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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

A Concerto For Violence

The shock of 9/11 and the US military presence in the region might have helped pacify this turbulent zone; it hasn't.

A Concerto 
For Violence
AP
A Concerto For Violence
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The shadow of violence in South Asia has grown larger since the events of September 11 and the US-led "war on terrorism". The shock of 9/11 and the US military presence in the region might have helped pacify this turbulent zone; it hasn’t. Indeed, never have relations been more strained and the probability of violence higher. How did this happen? It happened because the Pakistani government, Kashmiri extremists and the Indian government had an interest in violence—in threats of violence or the actual use of violence.

Three developments, which might have been predicted (but were not), occurred in South Asia, more or less simultaneously. These were related, and culminated in the crises of December 2001 and May 2002 after the terrorist strikes on Parliament and the army camp in Kaluchak, respectively.

The first development was somewhat unexpected but not altogether unpredictable. As a result of its new frontline status, this time in the fight against terrorism, Pakistan grew stronger and bolder in its confrontation with India. At least four factors contributed to the change in Pakistan. One, from almost "pariah" status, it became internationally respectable. Two, with political rehabilitation came promises of economic aid to rescue Pakistan’s unravelling economy. Three, international recognition and aid shored up President Pervez Musharraf. His political consolidation was helped by the Pakistani people’s disillusionment with political parties and the palpable relief of civilian leaders after 9/11 that they were not at the helm in Pakistan. Four, ironically, the US war in Afghanistan at one stroke got rid of three strategic liabilities for Pakistan: Al Qaeda, the Taliban and indeed Afghanistan itself (contrary to some Pakistani claims, Afghanistan never added strategic depth for Pakistan). Overnight, Islamabad was free to focus all its attention and...

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