‘India enjoys veto power over Pakistan’s progress’

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by ejazr, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney
    Most emailed article on Dawn for the past 2 days

    ‘India enjoys veto power over Pakistan’s progress’
    LAHORE, Aug 14: Pakistan should move away from the zero-sum security rivalry with India to be able to emerge as a successful, modern democratic society, says a distinguished American foreign policy expert.

    “It is vital for Pakistan to shift its strategic focus from a dead-end losing competition with India to a developmental competition,” Prof Walter Russel Mead emphasised in an interview with Dawn during his recent visit to Lahore.

    Pakistan can become an economically strong country if it realises the uselessness of confrontation with India, he said and held that Pakistan’s policy of confrontation with India means that it has given a veto power over its domestic and foreign policy to New Delhi.

    Prof Mead is a former Henry Kissinger senior fellow for United States foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a number of books. He was in Pakistan for two weeks to participate in the US embassy’s programme of international speakers. During his visit, he spent a lot of time with students and teachers from different universities, journalists, military officials, analysts and others.

    According to him, Pakistan’s struggle against India is also stopping its security establishment from completely severing its ties with extremist groups. “If you give up your relationship with these groups,” he argued, “the whole policy of confrontation with India becomes much more difficult to sustain.”

    He did not agree with the theory that the relationship between Pakistan and India could not improve without a solution to Kashmir. “To some degree it is a question for Pakistan to ask itself. To say that without a resolution to the Kashmir issue Pakistan cannot prosper is to say that India has a veto power over the future of Pakistan, that India must give permission before Pakistan can launch its projects of development.

    And I think Pakistan for its own sake needs to assume sovereignty over its future,” Prof Mead underlined. “Pakistan might see a creative new direction for itself if it could see the issue and assume sovereignty over its domestic and foreign policy.”

    “I think militarization of Pakistan’s development over the last 60 years is the core,” he continued. “The distortion of development priorities that comes from enormous military burden and uneven struggle against a much bigger neighbour means that Pakistan’s development is slower than that could be otherwise. It has not affected India due to its size. The questionable groups are used as a balancing weapon just to discover that these balancing groups exacerbate internal problems. Violence makes peaceful development much harder. Cost of confrontation for Pakistan keeps rising.”

    The award-winning author of “Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World” and “God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World”

    The expert pointed out that the US would like to see an agreed on solution over the future of Kashmir, which is also acceptable to its people. “But we neither can nor would impose a solution. We don’t have the ability or will. Some people in Pakistan have these unrealistic ideas about what the US government can accomplish.”

    Yet, he said, it is clear that India and Pakistan are closer to a common vision on the future of Kashmir today than they were 40 years ago. “And there are some interesting proposals put on the table by both sides. Some people say they have come way close to the solution. One hopes that the progress continues.”

    Asked about the recent American statements urging Pakistan to take action against Lashkar-i-Taiba and its allies, Prof Mead said: “I would expect the US to continue to raise this issue not because it is trying to be an agent of India here but because the US genuinely believes that any, even slight, cooperation between Pakistan’s security apparatus and this group is a threat to peace in the region.”

    What does the burgeoning US-India relationship mean for Pakistan? Is the US getting ready to abandon Pakistan to India’s tender mercies? “That’s really not what we are trying to do. The future of this region includes a strong, vibrant developing Pakistan. The US likes to see Pakistan – like one of emerging countries – growing at 10 per cent a year and becoming more modern and successful by decade and decade. The Kerry-Lugar Bill, which pledges to provide Islamabad $7.5 billion over a period of five years, is shaped by this vision,” Mr Mead said.

    But he candidly stated it is impossible for the US to ignore the rise of India. He quoted Henry Kissinger to describe the rise of India and China as “one of very rare historical event that would change the world”. “From the US point of view,” he elaborated, “the rise of India can be seen as fundamentally a benign force in the world. “The rise of India means the US doesn’t have to think so much about a war with China or a confrontation with China. With the rise of India you see a natural balance emerging in Asia with China, Japan and India.

    Any two of them are sufficient to keep the third from trying to dominate the region, and from the US standpoint it is a great benefit. You would be loser if you think that the US will be indifferent to the rise of India; we would like to promote it for this much larger issue.”

