So, it's all gone a bit wrong, hasn't it?
Things have been rough for a good few years, but I found it particularly hard to sleep last night, having started the day of the news of the minorities minister being assassinated in Pakistan yesterday. This had followed a really disturbing article yesterday from 'George', our symbolic white man that loved Pakistan - alas it was mutual not. We've still got a few of them lurking about.. Only a matter of time? I hope not!
The issue is that this 'war' is being lost, and lost badly.
Redefinition is required on the concept of war itself though. Conventional armed forces are organised to prevent loss of territory and to gain some. Guerilla warfare isn't concerned with territory, nor organised to gain and retain it (read: Swat bad scene), but to create sporadic burss of terror in cities. It's an evolving virus, rather than a tumour that you can apply chemo to. It's not a blogpost, it's a facebook poke (ok - that one was a bit much..)
America's already contemplating an exit strategy but the true levers of stability lie in how that exit actually plays out. A few different scenarios that some academically advanced friends and I were discussing last night (gosh, I miss the luxury of being able to have such deeply informed quality conversations nowadays) -
1. [Not in our control] America exits Afghanistan, but installs some relatively moderate taliban in power, that are on the payroll. The t-dawg's win on a symbolic level, but the West gets to dictate ideology. Risky, but positive.
2. The Pakistan armed forces continue to play the 'long game', still treating the western border and it's agency as a strategic depth with India still being public enemy no.1. Ultimately settle for autonomous areas where they radical boys can do 'their thing' as long as they don't try to gain territory.
Risk: long term radicalisation of the army. This issue crossing right back up in a few years. Continued challenge to writ of state in northern areas.
3. Dismantle the structure that operates and feeds the growth of these organisations. Do away with madrassas, provide only strictly developmental help. Weed out radical viewpoints from literature.
Risk: oh so painful and difficult. Some massive sacrifices required, including peace with India. Some loss of control from the armed forced. Long term success, and I can make that long-awaited trip to the northern areas.
The scariest bit is the fact that this is now, for the first time in over 60 years of existence, beginning to seep into the foundations of society. It's appalling to see average Pakistanis voicing such intolerance so openly. There's an argument to suggest that, perhaps, people always have held such a hardline view and in fact it is the fact that there are forces that are actually encouraging debate on prior 'unsaid' issues like the b-word, that the common man is feeling somehow threatened and feels the need to voice their defence of faith.
The trouble is that this is making us look very very bad indeed. The rules of the debate are not defined clearly enough and it's resulting in people being divided and silo-ed into two camps that are radically different.
There's someone new every day, belonging to a more 'moderate' approach to it all, that tells me, 'Pakistan - it's increasingly not for us anymore'. Neither is any other landmass, though - it's all we've got.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, really. What's our version of chopping off our right arm in an attempt for survival...?
On a lighter note, someone suggested that Zardari might actually be sent from 'the future' to help dismantle Pakistan (in the form of an ugly ogre) - a necessity for humankind's survival. Are we skynet? Is he Arnie? Dang!