The Myth of Talibanistan
by Pepe Escobar
1 May 09 | AT
Apocalypse Now. Run for cover. The turbans are coming. This is the state of Pakistan today, according to the current hysteria disseminated by the Barack Obama administration and United States corporate media – from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to The New York Times. Even British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said on the record that Pakistani Talibanistan is a threat to the security of Britain.
But unlike St Petersburg in 1917 or Tehran in late 1978, Islamabad won’t fall tomorrow to a turban revolution.
Pakistan is not an ungovernable Somalia. The numbers tell the story. At least 55% of Pakistan’s 170 million-strong population are Punjabis. There’s no evidence they are about to embrace Talibanistan; they are essentially Shi’ites, Sufis or a mix of both. Around 50 million are Sindhis — faithful followers of the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, now President Asif Ali Zardari’s centrist and overwhelmingly secular Pakistan People’s Party. Talibanistan fanatics in these two provinces – amounting to 85% of Pakistan’s population, with a heavy concentration of the urban middle class – are an infinitesimal minority.
The Pakistan-based Taliban – subdivided in roughly three major groups, amounting to less than 10,000 fighters with no air force, no Predator drones, no tanks and no heavily weaponized vehicles – are concentrated in the Pashtun tribal areas, in some districts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and some very localized, small parts of Punjab.
To believe this rag-tag band could rout the well-equipped, very professional 550,000-strong Pakistani army, the sixth-largest military in the world, which has already met the Indian colossus in battle, is a ludicrous proposition. >>>
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