When General Sharif Went to Washington

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by sorcerer, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    When General Sharif Went to Washington

    A visit by Pakistan’s army chief underlines the unique and often troubled relationship between Washington and Rawalpindi.
    By Michael Kugelman
    November 22, 2014


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    Quick: Identify the civilian democracy that sends its army chief — not its president or prime minister — to the United States for a full week of high-level meetings
    with civilian and military officials.


    The answer is Pakistan, a country that has experienced military rule for half its existence, and where the military remains, bar none, :thumb: the country’s most powerful institution.
    It plays a key role in politics, lords over a vast economic empire, and enjoys disproportionate shares of the national budget. It is also heavily engaged by Washington, even as the U.S. government has taken admirable steps — including passage of a five-year civilian assistance package — to deepen its relationship with Pakistan’s democratically elected government. Rare is the time when a senior U.S. civilian official visits Pakistan and fails to call on a top military leader.


    General Raheel Sharif, who is currently wrapping up a week-long trip in Washington, was appointed army chief a year ago — to the surprise of many, given that he was chosen over two more senior candidates. Sharif’s previous affiliation was as the Army’s inspector general for training. He is not, as newspaper articles repeatedly make clear, related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (however, he reportedly has close ties to one of the premier’s chief confidants).

    Sharif’s arrival in the United States came just days after media reports divulged that Robin Raphel — a senior U.S. diplomat and Pakistan specialist with close ties to Islamabad — is under federal investigation. And it came on the heels of the release of a Pentagon report alleging, not for the first time, that the Pakistani state uses militant proxies (read: the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network) to undercut New Delhi’s presence in Afghanistan. Of course, such proxies also target U.S. forces and interests in Afghanistan.

    Against this delicate backdrop, Raheel Sharif has actually been in Washington during a relatively calm period for the volatile U.S.-Pakistan military relationship. And it’s easy to understand why: He has largely been saying what Washington wants to hear, and — to a lesser extent — doing what Washington wants him to do.

    Sharif, according to insiders, believes that Islamist militancy poses as much of a threat as does India, the military’s long-time obsession. This isn’t an earth-shattering revelation; Sharif’s predecessor, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said the same thing. Sharif, however, has gone further. In his inspector general job, he oversaw the development of new training programs that better prepare soldiers for fighting domestic militants. Now, as army chief, he is overseeing a major countermilitancy offensive in North Waziristan, which U.S. officials have long demanded — and which Kayani refused to undertake. Washington, at least publicly, has waxed ecstatic about this operation. It has chosen not to publicly address indications that the offensive is directed only at militants — such as the Pakistani Taliban and its allies — that target the Pakistani state, and not at militants — such as the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network — that attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

    One can assume that Washington is also pleased by the outcome of Sharif’s trip to Afghanistan last weekend, which brought pledges from the new Afghan government to crack down on anti-Pakistan militants allegedly using Afghan soil as sanctuaries — a policy shift that Kabul reportedly attributed to Sharif’s “clear stance on the war on terror.” Kabul is apparently taking at face value recent claims, such as those made by one anonymous Pakistani security official over the weekend, that Pakistan “is treating all militant outfits, including the Haqqani Network, as a threat to peace” (this comment was directly contradicted by Sartaj Aziz, a top adviser to Prime Minister Sharif, who said in a November 18 BBC Urdu interview that Pakistan won’t target the Haqqanis). For Washington, which seeks any semblance of stability in Afghanistan, what matters is that the deeply troubled Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, at least for now, is on the mend.

    Still, beyond all this lurks an uncomfortable yet essential truth. For all the goodwill surrounding the army chief’s U.S. visit, Sharif heads an institution that — as underscored in the recent Pentagon report — pursues policies at direct odds with U.S. interests. So why has Washington extended a warm welcome to the head of an entity that makes life miserable (and deadly) for U.S. troops in Afghanistan? More broadly, why does Washington continue to engage a country whose policies imperil U.S. interests and lives?

    Some will stubbornly (and wrongly) argue that by engaging Pakistan — and by continuing to ply it with ample amounts of military assistance — the country will eventually come around and help the United States achieve its interests.

    A more reasonable explanation is that Washington simply hopes that it can get something out of engaging the more moderate elements of Pakistan’s security establishment — those less gung-ho about embracing militant proxies and fomenting tensions with India. After all, the military is not a monolith in Pakistan; some elements are more hardline than others.