    Agreeing that the gulf between Pakistani and American perceptions and priorities was deep, Mr Mead blamed Pakistan’s focus on India for much of the misunderstanding. “Pakistanis and Americans often misunderstand each other. So when Americans say to Pakistanis ‘let’s have a strategic dialogue’, they say let’s talk about things other than India. But when Pakistanis say to Americans ‘let’s have a strategic dialogue’, they say let’s talk about India.”

    He said unlike most other countries, when the US thinks about foreign policy it tends to think about the globe, the world as a whole. “We don’t think Mexico and Canada are two most important foreign policy issues. Americans are so global and Pakistan is one of those countries which is most concerned about its regional environment and tends to think much less about the big global issues. So issues, global issues, the US cares about often don’t seem important to Pakistanis. The issues that are on top of Pakistan’s priority list come somewhere much low down for Americans.”

    However, he insisted, in certain areas the “communication gap” between Americans and Pakistanis is closing. “I think the biggest gap between Americans and their Pakistani interlocutors had to do with this question of the world’s terrorist groups, religious extremist groups. And I think there has been a group in Pakistan that thought that these groups could be used as instruments of state policy and saw it as a regional issue. The US tended to think these extremist religious groups and the potential for global turmoil they represented like fire and once they start to burn you cannot control where they go. More recently as violence has come home tragically, there is much more sense among much wider sectors of society (in Pakistan) that these groups are a fundamental threat to order everywhere and you cannot play safely with them. I don’t say the gap is closed 100 per cent but there is a much deeper understanding of this danger of these forces and their uncontrollability.”

    To another question, Prof Mead said that “there remains a strong sense that not everybody in the Pakistan government is telling everything they know about these (extremist) groups. And that is a real problem for the US – not a simple problem, a big problem.”
  3. Rebelkid

    Rebelkid Regular Member

    Jan 10, 2010
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    ROFl.......the title is funny

    Their own india centric policy is costing them dearly
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Its better to cross-post Walter russel mead's blog here......

    Pakistan’s Crisis: It’s More Than The Militants

    Walter Russell Mead
    Posted In: General

    I am nearing the end of a week’s rest and recuperation at an undisclosed location in the Cayman Islands, but Pakistan’s Summer from Hell is still going strong.

    Things were tough enough during my stay. On my way in from the airport in Karachi, traffic was unusually light. Roving gangs of armed thugs were roaming through the city, pillaging gas stations. The police force was laughably overwhelmed; the only gas stations that stayed open had battalions of private security. Meanwhile, up to 100 people died there in violence between the organized gangs of criminals known in that unhappy city as political parties, schools and businesses are closed in fear, and tens of thousands of families already living at the margins of existence are losing their daily wages until peace returns. One night during my visit a vicious goon threw a hand grenade into a group of worshipers performing their evening prayers in a Karachi mosque; nothing in this city is sacred anymore.

    In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province, and currently on the front line of the COFKATGWOT (the currently nameless Conflict Formerly Known As The Global War On Terror) assassins killed the son of a prominent official and Safwat Ghayyur, the Commandant of the Frontier Constabulary. Three million people became homeless in the early stages of the flood; since then monsoon rains continue to inundate the highlands, and successive flood crests is move inexorably down river, spreading devastation through the Punjab and overspreading the country’s most valuable and productive agricultural land across both Punjab and Sindh.

    The economy is unraveling. During my stay in Karachi, the country’s commercial center, banks were unable to process payments because their staff, fearful of violence and facing the total collapse of the transit system, could not get to work. Paychecks aren’t being cut and millions of workers have not gotten their July paychecks. That is nothing new for the country’s journalists. Many media companies have, I am told, been caught in a cash squeeze as a result of heavy tax assessments and have fallen weeks or even months behind on their payroll. The floods disrupted transport across the country; worse, they are wiping out crops in the rich, low lying bottom land next to the rivers. Fruit and vegetable shortages will be showing up soon, driving up prices and worsening an inflationary spiral that has already forced the central bank to raise rates — and led the government to raise controlled prices on goods like sugar. Cotton production is likely to fall by up to 20% even as warehoused stocks of cotton and wheat were destroyed by the floods; a lot of Pakistanis will be going hungry in coming months. Not the best time for a budget cut, but with tax revenue falling as the disasters unwind, the government is planning major cuts in development and social spending.

