Friday, March 23, 2007

Indian Counter-Terror Expert On Pakistan's Future

Notorious neocon hang-out Frontpage Magazine hosted one of its online "symposiums" today entitled "The First Nuclear Terrorist Power". Unusually, it had a couple of real experts involved along with usual neocon shills Thomas Joscelyn and Steve Schippert. The headline says it all - it was intended to be some more fearmongering about an Islamist state inevitablt replacing Musharaff and thus setting up a rationale for the US to continue to support a dictator who seems, for no rational reason, to be a favorite of neoconservative foreign policy pundits.

Unfortunately for Jocelyn and Schippert, a real expert - B. Raman, the former head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research & Analysis Wing, India's CIA - blew their fearmongering scenarios from the get-go. Here's Raman's expert view on what is likely or not likelt to happen in Pakistan:
There are four possible negative scenarios:

Scenario #1: (Worrisome Probability): Musharraf is removed from the scene either by death due to natural causes or through assassination either by a terrorist or an accomplice of the jihadi terrorists inside the armed forces. Another Army officer will takeover, hold elections after an interregnum and hand over power to the political parties, while retaining the control of the Army and the ISI over the national security and nuclear establishments. This is what happened when Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash in August, 1988.

Scenario #2: (Medium Probability): The Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam) created by Musharraf and its allies, who are loyal to him, do badly in the elections due later this year or even lose them. A coalition consisting of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, and the religious political parties is voted to power. Musharraf will have only two options: Either prove his democratic credentials by handing over power to them or refuse to do so or avoid doing so. If he adopts the first option, the world may not have much to worry about. If he adopts the second option, there could be a mass uprising as happened in East Pakistan in 1971 when the Army refused to honour the election verdict. There would be considerable instability of which the beneficaries could be the fundamentalists and the jihadis.

Scenario #3: (Low probability): A group of Army and ISI officers unhappy over his perceived co-operation with the US overthrow him, assume power and stop co-operation with the US in its war against terrorism. Such a coup will have some public and political support in the interregnum. It will particularly enjoy the support of the fundamentalists and the jihadi terrorists. But, the new Army leadership staging the anti-Musharraf coup will retain its control over the nuclear establishment and will not allow the fundamentalists and the jihadis to come anywhere near it. It will step up terrorism against India and the Hamid Karzai Government in Kabul, but will try to ensure that there are no acts of terrorism from Pakistani territory against the US, its nationals and interests outside Afghanistan.

Scenario #4: (Even lower probability): There is an Islamic uprising similar to what one saw in Iran in 1978-79 and the Sunni/Wahabi terrorists take over power and assume control over the national security/nuclear establishments. Such a scenario will have very serious consequences for the international community, but is unlikely in the short term, but one cannot rule it out in the long term.

The most likely scenario as of today is that Musharraf will continue to be in power; he will manipulate the next elections, with the US closing its eyes, in order to ensure the victory of the parties loyal to him; will continue to use terrorism against India while making a pretence of stopping it; will continue to keep the Neo Taliban alive and kicking hoping one day it could come back to power in Kabul and carry out the Pakistani agenda; and will extend co-operation to the US in its operations against Al Qaeda to the extent he can do so without undermining his own position. Jihadi terrorism originating from Pakistan will continue in the short term.
Is this the part where I say "Indeed"?

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