Red Harvest 2
Some background on Pakistan from Arnaud de Borchgrave which may provide helpful context for the Red Mosque seige. He essentially maintains that the central government has lost control of two of the seven tribal provinces. Musharraf has tried to keep up the appearance that he is control, but that fiction is wearing thin.
Since then both North and South Waziristan, two of the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), are under de facto Taliban control. Its leaders say they have established the "Islamic Emirate of Waziristan." Shariah courts are operating in both Wana (south) and Miranshah (north), the two Waziristan capitals. And hundreds of youngsters have been recruited for suicide bombing missions in Afghanistan. ...
Unless the Pakistani army restores the central government writ in FATA, the United States may decide the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan is tantamount to a declaration of independence by Taliban and al-Qaida -- and a green light to bomb and attack with special forces. But if Musharraf decides to re-invade the tribal region, he runs the risk of a national upheaval by powerful radical forces. And if he doesn't and lets the United States attack the Taliban's privileged sanctuaries in FATA, he still runs the same risk, perhaps even greater.
But in case anyone should get the impression that this contest is strictly between the Army and the Islamists, hold on. It's even more complicated then that. The Strategy Page argues that Pakistan is in the grip of a three way power struggle.
Pakistan is facing a civil war between the military (representing about ten percent of the population), the Islamic militants (about 30 percent) and the secular political parties (60 percent). The military groups are the most disciplined, and are well funded by a military business empire (an outgrowth of military foundations established to provide pensions and such for veterans). The Islamic militants are the most poor and ill educated, with most of their supporters in the tribal areas. The political parties are crippled by partisanship and corruption, but are currently more united and focused by a desire to avoid a religious dictatorship, or a military one. The Islamic militants are trying to use terror to take over. The political parties use large demonstrations and strikes. The military has police and troops. No one wants a civil war, but everyone wants to run the country.
The question that must be posed then it what role the Red Mosque seige plays in this scenario. Plainly put, it may play the role of a match in a black-power magazine. But even if it does not set off a conflagration, Pakistan is likely to remain a pretty volatile place. How volatile? We are about to find out.
Time profiles the "believers" in the Red Mosque in a fine, almost awestruck style.
Once inside the metal gate we suck lungfuls of air through wetted rags. Young girls pass bowls of salt. Eating salt lessens the effects of the tear gas, they say, with an air of practiced impatience. This is the second time the madrassah students have been tear-gassed; they know what to do. The afternoon call to prayer echoes through the halls, barely audible above the wails of wounded women. Still, there is comfort to be found in its bland predictability. Dozens of hands push cups of water on me, conscientious, even in the middle of mayhem, of the foreigner in their midst. Not a good time to ask if it has been purified, I decide. ...
One of the female students laughs at the idea of an al- Qaeda link. "We ourselves are willing to die for our school, we don't need any outsiders to do it for us," she says. (I later learn that the explosion came from the environmental ministry, which had been torched to the ground while I was inside the madrassah). The woman offers me lunch. When I point out that perhaps this isn't the best time, considering the ongoing fighting, she just shrugs. "No," she agrees. "It is not a good time. But you are our guest, and we have to look after your well being."
Eventually I take advantage of a lull in the fighting to slip out the back of the complex to the street. Adeem leaves me at the gate. Eyes still blazing, she bids me farewell. "Tell them how angry we are," she says. "Write in your story how willing we are to die for our cause." It doesn't sound like rhetoric any more. It sounds like a promise.