What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The "magic" of making history

This is a good piece in the Middle East Report's Summer issue. If you haven't read Zahid Hussain's Frontline Pakistan yet, it provides a useful recap of what happened in Kashmir post-2001 and the transformation of the jihadi scene in Pakistan, as well as interesting analysis of more recent developments. It presents an image of selective counterinsurgency, dual track policies, in general a murky world... And just look - that's what I was thinking - the end result of all that's going on is what people perceive as either "awful, there is oppression and insurgency in Kashmir" or "oh, well, there's stone-throwing but it's really not so bad as it used to be." Elsewhere the result is: "oh, there's this insurgency in Afghanistan that is, like, hopeless to defeat, obviously, after all it's, like, the graveyard of empires, you know." Previously, I have quoted at this blog how Indian intelligence estimates say about 3,500 insurgents formed the really hard core of the insurgency in Kashmir at any stage. Well, if 3,500 are ready to do almost anything, and they have favourable terrain, external safe havens and local constituencies, they can make "history," which is to say that they can define narratives of it. Conflict is not gone in Kashmir, just because nowadays more stone-throwing is reported than heavy fighting... And of course Afghanistan is not simply a "graveyard of empires by default."
Meanwhile, I should also refer back to an earlier post of mine today. Perhaps the experts are right that there are only 200 hard core al-Qaida operatives nowadays in the Pakistani border areas. You could realise that 200 can do a lot if they have supporters. And also keep in mind the transformed jihadist scene in Pakistan, where quite sophisticated organisations' operatives have gone on the loose in cases, setting up collaborative projects with likeminded people.

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