India-Pakistan: Civil War Or Nuclear War?


December 10,2008: The capture of one of the ten Mumbai terrorists has been a disaster for Pakistan. The captured terrorist talked, and his information checked out, and made it clear that Pakistan was tolerating Islamic terrorist groups operating openly inside Pakistan. This is nothing new, but such dramatic proof is. The U.S., the UN and most other major countries put the pressure on Pakistan to do something about this, or risk being officially branded a pro-terrorist state. Pakistan responded to that pressure in the last week by arresting several senior terrorist leaders known to be operating in Pakistan. But Pakistan refused to allow India to take these terrorists. That's because if these guys began talking, they would confirm Pakistan's long term support of Islamic terrorist activities. These are admissions that Pakistan does not want to deal with. Nevertheless, Pakistan has long been known as a supporter of Islamic terrorists, even though some of these terrorist organizations are trying to kill Pakistani leaders. That is a rather recent development, which came about after September 11, 2001, when the Pakistani leadership were forced to decide between backing the war on terror, or siding with the terrorists. At that point, some Islamic terrorists began attacking Pakistani leaders. But others, like those responsible for the Mumbai attacks (Lashkar e Toiba) did not support the overthrow of the Pakistani government (at least not right away), and continued to be protected by the government.

But Lashkar e Toiba continued to plan attacks inside India, which India has warned could lead to nuclear war. But Pakistan did not want to enrage another bunch of Islamic terrorists. Now they have no choice, or do they? India and the United States are watching closely exactly what Pakistan does to the "Kashmir (dedicated to taking Kashmir from Indian control) terrorists" like Lashkar e Toiba. Pakistan has made a few arrests, and everyone is waiting to see if, or when, Pakistan will do some real damage to these groups. So far, Pakistan has not. Groups like Lashkar e Toiba are very popular in Pakistan, because getting control of Kashmir is very popular. The government fears that going after the Kashmir terrorists would cause a civil war inside Pakistan. That has always been a risk, which even India acknowledged. But now the Indian government has a population enraged about the activities (like Mumbai, and similar attacks earlier) of the Pakistani Kashmir terror groups, and wants something done.  Pakistan is being forced into a corner, where the choices come down to civil war with their Islamic conservatives and radicals (about a third of the population), or war with India, which could escalate into a nuclear conflict that Pakistan would lose.  The civil war would be messy, but the government would almost certainly win it. Pakistani politicians, being risk averse, are looking for some way out of this mess. There doesn't seem to be one.

Meanwhile, the battle against the Taliban continues on the Afghan border. The Taliban are now trying to threaten truck traffic into Afghanistan. As a landlocked country with no railroads, most imports travel into Afghanistan via truck, along only a few roads that cross the border. This trucking business is very lucrative for Pakistani transportation companies, and vital for the economy of Afghanistan. These attacks will force the Pakistanis to assign more troops and police to protecting the trucking operations. Not so much to protect U.S. and NATO supply lines, but to protect a major economic asset for political and economic big shots on both sides of the border. You do not want to be messing with the money in this part of the world.


December 5, 2008: Two large bombs went off in Peshawar (the largest city in the Pakistani tribal territories along the Afghan border) killing 27 people.

December 2, 2008:  Ethnic clashes in Karachi, Pakistan continue, leaving four more dead. Pakistan is a patchwork of religious and ethnic groups, which tend to form militias for self-defense, or for going after real or imagined rivals. Bloodshed between these groups has been a constant in Pakistani life for over half a century, and for centuries before that.


Article Archive

India-Pakistan: Current 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close