    Recall that this summer, anti-government protestors staged an extended sit-in in Islamabad. Many analysts saw an invisible military hand behind this movement (the reasoning here is that with civil-military relations strained due to policy disagreements about India, militancy, and Musharraf’s legal plight, the military welcomed an opportunity to pressure Islamabad by orchestrating the protest). The protest was largely peaceful, except for a brief period when sit-in leaders ordered protestors to advance on Parliament, leading to violent clashes with police. Was this a case of hardline factions within the intelligence services temporarily gaining an upper hand over more cautious colleagues? Perhaps. If so, their efforts failed. General Sharif — given an opportunity to step in amid that brief period of unrest — reportedly refused. And the protest reverted to its prior peaceful state.

    This week in Washington, Sharif and his U.S. interlocutors carried on as if the more moderate elements of the security establishment are in control. They played up the achievements of the ongoing North Waziristan operation, and played down the findings in the Pentagon report. They likely applauded their recent shared counterterrorism successes, which range from collaboration on drones to joint IED interdiction. There likely was also much talk of the need for continued cooperation and American military aid, even after most U.S. troops have left Afghanistan.

    Unfortunately, it will be difficult to carry on in this way for much longer. With the security establishment becoming increasingly radicalized, the hardliners could soon be even stronger than they are now. Consider how younger yet more ideologically conservative officers are transitioning into more senior-level positions. And witness the rising number of military employees joining militant causes (current and former Pakistani Navy officers abetted al-Qaeda’s assault on a Karachi naval base in September).

    What this all means for the future of overall U.S.-Pakistan relations is unclear. Some in Washington, especially those on Capitol Hill, believe the military withdrawal from Afghanistan removes incentives for staying close to Pakistan. Others, particularly at the State Department and USAID, believe that Pakistan is strategically significant in its own right and warrants continued engagement.

    This week, however, the U.S. position was crystal clear: It wants to make things work with Sharif, his institution, and the country that it dominates. Washington was willing to pull out all the stops — from hosting him for an extended period to presenting him with a Legion of Merit medal, as it did on November 19 — to drive home this point.

    Michael Kugelman is the senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

    When General Sharif Went to Washington | The Diplomat
     
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  3. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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  4. Rubab20

    Rubab20 Regular Member

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    Raheel sharif took serious steps for growing pakistan economy and bring peace in PAKISTAN...
     
  5. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

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    @Rubab20
    Sharif is an army person. Is it not your elected civilian Govt that has to take care of your economy and Peace?
    Any idea on why the army is doing what the civilian govt is supposed to do?
     
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  6. anupamsurey

    anupamsurey Regular Member

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    simple civillians donot exist in pakistan, all it matters is army and politicians....army is self ethnocentric (as usual) and politicians are impotent and useless dramebaaz.
     
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  7. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    army man taking steps for growing economy???? army men only concern about taking steps for growing army and ammunition not economy.
     
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  8. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Pakistani media and online crooks of Pakistan are giving it a usual twist of looking everything they do for their bipolar obsession with India; as some kind of diplomatic victory.

    The otherwise sane voice from Pakistan Nazam Sethi, who for last one year or more has become Nawaj Sharif's tail waging dog, was caught naked doing propaganda for his Government and Pakistani establishment with most stupid analysis of the year he did in his last program.

    He was right on the facts with all the inside information about current updates (now he is more privy to) but utterly lame and loud mouth with his twists, hiding chronology of the events and predicting the out comes.

    1. Raheel visited USA and was treated very well.

    Bullshit, he was welcomed by Pantagon report which categorically called Pakistan a country sponsor of terrorism. Not to mention it was a policy document. He got the standard treatment like any of the CENTCOM pet will receive, especially being a COAS.

    2. Raheel was able to convince USA to forge an alliance with Pakistan to cater its concerns and sensitivities.

    Let's talk about Pakistan's concerns and sensitivities of last 10 odd years.

    Ha ha ha ha, for last 10 odd years Pakistanis were having bleeding piles on every USA accusation of their double games, rioting on streets when drones were hitting their assets at whim and by Pakistan's own claims they lost 100 billion + of economy by fighting this WOT.

    The bone of contention and American hostility was on one single point that Pakistan is a sanctuary of anti USA groups like Haqqanis.

    Now the pet has visited the master who has more eyes watching Pakistan than any where else. He told the Master that now they do not differentiate between good and bad terrorists, haqqanis are been getting targeted and they have been doing comprehensive operation against those safe heavens. The same was the observation of US government couple of weeks ago.

    For last ten years Pakistan was fighting with nail and bite to protect its assets from American wrath, now suddenly this visit is a diplomatic victory to tease Indians.

