Friday, July 13, 2007

Critical problems in Paksitan: the first twelve [!]

Pakistan has to be one of the most conflicted countries in the world. The list of problems endemic to the country is so long that it would require many pages just to explain what they are and why/how such items are serious issues for the country. Here is a preliminary outline of the problems that one needs to explicate if one is to explain Pakistan.
Readers: Please add comments, elaborations [explications], and corrections on this list.

> Army is the real controlling power, has been even from the beginning
*Sometimes in the background, always powerful
*The army owns a great percentage of the economy, provides comfortable retirement for the officer corps

> Lost wars with India: a continuing irritant for the military, and a continuing worry for the future

> Kashmir as place to be claimed for Pakistan and for honor at war
* The need for Islamist troops to carry on the struggle is continuous, so Pakistan cannot shut down all Islamist madrassas.
* Kashmir is source of continual tension with India

> Afghanistan is crucial to Pakistan's future
* As fall back territory in case of war with India, "strategic depth"
* Pakistanis assume Afghanistan is essentially Pushtun; want a friendly Pushtun administration in Kabul
* Transport across Afghanistan- Pakistan border is easy; permeable borders
* Need for access to central Asia -- gas, oil – requires Afghanistan to be a friendly corridor to Central Asia.

> Saudi Arabian investments in Pakistan
* Madrassas, many of them funded by Wahhabi money
* Many radical Islamist groups are supported by Saudi money

> Tribal areas
* History of isolation and independence of the Pathan [Pushtun] tribes
* Territorial separation, isolation from the rest of Pakistan

> Radical Islamists have sanctuary in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, even protected by some Pakistani military
* Osama and al Qaeda are ensconced there, probably in the tribal areas
* Mullah Muhammad Omar and the Taliban are comfortable there, supported by the military, headquartered in Quetta.

> Baluchistan
* Gas resources; the main source of gas within the country is there
* Baluch resentment vs Pakistan government: local acts of sabotage

> Many ethnic groups, still importance as basis of alliance, mutual help:
* Punjabi dominance
* Other ethnic groups: Pathan, Baluch, Sindhi, Muhajer, Brahui,

> Much of the society is feudal. Feudal lords dominate much of the country, control much land, peasant workers

> Religious parties, organizations, now command the loyalty of many, are out of control of the government
* Sunni – Shia Islamists have been attacking each other
* Sanctuary for extremist Islamists exists in Pakistan
* Even criminal elements masquerade as Islamists

> Many kinds of downtrodden populations
* Peasantry that is owned by army
* Christian minority, sweepers
* Shia minority, now the target of Islamist attacks
* Ahmadiyya
* Brickmakers are famously abused, effectively enslaved
* There are women who are trafficked, enslaved [always poor, destitute]

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