Polio leads to infertelity: a myth

Every few weeks, we come across articles in the newspaper that locals or the tribal elders not allowing polio vaccination in their area because people think it will render their kids infertile. Then there are efforts from government side to educate the people that it is just a myth but the myth isn’t getting destroyed. From Guardian

Now religious scholars have joined the campaign to dismantle the myths and battle the resurgence of polio. A campaign led by National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) in partnership with Unicef has brought together more than 5,000 of them, working on provincial and district levels, to tackle the issue. The group comprises of scholars belonging to the Deobandi sect, a school of thought followed by the majority of population in the tribal belt.

In Fata, clerics helped resolve 8,120 vaccine refusal cases during a week-long campaign in March this year. Another 160 religious scholars from Swat have issued a Fatwa in favour of the vaccinations. A campaign, starting this month, will be led by Shia scholars as it expands to the Parachinar valley, where the majority of the population are Shia Muslims.

Now if “polio drops leads to infertility” was a Taliban ploy, then we would not need to convince Shias as they are arch enemies of Taliban and would not have bought Taliban ploy hook, line and sinker. It doesn’t help the case that CIA used fake polio campaign to hunt for Osama Bin Laden leading to some polio administering NGOs to fly their staff outside Pakistan immediately as they would’ve been threatened.

But resistance to polio has been in the region even before Taliban took over. Where did the myth that it leads to infertility arrive. I came across this passage in the book Poor Economics talking about similar resistance to polio drops in India which gives some background:

India had had a long history with family planning, starting in the mid-1960s. In 1971, the state of Kerala experimented with mobile sterilization services, the “sterilization camps” approach that was to be the cornerstone of Sanjay Gandhi’s plan during the Emergency. Although most politicians before him had identified population control as an important issue, Sanjay Gandhi brought to the problem both an unprecedented level of enthusiasm and the ability (and willingness) to twist as many arms as necessary to implement his chosen policies.

In April 1976, the Indian Cabinet approved a formal statement of national population policy that called for a number of measures to encourage family planning, notably, large financial incentives for those who agreed to be sterilized (such as a month’s wages or priority on a housing list), and more frighteningly, authorization for each state to develop compulsory sterilization laws (for, say, everyone with more than two children). Although only one state proposed such a law (and that law was never approved), states were explicitly pressured to set sterilization quotas and fulfill them, and all but three states “voluntarily” chose targets greater than what was proposed by the central government: The targets totaled 8.6 million sterilizations “for 1976–1977.

Once laid out, the quotas were not taken lightly. The chief of the Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy wrote by telegraph to his principal field subordinates: “Inform everybody that failure to achieve monthly targets will not only result in the stoppage of salaries but also suspension and severest penalties. Galvanise entire administrative machinery forthwith repeat forthwith and continue to report daily progress by crash wireless to me and secretary to Chief Minister.” Every government employee, down to the village level, and not excluding railway inspectors and school teachers, was supposed to know the local target. Parents of schoolchildren were visited by teachers, who told them that in the future, their children may be denied enrollment in school if they did not agree to get sterilized. People traveling by train without a ticket—a widely accepted practice among the poor until then—were handed heavy fines unless they chose sterilization. Not surprisingly, the pressure occasionally went much further. In Uttawar, a Muslim village near the capital city of Delhi, all male villagers were rounded up one night by the police, sent to the police stations on bogus charges, and sent from there to be sterilized.

The policy appears to have achieved its immediate target, although the incentives probably also led to some overreporting in the number of actual sterilizations. In 1976–1977, 8.25 million people were reportedly sterilized, 6.5 million of them during just the period July–December 1976. By the end of 1976, 21 percent of Indian couples were sterilized. But the violations of civil liberties that were an integral part of the implementation of the program were widely resented, and when in 1977, India finally held elections, discussions of the sterilization policy were a key part of the debate, as captured most memorably by the slogan “Indira hatao, indiri bachao (Get rid of Indira and save your penis).” It is widely believed that Indira Gandhi’s defeat in the 1977 elections was in part driven by popular hatred for this program. The new government immediately reversed the policy.

In one of those ironic twists in which historians delight, it is not inconceivable that in the longer term, Sanjay Gandhi actually contributed to the faster growth of India’s population. Tainted by the emergency, family-planning policies in India retreated into the shadows and in the shadows they have remained—some states, such as Rajasthan, do continue to promote sterilization on a voluntary basis, but no one except the health bureaucracy seems to have any interest in it. In the meantime, however, generalized suspicion of the motivations of the state seems to be one of the most durable residues of the Emergency; for example, one still routinely hears of people in slums and villages refusing pulse polio drops because they believe it is a way to secretly sterilize children.