    Meanwhile, foreign investors, reading about the succession of horrors, are staying away in droves. Floods, Taliban, some of the most appalling corruption anywhere in the world, anarchy and chaos in the streets: who needs it? There are plenty of safer places to put your money.

    It is hard to exaggerate the eye-popping incompetence displayed by some government officials and politicians in the face of these disasters. The country’s president ran off to the UK where a lavish party was planned for his son: first things first, after all. And as I was preparing to leave the country a newspaper story in the Tribune reported that a Pakistani trade delegation has just returned empty handed from a mission to Moscow. The designated head of the delegation for some reason wasn’t cleared for the trip; the delegation then dissolved into vain and petty disputes over who should be in charge. (Dysfunctional and petty posturing over minor points of precedence is a mainstay of Pakistani politics.) The Russians were insulted; no agreements were reached. The delegation returned empty handed. A journalist at a dinner told me that the ‘black box’ from the recent plane crash that killed 152 people near Islamabad failed to leave the country on schedule because a member of the air safety authority insisted on accompanying the black box to Paris — and the official’s visa hadn’t come through yet.

    The rot doesn’t just affect the high ranking officials. A story in the Nation reports that police in a number of stations across Lahore have simply turned off the station telephone lines. Too many calls from too many citizens asking for help; it was disturbing the well earned rest of the cops. There are stories of “ghost schools” in rural areas: salaries are paid, but no teachers appear for work.

    Pakistanis live with levels of incompetence, chicanery and fraud in government that would have Americans assembling in lynch mobs. From the presidential palace to the cop on the beat, public servants routinely neglect and abuse their responsibilities in this country in ways that would be sensationally scandalous in any well developed, well functioning state. The intolerable is the normal here, accepting the unacceptable a way of life. There are wonderful people in this country: honest journalists, able and patriotic civil servants, idealistic reformers, committed educators, incorruptible officials civilian and military, brilliant novelists, daring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers. But somehow the dough doesn’t rise. Something, or several somethings, don’t seem to work.

    Sit down with any number of Pakistanis and ask what’s wrong and you will be in for a fascinating, rich and informed discussion and debate about whose fault it is and where the wrong turnings were taken. The military, the US, the British, Partition, the loss of Kashmir, the loss of Bangladesh, this prime minister, that prime minister, Islam, secularism, India, the Punjab, the Sindh: there are almost as many theories of Pakistan’s crises as there are symptoms. Some come from the lunatic fringe: the American-Jewish plot to crush Pakistan precisely because it is the key to the global Islamic resurgence, for example. Others come with thick forests of documentation, argued with passionate conviction by people who have invested lifetimes into developing a comprehensive theory of Pakistan. Yet the reality seems more complex than any theory, and none of the theories I’ve heard offer much hope for quick change.

    Two theories common among westerners don’t make sense to me: that Pakistanis suffer from too much nationalism and religion. Too much chauvinism and bigotry, perhaps, but at least among the nation’s elites both genuine love of country and sincere religious faith seem in short supply. A 21st century country that can’t be bothered to educate its own children and permits abuses like bonded labor on a mass scale can hardly be said to be nationalist in any meaningful sense; a culture where so many officials high and low operate with this level of corruption and neglect of the public good cannot be called religious. In both cases there may be an obsession with the outer symbols of nationalism and religion (flags and beards), but the immense gap between aspiration and reality suggests that there is something hollow about the way too many (though certainly not all) Pakistani elites embrace these two value systems. A nationalist revival that saw elite Pakistanis making genuine sacrifices to educate the poor, assure equality before the law for all the country’s citizens, build up the national infrastructure and drive corrupt and incompetent officials and politicians from public life would be a very good thing. So would the kind of religious revival that inspired public officials to refrain from taking bribes.

    Pakistan is not the world’s only country where the best and the brightest spend long hours debating what when wrong and whose fault it was. Egyptians, Argentines, Italians, Serbs: there are lots of countries out there where diagnosing the wrong turns in the road is a national hobby. Different Pakistanis have different theories, and most of them involve the US, though in different ways. Military types attack the US as an unfaithful ally and blame Pakistan’s steady loss of influence and power vis a vis archrival India as the consequence of American betrayals. Some democrats in Pakistan blame the US for preferring military government to democratic rule.

