Pakistan to America: What have you done for us lately?
Pakistan to America: What have you done for us lately?
Next week, senior U.S. and Pakistani officials will meet in Washington for the first ever strategic dialogue between the two countries. The Pakistani delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, but make no mistake: at least when it comes to the Pakistani side, this will be the Gen. Ashfaq Kayani show.
If there was any ambiguity remaining as to who's the principal architect of Pakistan's national security policy, then it should have dissipated on Tuesday, when Kayani chaired a meeting of federal secretaries -- the first time an army chief has done so under a civilian government. They met at the army's general headquarters, instead of the originally designated venue, the ministry of foreign affairs. Kayani sought to coordinate the government's agenda for the upcoming talks with the United States, which includes security issues as well as non-military topics, such as agriculture and energy.
When Kayani and company roll into Washington, their objective will be to maximally capitalize upon Pakistan's peaking strategic value as it pertains to U.S. interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan has a closing window of opportunity to successfully press for its interests more assertively. The Pakistanis, with good reason, believe the United States has one foot out of Afghanistan -- even as it surges its presence there -- and is dependent on Pakistan to secure a favorable and efficient endgame. At the same time, they fear that an end to the Afghan war and a drop in Pakistan's utility for the United States will result in a colder, tougher approach by Washington toward Islamabad, combined with a warmer American embrace of arch-rival India. So, for the Pakistani establishment (its military, allied bureaucracy, and political fellow travelers), the challenge is to leverage its short-term utility for the United States to extract benefits that will stretch over a longer-term and insure against potential future losses.
Broadly, the Pakistani establishment seeks to secure Pakistan's influence in a post-American Afghanistan, deny India a strategic pivot there, and maintain a reasonable degree of strategic parity with rising India. More specifically, Pakistan seeks "tangible deliverances" [sic] -- the most ambitious, and perhaps improbable, of them being a civil nuclear deal with the United States akin to the one with India.
Despite statements to the contrary, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship remains transactional and wanting of a long-term vision. American officials frequently state that Pakistan must "do more" to combat militants in its border region with Afghanistan -- the phrase has been said so much that it's become a part of the local political lexicon -- and now Pakistani officials are returning the favor. Cementing a U.S.-Pakistan partnership will require forging a shared regional vision. And that will be difficult to develop as long as India remains intransigent on the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan continues to support anti-India insurgents and terrorists (some of whom, such as Lashkar-e Taiba, might have extra-regional ambitions), and both the United States and Pakistan deepen alliances with each other's rivals (respectively, China and India).
But progress could perhaps be made if Washington delicately reduces New Delhi's expectations for influence in Kabul, facilitates Pakistan's partial movement in favor of "good" actors in Afghanistan and push against the Afghan Taliban, and prods both India and Pakistan further along the negotiation table. There is no perfect formula for stability in South Asia, but it will require both India and Pakistan to learn how to share space and for the bigamous United States to carefully manage its relationship with its two warring wives.
Pakistan seeks civilian nuclear aid, but U.S. unlikely to deliver
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan will seek U.S. aid for its civilian nuclear power program next week when its top military and senior civilian leaders visit Washington to re-start a "strategic dialogue" between the two countries.
The series of meetings, scheduled to begin on March 24, will be the first such talks since mid-2008 and are expected to cover numerous issues. Pakistan thinks it's suffered from the fallout of the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan and wants more assistance, despite a recent $7.5 billion U.S. aid package. "I think the time has come. My message to Washington is: We've been talking a lot. The time has come to walk the talk," Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a news conference Thursday in which he confirmed that civilian nuclear talks are on the agenda. "We've done our bit. The ordinary citizen in Pakistan has paid a price. We've delivered. (Now you) start delivering."
The U.S., however, is unlikely to deliver by offering a nuclear deal that parallels the package that former President George W. Bush granted to Pakistan's archenemy India.
The Senate would have to approve such a deal, and despite claims that Pakistan's recent arrests of the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban and other members of its governing council signal a "strategic shift" against its longtime Afghan allies, its performance combating Islamic extremists is uneven. Moreover, the former head of its nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, sold nuclear weapons-related technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, and Pakistan has never allowed U.S. intelligence officers to interview him.
Nevertheless, many U.S. officials think that Pakistan holds the key to stabilizing Afghanistan so that U.S. troops can begin withdrawing in mid-2011, as President Barack Obama said they would in December.
However, U.S. and Pakistani views on how to do that differ. Pakistan wants Washington to accept a political settlement between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the insurgents that would aim to end the fighting now, with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and other top militant leaders included in the settlement, according to Pakistani officials, who didn't want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. "Pakistan is no longer interested in getting the Afghan Taliban back on their own," said Moeed Yusuf, an expert on Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace, a congressionally funded policy institute in Washington. "They realize that if the Taliban were to come back in power in Afghanistan, Pakistan would be next."
The U.S. position, in public at least, is that any negotiations must wait until the insurgents have been significantly weakened, and that the top command of the Taliban is "irreconcilable."
Although other incentives, including tens of billions of dollars in military and civilian aid, haven't worked, a nuclear deal could be the carrot required for Pakistan to cut its ties to Afghan jihadist groups, said Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University.
"We need a big idea for Pakistan, to transform it from a source of insecurity for the region to a country committed to eliminating terrorism and ensuring that nuclear proliferation doesn't happen again," Fair said. "At the moment, we're trying to get Pakistan to do things that are in our strategic interests, but not in theirs."
A deal, however, would need to include strict conditions on cracking down on violent Islamic extremist groups and cooperation to combat nuclear proliferation, Fair said.
Other experts think that given Pakistan's record on combating terrorism and proliferation, its request for nuclear aid will be dead on arrival in Washington.
