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The US is warning of new terrorist attacks in India.

NEW DELHI - The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi warned Friday that foreign militants, possibly al-Qaida members, may be planning to carry out bombings in India's two major cities in the coming days.

In an e-mail sent to American citizens living in India, the embassy said New Delhi, the capital, and Mumbai, the country's financial and entertainment hub, were the likely targets, and the attacks were believed to be planned for either before or on India's Independence Day, August 15.


Man, Pakistan's really heading for some rough times.  I've been defending Musharraf's government because he's got a tough balancing act between supporting the US and not getting blown up by jihadists.  But after several major, successful terrorist attacks by Pakistani groups in India (including an armed frontal assault on the Indian Parliament building in 2001), as well as the emerging details of links between groups in Pakistan and the British plotters, it's getting harder to give him a free pass.  This new terrorist threat may prove to be the tipping point.  Manmohan Singh has got to be feeling the weight of public pressure to respond to these threats -- and if he waits too long, India's rage at these attacks might be taken out on its domestic Muslim population.

So here's the liberal foreign policy question: how do you REALLY handle something like this?  The Bush strategy on states with internal security threats seems to be 1) ignore the problem and 2) indiscriminately bomb the living fuck out of the country.  But neither the status quo or "regime change" is appropriate here.

The fundies are holding Mush's feet to the fire, threatening to take him out if he comes after them too hard.  But here's the thing: their ultimate goal is to seize control of the country.  So, while they might make a show of backing down in the face of Musharraf's concessions, they're still plotting to get him out of office.  At the same time, they've got to understand that if Musharraf feels TOO threatened, he'll call in the Western militaries, who would undoubtedly at least help with cruise missile attacks, weaponry ... even with our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan is FAR too important a strategic target to let fall without a major military struggle.

So the trick, for a jihadi, would be to get rid of Musharraf without arousing the West.  And the best way to do that would be to get the West to weaken him for you.  Which is where the spate of terrorist bombings come in -- as separate, sovereign states there's VERY little that India, Britain, or the US can do about groups within Pakistan.  The most they can do is pressure the Pakistani government.  But the methods used to pressure a government -- starting mildly with cuts in aid and elevating up to threats of military action -- all serve to hurt the people more than the government itself.  They're designed to produce domestic discontent.  The problem is, domestic discontent is what we have TOO MUCH OF in Pakistan.  

Direct military action is even worse, because a) movements of large militaries are perfect opportunities for coups, and b) there's no clear outcome other than punishment -- it's not like there's a more moderate domestic leader you can install.  The other option, often used to brutal and devastatingly awful effect in the Cold War, would be to start a war along internal ethnic lines so that the country is SO destabilized, its central government is no longer a threat.  That's a moral and ethical problem for LOTS of reasons.  But it's also unclear how that would work with this new strain of Islamic thought around -- with the madrassas already entrenched and fielding their own private armies, would it even be possible to turn Pakistan into Afghanistan?  In any case, that leaves a ton of nuclear weapons in the hands of dueling warlords, which is pretty much the nightmare scenario of proliferation.

Originally posted to ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:46 AM PDT.

Poll

What do you do with a problem like Pakistan?

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| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Way to honk off the Brits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lipstick Liberal

    Pakistan just helped roll up that airline plot.

    Is Pakistan for the terrorists or against the terrorists?

    Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

    by Bill White on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:42:38 AM PDT

    •  I know (8+ / 0-)

      In fact, in the past, Musharraf's been very willing to roll up specific groups and individuals when he's under foreign pressure.  The problem is that he hasn't been able (or, some argue, willing) to make systemic changes.  When the US, India, or Britain says "we need you to crack down on XXXXX", he'll do it.  But he won't take the next step and, say, break up associated groups, or arrest all members of a terrorist group.  For example, the group responsible for the Indian train bombings was officially "illegal" in Pakistan, but they'd gotten around that by just changing names.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:50:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent diary and answer (3+ / 0-)

        My comment above was made in snark mode (been fighting wingnuts at other sites).

