The President and the Environment, Oct 22

by Khurshid Anwer

The president was waxing forth today about how he had launched tree planting campaigns as the minister for environment. I doubt if he knows even the meaning of the word ‘environment’.

Environment is not only about planting trees, it is also about clean air for breathing and clean water for drinking. In the country of which he is president neither is available.

Total stress on thermal power (also Solar & Wind) at the exclusion of hydel power is contributing to polluted air, and to global warming, and to melting of our glaciers.

Shortage of water is contributing to pollution of water, because of the increasing amounts of factory effluents being dumped into lesser quantities of water in the canals.

The Nation of Sep 30 carries a report on a Study, ‘River-crisis worsens threat of water scarcity’, published in the ‘Journal Nature’ by Peter Macintyre, professor of Zoology at the university of Wisconsin.

Quote:

Looking into the future,‘climate change’ is among the basket of ‘escalating trends’ that will add pressure on the rivers.

In rich countries, heavy investment in dams and reservoirs has benefited 850 million people, reducing their exposure to extreme water scarcity by 95 percent.

In upper middle-income countries investment has benefited 140 million people, reducing their risk of extreme water scarcity by 23 percent.

In developing countries, minimal investment in infrastructure* has meant 3.4 billion (340 crore) people find themselves in the highest category of threat of water scarcity – Unquote.

* Dams, reservoirs and canals.

Opponents of mega dams blame the dams for the environmental damage at the Indus delta. That would be true if the dams had reduced flow in the rivers. Mangla dam made up for the waters lost to India. Punjab would not today be bearing 80% of the agriculture load for the whole country without Mangla dam. Tarbela dam increased canal supplies by 25%, over 6 million acre feet increase for Sindh alone. Growth of agriculture in Sindh would not have been possible without Tarbela dam. Kalbagh dam will add a further 2.2 maf to the supplies for Sindh.

The flow to the Indus delta actually decreased after Kotri barrage was built and three big canals taken out from it. Three big canals at Guddu barrage and seven big canals at Sukkur barrage were already depleting the Indus river. Remember that it is at the barrages that rivers are depleted and not at the dams, which actually add to the supply side.

Khurshid Anwer

I would appreciate comments on, if to satisfy the nay sayers, Mangla and Tarbela dams were to stop storing water and Jhelum and Indus were to revert to the run-of-the-river position, what would this do to the agriculture of Pakistan and to the Indus delta?

Regional & Pakistan food Crisis

Nation Oct 29 – In a warning tone, president Asif Ali Zardari tried to sensitise the international community about the criticality of food security in order to achieve peace and stability both in the country and in the region.

by Khurshid Anwer

This is hilarious, not only the language but also the warning to the international community when he himself is blind to all the warnings about the serious shortage of water in the country caused by the depleting storages and inaction on any additional storages.

Talking to Director FAO, he continued “Agriculture sector that contributes 21% share to national GDP and provides employment to about 45% has suffered huge losses during the recent floods”.

Wrong again. The figures he is quoting are history and were already down to half even before the floods. So was the 40% contribution of the agro based industry to national exports.

On another subject, despite my repeated stress on the importance of the left bank canal at kalabagh dam to the agriculture of north Punjab, I was most disappointed to read in the Governor’s 100-point document:

“However the dam design was modified to eliminate the Left and Right bank canals to obviate the concerns of other provinces”.

“The Kalabagh Dam design does not include any provision for diverting water from the reservoir using any high level outlets”.

In my detailed response I have once again emphasized that without the left bank canal north Punjab will not get even 1% of the 37% allocation from Kalabagh dam or any other dam on the Indus, be it Tarbela, Bhasha, Akhori, Skardu or Katzara dam. What this will do to 80% of the agriculture of Pakistan does not seem to bother any one.

The fear that Punjab will take Sindh’s share from Kalabagh dam is based on ignorance of the fact that Punjab will take only its allotted share from the stored water and not from Sindh’s share, nor from the Indus river. Share for Sindh already having been increased by decreasing Punjab’s share. This imaginary fear is holding back construction of Kalabagh dam and denying both Punjab and Sindh of 2.2 million acre feet of additional water each.

