Well, fellow P.IE forum members. I've arrived back in Pakistan to find the blown out windows of my office covered in plastic sheeting. The view from my window is of the charred skeleton remains of what used to be the landmark Marriot Hotel, Islamabad. The place I used to buy my beer.
I supposed my choices had been limited, but took solace in the fact that, as a member of the UN Club, I can lounge by the pool, sipping reasonably priced cold beers and getting a sun tan.
Then the following arrived in my inbox:
We would like to inform you that due the prevailing security situation in Islamabad, the UN Club will be closed as of today 24 September 2008. We shall provide you with an update on the evolving development soon.
We kindly apologize in advance for the inconveniences caused.
I received another email telling me to:
1. Avoid markets and if absolutely necessary, send the domestic staff instead (they're dispensable)
2. Avoid all restaurants and hotels
3. Only exercise in certain sectors of the city
What can I say? I've returned to a war zone where anything is possible.
The best analysis of the situation in Pakistan is the one below:
USA Has Bared Its Teeth
By Asif Haroon Raja
21/09/08 "Asian Tribune" -- The US and its allies succeeded in toppling Taliban regime in November 2001 and replacing it with a puppet regime, but the Taliban were neither militarily defeated nor eliminated from the system. But for effective encirclement of Afghanistan from all directions and massive air support provided by USA, the Northern Alliance could not have made any progress. Once the Taliban realised that they were no more in a position to offer resistance particularly after Pakistan ditched them, they considered it prudent to carry out a tactical withdrawal from Kabul and most took shelter in Pashtun dominated southern and eastern Afghanistan. Some trickled into FATA and Baluchistan where they had their kith and kin and some moved into Iran. They remained inactive till 2002 but utilised this time to regroup and refit themselves to be able to strike back at the invading forces that had devastated their country. Bush and his teams of neo-cons felt complacent that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda had been taken care of and only the remnants had to be flushed out. It was this smugness which impelled them to invade and occupy Iraq in March 2003.
In the meanwhile, the vices that had been eliminated by the Taliban during their short rule reappeared in a big way. Besides lack of justice, war lordism, corruption, poppy growing, drug business and nepotism reigned supreme. The Taliban and their supporters were either brutally killed or put in Bagram jail and subjected to horrendous torture. The Pashtuns being in great majority were persecuted and power got concentrated in the hands of non-Pashtun Northern Alliance elements and war lords. The occupation forces inflicted heavy collateral damage on civilians whenever they confronted the militants. These developments disillusioned the Afghans and sympathy wave among the Pashtuns living both sides of the border started to shift towards the Taliban. Induction of NATO forces in 2003 together with deteriorating law and order situation provided the spark to ignite insurgency.
Clanrickard, this one's for you...