    It’s not all about us. Some of the people I met with told me that the idea of Pakistan itself was a dreadful mistake: that it would have been smarter for the Muslims of British India to insist on constitutional guarantees for minority rights in an undivided India. Outside the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, many people resented the concept of Pakistan as a vehicle for Punjabi domination of the rest. Others thought that the concept of Pakistan was fine, but that the idealistic vision of the nation’s founding father Ali Jinnah has been betrayed.

    What Pakistan probably needs most is the one thing it won’t get: a vacation from history. A front line state in the COFKATGWOT, in the Cold War, and in the Ind0-Pak confrontation going back to Partition, Pakistan could use a couple of decades of geopolitical irrelevance and obscurity to settle down comfortably in its own skin, develop its institutions and resolve basic questions about its identity. This isn’t going to happen; the war in Afghanistan isn’t going to end quickly, India isn’t going away, and the shadow of the US-Iranian confrontation hangs over the region’s prospects.

    Meanwhile on top of its geopolitical issues and its unresolved domestic questions, the country is now struggling with the worst floods in its history. Millions of mostly illiterate people already on the verge of destitution are facing the loss of their homes, their farm animals and their only possessions. This is a time when the United States needs to stand up and be counted on the side of Pakistan’s people. Every dime of government and private aid, every helicopter rescue mission, every bundle of food, every piece of medical equipment and every dosage of lifesaving drugs conveys and important message about the kind of people we are and the kind of world we want to build.
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai – 3rd August 2010


    Walter Russel Mead U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in fresh episode of Kehnay Mein Kia Harj Hai in Geo News and discusses current issues with Muhammad Malick.

    I'll recommend people to watch this program its in english and nearly 40 min. duration.Hearing views of a Pakistani Jurno like Malick just reinforces the fact that Pakistanis suffer from a serious inferiority complex vis-a-vis India as well as feel the need to constantly compare themselves with India in each and everything....and their major takleef, as once again apparent from this interview, is what they perceive as the world now clubbing India with countries like Brazil and Russia while Pakistan being thought of as a failed "Banana Republic" and clubbed with countries like Afghanistan and Sudan etc.

    Walter was trying to be polite and as diplomatic, as possible, in his answers but it was obvious even his patience was wearing thin hearing so much of rona dhona from Malick.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Reporting From Pakistan

    Walter Russell Mead
    Posted In: Afghanistan & Iraq, Asia, Religion, U.S. Foreign Policy

    I’m not much good at timing. I was visiting Jordan on a lecture tour when the Israelis assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin. Amman closed down and much of my program had to be canceled; Americans weren’t welcome on campuses where student groups were mourning the sheikh and vowing revenge. I was in Indonesia when the Israelis invaded Lebanon; I was able to go ahead with the program, but all the audiences wanted to discuss was the war and America’s responsibility for Israeli crimes. I first came to Pakistan about the time then-Senator Obama called for escalating the drone strikes in Pakistani territory; I was in Turkey when his endorsement of the Armenian genocide resolution (a position he wisely dropped once in office) created a firestorm in that country.

    This time, I hoped to do better. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s recent Pakistan visit went reasonably well; much of the press coverage was favorable and both Pakistani and American officials were talking about how healthy, how positive, how cooperative the relationship was.And then came the WikiLeaks, 92.000 classified documents, many of them relating to allegations that the ISI, Pakistan’s super-secret intelligence service, has been actively working with the Taliban and other unsavory figures even as senior Pakistani officials tell the US that they are doing nothing of the kind.

    The news broke in the US on Sunday; it only hit here on Tuesday, possibly because the issues are so sensitive that some media figures decided to wait to test official reaction before committing themselves. On Tuesday the story made all the front pages. The Nation, a feisty and often anti-American newspaper that sees spooks in every corner and seems to believe that much of the world has nothing better to do than endlessly plot against Pakistan, has already figured it out: the leaks were a clever ploy by the ruthlessly cunning Obama administration to discredit Pakistan. Commented The Nation:

    “Something is not right here,” one expert said, adding that WikiLeaks could not have done it without a wink and a nod by some elements in the administration wanting to keep Pakistan under pressure.

    All the news outlets are giving plenty of space to indignant denials by Pakistani authorities that the leaks point to anything real. Denunciations of the leaks by American officials play especially well; in addition to covering the ISI’s indignant denial that there is any factual basis for the reports, The Dawn carries three separate stories about American officials denouncing, downplaying and vowing to hunt down the leakers.