 

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Musings on Pakistani social media – Part II – Liberal edition

I am so glad I went off the grid when I did as shit is really hitting the fan. My twitter timeline is depressing and when people tweet quotes from Pakistani TV talkshows transmitted after a tragedy, I wonder why do people torture themselves by tuning into them but more importantly how do they keep their sanity after listening to the bullshit that passes for discussion on evening talk shows.

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Around couple of months ago I wrote a post titled Musings on Pakistani social media-Twitter edition in which I bashed PTI calling them naive for buying the hype they themselves create on social media and believing that large number of PTI trolls and their RTs of pro-PTI material on social media will translate in to overwhelming majority at the ballot box.

Couple of years ago, one of the starry eyed supporter of PTI named Zohair Toru became famous or rather infamous for displaying such naivete:

The video went viral. Shandana Minhas’s Cafe Pyala did a post on it: The Poor, Sensitive, Hot and Bothered Revolutionaries! . The below translation of the video is picked from Cafe Pyala:

“See what is happening with our sisters and mothers in this demonstration. We are all from good families. We have come out on to the streets to raise slogans for Imran Khan. We are being beaten by our own police. They’re pushing us. We have come for a revolution, for your country. Every person here has come out of his house for this. Who would do such demonstrations in such heat [otherwise]? The police is shoving us, for what? For a foreigner? For Raymond Davis? He caused such bloodshed in Lahore and ran away to his home. See what is happening with Afiya Siddiqui. Nobody has such justice. We have all come out on the streets. Our homes have curtains too. Our women also do purdah. But when revolution requires it, every person in the home comes out on the streets. [To off camera supporter] Am I lying? I’m saying the correct thing, right? Everyone comes out. Sir, look our own police is beating us, how can we bring about a revolution? You tell me, you’re from the media. If you’re with us, only then will the revolution come about. If the police don’t beat us up, only then will the revolution come about. Now look at Imran Khan. What need does he have for this, he’s a very rich man. He’s standing up there on the stage and addressing people and even he is getting pushed around. Everyone’s getting pushed left, right and centre. This brother here, he’s totally sapped by the heat. Do we have any need of coming here?”

We all had fun with him. Garmi mein Kharaab and Inquilaab kaisay aaye ga became catch-phrases. One only needs to read the comments on Cafe Pyala post on how we (including myself) had a lot of fun at Toru’s expense.

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I have grown more mature (at least I like to think that) since then. Yesterday I tweeted this

What brought this on. If you have been following Pakistani news which I don’t much but occasionally get the pulse of the nation through my twitter TL, we are losing the counterinsurgency or counter-terrorism war with Pakistani Taliban aka TTP. Recently TTP had huge successes for example jail-breaking hundreds of their colleagues from D.I.Khan Jail, killing a serving Pakistani General and yesterday there was that despicable attack on church killing 81 people.

Subsequent to all these attacks, educated tweeps became very excited blaming everything on PTI and Imran Khan.  The outrage starts from the moment the news hits the wires till the day-end with all of the influential tweeps coming together in lambasting PTI and RTing PTI bashing posts till the time their fingers are tired from incessant tweeting or they find some other diversion in another window of their browser. The outrage is mellowed down the next day and by third day everyone has moved on.

In their excitement they forget that Imran Khan barely managed to secure enough votes to form a coalition government in KP province otherwise it was quite easy to have a different party ruling the province in KP. They also fail to notice that Imran Khan does not get the same air time on TV as before and does not wield much influence in KP (as many PTI insiders will tell you) either. Young starry eyed too-young-to-vote crowd might still look to him but that doesn’t translate into much influence either in the party nor in the government. Moreover, though he gets the majority blame for stating that we should negotiate with Taliban before we take the full-court-press offensive against them, an All Parties Conference was called and it was agreed by all stakeholders (right wing, secular, military) that negotiations with Taliban to be given a chance.

The [interior] minister said that leaders of all the major political parties were on the same page with regard to national interests. He said that it was a good omen that all the leaders have shared their views and ideas for bringing peace in the country and no personal or party agendas were pushed during the meeting. He said that the resolution adopted by the APC was an outcome of the consensus not only among political leadership but also the military leadership. He hoped all political and military leaders would continue to join hands for national interest and hopefully the security situation would improve by leap and bounds. He also mentioned that the attitude of the military leadership encouraged political leaders to move towards peace process and initiate negotiations with Taliban.

But if one logs on to facebook or twitter, it is as if Imran Khan alone is spearheading the negotiations and all the other stakeholders including military are against it. A friend’s status update:

Then there was this

I am not reproducing here what was and is being said on twitter. The crux of it is that “it is all Imran Khan’s fault and 140 characters are not enough to express my outrage”.