The restrictions and conditions the U.S. would require in such an accord would "be so offensive to the Pakistanis that instead of improving relations, it (the treaty) would end up irritating them," said George Perkovic of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
What's more, Pakistan couldn't pay for the nuclear technology it wants, Perkovic said. "No company in its right mind would build in Pakistan," he said. "Are they going to get paid? Are their workers going to be safe? The answer in most cases is going to be no."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones, will host next week's talks, which will also cover aid for Pakistan's staggering economy.
Qureshi will lead the Pakistani delegation, which will include Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Pakistan, however, has other reasons for seeking the deal. Pakistanis, including its political and military leaders, think that the U.S. is plotting to eliminate their nuclear weapons, which they consider an essential deterrent to aggression by nuclear-armed India.
A civilian nuclear agreement should stop such paranoia and encourage Pakistan to consider the U.S. a true ally, much as the Bush administration's nuclear pact with India helped transform a difficult U.S.-India relationship, Pakistani analysts said.
Although the U.S-India deal still isn't finalized after more than five years, Pakistan may crave a nuclear deal with the U.S. more to achieve parity with India than for any energy benefits it would provide.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari discussed the issue with U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who visited Islamabad this week, telling him that the "provision of civilian nuclear technology would go a long way in addressing misperception about the U.S. in Pakistan," said Zardari's spokesman, Farhatullah Babar.
New approach in ties with US Islamabad feels it is time to tell Washington to move on from symbolism and concretely address Pakistan’s core security concerns and economic needs. –Photo by AP
ISLAMABAD: In a qualitative difference in Pakistan’s approach to the United States, Islamabad will, at the renewed Strategic Dialogue with Washington, seek ‘tangible deliverances’ particularly on its strategic concerns and wouldn’t settle for short-term relief measures.
The fourth round of the Strategic Dialogue on March 24, being dubbed by Pakistan’s foreign policy gurus as the ‘renewed process’, is expected to be one of the most intense diplomatic engagements the two countries had in the recent past.
Major politico-security stakeholders, including several federal ministers, army chief, director-general of ISI, and a number of federal secretaries will leave for Washington on Saturday to attend the meeting. The US representation at the dialogue, upgraded to ministerial level, will be equally strong. The team will be headed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Other members will be National Security Adviser James Jones, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and a number of other top officials of the Obama administration.
The level of participation by both sides, analysts believe, is indicative of the desire of Islamabad and Washington to give a new meaning to their bilateral relations hitherto marred by trust deficit.
“This round is going to determine the future of Pakistan’s relations with the United States,” a top official told Dawn, after attending one of the preparatory sessions aimed at developing a unified perspective among the country’s state organs for this engagement with Washington.
Pakistan is often referred to by Washington as a ‘key regional player’ and a ‘major non-Nato ally’ with whom it eyed a ‘long-term engagement’, but it is probably the first time that Islamabad’s strategists are feeling that the time has come to tell Washington to move on from symbolism and concretely address Pakistan’s core security concerns and its immediate economic needs.
Among the issues on which Islamabad desires solid assurances are protection of its legitimate interests in Afghanistan; normalisation of relations with India, including resolution of the Kashmir issue; end to instability in Balochistan; accepting Pakistan as a declared nuclear weapons state and thereby quashing all rumours that the US was secretly working to defang the country.
On Pakistan’s wish-list is also a strong desire for civilian nuclear cooperation on the pattern of India-US deal. Although Pakistan primarily wants nuclear cooperation to meet its growing energy needs, the issue has a political connotation also because Islamabad doesn’t want to see itself discriminated against and at a disadvantage vis-ŕ-vis India.
Strong emphasis from the Pakistani side, senior diplomats at the Foreign Office say, is also expected on market access for its products to US and economic assistance at the dialogue, which now includes new strands like strategic stability, security, public diplomacy and health.
The Pakistani contingent will specifically tell the American interlocutors that the economic assistance needed to be fast tracked to arrest the economic decline believed to have been worsened because of the war on terror. The disbursement of Coalition Support Fund, a mechanism for repaying expenses incurred by Pakistan for supporting US counter-terrorism operations, has been sluggish and so has been the release of funds under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act. Only $400 million has so far been released under the aid legislation enacted last year.
Pakistan this year slashed its public sector development programme by over Rs150 billion because of shortage of funds.
Quite pragmatically, Pakistani policymakers are not deluding themselves into believing that their ties with the US will transform overnight and they will gain major concessions. But, they want the process to start.
“The extent to which the US is ready to accommodate our concerns and constraints will be a test of this engagement,” a senior army officer engaged in preparations for the visit remarked.
Senior officials say they will try to carefully use their leverages, which are largely Afghanistan related, to make the most of the dialogue.
With security issues expected to dominate the ministerial-level ‘strategic dialogue’ between Pakistan and the US, Foreign Minister Qureshi has issued a timely reminder: economic and development issues must not be relegated to the back burner in Pak-US relations.
Areas such as the economy, energy, education, science and technology, health, communication and agriculture are vital if Pakistan is to emerge from the war against militancy a stronger and more prosperous nation. Admittedly, developing and putting together programmes for aid in these sectors requires time and if not done right the money could very well end up wasted. But there is a feeling on the Pakistani side that the American bureaucracy is moving too slowly and is being overly cautious. With the Pakistani economy in the doldrums and the government struggling to contain a fiscal deficit that has left little room for population-oriented expenditures, the country needs external assistance more than ever — and it needs it now. The Americans’ desire to ‘get it right’ needs to be balanced against the urgency of the situation.
Whatever the doubts about the state’s strategic policy, the fact of the matter is that the people of Pakistan have suffered enormously over the past few years. The world community, with the US in the lead, needs to rally to their assistance. The opportunities are endless: the power crisis needs to be resolved, the agricultural market requires development, water storage has to be increased, the education system needs an injection of funds, the health system has to be fundamentally overhauled — the list goes on. American dollars can have very real and positive effects from the local to the national level, and the challenge for the two states is to work harder to produce results quicker.