Another news item in the Nation of the same date:

Scarcity of water and high prices of diesel have put growers in troubled water intending to sow wheat crop. The growers in Punjab are already facing 15 percent reduction in their water share for wheat crop. One-acre land can be irrigated with canal water at Rs 150-200. The cost crosses Rs 3,000 when one goes for the alternative source as prices of diesel are high”.

The president should be putting his own house in order instead of issuing warnings to the international community.

Hired for mediocrity

by Ayaz Ahmad

The success of any organisation is strongly correlated with the skills and competencies of its workforce. The appointment of Adnan Khwaja as managing director of the Oil and Gas Development Corporation, despite the fact that his highest educational qualification is intermediate, is an example of the blatant disregard that this government has for merit. This same gentleman – a former convict and a beneficiary of the NRO who previously served as chairman of the National Vocational and Technical Education Commission – is hardly qualified to be appointed to a clerical position, let alone be selected to head a key organisation in a nation of over 170 million.

The names of parliamentarians holding fake degrees and ministers with questionable credentials have been widely publicised. But the extent of mediocrity at all levels of governmental and semi-governmental entities, as well as in parliament, is mind boggling. Appointment of cronies is the norm in today’s Pakistan. From PIA, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan Steel, to PSO, WAPDA and PEPCO, the state of mediocrity is paralysing the national assets. They are on the verge of bankruptcy, barely surviving by the lifeline provided by taxpayers.

Our national sports of hockey and cricket are in doldrums. To top it all, the International Cricket Council has asked the Pakistan Cricket Board to clean up its act within a month or face possible eviction from the world of cricket. Asif Zardari is reported to have stated that PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, who is a close relative of Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, will not be touched till Zardari is at the helm of affairs.

Parliament has recently passed a bill that reinstates officeholders from the PPP’s previous stints in government who were relieved of their duties in the late 1990s. To say nothing of the merit of their reappointment, will they really be in a position to perform at an acceptable level, given that they’ve been away from their assignments for over a decade?
The current government is making a mockery of merit, and its selection of employees reeks of favouritism and nepotism. Things have come to the point where it is almost disadvantageous for an applicant to possess the requisite qualifications for a job in today’s Pakistan. However, it must be acknowledged that the previous governments have also played havoc with the nation’s greatest asset, its talented human resource, which excels everywhere but in Pakistan.

There are three ingredients that are at the heart of effective recruitment in any organisation, be it public or private. Evidence gleamed from organisational studies suggests that emphasis on formal education, relevant work experience and "fit" within an organisation form the cornerstone of an effective recruitment policy.
A broad-based formal education provides a candidate with the understanding and tools for access to the knowledge accumulated in a variety of fields, while a specialisation allows the student to gain greater expertise in a specific area, preparing him/her to enter the workforce. This knowledge is critical, as it enables the student to learn and absorb the theoretical foundations of the given discipline in a controlled environment.

The experiential phase allows the candidate to put to practise the knowledge in a comparatively uncontrolled setting, thereby refining and improving his/her expertise. From the recruiter’s perspective, the candidate must have demonstrated effective utilisation of the skills attained through education by performing work at a progressively advance level. In this respect, the candidate’s progression through previous work assignments, judged through written or oral evaluations, act as the primary gauge for evaluation.
Perhaps the most important criterion is the "fit" of the individual into the prospective organisation. It is critical that utmost care be taken to ensure that the candidate will work towards the advancement of the organisational objectives.

There is little use of an otherwise qualified individual whose actions result in disrupting the organisational goals or interfering with the performance of others. For example, if the government has decided to enact an economic policy that evolves around heavy reliance on fiscal stimulus, it would likely be counterproductive to hire a staunch monetarist to carry it out, even if it were economist Milton Friedman, arguably the greatest monetarist of the 20th century.

Though the problems plaguing Pakistan are too complex to be resolved just through implementation of appropriate recruitment and talent-management practices, replacement of a selection process based on favouritism and ad hoc appointments with a merit-based one could turn out to be a giant leap forward for our public and private organisations.

The writer is a management consultant and a freelance contributor. Email: ayaza 75@hotmail.com

KASHMIR, will it ever be resolved?

Is this ever going to end? will the world in general and UN, USA, UK, etc just allow it to continue; Dont the Kashmiris have rights as human beings?

Or is that just where it suits the 2-faced Westerners?

Or is it because the majority of the population is Muslim? Is the Ummah ODing on western hypocrisy?