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Musharraf and his supporters were also equally naive believing that social media represents the ground realities. Wusatullah Khan did a brilliant piece on it

اگلے پانچ برس تک جب سیّد صاحب دیارِ غیر میں پاکستانی جمہوریت کے فروغ میں اپنے مدبرانہ کردار پر روشنی ڈال ڈال کے شل ہوگئے تو انہیں دوبارہ سے بے یقینی کے گدلے ساحل پر پھنسے ہوئے پاکستان کو صاف پانیوں میں دھکا دینے کے لیے ٹگ بوٹ بننے کا خیال آیا۔ مگر اس وقت تک اپنوں کے ہی زخم خوردہ سیّد صاحب کے پاس ذاتی مقبولیت کو جانچنے کا صرف ایک ہی پیمانہ بچا تھا یعنی فیس بک۔ چنانچہ انہوں نے چار لاکھ فیس بکیوں کی نیک تمناؤں کے سہارے دو دفعہ ملک میں خمینی اور بینظیر سٹائل میں اترنے کی دھمکی دی۔ ایک آدھ ٹیلی وڈیو جلسے کے ذریعے درجہ حرارت ناپا۔ اپنی مقبولیت کو جمع تقسیم کیا اور خود کو بدلے بدلے سے پاکستان میں دھکا دے دیا۔

جب وہ کراچی میں اترے تو لاکھوں انٹرنیٹیوں میں سے تقریباً ایک سو کے ٹھاٹھیں مارتے سمندر نے والہانہ استقبال کیا۔ مگر سیّد صاحب نے واپسی کی فلائٹ بک کرانے کو ایک بانکے کمانڈو کی روایتی شان کے خلاف سمجھا اور بلٹ پروف جیکٹ پہنے پہنے عمارت در عمارت گھومتے گھماتے عدالتی کمرے میں جا نکلے اور پھر بطور سلطان راہی مثالی حاضر دماغی سے کام لیتے ہوئے مشینی گھوڑے پر سوار وہ بہادرانہ پسپائی اختیار کی کہ اپنے ہی گھر کی جیل میں پہنچ کر دم لیا۔

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The people expressing outrage on twitter are not dumb and their anger is justified at the way things are moving in Pakistan. However, these were the very people who made fun of Zohair Toru and other such supporters of PTI for experiencing the reality for first time by stepping out of their air-conditioned homes, away from facebook and feeling the heat and police shoves (they had yet to face the police baton or rubber bullets but I think that is too much a price to pay for Inquilab for PTI supporters). The same people also made fun of PTI supporters’ love of social media saying that they have already elected Imran Khan as Prime Minister of Facebook Pakistan (I am guilty of this as well). However, my twitter timeline of last two weeks show that they are no better than PTI supporters when it comes to believing in non-existent power of social media.

The twitter revolutions and Taksim protests that were organized using Twitter gave this Pakistani “elite” (in terms of the strata of society they represent) tweeting class a delusion that protesting on twitter matters. It might matter in Arab countries where the press is not free and one is not allowed to criticize government in public or even very carefully in private. In Pakistan, the press is very vibrant and free and full of criticism of government. The amount of (deserving) criticism that was directed at previous PPP government was unprecedented. I don’t think even the current government much less military can absorb such criticism. But I digress. My point is the role of twitter in the aforementioned protests was to allow people to organize physical protests and express their anger and frustration at the government or at the prevailing affairs. The protests were not limited to tweeting about it. They organized protests using twitter, went to protests and then tweeted about it.

In our case, it has been two weeks yet our tweeps are limited to tweeting their outrage on the APC resolution, killing of major General and since yesterday on killing of innocents in a church. Not a single one of them has gone out or even suggested to go out and record their protests/anger/frustration before their political representatives or even at the local press clubs.

Despite knowing better, they are displaying a character which is epitome of naivete, the very character that they made fun of in Zohair Toru. This is why I said that Zohair Toru was better. He may be confused, naive, ignorant but at least he went out, away from his PS3 or keyboard or whatever the rich boys do, in the summer heat to stand up for what he believed in.

[UPDATE]

From Dawn:

The bloody attack was a reality check for the coalition partners of PTI, including Qaumi Watan Party and Jamaat-i-Islami. The ministers and MPAs fearing backlash could not dare to visit the LRH for almost three hours after the incident to console the angry mourners and ensure timely treatment of the wounded. There were no arrangements at the official level to provide coffins. Thanks to Al Khidmat Foundation which arranged about 100 coffins for packing bodies.

Al-Khidmat is charitable wing affiliated with the right wing Jamaat-i-ISlami, coalition partner in KP government.

What have left leaning people done except for tweeting to like minded people on twitter going to achieve?

Why Shariah doesn’t spread in Pakistan

Taliban in Herat.