Having said that, the security paradigm is of fundamental importance and the US must do more to address Pakistan’s concerns on that front too. For once the Pakistan Army-led security establishment has spelled out what it wants in Afghanistan and from India. Many of the concerns are genuine and should be understandable to any state that practices realpolitik.
These concerns need to be addressed and the focus must shift from the perennial demand for Pakistan to ‘do more’ in the war against militancy. At the end of the day, addressing Pakistan’s strategic security concerns makes sense for anyone hoping to make South Asia a safer place. The logic is simple and anything but sinister: a state that is at ease with its neighbours is a state that can fully direct its energies towards the economic progress of itself and its neighbours.
US should also do more: FM Qureshi President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Chief of Amry Staff General Kayani and Forgien Minister Quershi discuss the upcoming US-Pakistan talks during a meeting. –APP Photo
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday it was time for the United States to address Pakistan’s security concerns and economic development needs.
“We have already done too much … Pakistan has done its bit, we have delivered; now it’s your (the US) turn. Start delivering,” he said at a media briefing on the upcoming US-Pakistan strategic dialogue.
The first such dialogue at the ministerial level in Washington on March 24 will cover a wide spectrum of bilateral relations.
The meeting to be co-chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Qureshi would bring together Pakistani and American officials for in-depth discussions on issues of economic development, water and energy, education, communications and public diplomacy, agriculture and security.
Mr Qureshi said efforts would be made to rebuild confidence and trust and develop a long-term partnership based on mutual respect, mutual interest and shared values.
He was more categorical about Islamabad’s expectations that included a realisation of Pakistan’s concerns in “the realm of security and economic development”. Stressing the need for the US to address Pakistan’s strategic concerns, he said economic aid “cannot be a sole driver for stable strategic partnership”.
Mr Qureshi astutely stayed clear of defining the security concerns Islamabad wanted Washington to address, but referred to responsibility of the international community for normalising Pakistan-India ties as a prerequisite for regional peace and stability.
“We have been talking a lot. The time has come to walk the talk,” he said, adding that his strategy would be to underscore the importance of concrete results.
The foreign minister was hopeful of finding the Obama administration receptive to Pakistan’s demands. He based his optimism on the realisation in the US that 2010 was a crucial year for its efforts towards stabilising Afghanistan in which Pakistan had a significant role to play. Besides, American think-tanks increasingly believe that long-term US interests lay in east of Afghanistan — a reference to Pakistan.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani presided over a high-level meeting to finalise a strategy for the Pak-US strategic dialogue. He called for formulating mutually accepted goals that produced visible impact on areas of relevance to ordinary people as well as efforts to fight terrorism.
Later on Thursday, the prime minister, the foreign minister and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met President Asif Ali Zardari at the Aiwan-i-Sadr. Matters relating to the strategic dialogue and war against terrorism were discussed.
AFP adds: Foreign Minister Qureshi said the need to rebuild trust with the United States was key to upcoming talks and called upon Washington to follow up words with action.
“I believe our forthcoming dialogue will provide a good opportunity to re-build confidence and trust on both sides. We need to build comfort on all sides.
“We want these talks to be broad-based and that is why I am proposing a completely different format for interaction between the two countries,” Mr Qureshi said.
He said the foreign minister of Pakistani and the US secretary of state should meet annually and Pakistan’s foreign secretary and US regional envoy Richard Holbrooke should hold talks twice a year.
“I am also proposing 10 tracks of sectoral engagements in economy, energy, defence, education, science and technology, counter-terrorism strategic stability and non-proliferation, health, communication, agriculture and public diplomacy,” Mr Qureshi added.
He said his engagements in Washington would “contribute to a better understanding of each other’s position. We expect the US to understand our concerns both in the realm of security and economic development.”
The Obama administration has sought to engage more deeply with Pakistan, which has long seen Washington as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Pakistan to ask for more understanding at US talks
ISLAMABAD -- Claiming that it has bowed far enough to U.S. interests, Pakistan will use next week's high-level talks with the Obama administration to seek more recognition for its part in the fight against terrorism and get Washington to acknowledge its concerns about rival India.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will chair the talks in Washington next Wednesday to thrash out issues that have confounded relations between the two countries and contributed to deep mistrust and a prevasive anti-American feeling among Pakistanis.
"Pakistan has done its bit! That is my answer," Qureshi said in the run-up to the talks that will cover security, economic development and a crippling energy crisis that leaves many parts of the country without electricity for up to eight hours a day. "We have already done too much."
Retired Gen. Talat Masood said perceptions abroad of Pakistan as a "villain, a scapegoat" undermine relations and contribute to widespread anti-Americanism.
"In America, if anything or everything is going wrong in Afghanistan, it is blamed on Pakistan. When acts of terrorism occur, Pakistan is accused," he said. "Similarly, in Pakistan, everything that goes wrong is blamed on the United States or India."
Even though Pakistan has sent forces into South Waziristan and some other areas along the Afghan border and tacitly permitted U.S. missile strikes on insurgent targets on its soil, the government here feels it has been unfairly slammed for not doing more - although U.S. officials have recently praised the Pakistanis for their efforts.
Regional experts say Pakistan will be looking to Washington to recognize the threat it perceives from its eastern neighbor India, against whom it has fought and lost three wars. Pakistan is concerned that Indian economic and political involvement in Afghanistan could lead to unfriendly governments on both its eastern and western borders.
Pakistanis have widely criticized the U.S. for suggesting that Pakistan move more of its troops off its eastern border with India and send them to its western border with Afghanistan where al-Qaida and Taliban fighters maintain sanctuaries.