        Pakistan may be a crisis point. Nuclear weapons make them a valuable target for al Qaeda. A far more likely source than Iran (10 years out).

        But if crisis means danger and opportunity, Democratic leaders need to use the Pakistani situation as an opportunity to showcase intelligent, nuanced policies for fighting radical Islam.

        Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

        by Bill White on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:04:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But Then . . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChicagoDem, hind

          . . . with folks such as A.Q. Khan, al Qaeda wouldn't need to target Pakistan directly, since Khan's network was helping the development of nuclear programs in Iran, Libya, North Korea, and what have you.  When it got to be too great of an embarrassment, Khan was "arrested", formally stripped of his position, and then declared a national hero by Musharraf.  Khan has been protected by the Pakistani ISI from any form of debriefing or interrogation by Western intelligence or atomic agencies, so we have no real way of knowing the degree to which any part of his network might have had dealings (however indirectly) with groups such as al Qaeda.

          •  Yep (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tom Ball, The Maven

            And Khan's been elevated to such national hero status (for a logical, though sad, reason -- Pakistan's nuclear missile program has made it a real military power on par with India for the first time in years), that the moment any Pakistani leader advocates handing him up to the West is the moment that leader becomes a target.  The Khan situation is a perfect example of the screwy dynamics in that country right now.

            Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

            by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:34:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  al Qaeda has no nuclear reactors (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ChicagoDem

            hence no plutonium or enriched uranium.

            Iran does but they have merely a handful of centrifuges. Many, many years for that.

            = = =

            Pakistan is BOTH with us and against us. The type of situation that causes neo-con brain freeze.

            Resistance is futile! We are the Alpha and the Zuniga' and all will be assimilated.

            by Bill White on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:50:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Further Reading (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ChicagoDem

              The current issue of The New Yorker (August 7 & 14) has a lengthy article by Steve Coll on the role played by A.Q. Khan and others with regard to Iran's nuclear program, and the progress the Iranians have been making on their own.  While the article itself is not available online, a Q & A with the author is, and this provides a decent sense of the piece, and how tangled the web of nuclear technology proliferation has become.

  •  Is it naive (0+ / 0-)

    to think that India and Pakistan could work together to eliminate a common enemy? Probably.

    •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

      It's about as likely as Israel and Lebanon working together against Hezbollah.

      Lying can never save us from another lie - Vaclav Havel

      by Muwarr90 on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:55:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is the people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Ball, Lipstick Liberal

      Britain really pulled a doozy when they accepted the fringe minority Muslim position and divided the Raj into "Hindu" India and "Muslim" Pakistan.  While all these people were part of one country, and while all of them fought for independence side by side, the introduction of an artificial border has caused them to hate each other.  So the specter of Musharraf wading into battle with Indian troops behind him would arouse a lot more anger than it would put down.

      The real problem here is that most of Pakistan's population is unaligned.  They don't particularly care about either the military government (which has gone back on promises of democracy many times) or the fundies (anyone who was watching Pakistan next door knows where a fundie government will lead).  But if India comes in on the side of the military government, suddenly the weight of Pakistani nationalism/patriotism shifts to the fundies.  It's similar to the situation in Lebanon today, where even moderate Shi'a, Druze, and Christians who would NEVER have supported Hezbollah 6 months ago are now leaning towards them.  Another analogy would be, like, if the Soviet Union intervened to help the US put down the KKK in the 1960s.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:56:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  D'oh (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tom Ball, mariachi mama

        I meant "anyone who was watching AFGHANISTAN next door knows where a fundie government will lead"

        Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

        by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 07:57:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But the KKK (0+ / 0-)

        weren't attacking Russians.
        I guess I wasn't thinking of "troops" so much in the above statement as intelligence.

        •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tom Ball

          Yeah that's a good point.  I dunno, Pakistan's intelligence service also kind of serves as a kingmaker in the country, so I'm not sure how impartial their analyses are going to be.  These are also two countries that have either been at war or teetering on the brink for almost their entire histories, so I'm not sure how much either would want to reveal about its intelligence capabilities, internal security situation, or military activities.

