This assassination campaign began in the aftermath of 9/11 when Pakistan allowed Taliban fighters and other allied fighters who were forced to flee Afghanistan to resettle in parts of former FATA. Over the years, these groups systematically eliminated tribal leaders and politicians who raised their voices against them. To this day, the Pakistani state has not solved any of these murders, perhaps because it has been tacitly using these unlawful groups to foment instability in Afghanistan and consolidate its influence over the region.https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2020/6/12/pashtuns-struggle-for-rights-cannot-be-silenced-through-violence/
Inspiration for this post: a conversation anchored in South Waziristan involving political chaos and violence believed supported by Pakistan’s military accused of supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and paying thugs to upset tribal order in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). Now it has so happened that Pakistan’s Defense suffered two casualties at a remote outpost last week, which may have given license to the state to increase the force of its containment of its complement of the indigenous Pashtun whose population spans the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The restiveness has been complicated lately by the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (see also https://www.brookings.edu/research/at-all-costs-how-pakistan-and-china-control-the-narrative-on-the-china-pakistan-economic-corridor/ – June 2020).
From the Awesome Conversation
What follows are thoughts from the lengthiest of observations having to do with the Pashtun’s natural position between state forces and processes having to do with international development and war much, much larger than themselves.
When our President Nixon (a long time ago) initiated a new relationship with China, it was with hopes to offset Soviet Russian power and bring China closer to the normative behaviors of the modern world expressive of global compassion supported by international trade. On the topside, we do things for one another. Rather on the surface, well, we do things for money — and that makes “big picture” sense of Asian labor and western raw goods and Asian finished goods sold (for good profit — good markup — in western markets).
Mercantilism has been much the way of the world.
In the modern open democratic and liberal west, the abuses and excesses of business have been tempered through the actions of elected administrations, legislatures, and courts in the interests of electorates and justice. In the west, capitalists and wealthy have not gotten free rides from popularly elected governments even if seeding political careers and wins with their own money. There are just too many with too many differing motives for playing that game broadly.
In Asia, perhaps, money — and with China, now overwhelming wealth — does its work between elites and military behind closed door (“behind the curtains” goes the phrase fit to medieval politics) — and guess who’s in the way of the greater enrichment and glory of the disinterested or remote powerful?
It doesn’t help the Pashtun — and whoever and for whatever reason — to attack PakDef military posts (IF that is what has actually happened recently), for that gives the military excuse to bother or maraud the Pashtun community.
With regard to some Larger Forces — here, Chinese and Pakistani trade interests representing government, military, and private entities — “anomie” (worth the looking up) may be a real issue.
Don’t look to Russia for help — that state has minted defense sales using Syrians as targets for demonstration of its wares. In the AfPak region, its arms, however acquired, have helped sustain what looks to me an unfathomable misery borne of endless low-intensity conflict that has no end without financial, political, and religious insight plus political will and near immediate reconciliation.
The draconian nature of the FCR lies in the concept of “collective punishment”, where a whole tribe can be punished for the crime of one member of the tribe. It is telling that even after British India got its independence in 1947, the people of ex FATA were still facing the same colonial legal injustice till the year 2018. And while things definitely have changed on paper, there still is a long way to go before there is a change in the situation on the ground.These draconian punishments have always served a purpose, whether it was British India of the 20thcentury or the Pakistan of the 21stcentury. These laws are meant to subdue a population into giving up their rights, so that they can be sacrificed on the altar of “greater good”. Goes without saying that this greater good, has never been good for us, the people of ex FATA.Dawar, Mohsin. PDF. Hudson Institute Roundtable Presentation, Washington, D.C., October 19, 2018.
Launched in 2015, CPEC is a logical partnership for China and Pakistan—two close allies keen to cooperate on much-needed infrastructure projects in Pakistan, while contributing to China’s strategic goal of facilitating access to far-flung markets and expanding its global footprint.
However, when Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party took control in 2018, the Belt and Road Initiative was coming under increasingly sharp global criticism for a lack of transparency, for burdening host countries with high debts and for questionable investment practices that included excessive use of imported Chinese labor.Kugelman, Michael. “Can Pakistan Reboot Its ‘Belt and Road’ Partnership with China?” World Politics Review, September 25, 2020.
Chinese Banking and Development Worldwide : flexes China’s financial muscle while leveraging infrastructure building expertise into a gateway for Chinese labor — which accompanies its projects — and through that mechanism Chinese cultural influence agents. As much would update the Cold War Era Soviet practice of sending thousands of Communist agents into the Middle East as embedded in the labor contingents attached to development contracts in targeted states.
PakDef | ISI –> Taliban encouragement : goad to Kabul : encouragement of “Islamism” within : further marginalizing of the Pashtun as a coherent and cohesive political force.
The above two paragraphs represent my thinking in cryptic fashion. If the world were practical and less inclined to fear and threat — as well as deeply dependent on international arms sales that support manufacturing bases and untold wealth in related Research & Development competitions — the promotion of dogma into violence — or “extremist dogma” — would be less attractive. As it is, “The Terrorists” (wherever “who” has become both ambiguous and ubiquitous) have turned out handy for some elites in the world’s more corrupt and cynical circles of military and political power.