    One thing I’ve learned here that has been a surprise: virtually all Pakistanis are operating on the assumption that the United States plans to cut and run in Afghanistan. They look at President Obama’s stated goal of beginning to draw down US troop strength in July of 2011 and they put that together with the recent announcement in Kabul of a 2014 timetable for Afghan authorities to take over security responsibilities to conclude that the United States has already decided to leave Afghanistan by 2014 at the latest. For many here, that is good news. As the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, Pakistan’s influence, they believe, will grow. There seem to be some who hope that the “good Taliban” under Pakistani leadership will become the dominant force in post-war Afghanistan.

    There is a tendency here to look at the Afghan war through a Vietnam lens. It’s easy to see why. A long, slogging guerrilla war against a resourceful enemy with backing from its neighbors and popular support. An incompetent and corrupt government unable to deliver the basics to the people. A Democratic president for whom the foreign war is a distraction from an ambitious domestic agenda. A growing chorus of establishment dissent from former supporters of the war now concluding it is hopeless. And now we have the WikiLeaks, which some are calling the new Pentagon Papers — secret documents that undermine public credibility in the government’s presentation of the war.

    I’ve been telling my Pakistani interlocutors that despite the apparent similarities, Afghanistan isn’t Vietnam. Instead of the fishy Gulf of Tonkin incident as the war’s flashpoint, there was 9/11. While many Americans see little hope of clear cut victory in Afghanistan, their is little effective opposition to the war. The war is stretching and testing the American military, but morale is generally high and the public at large remains strongly supportive of the military. American politics seem to be tilting the right rather than to the left at the moment, with the next Congress likely to be less dovish than the current one. Despite the recent spike, US casualties in Afghanistan remain relatively low.

    I am sure that President Obama would like to end the war as soon as possible — who wouldn’t? But there is a difference between a goal of reducing troop levels next year and a decision to pull out regardless of conditions on the ground. If the Afghan surge doesn’t bring us to a turning point in the war, I don’t think the Obama administration will ‘bug out’. If Plan A fails, Plan B is likely to look something like the plan sketched out by Robert Blackwill in a Politico piece earlier this month. Essentially, the US would concentrate on defending the non-Pashtun sections of Afghanistan (including Kabul) from the Taliban with reduced forces, relying on air power and other strikes to prevent the use of Afghan territory by Al-Qaeda. This strategy is likely to be considerably cheaper than our current war effort, and is unlikely to lead to significant US combat casualties. Pakistan would have great influence in the areas of Afghanistan closest to its frontiers, but the interests of other regional powers (Russia, India, China and quite possibly Iran) could also be taken into account.

    The Blackwill plan was not exactly greeted with joy in Pakistan; Blackwill was US ambassador to India and is a leading proponent of the idea that America’s long term strategic interests are tied up in deepening our relationship with the emerging South Asian superpower. One commentator in The Dawn wrote of Blackwill’s proposal that “The Neocon Vampires, the blood-thirsty Islamophobes and the thinktank irredentist and Bharati (aka Indian) revanchists are planning another dismemberment, so that they can continue their blood-fest in the arid mountains of Afghanistan.” More levelheaded analysts make similar points in more dispassionate tones; generally speaking many Pakistani analysts look at the Afghan conflict primarily as a theater in the Indo-Pak rivalry and hope that a united Afghanistan under Pakistani influence will emerge as Washington precipitously withdraws. The Blackwill approach leaves Pakistan with a smaller slice of Afghanistan and may even increase Indian influence in the north. Pakistanis tell me that this is the recipe for 100 years of proxy war between Indian and Pakistani allies.

    In private, though, Pakistanis seem more open to some version of a de facto division of Afghanistan — as long as Pakistan and its allies get a big enough slice. This outcome would be preferable to the hasty, Saigon-style bug-out which many here expect, as a hasty American withdrawal will, Pakistanis fear, force them to assert influence across the whole country to keep India at bay. The prospect of Indian influence in Afghanistan makes Pakistan deeply nervous; being encircled by India and its allies is one of Pakistan’s deepest fears.

    For an American administration that wants to cut the costs and reduce the political price of a long and inconclusive war but doesn’t want to pay the political price for losing a war, some kind of compromise division in Afghanistan makes sense. Working out the details will not be an easy task.