When ordinary people speak of their reverence for the Shariah, and their respect for the Taleban when they introduce the Shariah, this should not necessarily be taken as active support for the Taleban’s complete programme. Rather it is a mixture of a reverence for the Shariah as part of the word of God, dictated to the last Prophet, with a vague yearning for a justice system that might be cruder than that of the state, but would also be quicker, less biased in favor of the elites, and conducted before the eyes of the people, in their own language. Mixed in with this is a great deal of somewhat veiled anti-elitist feeling, which in the eyes of parts of the Pathan tribal populations helps fuel mass acceptance of Taleban attacks on the local maliks and khans, or tribal bosses and local landowners.

But then, the Pathans have always been the most culturally egalitarian people of Pakistan. Among the masses elsewhere, the progress of the Islamists has so far generally been very limited when it comes to gaining active mass support. One key reason for their failure to date is the deeply conservative nature of much of Pakistani society; for – quite contrary to most Western perceptions – Islamist mobilization often thrives not on backwardness, but on partially achieved modernity. Thus, to judge by all the economic evidence about poverty and landownership, radical Islamist groups preaching land reform ought to be flourishing in the Pakistani countryside.

In fact, the only areas where they have had any significant success (outside the Pathan territories) are where a sectarian (Sunni versus Shia) or tribal element comes into play. This is partly because of clan solidarity, but also for the simple reason that the only people who could lead such a radical Islamist movement in the countryside are the local mullahs, and they are in effect chosen by the local ‘feudal’ landowners – who do not exactly favour radicalism of any kind, least of all involving land reform.

In the cities, things are freer, but even there most attempts at political mobilization from below are stifled by the grip of the political bosses and the kinship groups they lead, as well as by the politically apathetic condition of society, and by divisions along religious lines. In other words, while there is certainly a great deal of economic, social discontent in the Pakistani population, being discontented is not at all the same thing as being able to do something about it. As of 2009, the perennial discontent of the urban masses in most of Pakistan continues to express itself not in terms of political mobilization behind new mass movements, but sporadic and pointless riots and destruction of property – including most notably the buses in which the rioters themselves have to travel every day.

Excerpt From: Lieven, Anatol. “Pakistan: A Hard Country”

Karachi : Economic growth in Wild Wild West of Pakistan [Further reading links on dynamics of violence in Karachi]

centre

I have always believed that stock market is not the barometer of an economy or general well being of population. A few big players or institutional players can manipulate it and the effects may not trickle down to general population. In US case, a rising stock market has the impact of increasing confidence of the people thus resulting in more investments which leads to more employment etc and thus a virtuous cycle may start. However, the same is not the case in Pakistan where Karachi stock exchange has been generating significant returns for last two years but the misery of people and their general well being is not improving.

This is what Bloomberg said in November 2012:

Pakistan Stocks Best as Violence Ignored: Riskless Return

Pakistan is handing equity investors the world’s best risk-adjusted returns as terrorist attacks, power blackouts and a war with Taliban insurgents fail to curb gains in consumer spending that sent profits to a record high.

The KSE 100 Index, the benchmark for Pakistan’s $43 billion equity market, rose 7.3 percent in the past three years when adjusted for price swings, the top gain among 72 markets worldwide, according to the BLOOMBERG RISKLESS RETURN RANKING. Pakistan had lower stock volatility than 82 percent of the nations including the U.S. (SPX) Over five years, Pakistan’s risk- adjusted returns ranked eighth.

We all know how the economy spiralled downwards in last 5 years of PPP government but if we are to go by Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index, we were the 8th best performing market (mind you, on risk adjusted basis) in the world.

This from yesterday’s DAWN. (DAWN has a tendency of changing its website addresses frequently so if the link becomes dead, please let me know in comments and I will try to update it]

Equities yield staggering 52pc return

(June 29, 2013) For the investors in equities, it is time to celebrate. He who may have invested Rs10 million in the Pakistan stocks on July 1 of last year, would have additional Rs5.2 million in the kitty.

It marks a mouth-watering return of 52 per cent in a year unmatched by any other asset class. During the year, the benchmark KSE-100 index added staggering 7,204 points to settle at the dizzy height of 21,006 points on Friday, the last trading day of the year.

Stock market is not the only growth story. The extortion racket is also growing at an breakneck pace. From Reuters

Pakistan’s commercial hub faces growing extortion menace

Businesses in Karachi are facing a surge in extortion demands from criminal gangs, forcing many owners to delay new investment or to relocate their families to escape the sense of insecurity gripping the urban heart of Pakistan’s economy.

The worsening law and order situation in Karachi, which generates 25 percent of Pakistan’s economic activity, presents one of the many challenges new Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must overcome to fulfill promises to set Pakistan on a path to faster growth.

An expanding middle class is fuelling consumer spending but extortion is hurting confidence among thousands of family-run firms that form the backbone of the economy.

