Pakistan quake's political aftermath

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is being blamed for incompetence in responding to the earthquake in the politically—sensitive northwest region of his country. The death toll has already reached 50,000, and spreading disease threatens to kill many more. The powerful quake hit Kashmir, a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, and split between them for decades in an uneasy peace, punctuated by violence.

The capital of Pakistan's portion of Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, is reported to have virtually crumbled to the ground within the first two minutes of the quake. B. Raman, writing for the South Asian Analysis Group, an Indian research organization, says that residents of Muzaffarabad at first assumed a nuclear strike from India had hit their city, and only realized later that a devastating earthquake was the cause of their woes. The government of Pakistan took up to 6 hours to comprehend that a major earthquake had taken place, so thoroughly were communications to the remote region impaired.

Raman further reports:

The two Divisions of the Pakistan Army stationed in the POK [Pakistan—occupied Kashmir] were in a total state of confusion following the death of about 500 officers and other ranks and injuries to many more. The first reaction of the surviving army personnel was to undertake efforts to rescue their own colleagues, who were buried under the debris.

The first reaction of the Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi after it came to know after 3 PM of the extent of the devastation caused and the state of confusion in the ranks of the Army personnel stationed in the POK was to rush reinforcements to the POK to restore and strengthen the defences along the Line of Control (LOC), lest Indian forces take advantage of the collapse of the defences to infiltrate into the POK in order to destroy the terrorist training infrastructure, which had not been brought down by the quake.

The first 24 hours after the quake struck were spent by the Army to attend to the military needs of the situation and only thereafter, it started paying attention to the civilian needs. The civlian administration had pracically collapsed due to the deaths of a large number of officials. Those, who survived, had suffered tragedies in their families and, as such, their heart was not in the rescue and relief work. They were more interested in rescuing their relatives from the debris and arranging medical attention for them.

It should be noted that, rather than taking military advantage of the situation in Pakistan, India has actually offered assistance to Pakistan.

Musharraf's troubles from the quake are of strategic importance to the Global War on Terror. He has been cooperating with efforts to eradicate al Qaeda, even though Pakistan's population contains many sympathizers. Radical Islam might well be able to establish a stronger presence in Pakistan if Musharraf's government were to fall.

Hat tip: N. S. Rajaram, who adds:

When India even offered badly needed helicopter service across the border, Pakistan rejected it insisting that Indian pilots would not be allowed to fly in the zone. In other words, Pakistan might accept Indian helicopters but without Indian crew! The fear probably is that al Qaeda terrorist camps on the Pakistani side of the border might be detected by Indians.

Thomas Lifson  10 18 05

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is being blamed for incompetence in responding to the earthquake in the politically—sensitive northwest region of his country. The death toll has already reached 50,000, and spreading disease threatens to kill many more. The powerful quake hit Kashmir, a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, and split between them for decades in an uneasy peace, punctuated by violence.

The capital of Pakistan's portion of Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, is reported to have virtually crumbled to the ground within the first two minutes of the quake. B. Raman, writing for the South Asian Analysis Group, an Indian research organization, says that residents of Muzaffarabad at first assumed a nuclear strike from India had hit their city, and only realized later that a devastating earthquake was the cause of their woes. The government of Pakistan took up to 6 hours to comprehend that a major earthquake had taken place, so thoroughly were communications to the remote region impaired.

Raman further reports:

The two Divisions of the Pakistan Army stationed in the POK [Pakistan—occupied Kashmir] were in a total state of confusion following the death of about 500 officers and other ranks and injuries to many more. The first reaction of the surviving army personnel was to undertake efforts to rescue their own colleagues, who were buried under the debris.

The first reaction of the Army's General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi after it came to know after 3 PM of the extent of the devastation caused and the state of confusion in the ranks of the Army personnel stationed in the POK was to rush reinforcements to the POK to restore and strengthen the defences along the Line of Control (LOC), lest Indian forces take advantage of the collapse of the defences to infiltrate into the POK in order to destroy the terrorist training infrastructure, which had not been brought down by the quake.

The first 24 hours after the quake struck were spent by the Army to attend to the military needs of the situation and only thereafter, it started paying attention to the civilian needs. The civlian administration had pracically collapsed due to the deaths of a large number of officials. Those, who survived, had suffered tragedies in their families and, as such, their heart was not in the rescue and relief work. They were more interested in rescuing their relatives from the debris and arranging medical attention for them.

It should be noted that, rather than taking military advantage of the situation in Pakistan, India has actually offered assistance to Pakistan.

Musharraf's troubles from the quake are of strategic importance to the Global War on Terror. He has been cooperating with efforts to eradicate al Qaeda, even though Pakistan's population contains many sympathizers. Radical Islam might well be able to establish a stronger presence in Pakistan if Musharraf's government were to fall.

Hat tip: N. S. Rajaram, who adds:

When India even offered badly needed helicopter service across the border, Pakistan rejected it insisting that Indian pilots would not be allowed to fly in the zone. In other words, Pakistan might accept Indian helicopters but without Indian crew! The fear probably is that al Qaeda terrorist camps on the Pakistani side of the border might be detected by Indians.

Thomas Lifson  10 18 05