    The people I’ve talked with may not be a representative sample, but the academics, soldiers, diplomats and journalists I’ve seen so far have all been convinced that the US is on the way out in Afghanistan. If that isn’t the plan, the administration needs to find a way to make its intentions more clear. If the Pakistanis are putting large bets on a quick US withdrawal that isn’t going to happen, there’s a potential for further tension in what is already one of the most prickly alliances we have.

    Meanwhile, for the hardcore Mead loyalists out there, the local press is taking some interest in my visit. This story from the Associated Press of Pakistan reports on a presentation I made at the Pakistan Studies Center at Punjab University yesterday. Here’s another take on the same event from the Daily Times. More recently, The News International reported on a speech I gave at GC University in Lahore.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  7. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 1, 2009
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    Pakistan's obsession with India has brought it to the verge of disaster.
    However Pakistan WILL NOT give up its hostility toward India. Pakistan would rather destroy itself rather than change its attitude towards India
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Pakistan’s Failed National Strategy

    Walter Russell Mead
    Posted In: Afghanistan & Iraq, Asia, History, Islam, Obama, Religion, U.S. Foreign Policy

    The unremitting spate of bad news from Pakistan continues; rains are still drenching the highlands and the devastation continues to spread down the river valleys. This year’s harvest has been ruined; increasingly, it seems unlikely that farmers will be able to plant fall crops. While visiting Pakistan earlier this month, I posted on the roots of Pakistan’s rage, doing my best to explain why so many Pakistanis are so angry with the United States. That is one side of the story; but equally mysterious to many people and especially in Pakistan is another side of the equation: why so many American policy makers and opinion leaders are fed up with Pakistan.

    Listening to Pakistanis, I hear several theories about why the US (and the west more generally) are suspicious or unsupportive of Pakistan. Many of these have to do with religion: that Americans and their western associates dislike and fear Islam, and therefore dislike and fear Pakistan. Worse, some Pakistanis fear that America’s leaders see themselves engaged in a contest with resurgent Islam, and their policy toward Pakistan represents an attempt to keep the west on top and to suppress Islam as a global force.

    That’s not the way most American policy makers and opinion leaders understand the relationship. The American foreign policy elite is not particularly religious or interested in religion by and large; it assesses countries on a more pragmatic basis: how well are they doing, and how do their policies and prospects affect American interests. And the problem is that most of the American foreign policy world thinks that Pakistan is doing a bad job, and that its mistakes, failures and vulnerabilities not only threaten its own interests and well being, but threaten to drag down the whole region as well.

    Many of the Pakistanis I’ve met think this is horribly unfair; they argue, for example, that without the US abandonment of Afghanistan after 1989 and its strategically shortsighted policies there since 2001, Pakistan would be much better off. Perhaps, but even Pakistanis who think the United States is entirely to blame for everything wrong in South Asia would do well to understand the relationship as Americans see it. It always helps to understand the other side’s point of view.

    There is no single, monolithic American view of Pakistan anymore than there is a single Pakistani view of the United States, but in general American observers have a pretty bleak view of the predominant trends among Pakistani elites. Large numbers of influential Americans believe that Pakistan’s leadership (military as well as civilian) is dragging the country down. American observers tend to believe that while there are many outstanding military officers and civilian business and intellectual leaders, as a whole the Pakistani elite has failed to understand the country’s situation, failed to respond in a sensible and strategic way to the challenges around it — and that its continuing failures have reached a point where the Pakistani ruling elite is a danger to itself and to everybody in its reach. For different reasons, both the political and the military leaders of Pakistan seem to American eyes to be hellbent on a ruinous course that is wrecking the country, destabilizing the neighborhood, and stoking the fires of radicalism and terror in ways that endanger Pakistanis most of all but also create serious dangers for people all over the world.

    Americans are divided over whether the military or the civilian leadership of Pakistan has done the worst job, but most think that both wings of the establishment have contributed substantially to the country’s distress. The military has systematically sacrificed the country’s development to a hopeless and losing struggle against India that blocks the country’s economic and social development and leaves Pakistan weaker, less stable and further behind its giant neighbor every year. Civilian elites are dominated by viciously unprincipled feudal landlords and corrupt dynasties who would rather exploit the population than develop the country. The two wings of the elite create an interlocking deadlock; civilian politicians won’t take on the military’s suicidally blind strategic fixations and the military won’t push through the kind of modernization (serious land reform, education of the peasants, reform of a rent seeking and corrupt bureaucracy) that could break the dark grip of the landlords and give the country some hope. Each wing of the elite would rather collaborate in the country’s destruction by indulging the worst tendencies of the other than take the risks (and exercise the self restraint) that could set the country on a better path.