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The 8 year old innocent was killed by Indians during current protests.
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Baramulla Kashmir | PEOPLE CARRY THE BODY OF NINE-YEAR-OLD TARIQ AHMAD
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Can you imagine these kids can be involved in terrorism?
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Would someone care about the rights children have? Where are the human rightist?
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Even Indians consider Dupatta as a weapon of terrorism…………
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So many cowards behind a single journalist…
Freedom of speech vocalists are silent here
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Can this old man be dangerous for hundreds of thousands of Indian troops deployed in valley?
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Indian paramilitary soldiers beat a Kashmiri civilian during a protest in Srinagar, India, Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Authorities brought new areas under curfew in the Indian portion of Kashmir on Wednesday to control the worst street violence in a year, triggered by the killing of 11 people allegedly by government forces over the past two weeks. (AP Photo)


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A young innocent Kashmiri student, aged 22, shot dead at point blank range by the draconian CRPF. They had promised a revenge killing after a trooper was shot dead by militants in the same location: The Slaughterers awarded one hundred rupees and promotions for killing the innocent Kashmiri.


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Work in progress

by Dr Howard Schweber

After spending a summer teaching political theory to Pakistani undergraduate students, I can confidently make two assertions: they are just like all the other college students I have known and taught in the United States for years, and, paradoxically, they are nothing like all the other college students I have ever known.

My first impression of Pakistani students was that they are, well, just that – college students. How utterly, disappointingly, unexotic. Grade conscious careerists, canny manipulators of the system, highly competitive…future engineers and finance majors.

But there are some differences. That word ‘elite’ comes into play here. In the US, no college student would describe him or herself as elite – that word is primarily reserved for use as a political insult. Americans, notoriously, valorise the idea of belonging to the middle class, sometimes to a ludicrous degree. These Pakistani students, at one of the best private universities in the country, have no such compunctions, and are quite pleased to describe themselves and their family backgrounds with the words, “we are the elites,” or other words to that effect. This tendency partly reflects an inherited colonialist culture; perhaps, it partly reflects the reality of deep economic divisions reflected in the ubiquitous servant culture that every American I spoke with privately described as jarring. Sure, American college students at top schools also tend to have a sense of entitlement, but nothing that compares with the elite classes of Pakistani society.

Not all the students at this private school come from backgrounds of privilege, however. In my small, unscientific sample of about forty students whom I met (out of sixty-five enrolled in my two courses), I encountered ten or so who come from worlds very different from that of Lahore’s upper class. These students tended to approach me quietly and privately to describe their backgrounds; students from small villages, not only in the Punjab but also from the areas around Karachi and Peshawar; the student who confided that he had grown up on streets similar to the ones we were walking through in the area around Lahore’s Walled City; the student from FATA, the Federal Administered Tribal Agencies, who couldn’t go home.


Looking closely at the students I met and taught reveals more mysteries. Some had serious problems with English, particularly in their writing, but most were extremely well prepared as far as language skills were concerned. It is when we look beyond language skills that puzzles begin to appear. What was most startling was the realization that these students were palpably uncomfortable with abstract concepts and what people in Education Schools call ‘critical thinking skills. When I raised this point to faculty and alumni, every one without exception acknowledged the problem, and pointed to the system of secondary education as the culprit. Undoubtedly the point is correct, but I think there is a deeper observation to be made here. In addition to being uncomfortable with abstract concepts, these students and their families seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of knowledge that is not justified by an immediate practical application. That discomfort extends to a reluctance to embrace basic scientific research as well as the humanities. I heard from students who wanted to study theoretical physics whose parents insisted that they become engineers; students who wanted to become historians whose parents did not see the point. The same attitudes exist in other places to be sure, but among my Pakistani students it seemed almost universal.

There is a classic saying about immigrants to America: “The first generation are factory workers so that the second generation can be lawyers so the third generation can be artists.” I mentioned that saying to a student, and he found it deeply puzzling.


