Helicopter gunships for Balochistan, kid gloves for madrassas
At least thirty thousand army personnel, twelve helicopter gunships, four fighter jets, several spy planes of different sizes, heavy artillery and missiles are now waging a bloody war in Balochistan. The reason they are there is because Gen Musharraf is determined to restore the ‘writ of government’ where challenged. Reporters are not being allowed to cover the conflict, so no one really knows the exact number of casualties. But scores of people have been killed since December 2005. The writ of government is being restored with all the bloody-mindedness the Pakistani Army can manage. And it can manage quite a bit of bloody-mindedness.
Musharraf also promised to act against the terrorist-generating madrassas at least three times. To the United States after 9/11, to India after the Dec 2001 attacks on parliament and again after accepting Vajpayee’s hand of piece, and to Britain after last year’s attacks on the London underground. Each promise was followed by a high-profile announcement of bold action against madrassas, then by a less high-profile modification, qualification and finally by a extremely low-profile resignation. Not even a whiff of the bloody-mindedness with which the Pakistani Army’s bloody-minded determination to impose the writ of government was there to be seen. But Gen Musharraf gets to keep all the goodies that come with the FATWAT badge. Surprisingly, the countries on the other end of Musharraf’s promise (the receiving end) don’t really seem to bother whether he keeps them or not.