Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Problem With Pakistan (Part LXIX)

Land of the Pure is a magical place where anything can happen! Girls can learn to fly jets only 69 miles a way from where Pakistani Talibani brutally beat girls for promotional vids.

Pakistan is a study in discombobulation

Imagine a country that is embroiled in a long and bloody conflict with its neighbor, and each time its democratically elected Prime Minister tries to reach out and make peace, his own army launches an attack to make sure the peace doesn’t take hold. You might think you were trapped inside a dystopian movie. Unless, of course, you’ve been to Pakistan, where this happens all the time.

This week, Pakistani officials said they had detained Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group, for his alleged role in overseeing the attack on an Indian airbase in the city of Pathankot earlier this month. The attack left seven Indians dead. Jaish-e-Mohammed is one of several Pakistani militant groups whose members routinely cross into India and carry out attacks there, for the ostensible purpose of prying loose Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.

The attack on the airbase in Pathankot, on January 2nd, came little more than a week after the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, flew to Lahore to meet the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, for a surprise summit. It was the first visit by an Indian leader to Pakistan in twelve years. By all accounts, the meeting went well. That’s an unqualified good; both countries possess nuclear weapons, and their unresolved disputes, especially over Kashmir, could have terrifying consequences. India and Pakistan have already been to war with each other four times.

So why would Pakistani-based fighters follow up a feel-good summit with a cross-border attack? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time, or the second, or even the third.
Pakistani militants regularly try to sabotage peaceful relations between their country and India. Aparna Pande, at the Hudson Institute, has put together a chronology of these attacks.

The important point is who backs, trains, tolerates and supports those militants: the Pakistani military and, most particularly, its spy service, known as the Inter-Services Intelligence, or the I.S.I.

For decades, the Pakistani military has backed insurgent groups whose express aim is to cross into India and fight. (The I.S.I. has also done this in Afghanistan, helping to create and sustain the Taliban.) The ostensible aim of these militant groups, and of the I.S.I., is to bleed India into ceding control over Kashmir. This has never been more than a fantasy, but it keeps the country of Pakistan focussed on something other than its intractable domestic problems, and it justifies the military’s bloated budgets.

The attack on the base in Pathankot has especially lurid implications. Masood Azhar, who appears to have overseen it, was once imprisoned in India on charges of kidnapping Westerners there.

Did the Pakistani military order Azhar to attack the Indian airbase in Pathankot? Maybe, maybe not.

When Pakistani officials announced this week that they had detained Azhar on suspicion of involvement in the Pathankot attack, it raised the obvious question: How did they know where he was?

What is most remarkable is that the pattern never changes. The Pakistani military keeps backing militant groups, like Jaish-e-Mohammed, that keep pushing the subcontinent to the brink of war, and that keep undermining Pakistan’s fledgling democratic institutions.
Since 9/11, according to congressional reports, U.S. taxpayers have given Pakistan at least eighteen billion dollars, much of it to the military.
  Last year alone, the U.S. gave Pakistan $1.5 billion dollars. Isn’t it about time we asked ourselves whether this is a good idea?