          At the same time, I'm sure SOME intelligence sharing goes on.  If nothing else, the US and the Pakistani ISI have got to be sharing data, and I'm sure that some of that gets back to the Indian government.

          Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

          by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:07:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Pakistan (0+ / 0-)

    has quietly been a looming threat on the horizon.

    And if Musharraf is ousted, we're dead.

    •  Yep (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Ball, ek hornbeck

      That's why my favored policy here would be to offer a MASSIVE aid package to Musharraf that he could use to bring up the standard of living all over the country and, hopefully, turn public opinion his way.

      In exchange, he should have to agree to letting the UN take custody of his nuclear weapons.  He would still have them under his control, but if his regime were to fall, the UN could take them out.  I also think that, either way, he should be required to let agencies like IAEA know the locations of his launch sites so that peacekeepers can be sent there within moments of a coup.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:19:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Musharraf is the problem (0+ / 0-)

      He paying lip service to the west while in bed with these extremists. He is one of them.

      "Nothing that is wrong with America can't be fixed by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

      by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:10:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, they're dead. (0+ / 0-)

      We get to use the lawelessness as an excuse to blow stuff up without international protest.  Also, NATO troops can chase Taliban across the border to finish them.

      It's still not an appetizing prospect.

      •  I dunno (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tom Ball

        Every time a state with nuclear weapons fails, there's a danger of some of it leaking to unsavory people.  There was a big fear of that after the end of the USSR.  Even at the best of times, Pakistan is much, much less capable of keeping tabs on its nuclear materiel than the USSR.

        Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

        by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:30:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You got that right (0+ / 0-)

    The coflict between Pakistan and India stands to be much, much worse than anything we've seen thus far.

    •  Ooops (0+ / 0-)

      This was supposed to be in reply to diana04 who said:

      Pakistan has quietly been a looming threat on the horizon.

      And if Musharraf is ousted, we're dead.

      •  but (0+ / 0-)

        don't forget  about Hindutva and Shiv Sena from the other side.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        The Shiv Sena has been accused of orchestrating violence against minority groups like Muslims. The Sena is widely believed to have played a role in the riots following the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992.

        •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tom Ball

          Hindu fundamentalism is a major problem as well.  I don't think anyone could reasonably argue with that.  However, given the current political situation, Pakistan's more vulnerable to its extremists than India is.

          BUT, I do think that if Singh doesn't respond to the recent terrorist attacks somehow, groups like Hindutva and their political allies in the BJP could restart a lot of the Hindu-Muslim violence of the 1990s.  That's not good for Indians, Pakistanis, or anyone who cares about peace.

          Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

          by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 08:49:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  one thing is missing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ChicagoDem, mariachi mama

            I guess is Kahsmir.

            Do you agree if I say Kashmir is the crux here?

            Coz the Hindu nationalists in India and Muslim fundies in Pakistan consider Kashmir as their battlefield.

            •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tom Ball

              It is, but I can't quite figure out how it fits into the current situation.

              My fear is that Kashmir has metastasized into a larger, nationalistic hatred between the two countries.  While it's still used as a rallying cry, the new threats to India from within Pakistan generate on the Afghan border rather than Kashmiri separatists.  This has moved from a territorial issue to a religious and ideological one (it had overtones of that before too, but I think the introduction of the more radical forms of Muslim ideology are encouraging it).  As things are, I fear that even if Kashmir was resolved tomorrow in a way both sides could live with, the hatred would remain.

              Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

              by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:02:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Well reasoned geopolitical argument! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoDem
    Recommended.
  •  While we're all 'worried' about Iran (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoDem

    Pakistan is a country awash with fundamentalists and nuclear weapons. Worse, they have advanced ballistic missile submarines (of French design).

    A wider war in the ME could easily topple Musharraf's government. NeoCon policies will precipitate what the War of Terra was supposed to prevent - terrorists who hate America (and Israel) with access to a nuclear first strike.