"In these talks it has to be understood why Washington thinks that India is not a threat and Washington has to understand why Pakistan believes India is still a threat and that also brings up Afghanistan," said Tanvir Ahmed, who heads the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad.
Islamabad has accused New Delhi of planting spies in Afghanistan to undermine Pakistani interests. Pakistan also has accused India of using Afghan territory to fire up an insurgency in Pakistan's Baluchistan province and using money and manpower to gain influence over the Kabul government.
India, for its part, accuses Pakistan of failing to crack down on anti-Indian militants operating on its soil, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the November 2008 attack that left 166 people dead in the Indian city of Mumbai.
Afghan officials suspect Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the Feb. 26 car bomb and suicide attacks on Kabul guest houses frequented by Indians and other foreigners. The attacks, which were claimed by the Taliban, left 16 people dead, including six Indians.Qureshi said Pakistan's role is key to a stable Afghanistan particularly over the next year as Washington moves closer to July 2011, when it hopes to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
"If the world has to see forward movement in Afghanistan, it is in 2010," Qureshi said. "There is recognition in the world that Pakistan can play a key role in the stabilization of Afghanistan. And Pakistan has been requested to play a role in the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai just returned from a two-day trip to Islamabad where he thanked India for its help in reconstructing Afghanistan and told Pakistan - a nation he says is Afghanistan's "twin" - that Kabul welcomed its help in making peace with the Taliban.
Also on the U.S.-Pakistan agenda is $1 billion the United States promised, but has not yet delivered, to Pakistan's armed forces, military spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas said Friday. The money was promised under the Coalition Support Fund, which the United States set up to reimburse its allies for money spent fighting militancy.
While Pakistan has received more money from the support fund than any other nation, it is also one of the least expensive fronts in the battle against terrorism. The amount the U.S. spends per Pakistani soldier each month is $928 compared with $76,870 in Afghanistan and $85,640 in Iraq.
As a result of Washington's sluggish repayment, Abbas said the military has been forced to dip into its reserves to finance its battle against insurgents in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan.
Also likely to surface at the talks will be recognition of Pakistan as a nuclear power, an issue that has gnawed at Islamabad since former President George W. Bush recognized India as a nuclear power.
"Pakistan will want direct or de facto recognition of its nuclear capability," Masood, the retired Pakistani general, said. That would help put to rest fears voiced in newspapers and on television that the United States could turn its guns on Pakistan's nuclear installations after it finishes in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's economic and energy needs also loom large at the talks, says Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Center for Research and Security Studies. In poor areas of Pakistan, power is cut for eight hours a day and government officials warn of even longer outages in coming hot summer months.
Even the military agreed.
"It is not just about military security," Abbas said. "There has to be a more comprehensive approach to security that also includes energy security and economic security ... all these issues which are all seriously eroding the capability of the state and effecting the public."
Qureshi said the time has passed for diplomatic talk, advocating instead a more honest approach.
"We're going to have a very frank, candid discussion. We're going to sit and talk as friend and allies," he said. "We should stop mincing words. We should be honest with each other."
US officials laying ground for strategic dialogue
ISLAMABAD: The recent visits of high-ranking US officials are being considered an effort to making grounds for the Pak-US strategic dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington on March 24, sources told Daily Times.
General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the ISAF forces in Afghanistan, called on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani at the General Headquarters on Thursday and briefed him on ISAF’s operations in Afghanistan. Sources said McChrystal also briefed diplomats from NATO and allied nations at the US embassy on the Afghan operations and Pak-US ties vis-ŕ-vis the forthcoming strategic dialogue.
They said another visiting dignitary Mark Sedwill, a British diplomat serving as the senior NATO civilian official in Afghanistan, also met the diplomats and briefed them on ISAF’s ongoing operations in Afghanistan. McChrystal, who regularly visits Pakistan to consult Gen Kayani on ISAF’s activities in Afghanistan, praised Pakistan’s efforts to confront violent extremists and recognised the sacrifices the country is rendering. The sources said Daniel Benjamin, US State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, will soon reach Pakistan on a three-day visit to discuss matters related to counterterrorism and the upcoming strategic dialogue.
Pak-US strategic dialogue to have broad agenda: Holbrooke
WASHINGTON: US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has said the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States of America had a broad and complex agenda.
However, the focus will be to strengthen democratic institutions in Pakistan, eliminating terrorism, ending poverty and finding solutions for the power crisis, he told reporters at a briefing at the State Department here on Friday.
Ambassador Holbrooke said inclusion of Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the Pakistani delegation was the decision of the Pakistan government and “we welcome that decision”. About reports suggesting that the US was more comfortable with talking to the military rather than talking to the Zardari government, he said laughingly that “we consider them one government and one team”.
“How can you have strategic dialogue without the Army chief,” he questioned. “If we have strategic dialogue in our country, we will have the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mullen or any of his representatives,” he said. But the decision to include Gen Kayani in the delegation was the decision of the Pakistani government, he added
He said the Obama administration wanted to help Pakistan immediately but the process was little lengthy because the Congress, which has its own rules and procedures, writes the checks.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the strategic dialogue with Pakistan would not be at the expense of any other country. He said the next round of strategic dialogue between the two countries would take place in Islamabad in next six months. Holbrooke also said he and Admiral Mullen had postponed the next week’s trip to Pakistan.
Last edited by ajtr; 20-03-10 at 01:50 PM.
I don't know what about the 10's of billions of dollars in terms of Aid.
The money they spent preparing for a war with India.
What about the F-16's
Cobra attack helicopters
Weapons systems to fight insurgency's
Pakistan has a got a lot of nerve to ask such a question.
when they themselves has done absolute Jack.
They Only started Fighting a year ago when the Taliban turned on them.
