The Invisible War


According to one of the more hard line analysts a fourth generation war—4GW—has been declared on Pakistan. The dots he connects to make the mosaic are—the insurgency in FATA, the lawlessness and violence in Baluchistan and Karachi, the insidious propaganda to defame and defang the military and intelligence institutions, the rapid economic decline and the overall destabilization created by bomb blasts, kidnappings, extortion rackets and high profile robberies. He traces the origin of this situation to the convergence in US, Indian and Afghan interests and those within the country who wittingly or unwittingly have become their collaborators or willing tools. He does not mince his words when he says that the states’ response capacity has been overwhelmed and the only way out is for a national emergency to be declared and the military asked to clean up the mess and restore stability. Failing this, he thinks the military has to step in to save the country. Failing either of these the country will fall apart.

A softer voiced analyst thinks the overall situation is so complex that all the problems have become interconnected and intertwined so the option of tackling each situation separately and sequentially is no longer there. Any operation in North Waziristan would lead to orchestrated violent reprisals in the urban areas possibly with the Baluchistan and Karachi situations spiraling out of control. He traces the origin of this mess to political inaction and, not just mis-governance but a total absence of governance in areas where it is most needed. That others are exploiting our internal vulnerability goes without saying because foreign policy is the first victim of internal divides and weaknesses that shape the image of a failed or failing country.

Both are saying the same thing but the remedies they suggest are different — one wants a military response to the ‘war’ being waged against us while the other wants political resolve and action. The fact acknowledged by all is that there are ungoverned or marginally governed gaps that have emerged and widened within the country and these gaps are being filled by those who cannot see beyond their noses, those who can but choose not to and those who are actively exploiting the mess either because of personal agendas or because of personal gains and ambitions. The result is that all the threats that lay dormant because of state control are now out in the open with no holds barred. Sectarian killings are being systematically carried out. A culture of intolerance, bigotry and hatred is being deliberately and insidiously fostered. Militant wings of political parties have made Karachi the battleground for control over extortion, drugs, gambling and other criminal rackets. The insurgents in the west have forged linkages in the heartland with extremist elements thereby vastly increasing the scope, scale and dimensions of their activities. State institutions are being pitted against each other in a fragmented and fractured society with the media using its newly acquired clout for blatant power play and commercial gain. In such an environment the economy is going in the only direction it can — downwards. The political segment is touting the next elections as the watershed moment that will herald change — though the majority sees massive political problems post elections.

What is urgently needed is bipartisan agreement on the response to the challenges facing the country. This kind of agreement is impossible to achieve in the present environment and this will certainly not happen by each institution telling the others what to do. What is possible is that a strong government team must sit with all the other major institutions to devise a response to the challenges that are overwhelming the state — Baluchistan, Karachi, militancy, the endless violence in the west, internal instability and insecurity, the economy and important bilateral relations. All the institutions should put aside their reservations and differences, suspend or postpone the activities that are creating exploitable vulnerabilities and come together with the government to evolve the multi-dimensional response required to reclaim our country. This is the need of the hour.

Tacstrat Analysis