    The military’s fixation on India is not just about focusing on conventional war on the Indian frontier at the expense of counterinsurgency operations in the northwest. It is a much bigger and much more destructive problem. Ever since the Partition of British India left a smaller, divided Pakistan facing a larger (and, frankly, a sometimes hostile and aggressive) neighbor, the Pakistani military has defined its mission and the nation’s identity by the need to hold up its end of the military contest. Realizing from the beginning that the smaller Pakistani economy could not support a strong enough military for the task, the Pakistani military turned to outside powers and especially the United States for help. Pakistan took the American side in the Cold War while ostensibly ‘non-aligned’ India tilted toward the USSR. Pakistan hoped that US aid would allow it to maintain the unequal contest; this is often the reason Pakistanis today give for Pakistan’s staunch support of the US during the 1950s and 1960s.

    The strategy failed then and it is failing now. US aid has helped build Pakistan’s formidable military and given it top notch equipment, but the costs of Pakistan’s military buildup remained crippling — and over the years India has consistently pulled further ahead. Today the contest is more unequal than ever. India is emerging as a global power; Pakistan looks more and more like a basket case. East Pakistan was ‘lost’ a generation ago and is now the independent state of Bangladesh; what was once the western half of Pakistan is simply not in India’s league and the social and political cohesion of what remains weakens every year. Currently, Pakistan ranks 8th in the world in military expenditure as a percentage of total government spending (23%); India spends a lower percentage of both GDP and government expenditure on the military than Pakistan.

    The costs of that failed strategy have been high. While country after country in Asia embarked on export-oriented development strategies that have brought new affluence and influence to places ranging from South Korea to Malaysia and Vietnam, Pakistan remains mired in old fashioned underdevelopment. Power flickered on and off across the country even before the recent floods; illiteracy and poverty levels remain at shocking levels. Even in military terms this has its consequences; Pakistan’s failure to grow and develop fast enough means that the country is less and less able to support the kind of military that the soldiers think it needs.

    But there is more. The iron necessity of competition with India as perceived by the Pakistani military led to three additional fateful choices. First, the nuclear program: once India proceeded with its bomb (and perhaps even if it didn’t), Pakistani military authorities had to get their own. To be smaller in population and economy, weaker in conventional power and also to be a non-nuclear state confronting a nuclear power was radically unacceptable. The military felt the bomb was a necessity, no matter what it cost, no matter what deals with what devils were required.

    And more: a smaller power in conventional terms looks to forms of asymmetrical warfare to offset its enemy’s advantage. For Pakistan, this meant that cultivating relationships with groups willing to use violence in Kashmir and against India more generally became a perceived necessity of state. Pakistan might be smaller, weaker and poorer than India, but it was not without offsetting advantages. The discontent of so many Kashmiris under India rule and the presence of both religious and political resistance movements gave Pakistan opportunities too good to resist. The partnership of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment with unconventional, non-state violent movements began to take shape.

    Finally, the need to compete with India drove Pakistan into far-reaching policies in Afghanistan. There are many reasons why Pakistan was interested in influencing events across the Durand Line (the British-drawn line that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan on maps, but which neither the local tribes nor the Afghan government has ever recognized), but the need for ‘strategic depth’ against India and the need to combat Indian influence in Afghanistan have shaped Pakistan’s Afghan policy for decades. Pakistan made more deals with more devils, collaborating in the obscenity of Taliban rule for the sake of maintaining Pakistani influence.

    The net effect of these strategies has been costly. Pakistan’s combination of illicit nuclear activities, terrorist links and collusion with the Taliban set it directly in opposition to core American interests — even as India’s rising power made Pakistan more dependent than ever on the US. Since 9/11 Pakistan has been impaled on a dilemma of its own construction: torn between supporting and opposing American policy on proliferation, terrorism and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, unresolved questions about Pakistan’s nuclear program, combined with US support for India, have led to the worst possible nuclear outcome for Pakistan: India now enjoys full access to advanced nuclear technology and materials while Pakistan’s access remains blocked. Nuclear weapons were supposed to be Pakistan’s equalizer in the contest with India; increasingly, they look like just another crucial area in which India is gaining the advantage.