The reason the Americans are striking inside Taliban is because of Pakistan's In-action on all counts.
Pak daydream, wake-up call
There is a phenomenon peculiar to the Pakistani Establishment, that unique combination of its army, intelligence agencies and bureaucracy that constitutes its permanent government, and therefore spelt with a capital “E”. Every 10 or 12 years, it starts believing that it is winning. Winning what, how and to what effect, are not facts it wants to be confused with. It just believes, at that particular moment, that it is “winning” against India. This is when the foundation of an impending disaster is laid. Unfortunately, if you’ve been exasperated at the sudden turn in the Pakistani Establishment’s conduct, you have to understand that they are currently caught in the throes of another such irrational euphoria. They again think they are “winning”.
The first phase of madness was 1947-48, that led to the invasion of Kashmir and ruined our relationship at the very start. The next came along with our war with China which, they thought, was a wonderful time again to seize Kashmir, through negotiated, US/UK-backed blackmail (India was desperately seeking American military aid then) and, when that failed, through war against a recently “defeated” army. That led to the misadventure of 1965. That moment of madness came yet again in 1971, when they misread the significance of their emergence as the link between Nixon’s America and China to mean that they had a superpower shield and could crush the revolt in their eastern half as brutally as they wished. They lost half of Pakistan.
Then, almost exactly 12 years later they saw another “wonderful” opportunity in India’s Punjab, with rising Sikh militancy. This was just the moment to wage a war of a thousand cuts they were perfecting along with the Americans in Afghanistan. That phase of belligerence was put down only after the reality check of the Operation Brasstacks standoff in 1987. But check the IMF/ World Bank figures of annual economic growth. It is around this time that Pakistan permanently lost the sizeable edge it had maintained against India in terms of economic growth. In 1993, again, came the next moment of the same “we are winning” illusion, because of troubles in our Kashmir and the victory of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. A full-fledged
“jehad” was launched in Kashmir, the consequences of which we are all facing till today. I would treat Kargil and the Kandahar hijack as part of the same continuing madness and it was all cut short by 9/11. Almost a decade after Kargil now, you see the same Establishment believe that they are “winning”. Our challenge, therefore, is to assess what is causing this “winning” feeling in Islamabad/ Pindi and what disaster, for Pakistan, and collaterally for us, this could lead to.
If you want to put a date to the beginning of this new mood, it would perhaps be Obama’s West Point address when he nearly set a deadline for the US withdrawal. The Pakistani GHQ read it as American acceptance of the unwinnability of the Afghan war. This was the window of critical relevance they were looking for. This lifted for them the shadow of 26/11. If Obama wanted to leave any time next year, it could only be after striking some kind of a deal with a faction of the Taliban. Only Pakistan could bring about that deal, and also guarantee the future conduct of the new regime. In one stroke then, this will give Pakistan a diplomatic indispensability to the Americans while they are here, and strategic depth once they are gone. That new position could then be leveraged by demanding a settlement of basic, “root-causes” issues with India, sidelining the problem of the India-specific Lashkars. The new turn in the Pakistani Establishment, the Kayani speech, the water non-paper and the sudden and brazen re-surfacing of Hafiz Saeed are to be fully understood in this context.
To be fair, most civilian politicians in Pakistan do not share this illusion, but at this point they count for nothing. Similarly the civil society, the free, moderate and modern sections of the media would be seriously concerned by this. But Pakistan’s political class and civil society have been greatly undermined in the past year, and some of the blame for that lies at the doors of its feuding president and prime minister. When policy is left to a tiny soldier-spook cabal, you get the kind of disaster that has followed each such moment in the subcontinent’s history. Pakistan’s larger tragedy, in fact, is that its strategy has often been crafted by purely tactical minds. That is not how great nations function: their strategy is devised by strategists and implemented by tacticians. But that is a problem the people of Pakistan and its civil society will solve, though in the course of time.
So how should we deal with this new situation? First of all, keep engaging with Pakistan. It is a process that would have been much more effective had it been resumed three months earlier, but still, build on that first meeting. Second, look for where your leverage lies in the region’s new reality. This entire new daydream is predicated upon the Americans being able to fight with some degree of effectiveness for another year or so, so they could find a faction of the Taliban willing to settle. Obama cannot leave Afghanistan as Nixon had fled Vietnam. To fight effectively, he needs every platoon of the forces the Pakistanis had re-deployed to the west from their classical eastern, India-facing posture. This has also been made possible by some Indian cooperation. For example, if India had moved even one division towards the border after 26/11, this entire game would have been upset. India now has to let the Americans and the British know that if there is another major terror attack, it may just be constrained to return to its traditional counter-terror gambit, of threatening Pakistan with a conventional response. Just a division, a few squadrons of multi-role aircraft moved westwards would have the Pakistanis rolling back all the divisions from their west to the east. This is the last thing Obama wants, and this is our most important leverage. He cannot be allowed to take our vital interests for granted.
Of course, this has to be accompanied by one more correction: the end of the six-year complacence on modernising our conventional defence. While it is fashionable to credit nuclear weapons with ensuring peace in the region, the fact is, it was the deterrence of a swift and withering conventional response that kept the Pakistani adventurists in check since 1987. In the past six years that edge has been allowed to erode, and when Manmohan Singh looks back he will be honest enough to acknowledge that as his government’s biggest failure on national security. What kind of country living in such a dangerous neighbourhood returns Rs 10,000 crore of its defence acquisition budget unspent? If Manmohan Singh can simply start fixing that and also let the Americans know that another 26/11 may, just may, see a different response from us, it would be a fine strategic response to this new challenge. It may even ensure peace in the region.
