Saturday, February 6, 2010

Say it ain't so


Sometimes it falls on some of us with a practical and emotional stake in certain affairs to go against the grist of what the news media mill would have us believe, simply for the sake of maintaining a more realistic perspective on what could be about to happen by following one’s own instincts… So forgive me if I am in a foul and pessimistic mood with this entry, but that really cannot be helped with the sort of crisis that is now unfolding in the land of our cousins to the west.

Despite the best efforts at denial by some of our media organizations, ref. the current ‘Hope for Peace’ campaign and the various pseudo diplomatic initiatives to re-engage in quasi-dialogue at the governmental level, if there's one way the signs point to right now - it's going to be open civil war in Pakistan eventually, no question.

There has been a sustained effort by the Taliban to build up pressure, first in the North West Frontier Province and then slowly moving down south and east to Swat and then Pakistan's Punjab province. Everyday, suicide bombers in cars, vans, trucks and on foot spread the kind of terror that has taken its mental and emotional toll on the still living, that it seems mercilessly cruel to relegate it to the sidelines of what is thought news-worthy these days and focus on an unrealistic utopia in the offing.

Having said that, the Pakistani Taliban hasn't been the sort of lawless marauding gang as portrayed in the media. On the contrary, they've been well organised, meticulously setting targets and achieving them one by one. They have basically tried to play the poor against the rich in the areas they are dominant in right now and that hasn't been such hard work at all in Pakistan - where the divide is even worse (if that's possible at all) than in the poorest areas in India. They are also not as exploitative and bloodthirsty a force as they're being portrayed - they really believe that they are fighting for a cause that is just and faithful to Allah's teachings, in response to years and years of disenfranchisement.

There is really no question, as well, that the fighting will spill over into India, at least in certain areas close to the border that also happen to be very important for the local economy - the Indian Punjab is the richest state in the Union and it shares a pretty densely populated border with Pakistan. Rajasthan, with the longest border with Pakistan, is important here for mining, tourism and mineral resources. Western Gujarat is very important to the shipping industry with three major ports. And we all know about Kashmir.

People are talking about the Pakistani nukes and about their safeguarding, but the presence of a large contingent of U.S.-led forces in Pakistan right now, because of the War in Afghanistan, will surely work to secure them. It will be too dangerous not to. The coalition forces will undoubtedly play an important role in the upcoming war as well, but there's only so much they can do in a civil war in a country with a population of over 165 million.

These are the facts. The sooner the imminent is disseminated in the minds and hearts of the stake-holders, the faster the preparation and eventual recovery will take place. When the shit hits the fan, no one wants to be the one to say, 'I told you so', but at least we will have tried to warn some folks.