– Chilling interview with Pakistan’s former chief spy in Al-Ahram: He says America doesn’t “have the heart or the courage to attack Afghanistan. They would want to use the Northern Alliance and create a revolt…. If they set up a puppet regime in Afghanistan, as the British did in the 19th century and the Russians in the 20th century, the regime will start sending signals for help. Americans will get mired in Afghanistan in a very bad situation at the wrong time, among the wrong people and in wrong terrain.” Shades of Vietnam.
Languages: Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%…
Am I the only person who thinks mainstream journalists shy away from ethnic explanations? It’s only now, several weeks into the crisis, that reporters start to identify Afghanistan’s Taliban regime as a primarily Pashtun (Pathan) group; and the opposition Northern Alliance as primarily Tajik or Uzbek. Pretty vital information, I would have thought. It explains why Tajikistan or Uzbekistan may be willing to aid the US, for instance.
But it’s time for the same kind of analysis applied to some of the other countries in the region. For instance, I only found out recently that the Pashtun dominate areas of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan. This is where the most passionate anti-American demonstrations have taken place. But I have no idea what the dominant Punjabi population think of the Pashtuns, either in Pakistan or Afghanistan. No one seems to be reporting from Lahore, the largest Punjabi city. If the majority population is ethnically distinct from the Taliban radicals, then Pakistan may be a more stable US ally than the television pictures would suggest. Another fact: the Pashtuns are more closely related to Iranians than to Pakistan’s Punjabis, although Pashtuns and Punjabis do share the Sunni variant of Islamic belief. Some reporters may gloss over the ethnic divisions in order to keep the story a simple one of clashing civilizations. Others, I suspect, may be acting out of political correctness. Memo to reporters: please state ethnicity of demonstrators, quantify weight in total population, position of other ethnic groups. And some ethnographic maps.
From a related article, on the ethnic divisions in Pakistan and the Pashtun borderlands, in American Prospect: “Everything west of Peshawar to the border, going north and south, is called the ‘Federally-Administered Tribal Area’. When we were there, we referred to it as the ‘Tribally-Administered Federal Area.”
– Who else thinks that the photo of the laughing hijacker at an ATM released by the FBI yesterday is the very image of Lucifer?
– What do you do with the remains of the devil: the bodies of the hijackers?
From the Times of London:
IN carefully numbered plastic bags in refrigerated trucks parked at the mortuary at Dover Air Force base in Delaware sit human remains that have presented the Bush Adminstration with an ethical problem.
US investigators told The Times that they had certainly recovered, if not yet identified, the bodies of several of the suicide hijackers, prompting a debate over how to dispose of what is left of the most hated men in America.
– Taliban books.
Off-topic: Bild.de, the German tabloid, asks: Was Hitler gay? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.