I recently finished reading Ahmed Rashid's third and latest book about Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban and the goings on in that part of the world. The book is titled "Descent Into Chaos - The US and the disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia." Here is the cover.
Ahmed Rashid is not just a seasoned and very senior Pakistani journalist but he has that most valuable of all qualities for a documentary writer - observing first hand many of the things he speaks about and having access to most of the leaders, movers and shakers in the countries he writes about. Ahmed Rashid has written two other acclaimed books 'Taliban" and "Jihad". Here are the covers of those books.
All three books read together gives us a pretty good understanding of what is happening in that part of the world. Considering that quite a few years separate the three books, you can see the descent into chaos that is engulfing Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is also my opinion that Pakistan is a gone case and will just crumble and collapse on itself. It is just a matter of time. There maybe some repercussions for us here.
I was not aware that Ahmed Rashid had written his latest book until the Press reported that President Barrack Obama had bought 'Desecnt Into Chaos" on Nov 26 last year (it was 'Support Your Local Small Business Day' or something in the US and the Obama's went to the book store). Here is a picture.
About 17 days ago something crucial happened in Pakistan. Their Chief of the Army met the President Asif Ali Zardari and told him off over a few things. Here is the news :
"Islamabad, Jan 14 2012 (IANS) Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani Saturday called on President Asif Ali Zardari amid deteriorating relations between the government and the military over an alleged memo that sought US help to stop a possible military coup, media reports said."
As we are reading this, the Pakistani Army may be plotting to "legally" oust President Zardari and take over the country again. Twice before in Pakistan, their Supreme Court has legitimised military coups. The fact is despite "democracy" the Army still calls the shots in Pakistan.
From reading Ahmed Rashid's three books, the prolonging of the problems in Afghanistan are actually "Made in Pakistan". Not only that but the incitement to violence far into Central Asia also has links to the Deobandi religious movement that has become very influential in Pakistan. Since General Zia Ul Haq, the formerly professional Pakistani Army has also become corrupted by a strongly religious indocrination. Many Pakistanis in the Armed Forces genuinely feel that Pakistan is the instrument of God to restore the greatness of Islam in their region. Pakistan wants to be the regional Sunni power from the Indian border right into Central Asia - to check Shia Iran and Hindu India.
The great "enemy of Islam" which they use to sustain this hubris as well as their scare mongering is none other than their old nemesis Hindu India plus India's old ally the godless Soviet Union which invaded Pakistan's Sunni neighbour Afghanistan in 1979.
Two other things have also fueled the Pakistani religious ego. One is their development of nuclear weapons - the only Islamic country to have nuclear weapons so far. The second ego booster is that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence or ISI secret services also assisted the Afghans to kick out the Russian invaders from Afghanistan. They feel vindicated that they have defeated a world power in battle. God must be on their side. For good measure or not, the ISI also created and sustained the Taliban in Afghanistan. Until today the Pakistanis are firm supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan. They have also become host to their own homegrown Taliban.
In the years after the Soviets were kicked out of Afghanistan in 1989, the Pakistanis also played host to a whole gaggle of 'Islamic' militants including the Al Qaeda. This "Islamic militant" link culminated in the death of Osama Bin Laden in Abbotabad in Pakistan last year - within shooting distance of a major Pakistani military college.
The Pakistani Army is not just a standing Army. They are a power unto themselves. They have also ruled the country for a major part of the country's existence since 1948. The Pakistani Army is also involved in running hotels, factories, banks, supermarkets and all sorts of businesses. Ahmed Rashid says the Army's economic ventures contribute 12% of Pakistan's GDP. In certain parts of Pakistan a villager cannot even open a tea stall unless he gets a permit from the Army. It is a very strange but strong stranglehold that the Army has on their country.
This has of course led to extreme and endemic corruption in Pakistan with the Army being in the middle of it all. It has also caused other problems. To help fund the various militants in Afghanistan (especially the Taliban) huge amounts of poppy plants have been cultivated. The FATA areas (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) of Pakistan and Afghanistan are now the main sources of heroin and other illegal drugs, either grown there or transported through these parts. Hence the huge upsurge in the number of drug couriers coming through Malaysia (Iranians, Pakistanis etc).
The illicit drug money is used to finance the "Islamic" militants and their "jihad". The shoulder bone is connected to the backbone, the backbone is connected to the hip bone etc. "Jihad" against what? Or whom? That is an easy question. The whole world is their enemy.
The Pakistani Army - like the power axis in the country - is also tribe or race identified with the numerically superior Punjabis having the greatest say. Considering that Pakistan is also made up of Sindhis, Balochis, Pushtuns and other tribal groups, the Punjabi over dominance has stretched tribal and sectarian seams. There are serious regional disputes
Today you can see many Pakistanis of very obvious religious orientation arriving in Malaysia. They wear the white pyjamas, white skull cap and wear long beards with no moustache. You can see them around Kuala Lumpur. They are not textile merchants or rug dealers. Neither are they tourists with cameras. In the Masjid India area, they visit with the numerous Pakistani merchants and businessmen in this area. One wonders what would be their interest in Malaysia.
Dont say I did not warn you. Dont forget that for 13 years from 1985 till 1998, Indonesian religious militant guru Abu Bakar Basyir was resident in Malaysia as a guest of Liwat and his religious cronies. They even gave him PR status.
The Pakistan story is not over yet folks. Their economy is stunted, illiteracy is still very high, job opportunities are poor and the number of drug addicts in the country is increasing many fold. Plus religious extremism is taking over the country. The explosion is bound to come. Its just a question of when. Do read Ahmed Rashid's books and you will get a good understanding of what is going on in that part of the world. They are not far away from us at all. .
p.s. I would like to thank the Government for the recent Book Vouchers given to university students. We have three university students at home - my two boys and the Mrs. I am enrolled for evening classes as well. We got some book vouchers. So we went out and bought some more books. Nanti saya cerita lagi.