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  1. #1
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    Default Londonstani reports collection

    Moderator adds: This thread was called 'Londonistani reports from Pakistan' as he has now moved back to London, via Syria, it has been renamed and some recent posts on another thread have been copied to here. Jon Custis and I like his writing style. I think his views are important on the non-lethal aspects of 'small wars', so he has his own thread, which is rather unusual. (ends).


    Londonstani is a correspondent for the CNAS blog "abu muqawwama" and has been sending in some great reports from Pakistan>
    His latest is at:


    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam....html#comments

    My comment on it was: Great Job!
    I would only add one more thing: Your psychoanalysis of the "common man's" confusions may be correct, but dont underestimate the layer of confusion ADDED ON by army psyops to whatever was inevitable and expected in ANY human society.

    The army has been running the country in one form or the other since 1953, they have a lot of leverage in the media (much of it unrecognizable to the casual observer). They have a particular interest in trying to project foreigners/Indians/CIA/Jews as the cause of all our troubles. And that interest may not even be primarily ideological (meaning it may not be because the army is all jihadi). Some of the motivation may be more pragmatic: The army high command may be willing to change course on the jihadi issue and even kill its own creations but they are NOT willing to sit back and let bloody civilians run the country as they see fit. If they accept responsibility for this mess it wont take long for ordinary people to realize that the "corrupt civilians" have done much less damage to the country than the super-efficient smartly dressed military patriots, which means the bloody civilians may be giving orders to generals one day.....
    I know this sounds too conspiratorial (maybe it is, maybe some bloody civilians have been blaming the army so long, they cannot think any other way), but I suspect that the high command is pretty shrewd when it comes to their interests in the power game. Bottom line: if the army wanted, it could actually demonize these talibans and terrorists much more. The problem is, they want them demonized, but not to the point where people start asking questions about "strategic depth"....Of course, they may actually believe their own propaganda. Its very easy to believe what is in the interest of your pocketbook..
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-25-2014 at 03:21 PM. Reason: Add Mod's note

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    Default Updated report from on the ground

    Abu M's correspondent 'Londonistani' has revealed himself now; link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...erant-peaceful

    and has written a short commentary 'In search of the real Pakistan', sub-titled
    With extremism on the rise, it is more important than ever to support the tolerant, peaceful elements of Pakistani society and link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...erant-peaceful
    davidbfpo

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    Default

    Nice job by Londonstani. I happened to see this today and had just written some email comments on an op-ed by Dr. Manzur Ejaz (http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default...4-3-2010_pg3_3), they are sort of relevant here, so I am posting...I look forward to your comments.

    I agree with Dr. sahib and I think that Pakistan's army also knows much of this. Where they may still be mistaken (and we dont know because they continue to avoid transparency like the plague; another sign that their modernism is not as modern as they themselves believe) is in thinking that they can control their old proxies. I think (and this is a bit of a convoluted argument, so please bear with me):

    1. The army is a more modern institution than others in Pakistan, but not as modern as they themselves imagine. They will have a hard time controlling both their old proxies and the new forces unleashed by ongoing development in Pakistan.

    2. Their fatal flaw is institutional and it is aggravated by negative selection at an individual level. Institutionally, their interests are not always the same as the interests of the majority of the Pakistani people. Their own short term economic interest is in making money as a "rent an army" operation. THEY like to imagine that they are more like the PLA in China, a vast economic enterprise engaged in "nation building", closely intertwined with the ruling elite, historically respected by the people as a revolutionary army. The last two obviously dont apply to the Pak army (but not surprisingly, they dont seem to notice), but even their multiple economic holdings are not close to being the PLA of Pakistan. Most of their economic holdings are economically unsound and are actually subsidized by taxpayers or by foreign aid ("rent an army" operations). This pushes their policy making in a "rent an army" direction even when they imagine otherwise.

    3. The individual negative selection is less important but not without consequence. I invite you to take a close look at any group photo of senior army officers of today. Better yet, meet them in their clubs and golf courses. I rest my case.

    4. The army seems to believe that they are "winning"¯ in Afghanistan. If this is victory, then one shudders to think what defeat would look like. The narrative on the internet is that America is pulling out and Pak army are the gatekeepers and they will make the Americans pay throught their nose and bloody indians will get a black eye and whatnot. I think the only part of this theory that is correct is that America may pay them for the next 2-3 years. If India is foolish enough to get into a proxy war with them in Afghanistan, then India will bleed too, but if sardarji is smart enough to keep his head and work at a lower key, then Pakistan will end up with a marginally friendly regime in Afghanistan and a continuing civil war at home as well as in Afghanistan, with attendant costs for Pakistan.

    5. Indian hawks (who are at least as dumb as Pakistani ones) will whine and cry about strategic setbacks and whatnot, but if they dont get into a shooting war with Pakistan, they will become a mid-level power in a few years and the hawks will make better money too, so the bitterness will be less painful with time....the old 19th century paradigm of "strategic interests" will be quietly buried somewhere in kalapaani.

    6. I don't know what Kiyani sahib is thinking (he certainly seems smarter than his buffoonish predecessor) but the army fans on the internet seem to have convinced themselves that Pakistan has successfully moved from nineties style salafist jihadism to a more india-centric, modern Pakistani nationalism (Zaid Hamid lite) that is compatible with American aid, yet fully energised against any attempt to reverse military domination of Pakistani policy. I guess when they meet their friends it looks like EVERYONE in Pakistan is with them on this ridiculous journey. But it looks to me like this new concoction has no future at all. Nineties jihadism was wedded to salafist Islam, which is a real ideology, a religious movement with a 1400 year old history. This mashup of 8th grade islamiyat, pakistan studies and conspiracy theories is the emptiest of empty shells. There is no there there...Army fans will be repeatedly disappointed by the Pakistani "public", who will vote in "looters", indulge in "indiscipline", get distracted by "provincialism", produce far too many criminals and will generally behave much like any overpopulated third world country in transition, instead of holding fast to "Unity. Faith, Discipline and the rule of the blessed army".....

  4. #4
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Engaging Pakistan's moderate majority

    A thoughtful comment article, which could fit a number of threads. Hat tip to Abu M and the comment is on Afpak Channel:http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts...erate_majority

    His penultimate paragraph:
    For decades internal and external actors have been exploiting religious fervor in Pakistan for political gain. That feeling has morphed, evolved, and developed a life of its own. The future of Pakistan will be decided by the outlook adopted by its people. And as of yet, that outlook is still being formed. Right now, despite the best efforts of extremists, the majority of Pakistanis see the core principles of their faith revolving around peaceful coexistence, social justice and community service. If the public sees Barelvis and Deobandi leaders marching their communities to war, the groups will threaten their own legitimacy. On the other hand, if extremists succeed in redefining what is considered "Islamic" and convincing ordinary Pakistanis that differing views of religion are worth fighting and killing over, the consequences will be devastating for Pakistan, and disastrous for the world.
    He adds this on what the West can do:
    A few months ago, I read Hilary Synnott's International Institute for Strategic Studies report Transforming Pakistan. I thought at the time that Sir Hilary's suggestion that the international community basically take it on itself to transform Pakistan was unrealistic and an even bigger disaster waiting to happen. However, I'm beginning to think that a major game change is needed and the only question remains who the real domestic partners should be. The best option, and the most willing potential allies, are the general public. The question is how to approach them and how to tool the options avaiable to the international community so that they actually work effectively.
    The above comment comes from the article and there is a poor discussion on:http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...-pakistan.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-26-2010 at 09:21 AM. Reason: Add another paragraph and spelling
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    londonstani says:
    but politics makes democratically elected leaders unwilling to upset influential groups. After the bombings, a Deobandi gathering that included a former leading member of the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi issued a statement threatening to make the provincial Punjab government pay in the polls if it acted against their interests.
    Iftikhar Hussain a provincial minister and an outspoken critic of the taliban had to pay with his son's life plus eight others at the funeral. I guess this is another reason why the leaders dont want to upset the militants.
    if they can make the leaders pay in the polls and kill thier families...makes me wonder who is really in control there?
    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archiv...r_kills_36.php

    hopefully londonstani's article will help develop the will to reach out to the general public there. the million dollar question is 'how to approach'. that should be a thread of its own!

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    Default Engaging Pakistan

    First of all, I cant believe that the last 9 years have failed to come up with an o-plan for how to engage the Pakistani populace. At this point, I fear it may be too late, since the oppos have 8 years in advance prep of hearts and minds. A couple of ideas, though:
    * Use the film and media industrial might of the west. Finance bollywood style romances where the brave lad (who is a member of the frontier corps)has to rescue the beautiful girl from the bad mujahedin, aided by the good mujahedin of course, while being opposed by the bad army people and being helped by the good army people.
    * Use the soft power of computation and get a freaking low budget high-yield education program going. At the moment, the madrassas are the sole alternative to education for lots and lots of folks, give em an alternative.
    * Engage the muslim part of the coalition of the willing. It may be too late now for Afghan, but where o where is the western financed muslim peace corps? WHy havent we focused much more on five-10 years plans to build sustainable infrastructures (that includes human resources)? To me, that is the great mindboggling question of the 2001-2005 period when Afghanistan was relatively quiet, why wasnt there an equal amount of effort put into educating midlevel buerocracy as there was into building security forces?
    * Reexamine the concepts of aid. Currently way way way to much is redirected back into western contractors pockets. Microfinance, Unix computers, easy irrigation, these are things that are needed on base level. Thats how you build trust.

    But I fear its too late.

  7. #7
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pakistan and the Narratives of Extremism

    A short eleven page USIP paper on strategic communications by Amil Khan, aka 'Londonistani', which examines the messaging used by extremists and their opponents:http://www.usip.org/publications/pak...ives-extremism

    From the summary:
    extremist strategic communications efforts build on Pakistan’s existing narratives to portray events related to Pakistan as proof that there is an ongoing war against Islam....Unlike extremist communications efforts, strategic communications efforts to counter extremism in Pakistan typically do not deploy messages built on Pakistan’s narratives.
    Ouch. Now for the future:
    Any strategy toward counterextremism communications in Pakistan should draw on Pakistan’s existing narratives and its sense of itself. Indeed, these narratives provide significant opportunities for counterextremists to attack the vision and worldview of groups like al- Qaeda. Strategic communications efforts against extremism need to move away from crafting the “right” message from the practitioners’ point of view and move toward focusing on emotionally engaging the audience.
    The author's bio:
    Amil Khan is a director of Breakthrough Communications Ltd. Before working in strategic communications, he was a foreign correspondent for Reuters and later worked for the BBC. He speaks fluent Arabic and Urdu and has lived and worked in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. From 2009 to 2012, Khan was based in Pakistan consulting on strategic communication projects for nongovernmental organizations, governments, and private organizations.
    Link to Londonistani thread:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870
    davidbfpo

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    The weak strategic narrative is a feature, not a bug.
    Paknationalists do not wish to give up Paknationalism. That nationalism becomes more dangerous if it succeeds. As long as that is not (quietly, even surreptitiously) given up, the rest is details. ...
    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksd...omar-ali-.html

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    Default Londonstani reports from Pakistan..

    Londonistani is back, now commenting on the Middle East; analysing al-Baghdadi's "I'm the Caliph" speech at Friday prayers in Mosul:http://www.londonstani.com/blog/2014...the-narratives

    As opposed to Osama's empty threats and Zawahiri's tirades, Baghdadi casts Muslims as not a downtrodden people but a nation - represented by his caliphate - who are ready to extract their revenge. Unlike his AQ predecessors, he isn't looking for unrealistic concessions from Western powers but demands allegiance and assistance from Muslims across the world - his new constituency.

    But it's about more than just messaging. ISIS has learnt how to synchronise its communications, military and political efforts for best effect. It makes sense that the group would use Sunni frustration in Iraq to cobble together an alliance to take territory. But to hold its gains, it seems to need to move quickly from a shaky coalition based on Sunni grievance to something bigger. The announcement of the Caliphate and the bold speech are part of that.
    He concludes:
    Like AQ, ISIS's weak spots are its inflexibility, extreme sectarianism and propensity for bloodshed. And like AQ, it gains support when it can claim to be acting to "save" its core Sunni community. As many commentators have said, in real terms the announcement of Baghdadi's caliphate may mean little, but the Jihadi movement has turned a significant corner and what remains to be seen is what he can use it to do next.
    Sharp-eyed observers noticed he was wearing an expensive Rolex watch on his wrist.

    Londonistani had had a break from blogging, he has been working to support the media work of the Syrian opposition. His old thread on Pakistan is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870

    There is a short commentary on:http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world...to_pledge.html
    davidbfpo

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    Londonistani had had a break from blogging, he has been working to support the media work of the Syrian opposition. His old thread on Pakistan is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870
    Good heads-up on Amil Khan's return David. I like that guy's style of writing.

  11. #11
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    Default

    Jon,

    We are friends, much to the surprise of some of his friends and are due to meet next week I shall pass on your compliment.
    davidbfpo

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    Default Public opinion can no longer be ignored

    A reflective look at Syria and the wider region, one that is optimistic - not for today, but for the future:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amil-k...b_5617178.html

    The challenge for our Western governments (mainly I shoudl add as SWC has members beyond the West) is:
    For Western policy makers, getting ahead of the curve requires accepting the new reality and working with it to bring about stability and security built on rights and justice instead of repression.
    davidbfpo

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    Default

    His latest short column:
    I want to talk about but the use of information and communications in war. There has been something different about the coverage of Israel's latest offensive against Gaza. Israel is usually understood to be a master at controlling the narrative. But, something has changed.
    Link:http://www.londonstani.com/blog/2014...dy-israel-2014
    davidbfpo

  14. #14
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    Default Jihadi Rap so powerful there is little to counteract it

    A snappy title for his latest thoughts: 'Al Qaeda’s New Front: Jihadi Rap The suspected killer of James Foley represents a new, dangerous merger of gangsta hip-hop and Islamism'.


    Within is this passage:
    It is clear to me that one of the main reasons that al Qaeda’s ideology is so powerful is that there is little else to counteract it. The majority of the Syrian opposition, activists and sympathisers as well as fighters, are still moderates seeking a state that respects the rule of law, protects the rights of its people and does not differentiate on the basis of ethnicity or beliefs. But these principles have not yet been developed into an ideology that can inspire, motivate and mobilise.
    Link:http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...l#.VARK1qORcdV
    davidbfpo

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    Default Terror in Paris: we lost this propaganda battle

    Terrorism is invariably armed propaganda, Londonistani argues that the reaction in the "West" has given the violent Jihadists a victory, as they:
    ...always relied on a sort of geopolitical judo, using its enemies’ strength against them by making them prove its own worldview

    The idea, as stated in the jihadi strategy document “Management of Savagery,” is to “transform societies into two opposing groups, igniting a violent battle between them whose end is either victory or martyrdom.” The best way to make sure the intended audience understands the justification for the attack is to make the attack itself self-explanatory, the strategists behind the document say. Clearly, the targeting of Charlie Hebdo, a magazine well known for printing images that many, if not most, Muslims would find offensive, but were seen as part of a cherished European tradition of free expression, fit very comfortably in this strategy.

    ...the attack is sharpening differences between communities and isolating European Muslims from their countrymen.

    How a group sees its place in wider society is a key factor in recruitment to extremist organizations. When a community feels victimized, an opportunity presents itself for champions and saviors.
    Link:http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...l#.VLprByxx8dV

    His arguments, are not easy IMHO for us to accept. We are not the primary audience for the violent jihadists, they aim to get more support, especially recruits to their cause.

    Rarely does officialdom consider how the opposition is likley to react, let alone preparing messages that do not give our enemies yet more "ammunition".

    Thanks to contact with a "lurker" this Sun Tzu passage is very appropriate:
    If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-17-2015 at 02:01 PM. Reason: Link added, sorry for delay. Whoops
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    Errrr... link?

    n/m, here it be
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...l#.VLpnzy4vuSo

    Politico has a serious Progressive slant. Separation between their position and reality may vary greatly.
    Last edited by AdamG; 01-17-2015 at 01:49 PM.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Errr - whoops

    My apologies.

    I know the author personally, who writes from a variety of experiences and his professional viewpoint. Just whether he is 'progressive' is an American label, it is rarely used here.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    He may be as balanced as a Libra scale, but the publication has an agenda.

    He does nail it right here -
    "News anchors described them in terms verging on awe, mentioning frequently that they seemed “highly trained” and “skilled in military tactics.” Such coverage glamorizes an act to an audience that is excited by the idea of instant recognition and adulation."
    - particularly when there's been orgasmic gushing about the "accuracy with full auto death dealing Kalashnikovs" paired with photos of the police car's windshield (later video footage shows them engaging at a range < 50m, meaning that Ray Charles could get groups like those), combined with Terrorist #2's fumbling his magazine change so bad he needs #1 to help him (0.30 mark, same video).

    When facing little to no resistance, even quasi-trained bozos can do damage.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

  19. #19
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Keep calm, do not panic

    Two American writers chime in along similar lines.

    Brian Fishman, on WoTR concludes:
    Terrorism is not just propaganda of the deed, it is a press release written in blood
    Link:http://warontherocks.com/2015/01/jih.../?singlepage=1

    Stephen Walt on FP:
    What really matters is how societies facing the danger of terrorism deal with it, and I worry that the reflexive responses we have seen over the past week are unintentionally aiding the terrorists’ broader purpose.

    (Later) In other words, the keys to success are not bellicose speeches, mass marches, wars on terror, or continued military interventions throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. The key is calm resolution and conscious efforts to build resiliency at home. Tragedies will occur from time to time, but they cannot alter our way of life unless we allow them to do so.
    Link:http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/16/...ist-terrorism/

    He also cites a FT article (behind a registration wall) which offers a template:
    What is to be done? I can’t improve on the advice of the Financial Times’ Martin Wolf, whose column this week is full of wisdom.

    He offers six extremely valuable recommendations: 1) “accept that we are playing the long game of containment,” 2) recognize “that the heart of the struggle is elsewhere,” 3) “offer the lived idea of equality as citizens as an alternative to violent jihad,” 4) address the frustrations that marginalized populations feel, 5) accept the need for security measures while recognizing they never ensure completely safety, and 6) remain true to our ideals (rule of law, no torture, etc.). I would only add: Stop trying to engage in regime change and/or social engineering in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and stop using force there in an inconsistent and often indiscriminate fashion.
    davidbfpo

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