A number of people (here and on twitter) have complained that they dont get my drift. I am in a rush (as always) but let me try again:
1. Pakistan (and Afghanistan even more so) are weakly governed spaces. People do not operate with the same degree of unconscious confidence in the future continuation of present arrangements that, say, Professor Vijay Prashad has in Hartford. This explains many otherwise unusual things (like how much time and money better-off people invest in securing a foothold abroad). Even a large and powerful entity like the Pak army doesnt feel too sure about the days to come. Who to betray and who to protect are decisions not made very lightly.
2. The US (let us assume) wants to shut down Pak army’s Jihadi pipeline for good. They are unhappy with Hafiz Saeed prancing around on stage with obvious intelligence agency support.
3. They have tried to buy cooperation or bully in private, but havent succeeded.
4. So someone decides its time to up the ante.
5. some ass in the state department then figures out a clever way to send a message but not too much of a message. So they announce a bounty, but its not exactly a bounty. It sounds like “reward for capture” but its really NOT a reward for capture, its a reward for information linking him to terrorism. Its like saying the US does NOT have enough information, but for some reason (a prophetic dream? a fragment in some ancient book? anonymous phone call?what?) they think he MAY be a terrorist and here’s ten million for someone who can prove that?
6. Think about this for a few minutes.
7. Yes, its that stupid.
8. Everybody has tremendous fun with the announcement. Which was actually quite serious and WILL lead to more serious consequences.
9. Hundreds of people (I am NOT talking about public opinion, in a war zone there is no great reward in worrying about public opinion, I am talking about decision makers) do their daily calculation of “what next”.
10 Hundreds of them decide this means the US is not as serious as initially thought when they heard about this “bounty”. This is more of the same and we can work around it.
11. Hundreds of these people would actually sell their own mother to Uncle Sam if push came to shove.
12. Uncle Sam has gained little and will have to do something bigger just to be taken seriously. Eventually, they may be taken seriously, but this episode will not have helped.
13. That is what I mean by digging further into a hole that you later want to fill.
14. And I see zero chance of a drone strike against Hafiz sahib. That would solve nothing and would involve a really nasty chain reaction and unpredictable risks. The change of behavior desired by Uncle Sam is at the top, Hafiz sahib is secondary. The “top” just got locked deeper into a posture of resistance that they themselves are really scared of being stuck in.
sorry, got to run.
The blessed state department has again clarified that the reward is for “information linking him to attacks”, not on his head. The whole news item is a laugh a minute. Check it out. It seems the US is basically saying “we dont have any proof linking him to terrorism and dont want to do anything more, but those pesky Indians keep asking us to do something, so here is a reward for anyone who can find some proof…happy hunting”.
In my un-nuanced leftist past,I would be rolling on the floor laughing my ass off… Hafiz Saeed appeared at a press conference half a mile from GHQ today to make fun of this strange bounty announcement. The entertainment value of this US announcement is huge. My Twitter feed is ablaze with jokes about Hafiz Saeed revealing his location and asking for the ten million to be sent to him as a reward.
But now that I am “nuanced”, I am a bit more “conflicted”.
I mean, sure, the US should just leave the region and stop making an ass of themselves. Maybe the ruling elites in India, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan are all adults and will do a better job without “help” from Uncle Sam. Or who knows, maybe the anarchists are right and we will soon be rid of these corrupt elites (our friends and cousins, but hey, thats life) and healthy Chomskyan Anarchy will prevail. Or maybe a socialist revolution is about to happen. Though I suspect the transition may be rather violent and I am not sure how many of us will like it in when it actually happens.
Or we could have Hindutvadis in India and Khalistanis in Khalistan and Hafiz Saeed types in Pakistan fight it out in a good full frontal war.
All kidding aside, what if the Americans turn out to be serious? We must keep that possibility in mind and then really bad things can happen in Pakistan. Comments?
PS: My fear us that the US may be serious but has left the “messaging” job in the hands of incompetent state department hacks. This non-serious BS from the state department is not going to send any serious “message”. And if the US IS serious, then the next step will be a big shock for Pakistan and Pakistan will say (with some justification) “we would have happily cooperated if we had known you was serious. We thought Hillary bibi was joking. This is grossly unfair. If you were serious, why this farce? why not send in a general and let him kick someone around in GHQ? “The US is making its own job harder.