Part of the reason for this discomfort with abstraction may have to do with a curiously limited range of background knowledge. My students – many of whom, again, had graduated from the finest schools – knew almost literally nothing of non-Pakistani history and culture. The reason is not that Pakistan is culturally isolated – far from it. At one point I found myself confronted by a room full of students who had an exhaustive knowledge of the movies that were Oscar candidates last year, but among whom the vast majority had never heard of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In general, students had no idea – not even a wrong idea! – about the significance of the French Revolution or World War I, the history of nationalism and empires, the contents of the Book of Genesis, the Scientific Revolution or the Renaissance. Again, when I pressed students, faculty members and alumni, the answer was always the same: the fault lies with the secondary school curriculum, and particularly the fact that during General Zia ul Haq’s rule secondary school curricula were shifted to emphasize Pakistan Studies and Islam at the expense of everything else. Again, that can only be a very partial explanation. But it is worth noting that this lack of cultural literacy helps feed the culture of conspiracy theories for which Pakistan is justly famous.


But what happens once these students get to college? I saw and heard about fine courses in Shakespeare and Islamic Jurisprudence, but when it comes to the social sciences it appears that the students who learn anything about these subjects at all (that is, those who choose to take courses outside of Accounting and Finance) are fed a steady diet of snippets of readings and excerpts from trendy current theories. Many students could and were eager to could talk fluently about Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, and (rather weirdly) Nazi Germany, but Locke and Rousseau, Machiavelli and Madison, Cromwell and Marx were all equally unknown territory. Undoubtedly, at this point I will be accused of Western ethnocentricism; how many American college students know the names of the first four Moghul Emperors? It’s a fair point, to be sure. But it’s a big world out there, and a dangerous place at home. Colleges don’t just train engineers, they train citizens and future leaders. Pakistan might do well to train some future leaders in the history and the philosophies that have shaped the world around them.

The point is not that the instructors at these colleges are bad teachers, far from it; the instructors I met were qualified, dedicated teachers. The point is that establishing the historical and philosophical context out of which modern ways of thinking emerge does not seem to be part of the curriculum . Nor, for that matter, does reading whole books seem to be an expected element of the college experience. I had a student in my office who complained, with no apparent sense of irony, that I had asked a question on a take-home exam to which he was unable to find an answer on Wikipedia. (To repeat an earlier observation, Pakistani college students seem to be almost entirely unencumbered by any sense of irony. I find this incomprehensible, given the Dadaist absurdity of much of Pakistani politics.)

Here’s another example to make my point: on the first examination that I administered, I included a question that asked students to ‘compare and contrast’ two texts. I was not particularly proud of the question, since for a lot of my students in the US, this is considered the most banal, overused, pedantic imaginable form of exam problem, the sort of question they’ve been encountering since the fourth grade. I was therefore nonplussed when several students asked what I meant by ‘comparing’ different texts. “We have never been asked a question like this,” said one, and a dozen others in the room expressed agreement. I have often had students request extensions on assignments, but this was the first time I encountered a request for an extension signed by five students – who, it turned out, were among the better students in the class! – a demand justified by the statement that “we have never been asked to write something like this before.”

In response to these inquiries, I tried to explain the idea of making comparisons in terms of taxonomy – you identify the salient characteristics and use them to classify objects in terms of their differences (“zebras have stripes, horses don’t.”) Now apply the same idea to, say, theories of history. “This writer views social arrangements as expressions of economic organisation, this writer understands social arrangements as the performance of ideological claims … and here’s the explanation that makes more sense in modern Pakistan.” I wasn’t necessarily expecting brilliant insights, but it was startling to realise that the question was, itself, startling.

And there is yet another dissonant strain that clashes with the ‘elite’ culture of graduates of Aitchison College, convent schools, and the like. This different voice appears in the form of deeply religious students, referred to on my particular campus by faculty and fellow students alike as ‘the mullahs.’ At first I thought I understood the significance of their presence on campus, but by the time I left I had concluded that the relationship between these religiously observant students, their fellows, and the administration is the great unsolved mystery that I take away from my visit. It may be the great unsolved mystery of Pakistan.

Over and over I was warned, by faculty members and students alike, to beware of the religious students. When I mentioned some of the texts that I was teaching, a senior colleague was first horrified, then said “well, you are probably all right because it is the summer,” (since there are fewer students around, I suppose). All of this fed into a rather well-settled narrative of universities as bastions of secular knowledge (and a fair amount of partying in the men’s dorm, I hear), besieged by the forces of religious extremism.