Briefing On Upcoming U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
March 19, 2010
MR. TONER: Good afternoon and welcome to the State Department. It’s a great pleasure to have with us today Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, and he’s here to preview the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue set to begin next week. I know he has to rush to the airport immediately following this briefing, so without further ado, I’ll hand him the mike.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Good to see you.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Thank you. Well, next week is an important week in U.S.-Pakistani relations. For the first time, our strategic dialogue will be headed on the American side by the Secretary of State. This was a decision taken personally, of course, by Secretary Clinton after her trip and conversations with Foreign Minister Qureshi when she was in Islamabad and Lahore in October of last year. We announced it then, and we’re very, very pleased it’s taking place next week. It marks a major intensification of our partnership, and we welcome the extremely high caliber delegation which Pakistan is sending. It will be lead, of course, by Foreign Minister Qureshi.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have long stressed the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. This is a partnership that goes far beyond security, but security’s an important part of it. It represents a shared commitment on the part of both nations to strengthening the bilateral relationship, and building an even broader partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.
The United States is supporting Pakistan as it seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, as it seeks to foster more economic development, expand opportunities, deal with its energy and water problems, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten both Pakistan’s security and stability in the larger region, and American national security as well.
For the last year, Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary Clinton, and the rest of us in both countries, have been working intensively at every level to strengthen the relationship. The Pakistani delegation will be – will include the following people: Foreign Minister Qureshi, Minister of Defense Mukhtar, Finance Minister Shaikh – or I think he’s still a finance advisor until he is confirmed, but he is now the senior financial advisor; the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Social Issues Wazir Ali; Advisor to the Prime Minister on Agriculture and Water Majidullah; the Chief of Staff of the Army General Kayani and his delegation of military advisors; Ambassador Haqqani; Foreign Secretary Bashir; Secretary of Information Technology Malik; and Secretary of Water and Power Rafi; Finance Secretary Siddiqui; Secretary of Agriculture Rehman; Defense Secretary Atahar Ali; and DGMO General Iqbal. There are many other people. Those are just some of them. And I did not read them in protocol order, but as they were randomly assigned here.
On the American side, our delegation will be lead by Secretary Clinton and will include Secretary of Defense Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin, National Security Council Senior Director David Lipton, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Marantis, the Administrator of USAID Raj Shah, myself, Ambassador Patterson, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale, my wonderful team here on my right, and many other Americans working on this. I should add Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sydney, Admiral Vickers, and Vice Admiral Mike LeFevre, who is coming from the Embassy in Islamabad.
This – these meetings are part of a process, and we look forward to returning the – to Islamabad at the invitation of the Pakistani Government later this year to continue the dialogue on your side of the oceans. The date will be worked out, but in principle Secretary Clinton has already accepted the idea that the next set of these talks will be held in Pakistan within the next – I don’t want to give an exact time, but I would hope clearly within the next six months.
This is a work in progress. We will have some announcements here. I hope I can hold a few surprises for you all. But beyond that, we will be setting up working groups. The working groups will be conducting their efforts at a lower level. In fact, several of them exist already. We will add to those. And we will work through the issues. This is not a photo op, although you will have an opportunity to take a photo. This is an intense, serious dialogue bilaterally between the U.S. and Pakistan.
One last thing: This does not replace the trilateral dialogue between the United States, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, to which all three countries agreed last year. But Pakistan is a great nation in its own right, and a bilateral dialogue is essential. The trilateral dialogue will, we expect, resume later this year. But right now in Afghanistan, President Karzai has a very full agenda of his own events – a loya jirga, a conference in Kabul, and various other things which are coming down the road. So I want to be clear; this doesn’t replace the trilateral. It is a separate event unto itself.
With that, let me take a few of your questions and then I have to leave. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Today, former --
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Will you identify yourself, please?
QUESTION: I’m Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy Magazine. Today, former UN Representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide gave an interview to the BBC where he said that he’s been in talks with senior Taliban leaders since last spring. Furthermore, he said that those talks were shut down after the Pakistani authorities began arresting senior Afghan Taliban leaders, and he portrayed this as the wrong approach by the Pakistanis.
My question for you is: Were you aware that these talks were going on? Was there any U.S. involvement whatsoever in those talks? And what is your comment on his contention that reconciliation was hurt by the arrest of senior Afghan leaders by Pakistan?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: On the first part of the question, he had mentioned this to us in a general way. On the second part of the question – what was the second part?
QUESTION: Was there any U.S. involvement whatsoever in those talks?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: None, none. And the third part?
QUESTION: What is your comment on his contention that Pakistan hurt reconciliation by arresting these leaders?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I have no comment on his third contention.
QUESTION: Yeah. There’s been some criticism of the – or discussion on how the aid program is working and that it’s taking quite a while to get the money out the door. There was a letter that Senator Kerry and Lugar wrote at the beginning of this month to Senator – I mean, to – that’s in the past – to Secretary Clinton in which they were questioning whether the aid was being used in the most effective manner to improve the life of Pakistanis. What is the – what is your assessment of the aid program? Is it moving fast enough? And are there bottlenecks?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: You will never get me to say any aid program is moving fast enough. (Laughter.) In this case, remember first of all that Kerry-Lugar is an authorization. We have to have the money appropriated. That is now underway. We will discuss this in public on the 24th of March. Secretary Clinton will address it. And again, I don’t want to preempt it. We – I’ve just come from a principals meeting at the White House with -- almost every senior person in the United States foreign policy community was in the room. We discussed this issue. We are looking for every way to accelerate the obligations and the disbursement.
There is, however, a Congressional process, Congressional notifications which is part of the process. I’ve been in touch with Senator Kerry directly about this, as has Secretary Clinton, and General Jones, and we all share the same goal. We do not think that the money is moving as fast as we’d like it to. However, there’s also a question of absorptive capacity and other issues that have to be dealt with. But of course, we share Senator Kerry’s concern.
