to the Taliban, there could be a flow of Pakistani refugees escaping the Taliban into India.

In fact, the Sunni Taliban terrorists have been particularly targeting Shia Muslims. Taliban control would force many Pakistani Shia Muslims into India, where they would be more comfortable with their historical allies, the Hindus.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a refighting of the extremely bloody 1947 war that followed Partition is 100% certain. Whether Kilcullen and other experts are right that it could begin within one or two months cannot be predicted with certainty, since timing depends on chaotic events that could occur at any time, sooner or later. However, the final result is certain, and it will have dire consequences for the entire world.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Afghanistan, Pakistan and India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (20-Apr-2009) Permanent Link
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