But then I got to know a few students who are, themselves, religiously observant. They tell a different story. Their claim is that the so-called ‘mullahs’ are two groups of students. One group, led by an instructor, belong to the Naqshbandis, a Sufi order, the other to the Tableeghi Jamaat, an organization dedicated to preaching Islam. Neither group, according to these students, has any interest in confrontation. The same students also insist that there have never been any incidents of religious students harassing secular students or faculty or disrupting classes, and that the college Disciplinary Committee would make short work of any student who tried to do so. By contrast, the same students also complain of a pervasive anti-religious bias. In an e-mail, a student wrote: “I remember that in one particular class a student with a beard came late to class, which is a normal practice, and the instructor said to him sarcastically, ‘Oh go back and offer prayers, because these things (classes) are not important…’”

So there are two narratives at work here. Which one is right; is one more right than the other; are both simultaneously operative? Which narrative captures more of the experience at the University of Punjab, which captures more of what goes on at the Lahore University of Management Sciences/ LUMS? I have no idea – I only know that no one disrupted my classes or threatened me, but that many people seemed to feel compelled to call my attention to the possibility of such events.

The more I think about it, this last mystery about Pakistan’s universities is a mystery about Pakistan. I have no clear idea about the relationships among different approaches to Islam and secularism among Pakistan’s elites. Traditionally, Pakistanis have been ‘the kind of Muslims who go to shrines,’ but the nation has a death penalty for blasphemy, and just a few months ago ‘Death to Qadianis’ banners used to festoon the boulevards of Lahore. (Qadianis are registered as a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan.) And one Pakistani student, in front of other students, in one of my classes, told me, “as a good Muslim I would never say salaam back if an Ahmedi/Qadiani said salaam to me.” The other students said nothing; no one challenged him, or disagreed – this in a class devoted to examining theories of democracy and multiculturalism.


As I walked around the campus, I observed students lounging on the stairs, men and women together, but then a sociologist told me that among the very people I was observing, more than 85% will enter arranged marriages, and that more than 90% of those marriages do not permit the wife to file for divorce.

So maybe these aren’t ‘just college students’ after all. But what are they, this next generation of Pakistan’s elite? Individually I can tell you that they are bright, thoughtful, witty, principled, socially and intellectually attractive young adults with widely varying worldviews, limited by a lack of education and culturally imposed limitations. But as a group I find them a mystery.

Professor Schweber teaches political theory and constitutional law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. He is the author of books on the First Amendment, American legal history, and constitutional philosophy. Previously, he practiced law for several years in San Francisco. This past summer was his first trip to Pakistan

Thought leadership is sustainable market leadership

Published in The Express Tribune October 18th, 2010.

Pakistan yet to face realities of the Internet-dominated world

In the more privileged circles, the incidence and rise of the Internet has become common knowledge. However, as it stands, the Internet seems to have had limited practical implications in Pakistan, underscored through how knowledge is created, managed and disseminated within organisations.

In many ways, we remain confined to the business model of the industrialised century: hide, confine, and protect knowledge to self, whether in the form of an organisation or person.

Unfortunately, the Internet – given its inherent features of freedom, access and equality tailored to knowledge sharing, openness and empowerment – will not let this setup to flourish for too long.

Meanwhile, Pakistan still remains protected, as it is yet to face the realities of the Internet-dominated world, given the limited use and access of the technology. But growth in usage and eventual overturn is inevitable.

The concept of learning by sharing is not new, with roots stemming from indigenous societies to modern day industries such as motorsport and technology. Steven Pinch and Nick Henry in their 1998 publication refer to this spill-over of knowledge as ‘untraded interdependencies’, the benefits of which are underlined through the existence of clusters, where such interaction adds economic value.

Academia and research

Let’s consider the interplay of the concept in the academic and research industry.

The London School of Economics, alongside other leading universities, attracts audiences and shares its public lectures locally and internationally for free. Such is considered a regular and critical feature of the university experience, having institutionalised its existence.

This does not mean that the school is losing its market power or competitive edge. In fact, the opposite is true.  It is a tool used to create social power, generating the ‘wow factor’ and instilling a strong desire in students to be part of the process.

Open courseware at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the recent advancement of Professor Sandel (Harvard University) to television underlines the case. The Internet has changed the parameters of competitive edge in business.

