Friday, June 13, 2014

Pakistan Taliban- ISIL in waiting? Random Thoughts

ISIL/ISIS's recent victory in North-West Iraq and  North-East Syria (barring Kurdish regions) made me wonder if the same can happen in Pakistan.

Things working strongly in favor of Pakistan Taliban (vis-a-vis ISIL):
  1. Unlike Iraq & Syria, Pakistani is legally and emotionally a Muslim Homeland which has now graduated into a Fort for Islam. Masses have been indoctrinated to believe in this ideology. Taliban are only pious executors of the Muslim Nationalist vision of Pakistan Movement  and Islamist vision of Pakistan's Objective Resolution.
  2. Unlike Iraq and Syria,Pakistan has a double-dealing Military that still makes distinction b/w Good and Bad Taliban thus allowing groups with Talibanistic ideologies to escape punishment by opportunistically switching sides, as and when necessary. This works to the advantage of Taliban.
  3. Pakistan's Development level, which before the civil war broke out, was lower than Iraq and Syria. It is the Middle Classes that give a State stability. If they couldn't do so in case of Iraq and Syria, little reason to believe they can do the same in Pakistan.
  4. Like Iraq, A Shia dominated (perceived Anti-Sunni) Iran  next door which can be smartly used to whip Anti-Shia (and pro-Taliban) rhetoric in Pakistan.
 Things working against Pakistani Taliban (compared to ISIL):
  1. Deep rooted and vibrant Party  Politics in Pakistan (atleast in Punjab and Sindh Core). This was non-existent in Iraq and Syria due to prolonged dictatorship. So when the revolution happened, in opposition benches, there was a power (grounded in public support) vacuum which was soon taken over by the best armed factions- Jihadists.
  2. A sunni majority in comfort with a Sunni dominated elite. In both Iraq and Syria, Sunni Arab population was deeply disenchanted with the Government of the day. There was sectarian hatred against the ruling elite which was capitalised by Jihadists. This is not the case in Pakistan. There exists little or no sectarian hatred among  masses against Pakistani Government (here assuming Shiites will not pull off an ISIL in Pakistan)
  3. Unlike Iraq & Syria; Pakistan is surrounded on all sides by rabidly Anti-Taliban & powerful countries-China, India, Russia  (via Central Asia) and Iran. Gulf countries are far away. There will be little to no 'active' flow of weapons to Taliban from neighbors (though Afghan NDS is a dark horse here).
  4.  Unlike Iraq & Syria; no rich country (neither Gulf nor US or neighbors) has any interest in toppling existing Pakistani Regime for Taliban. So, there will not be much external monetary help to  any anti-regime Rebels (including Taliban). They'll have to do it in their own and without assistance of big Oil Reserves.
  5. Unlike Iraq and Syria, Pakistan has a really big and a largely professional military. Spectacular attacks against it are possible but complete capitulation like Iraqi Army will not come so easy.
This is a partial (perhaps superficial) list of factors. Also It is difficult to predict which factors will dominate in near future, so no concrete forecast from my side.