    Yet we continue to radicalize the Muslim street. You'd almost think somebody wants the terrorists to nuke us once or twice. Sure would help Rove's message, wouldn't it?

  •  i'm sorry (0+ / 0-)

    but we need to hear a Pakistani voice about this issue.

  •  Dump Pakistan (0+ / 0-)

    Turn to india as an ally, as a fellow strong democracy they are a natural ally. My mom's in India right now so this has got me worried.

    "Nothing that is wrong with America can't be fixed by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

    by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:08:28 AM PDT

    •  So what would you do? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Ball

      After "dumping Pakistan", how would you keep its nukes from falling into the hands of the extremists in the country?

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:12:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  they already are (0+ / 0-)

        since Musherref is in charge.

        "Nothing that is wrong with America can't be fixed by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

        by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:13:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tom Ball

          I guess that's a fair argument, but isn't anyone currently likely to take power in the country going to  be much worse in that respect?  As bad as his military dictatorship is, at least it's talking to the Indian government.  A lot of the new leaders streaming over the Western border just want to wipe India out.

          Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

          by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:16:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Don't dump them until we have to. (0+ / 0-)

      India isn't going to fall swooning into our arms just because we sell out Musharraf, and Indian/American relations are hardly frosty anyway.

      If you must sell out your allies, at least do it at the moment of greatest advantage.

      •  but their not our allies (0+ / 0-)

        and we fooling ourseleves if we believe that. I cant count on my hand the number of Bush decsions I agree with and improving relations with India is one of them. We dump Pakistan and that will really improve relations with them.

        "Nothing that is wrong with America can't be fixed by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

        by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:23:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Options, not so good. (0+ / 0-)

    Musharraf can't control much of Pakistan, and his grip isn't going to get much firmer. Much of the country is a haven for the regrouping remnants of Al Qaeda.

    Your options become:

    Leave Musharraf alone and try to prevent conflict so at least there aren't nukes wandering about and Taliban ruling the streets.

    Let India get involved with a (possibly) nuclear war that ends up killing a great deal of the terrorists as well.

    Seeing as how we can't/don't want to use our own forces to clean out Pakistan, there's your two unappealing options.  Currently, Bush is going with A, which is probably the best idea.

    Remember, you can always have a war if peace doesn't work.  Un-nuking thousands of people isn't possible.

    •  True, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tom Ball

      The problem is, we don't necessarily have all that much influence in option B.  Every new terrorist attack moves the Indian public closer to demanding a military response, and Singh won't be able to keep a lid on that forever.  There's not much we can do to keep India from attacking if it wants to attack -- it is a democracy.  Luckily for us

      I don't think India will use nukes if it's the one doing the invading.  Its army is many times larger than Pakistan's and it can beat them using conventional forces.  But an Indian invasion might give Musharraf's internal enemies the opportunity they need to take over.  If a fundie government definitively takes over, India MIGHT use its nukes because it would pose such a major threat, but we're entering total speculation at that point.  There are a lot of gigantic drawbacks from that situation.

      So I think something needs to happen.  There has to be some way to pressure Musharraf into getting more serious on cleaning out his extremists OR at least creating a contingency plan for his nukes.  The longer we "wait and see" without any clear political action, the more likely it is that India will make the first move.

      Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

      by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:24:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whoops (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tom Ball

        Jumped ahead to a new thought mid-sentence.  I meant:

        Luckily for us, India has not been as aggressive as it could be.  Their wars have usually been defensive, or over disputed territory in Kashmir.  They're not big on pre-emptive military action.

        Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

        by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 09:26:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  even with the BJP in power (0+ / 0-)

        India won't use nukes, they are smarter than that.

        "Nothing that is wrong with America can't be fixed by what is right with America" -Bill Clinton

        by SensibleDemocrat on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 10:22:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (0+ / 0-)

          They MIGHT use nukes if Islamic fundamentalists come to power in Pakistan.  Imagine a Taliban-style government armed with nuclear weapons that was arousing popular hatred against your state.  I think India might take action.

          Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

          by ChicagoDem on Fri Aug 11, 2006 at 10:29:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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