Successful academia have started using knowledge to create soft power, utilising it as a tool to market and attract students – believing that if you constrain exchange and dissemination, the Internet will outpace you.

Consider also the social success of the Khan Academy, which provides a free online classroom for the world.

The competitive edge of a university is maintained through the interactivity between students and faculty in and outside the classroom. The social, intellectual and economic opportunities it provides, the presence of diversity, and most of all the ‘chaos’ — creating avenues for ideas, learning and breakthroughs.

An interesting example exists through how research is shared and disseminated. International firms such as McKinsey and Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Boston Consulting Group share some ideas, publications and analysis with the public for free (readily available on their website), utilising it as a form of tacit marketing. You would not find such information on most corporate websites in Pakistan.

Similarly, universities and broadly faculty share and upload their publications and research articles online for free view. This reflects a social and intellectual mindset gaining precedence and force in the new generation of learning, a feature you would not find on websites of most organisations in Pakistan, including many universities and research groups.

Thought Leadership

The value of sharing is highlighted by Bill Taylor who says: “The only sustainable form of market leadership is thought leadership… the most powerful way to demonstrate your position as a thought leader is to teach other organisations what you know — whether they are customers, suppliers, or even direct competitors.” This is reinforced by Dr Kaplan who argues, ‘the more we educate, the faster we move as well. By teaching others what we’ve learned, it forces us to keep learning.’

The approach ‘is not to out-market the competition, but to out-teach the competition. Why? Because teaching creates a different kind of presence in the marketplace, it creates a higher sense of loyalty among those who learn from you. And it helps the company create not just customers for its products but an audience for its ideas — in the same way that famous chefs are willing to share their recipes so as to build a following for their overall approach to cooking’ says Bill Taylor.

Business models need to respond to changing times. The year 2010 is quite different from the year 2000, where division and hierarchy of knowledge is not the way to create and sustain an organisation. As modern models of exchange evolve, thought leadership is social leadership, which reinforces economic and political leadership.

The writer is an economist with a MSc in local economic development from the London School of Economics and Political Science

US EDGES CLOSER TO INVADING PAKISTAN

We are edging closer, I’m afraid, and this is what we feared from the beginning. The strategy of "Cambodia & Laos" is on the anvil and its not going to work just as it did not in Viet Nam. Pakistan was peaceful (no Taliban threat no suicide bombs) until after USA invaded Afghanistan and spawned the war into our tribal territories which, by the way,were autonomous even during the Brit Raj in India and still are. Our Government’s writ is non-existant in the Frontier region with Afghanistan. Even if we pour 400,000 troops into the region we are going to be bogged down just as USA/NATO are in Afghanistan.
Negotiations & peace talks are the call of the hour.
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THE US EDGES CLOSER TO INVADING PAKISTAN

http://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/the-us-edges-closer-to-invading-pakistan/

By: Eric Margolis 

 

 

This writer has been warning for years that US and NATO efforts to defeat resistance to Western occupation by Afghanistan’s fierce Pashtun tribes would eventually lead to spreading the conflict into neighboring Pakistan, a nation of 175 million.

We’ve seen it all before in Vietnam.  It was then called, “mission creep.”

The focus of the Afghan War is clearly shifting south into Pakistan, drawing that nation and the United States forces ever closer to a direct confrontation.  This grim development was as predictable as it was inevitable.

This week’s fevered warnings from Washington of supposedly imminent terrorist attacks in Europe may be aimed at justifying intensifying US military operations against Pakistan.  If attacks do come in Europe, they will most likely be linked to anti-French militant groups in North Africa and the Sahara – nothing at all to do with Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Last week, Pakistan temporarily closed the main US/NATO supply route from Karachi to the Afghan border at Torkham after the killing of three Pakistani soldiers by US helicopter gunships. Three US/NATO fuel supply convoys were burned by anti-American militants.

Eighty percent of the supplies of the US-led forces in Afghanistan come up this long, difficult route.  Along the way, the US pays large bribes to Pakistani officials, local warlords, and to Taliban.  The cost of a gallon of gas delivered to US units in Afghanistan has risen to $800.

US helicopter gunships have staged at least four attacks on Pakistan this past week alone, in addition to the mounting number of strikes by CIA drones that are inflicting heavy casualties on civilians and tribal militants alike.   US Special Forces and CIA-run Afghan mercenaries are also increasingly active along Pakistan’s northwest frontier.

