Friday, April 17, 2009

Pakistan - the coming revolution

More on jaziya.

But perhaps the real significant news of the day is that the Taliban seem to be fomenting a religious marxist movement. If it is true, then in my judgment they are unstoppable.


In Swat, accounts from those who have fled now make clear that the Taliban seized control by pushing out about four dozen landlords who held the most power.

To do so, the militants organized peasants into armed gangs that became their shock troops, the residents, government officials and analysts said.

The approach allowed the Taliban to offer economic spoils to people frustrated with lax and corrupt government even as the militants imposed a strict form of Islam through terror and intimidation.

“This was a bloody revolution in Swat,” said a senior Pakistani official who oversees Swat, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the Taliban. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it sweeps the established order of Pakistan.”

The Taliban’s ability to exploit class divisions adds a new dimension to the insurgency and is raising alarm about the risks to Pakistan, which remains largely feudal.

Unlike India after independence in 1947, Pakistan maintained a narrow landed upper class that kept its vast holdings while its workers remained subservient, the officials and analysts said. Successive Pakistani governments have since failed to provide land reform and even the most basic forms of education and health care. Avenues to advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist.

Analysts and other government officials warn that the strategy executed in Swat is easily transferable to Punjab, saying that the province, where militant groups are already showing strength, is ripe for the same social upheavals that have convulsed Swat and the tribal areas.

Mahboob Mahmood, a Pakistani-American lawyer and former classmate of President Obama’s, said, “The people of Pakistan are psychologically ready for a revolution.”

Sunni militancy is taking advantage of deep class divisions that have long festered in Pakistan, he said. “The militants, for their part, are promising more than just proscriptions on music and schooling,” he said. “They are also promising Islamic justice, effective government and economic redistribution.”

"Avenues to advancement for the vast majority of rural poor do not exist" - this is something that Pakistan watchers have noted for a long time. This remains true in India as well, though not with the finality that obtains in Pakistan. The BJP, even with its "India Shining" and good overall economic record, got voted out I think precisely because little of that growth was seen in the rural areas.

Another thought is that the powerful can yield justice voluntarily, or else, eventually pressure will build up to the level where there is a revolution. Perhaps the degree of resistance from the powerful has been different in Pakistan and India.

Anyway, gather the popcorn and soda and watch. Nothing the US can do to prop up the Pakistani Anglosphere is going to work. The Taliban have both religious sentiments and economic justice working in their favor (not that they are going to be able to deliver anything; simply that the wind blows favorably for them).