QUESTION: I’m (inaudible) from Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. While commenting on Eide’s comments, actually – in fact, you said you will not comment on his contention. But there is another question related to that, which is: Did Pakistan make those arrests on its own, or were there Americans involved in it? Was CIA helping them, and other U.S. agencies helping the Pakistanis, and these arrests were made with your consent?
And also, there’s such a high-level military involvement – Pakistani army chief participating in these dialogues for the first time.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m sorry. I didn’t quite understand --
QUESTION: And on this --
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: -- what you meant. You meant that the – you said something about the arrests were done with our --
QUESTION: With the arrest of Mullah Barada and other Taliban leaders, were those arrests were made with your consent. Did the Americans participate in it, or is what just a sort of like the Pakistanis acting –
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not going to go into the details of how Mullah Barada ended up where he is today. I will only say again, as I said last time I was here, that we are extremely gratified that the Pakistani Government has apprehended the number-two person in the Taliban. This – and he is where he belongs. And many other people have been picked up or eliminated, and this is putting much more pressure on the Taliban. And this is a good thing for the simplest of reasons: It is good for the military efforts that are underway in Afghanistan. It is not related to the issue that you’re addressing. President Karzai has said he wants a reconciliation program with all Afghans, including people fighting with the Taliban. President Obama has said we support Afghan-led reconciliation. Now, you have to distinguish, as always, between reintegration and reconciliation. But I don’t – we don’t see this as linked. And I’m going to – because time is very limited, I’m going to turn down all other questions on Afghanistan, just because we promised our friends that we would focus on Pakistan today.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) such a high-level military involvement?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m just not going to do this. I – we’ll do it some other time. I’ve got now – I’ve got 11 minutes, and I’m going to give them over to the reason for this.
QUESTION: Okay, sir. Thank you very much. You gave us the broader framework of the strategic dialogue. Would you, sir, elaborate further on that? What is on the (inaudible) and particularly anything on the North-West Frontier Province, the areas which are affected by the war on terror and the tribal areas?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, what do we mean by a strategic dialogue? The word is abused and misused a lot, so we want to be clear. To me, a strategic dialogue means that we talk about our basic core objectives, which we’ve laid out for us defeating, destroying al-Qaida; helping the Afghans become self-reliant so they can take care of their own security; strengthening Pakistan’s ability to – with its own security; development; strengthening democratic institutions; all the things that Secretary Clinton talked about during her trip. So after – so we need to sit down with our Pakistani friends and hear their points of view, and give us -- ours.
Now, we’ve all been going to Islamabad and they’ve all been coming here. I’ve made two trips in the last five weeks. And Admiral Mullen and I were going to go back next week, but we postponed that trip because the people we were going to see are all here. And we were going to make our annual joint trip together. In fact, we are making the front end of it. So – but beyond the strategic discussions, the broad-range discussions, we want to move into operational things in such areas as water, energy, and other issues. And that’s what we’ll do.
QUESTION: Ambassador, in Pakistan, there is a – there are certain reports that army chief has been included in this delegation because perhaps the United States is more comfortable talking with the military rather than the political government headed by President Zadari.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What is your comment on that?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: First of all, the Pakistani Government shows its delegation. Secondly, how can you have a strategic dialogue without including the military? If we have a strategic dialogue in our country, we’re going to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or some other representative. So we are very pleased that General Kayani is part of this delegation. We think that it’s one country, one government, one team. It was their decision and we welcomed it.
QUESTION: Ambassador, thank you, sir. Mr. Ambassador, how would this dialogue, strategic dialogue with the U.S. and Pakistan, will be different than what you have, the U.S. have, with India? And also, if in -- during this session, if – I’m sure you must be discussing also the situation about – with India. And finally sir, I was told that in politics, there is always give and take. Without giving and taking, there is nothing. So you think if you have this (inaudible) with Pakistan, (inaudible), do you think Pakistan will hand over Osama bin Laden sometime, later on?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: (Laughter.) Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but you’re right about give and take, and that’s why these meetings are so important. And as for the first part of your question, we have an important strategic dialogue with India and with other countries, including China. It makes it all the more important we have one with Pakistan. But this is a bilateral dialogue. We’re not coming here – this – let me put this very clearly: This strategic dialogue with Pakistan is not at the expense of any other country in the region.
Yes, oh, this gentleman here was – let him do it first.
QUESTION: Okay, yeah, my name is (inaudible) representing Voice of America (inaudible) Radio. We broadcast to the (inaudible) regions in local language –
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: To the which regions?
QUESTION: In the (inaudible).
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Oh, you’re VOA for NWFP. Thank you.
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Yes. My question is that most of the al-Qaida people and Taliban leaders and also (inaudible) network generally believed to be hiding in North Waziristan. Are you – will you push Pakistan government to start operation in North Waziristan in your next dialogue with them?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Let me repeat what I’ve said on that repeatedly. Let me repeat repeatedly what I’ve repeated. The Pakistani army, since May of last year, has gone into Swat, where two divisions remain. They have gone into South Waziristan, where an additional number of troops are deployed. They have taken remarkable steps to push back people who threaten their security. What they do in North Waziristan is a decision for them to make. We will support them and encourage them in any way we can, but we are not dictating to them what they should do.
QUESTION: Lachlan Carmichael from AFP. Anyway, Foreign Minister Qureshi says that he sees these meetings as a way of establishing trust between the two countries. I mean, how do you see it? I mean, where is the trust lacking still? And how will this advance that?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: This -- the first time I went to Pakistan, Prime – Foreign Minister Qureshi introduced me to the phrase “trust deficit.” And so I’ve heard it many times. The last time I was there, we both said in the press conference that we thought we had made huge advances in that, especially in light of the high-level trips that Secretary Clinton and General Jones and Secretary Gates and the rest of us have made. So it’s a work in progress. Everyone’s aware of the popular public opinion polls, and we think that our support for Pakistan deserves more recognition among the people. But we’re doing it because it’s in the interests of both our countries. And I think we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in the last year, as I said last time I was with you. Yeah.