Pakistan’s feeble, discredited government has long closed its eyes to CIA’s drone attacks.  Washington does not even seek permission for the raids or give advance warning to Islamabad.  Pakistan’s media claims over 90% of the casualties in US air raids are civilians.
The failing government in Islamabad is caught between two fires.  Pakistanis are furious and humiliated by the American attacks. Each new assault further undermines the inept, US-installed Zardari government.  Even Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the government’s strongman, protested last week’s US attacks.

But Pakistan is on the edge of economic collapse after its devastating floods. Islamabad is now totally reliant on $2 billion annual US aid, plus tens of millions more “black” payments from CIA.  Washington has given Islamabad $10 billion since 2001, most of which goes to renting 140,000 Pakistani troops to support the US-led Afghan war.  CIA also has 3,000 mercenaries operating inside Pakistan.

As Osama bin Laden just pointed out in a new audio tape, the Muslim nations have been derelict in coming to Pakistan’s aid.  He blamed the massive flooding in Pakistan on global warming.

An influential former Pakistani chief of staff, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, just demanded Pakistan’s air force shoot down US drones and helicopters violating his nation’s sovereignty.  His sentiments are widely shared in Pakistan’s increasingly angry military.

Pakistan’s senior generals are being blasted as “American stooges” by some of the media and are losing respect among Pakistanis.  A video this week of the execution of six civilians by army troops has further damaged the army’s good name.

However, Washington’s view is very different.  Pakistan is increasingly branded insubordinate, ungrateful for billions in aid, and a potential enemy of US regional interests.   Many Americans consider Pakistan more of a foe than ally.  The limited US financial response to Pakistan’s flood was a sign of that nation’s poor repute in North America.

Fears are growing in Washington and in Europe that the nine-year Afghan War may be lost.  American popular opinion has turned against the war.  The Pentagon fears a failure in Afghanistan will humiliate the US military and undermine America’s international power. In short, just what happened to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

America’s foreign policy establishment is venting its anger and frustration over the failing Afghan War by lashing out at Pakistan and, as well,  the US-installed Karzai regime in Kabul.

Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, is seen in Washington as hopeless and incompetent.  Full US attention is now on Pakistan’s military, the de facto government, and its respected but embattled commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, whose tenure was just extended under US pressure.  Kayani is still regarded as an “asset” by Washington. But like Zardari, he is caught between American demands and outraged Pakistanis – plus concerns about the threat from India and Delhi’s machinations in Afghanistan.   The recent upsurge of violence in Indian-ruled Kashmir has intensified these dangerous tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

The neoconservatives in Washington and their media allies again claim Pakistan is a grave threat to US interests and to Israel. Pakistan must be declawed and dismembered, insist the neocons. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is reportedly being targeted for seizure or elimination by US Special Forces.

There is also talk in Washington of dividing Afghanistan into Pashtun, Tajik and Uzbek mini-states, as the US has done in Iraq, Could Pakistan be next for this divide and conquer treatment?  Little states are easier to rule or intimidate than big ones.  Many Pakistanis believe the United States is bent on dismembering their nation. Some polls show Pakistanis now regard the United States as a greater enemy than India.

Now that America is in full mid-term election frenzy, expect more calls for tougher US military action in “AfPak.”   Already unpopular politicians are terrified of being branded “soft on terrorism” and failing to maximally support US military campaigns.   Flag waving replaces sober thought.

If polls are right and Republicans achieve a major win, it’s likely there will be more and deeper US air and land attacks into Pakistan.  The Pentagon is convinced it can still defeat resistance by Taliban and its allies “if only we can go after their sanctuaries in Pakistan,” as one general told me.

Where have we heard this before?  Why in Cambodia and Laos, that’s where, during the Vietnam War.  Frustrated US commanders expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos to go after Communist base camps.  The war spread; these two small nations were largely destroyed, but the war was ultimately lost.

Victory in war is achieved by concentration of forces, not spreading them ever thinner and wider.

But our imperial generals seem determined to blunder into a nation of 175 million hostile people without any clear strategy.     Unable to subdue the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan, they are now attacking the Pashtun tribes of Pakistan.  America does not need more enemies.

(Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and other news sites in Asia.He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Lew Rockwell and Big Eye. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC).