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Another Attack: More Al-Qaeda PSYOP and Managing Pak-India Tension

In the latest challenge to the Pakistani government, a police academy in Lahore, Pakistan, was attacked by terrorists today. (Can we also begin to call them insurgents, please?) Pakistani sources said 8 cadets and 4 terrorists were killed. The AK-47 and grenade-wielding insurgents were eventually overpowered, but their aims achieved: Further sew doubt about the government among Pakistanis as well as fear among them, including specifically among current and future members of various Pakistani security forces. That's the PSYOP component of this latest kinetic assault.

Also from the Washington Post article, a partial context.

It also followed a suicide bombing Friday in a northwest Pakistan mosque that killed more than 50 people. But such attacks have been common in the turbulent northwest region near the Afghan border. In contrast, the growing number of attacks in Punjab, once considered relatively safe, is arousing new alarm among Pakistanis who once viewed terrorism as a distant regional problem.

Analysts speculated that Monday's attack was intended to challenge Pakistan's anti-terrorist resolve, just as Islamabad has embraced a major new U.S. strategy that offers generous economic aid in return for tougher, more effective actions against violent Islamist extremists.

The attack on the police training center also raised the prospect of new tensions between Pakistan and India, longtime nuclear-armed adversaries and neighbors who have accused each other of abetting Islamist terrorism. The site of the assault was less than five miles from Wagah, the major border crossing point with India, and was reminiscent of a three-day siege by gunmen in Mumbai last November that killed more than 160 people.

Not so sure about the India conflict-stoking angle to this. Not that it doesn't exist (in this attack), though certainly it does in others, specifically the Mumbai assault, where that was the primary objective.

On one hand, the al-Qaeda-Taliban insurgency definitely seeks open conflict between the Pakistani state and India. India and mistrust and often hatred for Indians is the single greatest unifying factor among Pakistanis of various stripes. Such an open hot conflict serves to unify the Pakistani population against an enemy shared by the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance. Also, as was visible after the Mumbai assault, it would serve to force the Pakistani military to redirect its fire away from al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the wild west border region.

However, such a hot conflict with India also serves to unify Pakistanis behind its government and military, a consequence the bad guys would much prefer not exist. But it does. And so it is possible - if not likely - that the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance is actually attempting to manage a degree of tension between the two. Enough to keep the military with at least one eye peeled away from them and toward the perpetual Indian enemy, but not enough to cause a wide nationalistic support for the Pakistani government - at least not under its current leadership.

What supports this idea? For me, if the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance really wanted a shooting war between the Pakistani state and India, it could have (and would have) at least attempted another Mumbai-styled attack elsewhere in vast India by Pakistani members while the tensions were highest. But they did not even attempt such.

Which tells you what? That they were not capable of penetrating Indian security anywhere in the country? Hardly. They were and are managing a degree of tension. Fairly well, too, actually. Or so it appears.

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