With the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan due to start in July, a traditional time for extortionists to come calling, Karachi traders and shopkeepers are braced for what police say will be a record year of demands.

“The extortion racket has blown out of all proportion with the previous year,” said Ahmed Chinoy, chief of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), a Karachi body set up to help police by providing crime statistics and technical support.

The growing demands reflect the shifting dynamics of a city of 18 million people where new challengers, including Pakistan’s Taliban movement, are locked in an increasingly violent, neighborhood-by-neighborhood battle for control.

Professionals, not just shopkeepers, are also targets.

When Javed Hanif, a doctor, answered his cellphone in June the caller reeled off a list of Hanif’s personal details: his work in a government hospital, the registration number of his car, and preparations for his son’s wedding. The man demanded 500,000 Pakistani rupees.

In spite of the climate of fear, business sentiment is not universally bleak. Retail is booming in Karachi, symbolized by the opening of a flashy modern shopping centre called Dolmen Mall Clifton in 2011 which showcases international brands such as Debenhams and Fatburger.

There is a class of people, I wouldn’t say they are immune, least bothered by increasing lawlessness. They are rich, reside in gated or posh communities, live for conspicuous consumption and to cater to their needs such flashy international brands are coming to Pakistan.

Despite all of the above, population growth rate of Pakistan has not staved off. If things do not improve, the large youth population will be a ticking time bomb. However, for now, they represent a huge, increasing in size and lucrative consumer goods segment. With population moving to urban centres, though it represents a growing segment of consumer goods now, it is taking the creaking infrastructure of cities like Karachi to breaking point.

Consumer goods: P&G sets eyes on expanding Pakistan operations

Changing demographics support growth

“One of the factors driving our growth is the enhanced ability of semi-rural consumers to participate in the economy,” Sabzwari said. “If you compare the urbanisation rate in Pakistan with other developing countries, you will see that we are getting urbanised faster than others,” he pointed out.

A growing middle class and the overall demographics of the population are critical factors driving consumerism. “We have millions of consumers entering independent disposable income space in their lives every year,” Sabzwari pointed out. Pakistan is one of the top countries adding 20-year-olds to the world, and these are the people establishing new families and helping market sizes grow. “Market size here grows in terms of volumes, without taking the pricing into account,” he explained.

All of the above news items point out to fast growth happening in Karachi. But we still haven’t touched upon the fastest growing sector: Target killing. The growth in this murderous business has been phenomenal. If one is in Bori (jute or gunny bags in which dead bodies are occasionally found) business, the prices would have skyrocketed leading to lucrative profit margin.

100pc rise in number of killings over past five months

June 29: Nearly 100 per cent increase has been witnessed in the number of killings across the city during the first five months of the year as compared to last year’s corresponding period, it emerged on Saturday.

While 750 people had been killed between January and May last year, as many as 1,450 people were killed in the city over the past five months, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Now only if we could establish a murder or target killing stock exchange in Karachi like in Somalia for Piracy, the benefits of this growing business can be distributed to common population. From Wall Street Journal

Today’s Pirates Have Their Own Stock Exchange

The world’s first pirate stock exchange was established in 2009 in Harardheere, some 250 miles northeast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Open 24 hours a day, the exchange allows investors to profit from ransoms collected on the high seas, which can approach $10 million for successful attacks against Western commercial vessels.

While there are no credible statistics available, reports from various news sources suggest that over 70 entities are listed on the Harardheere exchange. When a pirate operation is successful, it pays investors a share of the profits. According to a former pirate who spoke to Reuters, “The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials. . . . We’ve made piracy a community activity.”

Think about it, this could be the first target killing or murder stock exchange of the world.

Below is link dump of studies of violence in Karachi. Must read if you want to understand the dynamics of violence in Karachi.

Counter Insurgency Pakistan I : Insurgency doctorine or How Pakistani Taliban are taking on the state

The purpose of this post is to understand insurgency doctrine of terrorist outfit Pakistani Taliban aka Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan aka TTP in light of the insurgency doctrines described in classic counter-insurgency book “Counter Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice“, David Galula.

Obviously all wars are different and its pretty hard to squarely fit terrorists in one category or other as terrorists may use every available trick (cheating, lying, exaggerating etc) to gain advantage whenever they can. However, based on certain characteristics and traits of terrorists and their activities, we can broadly classify as following on of the following two patterns:

  1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern
  2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

The first one is a long and arduous one which communist parties followed in China and Vietnam wherein they indoctrinate the inductees in their cause through training and brainwashing and then subsequently send them out to fight. Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan which has pretty good network of schools, charities and training facilities follows this method.