    Hang on........ but you are not telling your nation and the nationalist morons that you have compromised on every thing you were protecting even at the cost of 100+ billion dollars of economy?

    I wish i can conclude above in Punjabi slang that what you were doing for last 10 year ?

    Interestingly........ that joker Sartaj Azziz came out in media before COAS visit, obviously reading ISI and army con script lie that we shouldn't hit terrorist who doesn't harm our interest.

    We all know Mr. NSA of Pakistan that you people a pathological lairs but this one was the best lie to clam your own people you are hitting with artillery fire; you may face the backlash.


    Why didn't you listened to USA at the start of WOT, you might not have earned the disgrace every single day of WOT you endured in the hands of international community and that loss of 100s of billion dollars of economy every media brat of yours rant of national TV every day.

    Americans must be laughing their ass off with your stupidity of last 10 years that now you have suddenly agreed to all their demands.

    3. After Raheel's visit now USA is going to stay one year more in Afghanistan and we all three US-AF-PAK are going to fight for the same cause, and some how again government of India is not going to be happy about it ? Three cheers to us.

    To be continue......................gotta go to job...........
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
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  9. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Can you list some steps that he took for "growing the economy"?
     
  10. sgarg

    sgarg Senior Member Senior Member

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    @hit&run,

    We cannot comment on USA's policy accurately. We do not know enough.

    Modi knows very well that India has to develop its economy to be respected internationally. No talking will help. Only results will help.

    Pakistan thinks it can survive on dealmaking alone. This is unlikely. As Pakistan's population grows, there is severe pressure on its financial resources. Just as India cannot spend much on military due to social imperatives, the same pressures exist in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot ignore social imperatives forever.
     
  11. Kshatriya87

    Kshatriya87 Senior Member Senior Member

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    Step 1. He became the general.
    Step 2. He went to USA.
    Step 3. He took steps.

    Because the ISI and military controlled media says so. Simple.
     
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  12. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Pakistanis see everything as if it is an advantage over India or not. There India obsession is known to her friends, foes and mentors.

    The Pakistani contradictions start straight from the point when they want themselves to be tagged with India. They need all the deals which India gets from other nations. Indian achievements give them sleepless nights, we are their inspiration, recently they learnt after 60 odd years how peaceful political transition will make them more relevant. But there have been mammoth differences de-hyphenating India and Pakistan. Pakistanis have been learning every thing very hard way when India has been consistent with its policies with one or two foreign policy blunders.

    1. India wanted to isolate us, especially post 26/11.

    Bullshit, we wanted to mow you down post 26/11 that you could never raise your hoods again.

    We lost that opportunity but earned the right to punish Pak at whim. Not only that, rest of the world was sympathetic to us and spitting on Pakistan.

    One cardinal sign of a rouge state is that they always fight for another day. The advantage in doing this is more with the propaganda lines they invent betting on short memory of their audience. So if you talk today about post 26/11 disgrace Pakistan endured they will show their indifference.

    Furthermore when Pakistanis keep repeating that India wanted to isolate us it means they are suffering from some guilt and they don't trust their own nation. I have used this sentence before on other forum that Pakistan is not that small to be isolated on India's wish. I am aware that Indian policy makers know it. Having said that, India will keep using its diplomatic equity as a standard operating procedure to make sure their wings are clipped the best possible way we can.

    2. India is destabilizing Pakistan.

    Pakistan started it, its quid pro quo.

    3. India is using Afghanistan against Pakistan.

    But most of the Afghanistan is under control of Taliban (Popular Pakistani Joke against Afghans), remaining is proactively controlled by NATO (Your ally).

    4. India has many consulate in Afghanistan.

    You have same number of consulate when your investment is nothing and you are the most hated people on their list.

    5. We will kill Indians even innocent Indian civilians working in Afghanistan.

    Another contradiction if you have such capabilities then how come India has been operating against Pakistan from Afghanistan with impunity.

    BTW you bunch of surrender monkeys can only hit civilians. We wouldn't forget that you thugs killed our teenage kids eating their food in front of their parents from point blank range.

    6. The new dispensation is pro Pakistan now, the new president refused to buy Indian weapons, Now PA will train ANA. USA is going to stay and hit Afghan Taliban and we will help them.

    Good on you, now you will learn from GoAF what Indians have been doing so far. Tell Ghani the money India has invested will be paid back by Pakistan. India never approved GoAF sale of weapons in the first place. Tell your nation that now you are going to help USA to hit good Taliban. I wish Taliban has the details of PA COAS meeting hours with US Army leaders and they will teach a lesson for the double games.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014

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