QUESTION: (inaudible) from VOA, again, from (inaudible) Service. And thank you, Ambassador for taking my question. Foreign Minister Qureshi this week at a press conference, he said that it’s now America’s turn to do more, and Pakistan has been doing enough already. What’s your comment? I mean, what is it that they’re seeking from your side in terms of –
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: What is Pakistan seeking?
QUESTION: No, yeah, in terms of like –
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, what Pakistan’s seeking, you should ask Pakistan about. But of course, I read Foreign Minister Qureshi’s comments. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve talked to him at least a half dozen times on the phone in the last week about this trip. Pakistan can speak for itself. We are doing more. We will announce more. We want to do as much as the Congress will support through our – and this is hard for people to understand in other parts of the world, but Congress writes the checks. And that’s why the previous question about Senator Kerry – I think it was from Sue – is so important to me.
We have about three minutes here. Last questions. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Lalit Jah from Press Trust of India. Are you considering -- while addressing Pakistan’s energy needs, are you considering helping them establish nuclear power plants to meet their energy needs? And how do you want to address their water disputes which Pakistan has been pushing for with you, with India?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: We have a very broad and complex agenda in these talks, and this is the first strategic dialogue at – ever at this level, and the first of this Administration. And we’re going to listen carefully to whatever the Pakistanis say.
Okay, last question. Yeah.
QUESTION: Can I ask you just one quick one? Courtney Kube from NBC News. Eric Holder said recently that Usama bin Ladin will not be – it’s in – he’s presumed to be in Pakistan, so it’s on Pakistan –
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m not going to do it, so let’s take – I’m this – let’s not waste the last minute. It’s – you ask him what he meant.
QUESTION: Where are you headed next? What’s your upcoming trip?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: I’m going to New York. (Laughter.) I’ve got a dinner tonight with the British Ambassador to the United Nations, who happens to be Britain’s leading expert in Pakistan, Sir Mark Lyall Grant. I think many of you know him. And then I’ll be back here tomorrow morning.
QUESTION: What I asked – what I meant to ask was what’s your next international trip?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Oh, leaving next Thursday with Admiral Mullen. I mentioned that already.
QUESTION: And what countries will you hit?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Well, it’s a work in progress. But it is Brussels for the Brussels Forum, where we do a joint BBC thing with (inaudible). You know that annual thing that the BCC does with the Brussels Forum. This is a tremendously important conference that the German Marshall Fund sponsors. And then we’re going to Afghanistan, and I’d rather not go into too many details for obvious reasons. And after that, as I said, we’re not going to Pakistan, because we’re seeing them here. And then we’re working out the back end of the trip now because we only made the decisions to do that in the last few days, as we realized how the schedules worked. And this is part of a policy, that Admiral Mullen and I have to try to do one joint civilian-military trip per year.
Time for one more quick question.
QUESTION: On the energy dialogue, actually.
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: No, let Sue --
QUESTION: It’s also an energy question, actually. Are you going to be discussing Pakistan’s agreement with Iran on the energy pipeline? You know this week there was an agreement. Is this something that you think is useful? Under the Iran Sanctions Act, I believe that you can’t put more than $20 million or so into a project. Would they be breaking the Iran Sanctions Act, and what’s your view on this?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: This – quite honestly, Sue, I have – I’ve been so busy preparing for this, that while I’m aware of the issue, I haven’t spent any time on it yet. And I think other people have expressed their views on it, and I’ll – I think you’ve asked about it to other people at this podium, and I’ll let them to speak to it for now. It is not on the formal agenda. But as I said a minute ago, either side can bring up anything they want.
Now, if you’ll forgive, I just cannot afford to miss this plane. I have a higher authority in New York, which is my wife.
QUESTION: Any sojourn to India, followed by your colleague, Ambassador Blake?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Any what?
QUESTION: Trip to India?
AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE: Yes, I will definitely be going to India soon. And Blake (inaudible) going to Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
MR. TONER: Ambassador, thank you very much. Thanks very much. I appreciate it. It was great.
What else does Pakistan want from the U.S. ?? After getting their on all the fancy war-toys like F-16s, Harpoons, JDAMs etc and billions in economic aid over the past decade, what else is left ? Do they the US to literally bank-roll their economy ?
The thing we have to throw a spanner into Uncles plans into the region
The thing we have to throw a spanner into Uncles plans into the region
The Plan was to defeat the Taliban.
But with Pakistan acting as a buffer between them and America. That's impossible now.
The Americans now want to leave, realising that without Pakistani support the Taliban will never fall
The only other option is to invade Pakistan territory and start hitting the Taliban there, this will just add to their list of head aches.
So now they want to leave, and the only way to do that is to have a cease fire in the Region.
Pakistan is now leverage its position to facilitate the cease fire on its terms.
But once Uncle Sam stops playing an active role in the region.
the Iranians, Russians and Indians are just going to fill up that void.
Pakistan is still under the delusion it can return things to the status quo and establish Taliban in Afghanistan.
the day the Taliban left, Afghanistan was flooded with Iranian and Indian culture. Movies, tv , magazines all the entertainment we take for granted did not exist under the Taliban.
Once it fell It was India and Iran that filled that void.
Pakistan has no leverage left in Afghanistan.
Its terror tactics will only work so far.
It also has less resources then all the powers invested in the region.
Its options are limited and prospects low.
The old adage goes like this - Beggars are not choosers. But Pakistan is unique that they beg for alms but they also want to choose what they need. Choosy beggars!!!!.
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