The second one is short one wherein their is no overarching cause as such other than to create disorder and chaos to gain control over land. They may use certain slogans as religion, sect or ethnicity but other than that they do not have any fixed plan for governing and administering the acquired piece of land. They use terrorizing tactics as explained below. TTP is clearly following this methodology.

1. Communist party method: orthodox pattern

In this step, the first objective is the guerrilla’s survival: the final one, the acquisition of bases in which an insurgent government and administration will be established, the human and other resources exploited, and regular forces created. Guerrilla warfare with no bases, says Mao Tse-tung, is nothing but roving banditism; unable to maintain links with the population, it cannot develop and is bound to be defeated.

Objectively, there is no difference between ordinary, everyday bandit activity in almost every country and the first guerrilla actions. What makes it possible for the guerrillas to survive and to expand? The complicity of the population. This is the key to guerrilla warfare, indeed to the insurgency, and it has been expressed in the formula of the fish swimming in the water. The complicity of the population is not to be confused with the sympathy of the population; the former is active, the latter inactive, and the popularity of the insurgent’s cause is insufficient by itself to transform sympathy into complicity.

The participation of the population in the conflict is obtained, above all, by a political organization (the party) living among the population, backed by force (the guerrilla gangs), which eliminates the open enemies, intimidates the potential ones, and relies on those among the population who actively support the insurgents. Persuasion brings a minority of supporters—they are indispensable—but force rallies the rest. There is, of course, a practical if not ethical limit to the use of force; the basic rule is never to antagonize at any one time more people than can be handled.

MQM in its early days and 90s used this strategy on an ethnic card. However, it has since matured and become pretty mainstream and distanced itself from it urban warfare past of 90s.

Where to operate? In the areas that the counter-insurgent cannot easily control and where the guerrilla gangs can consequently survive and develop. The factors in selecting the first areas of operations are:

  1. The strength of the insurgent’s organization among the population that has been achieved in preliminary work.
  2. The remoteness of the areas from the center of the counter-insurgent’s power.
  3. Their inaccessibility due to terrain and poor communications.
  4. Their location on both sides of administrative borders, which makes it difficult for the enemy to coordinate his reaction.

The North West region of Pakistan where TTP is currently based fits the above location descriptions pretty well.

Demoralization of the enemy’s forces is an important task. The most effective way to achieve it is by employing a policy of leniency toward the prisoners. They must be well treated and offered the choice of joining the movement or of being set free, even if this means that they will return to the counterinsurgent’s side. Despite its setbacks in the early stages, this is the policy that pays the most in the long run.

A colleague of the author visited a camp at Hsuchow in central China, where the Nationalists kept 5,000 Communist prisoners.
“Where were they caught?” he asked the Nationalist general in charge of the camp.
“Between you and me, we have no more than ten real Communist soldiers among these prisoners.”
“Who are the others then?”
“Nationalist soldiers caught and released by the Communists. We don’t want them to contaminate our army.”
Thus, the Communists had achieved the trick of having the Nationalists themselves watching their own men!

The first clear sign of the Chinese influence on the Vietminh came in 1950, when the Vietminh suddenly changed their attitude toward French prisoners. Instead of slaughtering them, they undertook to brainwash them.

This is where TTP is deviating clearly from Orthodox doctrine. Being a roving band of bandits with nothing but a garb of religion, they definitely do not have superior moral or psychological basis to indoctrinate the captured soldiers. As such, they slaughter them even releasing videos of the slaughtering.

The insurgent must solve a problem created by what we have considered a tactical asset: the scattered nature of his operations. Although this makes it difficult for the counter-insurgent to cope with them, the insurgent must also reconcile the dilution of his forces with the need for unity of action. The solution is a clear, common doctrine widely taught and accepted.

The expansion of the insurgent movement raises the problem of political and military cadres. They are selected on the basis, above all, of their loyalty and, secondly, of their concrete achievements in the field. How important the Communists consider the loyalty of their personnel, cadres, and troops can be seen from the following story. In 1952, a Vietminh regimental commander, hard pressed by French troops in the Red River Delta, pleaded for replacements. The answer from the Vietminh command: “Impossible to send you replacements now; they have not yet received full political indoctrination.”

If we ever overcome TTP insurgents, it will be relatively easier to rehabilitate the captured soldiers as most of them would not have been indoctrinated. True TTP brainwashes them into fighting for them in the name of religion. However, their target is the state because it is “infidel” and may be insurgents join them for their love of religion. The rehabilitation should comprise of teaching the captured TTP warriors that the picture painted by TTP of the state and religion is completely wrong and misguided.

What is very different from past insurgencies and probably what the author is describing in his book is that TTP has made inroads into Karachi which is at the other end of the country. It does not provide the location advantages of North West Pakistan neither does it provide as steady a stream of local recruits. Yet still they have been able to mark their presence. This is something that needs to be further analyzed.

As the overall strength of the insurgent grows while his opponent’s decreases, a balance of forces is reached at some point. In the assessment of the insurgent’s strength must be included not only his military assets but the solidity of his political structure, the fact that the population is mobilized in his areas, the subversive activity of his underground agents in the counter-insurgent’s areas, and finally, the insurgent’s psychological superiority.

From then on, the scope and scale of the insurgent’s operations will increase swiftly; a series of offensives aiming at the complete destruction of the enemy will constitute the last and final step.
At any time during the process, the insurgent may make peace offers, provided there is more to gain by negotiating than by fighting.

Now we come to the second method. As you read through it, you will realize that how neatly it fits the recent pattern of TTP

2. Bourgeois nationalist pattern: short cut pattern

First step: blind terrorism
The purpose is to get publicity for the movement and its cause, and by focusing attention on it, to attract latent supporters. This is done by random terrorism, bombings, arson, assassinations, conducted in as spectacular a fashion as possible, by concentrated, coordinated, and synchronized waves.

(See Pakistan Faces New Wave of Attacks, WSJ)

Second step: selective terrorism
This quickly follows the first. The aims are to isolate the counterinsurgent from the masses, to involve the population in the struggle, and to obtain as a minimum its passive complicity. This is done by killing, in various parts of the country, some of the low-ranking government officials who work most closely with the population, such as policemen, mailmen, mayors, councilmen, and teachers. Killing high-ranking counterinsurgent officials serves no purpose since they are too far removed from the population for their deaths to serve as examples.

See (Suicide attacks in Mohmand kill 104; peace jirga main target, Dawn; A young suicide bomber dressed in school uniform has blows himself up at an army compound, BBC; Deadly attack at Pakistan funeral procession attended by many anti-Taliban militiamen, BBC)

The early supporters are set to work collecting money from the population. Although money, the sinew of war, is interesting in itself, this operation has important side effects. The amount of money collected provides a simple standard to gauge the efficiency of the supporters and to select leaders accordingly. It also implicates the mass and forces it to show its revolutionary spirit. “You give money, you are with us. You refuse money, you are a traitor.” A few of those unwilling to pay are executed.

See (Taliban Spread Terror in Karachi as the New Gang in Town, NYTimes; Creeping threat: Taliban in Karachi, DAWN)

In order to involve the population further, simple mots d’ordres are circulated, such as “boycott tobacco”; a few violators caught smoking are executed. These assassinations have value only if they serve as examples; therefore they must not be hidden or committed on the sly. The victims are generally found with a tag explaining that they have been condemned by a revolutionary tribunal and executed for such and such a crime.

See (Blast in Sohrab Goth kills 4 near drug den, The News. The report does not state this but it was reported at the time that Taliban asked the drug dealer to shut down his business but he didn’t so the bombed his place.) There are other videos available online of Talibans carrying out beheadings in Karachi for breaking their laws but due to gruesome nature, I am not linking to them.

The insurgent has to destroy all bridges linking the population with the counterinsurgent and his potential allies. Among these, people (generally the liberal-minded) inclined to seek a compromise with the insurgents will be targets of terrorist attacks.

ANP has been talking about negotiating with Talibans and even organized an All Parties Conference to agree on a strategy (see APC supports peace talks with Pakistani Taliban, DAWN) yet Talibans continue to kills it workers nationwide (See Over 700 ANP activists slain to date. Recently they have expanded their hitlist to include other secular parties such as MQM, PPP (See Pakistan election: Taliban threats hamper secular campaign, BBC)

When all this is achieved, conditions are ripe for the insurgent guerrillas to operate and for the population to be mobilized effectively. From there on, this pattern rejoins the orthodox one, if necessary.

Conclusion

Following the news trail and statements of Taliban attacks in Pakistan and mainly urban centres, it is quite clear that TTP is following the short cut strategy. As mentioned in the beginning that classifications are not mutually exclusive so they may use certain strategies that were classified under the orthodox strategy. Any way, the objective of both strategies is the same. To have a piece of land where to set up government, impose your ideology and laws.

This is where TTP is extension into Karachi is hard to fathom. Being the lifeline of the country’s economy, TTP should face immense opposition for threatening it. Yet has been taking over slowly and so far successfully. Whereas running an insurgency in North West of Pakistan with its porous border with Afghanistan and rough terrain is easy, trying to establish a base in Karachi which is an urban landscape covered on one side by sea, flat land on the others with the rural areas of south Baluchistan and Sind not really offering any welcome to Taliban neither in terms of shared ideology, culture nor language. So the question arises, how TTP intends to establish their base and government in Karachi in a region surrounded by relatively inhospitable land for them as well as population which overwhelmingly votes in the secular parties in elections.

Yet TTP has been able to not only infiltrate Karachi but is now engaged in turf war with existing stake holders and even going so far as to eliminate them one by one. They have already unseated ANP from their strong holds in Karachi, their extortion racket now reaches all suburbs of Karachi and they are now openly challenging PPP and MQM for a larger share of the pie.

Has the Pakistan Army been Islamized

The below excerpts are from C. Christine Fair’s working paper “Has the Pakistan Army Islamized? What the Data Suggest” which can be downloaded here. The paper is short and readable. I am just excerpting some of the parts that stood out for me.

U.S. analysts talk about “beard counts” at the graduation ceremonies at the National Defense University and they keep track of officers who are presumed to have “Islamist” credentials, fearing that they may be the mastermind of the next insidious terror attack against India, or a purveyor of nuclear technology to terrorists, among other nightmare scenarios.

Islam also bolsters the army‘s will to fight by debasing and demeaning the enemy. During the civil war of 1971, the Commander-in-Chief and President of Pakistan, Yahya Khan, motivated his soldiers by declaring the Mukti Bahini (the Bengali guerillas) to be a ―kafir army against which the Pakistan army was waging a legitimate jihad. Brigadier Javed Hassan (who retired a Major General), while at the Faculty of Research and Doctrinal Studies (FORAD) at the Command and Staff College in Quetta, conducted and published a study titled India: A Study in Profile. It is now required reading at the National Defense University as well. In this volume, the author derides India by arguing that India is not a nation, characterizing India‘s past as having a ―total absence of any popular resistance against foreign domination and rule, denounces the Indians as “less warlike” attributes India‘s military failures to “racial” shortcomings,among other derogatory characteristics of Hindus and Hinduism. Of course, it needs to be stated that India has never lost a war with Pakistan.

….

Recent reporting suggests that Pakistan has a battalion of the Azad Kashmir Regiment in Bahrain, which was deployed in 2010 to train local troops. Pakistan also sends retired officers to augment Bahrain‘s military capabilities. Prime Minister Yousuf Gillani, in March of 2011, assured Bahrain‘s foreign minister that Pakistan would dispatch more retired manpower to quell the unrest by Bahrain‘s Shia majority against the Sunni rulers. This same report estimates that there are about 10,000 serving and retired Pakistani military personnel currently in Bahrain.

 

America’s War on Terror

There was a time that a healthy skepticism to US fed propaganda was considered OK. Now if anyone says anything against it, he or she is considered fundo, pseudo-intellectual, out-of-touch etc. The most recent article that has been receiving such criticism is Imran Khan’s in Guardian where he rightly called the current war on terror in Afghanistan as America’s war.

Is there any doubt left that this is America’s war? One may find some justification for attacking Afghanistan post 9/11 but attacking Iraq under the same premise was a war crime as to date they haven’t found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction nor a link between al qaeda and saddam’s regime and the western media might say that Iraqis are better off but the daily bombing and killings in Iraq have made them worse off that during than Saddam’s time. Moreover, since we tend to forget, in the last ten years of Saddam thousands of people died not because of his policies but US sanctions on supplying food and medicine to Iraq. I am not justifying Saddam’s rule here just recalling a bit of historical facts which in the current media frenzy we all seem to forget.

US had a hard time convincing its European and NATO allies to come to Iraq and in the end US went in with its poodle UK only based on a “sexed up” dossier that was presented to UK parliament. Even Musharraf had agreed to send Pakistani troops to Iraq and it was only the protests by our religious parties in the Assembly (their own will or backdoor pushing by Army who knows) that we didn’t send our men to get killed in Iraq. [for the naives, google the news and you shall see]. Anyway, the men we saved by not going on an adventure in Iraq, we are killing in war with Talibans.

Regarding calling America’s war in Afghanistan “our war” is a mistake only the liberal elite and ex-military idiots of this country make. Because our Chief of Army Kiyani does not consider this war “our war” and he is just wasting our men and resources till Americans leave and they will leave so that he can against implement the Pakistan Army’s plan of “strategic depth”.

I am not making this up. Here is General Kyani (the end savior of liberals) in Washington Post.

The two countries’ “frames of reference” regarding regional security “can never be the same,” he said, according to news accounts. Calling Pakistan America’s “most bullied ally,” Kayani said that the “real aim of U.S. strategy is to de-nuclearize Pakistan.”

The above article is to be read in full to realize the the double face of our army which is getting our people killed on both sides (Army and the people it is fighting).

Now if General Kiyani talks like this, no wonder the man on the street is right to believe that US is after our nuclear weapons.

So if I get it straight, Kiyani is fighting as long as US is there and will change strategy once US leaves the scene. To me it clearly seems the case that Pakistan Army believes that it is America’s war on terror and will make a U-turn as soon as US leaves.