    Worse, Pakistan’s support of terror groups in India (including Kashmir) has provoked, Pakistanis fear, increased Indian support for the long-festering separatist movement in Balochistan. Ethnic Punjabis now live in fear there; the Pakistani flag and other national symbols can no longer be displayed in much of the province, and public opposition to rule from Islamabad seems to be growing. Significant voices in Sindh and Kyhber-Pakhtunkwa (formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province) are less than enthusiastic about Pakistan, often seen by non-Punjabis as a front for Punjabi ethnic domination.

    Many Pakistanis with military links and strong nationalist credentials are looking for alternatives to the US alliance, but the alternatives aren’t attractive. The three most significant alternative partners for Pakistan (China, Saudi Arabia and Iran) don’t add up. China does not seem willing to complicate its relations with both India and the United States by building the kind of strategic partnership with Pakistan that could replace the US alliance. The Saudis (widely believed to have supported the Pakistani nuclear program in order to have a ‘Sunni bomb,’ and to be major sources of funds for Pakistani politicians and the economy) would also prefer that Pakistan not detach itself entirely from the US, and would bitterly oppose a Pakistani alignment with archrival Iran. Iran is too small a power, too encumbered with its own economic and political problems to be of much help to Pakistan, and it is unlikely that Iran wants to add India to its already long enemies list.

    But if the military has been backing Pakistan into a strategic dead end, the country’s civilian leadership has been deeply destructive in its own way. Almost everyone in Pakistan I met denounced the ‘feudals’, the landlord families who keep much of the country landless, illiterate and poor. Since independence the feudals have blocked real land reform of the kind that kicked off economic development in places like South Korea and Taiwan. Pakistan’s systematic educational failure is an overwhelming national disgrace. A few statistics tell the story: 55% of primary school age girls are not in school; the average Pakistani adult has 3.9 years of schooling; at 1.8% of GDP, Pakistan ranks 127 out of 132 countries worldwide in educational expenditure (spending 4.1% of GDP, India ranks 82nd); there are only 5 years of compulsory education — and many children get less; less than half the total population can meet a minimal literacy test (compared to 59% in India). Newspaper accounts in the Pakistani press while I was in country reported that only about one third of school-age children in Karachi were in class. Other Islamic countries like Malaysia, Turkey and Iran do much, much better.

    To most informed American observers, this is a country committing national suicide and these statistics show an elite concerned to pillage and loot rather than to teach and to serve. Americans look at this astonishing situation as a failure of political and social culture so profound, so immense, that it is hard to see how anybody or anything can help unless Pakistan can summon up the will to make some wrenching changes.(It is much deeper than that learned Professor. To a man, from Jinnah to Zardari, in the previous 63 years, each one has defined, declared and followed the same destructive process. Pakistan is absolutely incapable of producing a 'leader' that can take it out of the morass. Besides, the social engineering practised for six decades and more is such that even a turnaround attempted based purely on Pakistani efforts, however unlikely it is, will not yield dividends for another three or four generations. And, there is no sign of any attempt by Pakistan to turn itself around anyway. If anything, it is likely to follow much more of the same. Just look at the way they are requesting for aid nowadays, "If you don't give aid, we will turn into an even more dreadful terrorist state". This is being said from PM downwards to a clerk in the Foreign Office. This is a 'free-for-all' country, where individuals have been bent on making money while it all lasts. They should be surprised themselves that they have lasted so far. Every disaster brings bounties for the 'Establishment'. The common man/woman slips deeper into Islamism hoping that would 'deliver him/her' as the ulema preach. That is why it is necessary on the part of the word community to reconfigure and reset that nation immediately. The floods are indeed an Allah-sent opportunity for that.)

    But the damage of weak and corrupt civil leadership goes deeper. It is hard to find a country whose political class is more widely despised at home and abroad. President Zadari’s farcical European tour during the current floods, the prime minister’s stop at a bogus refugee camp, the infamous corruption associated with virtually every political leader and party in the country: I did not meet a single Pakistani journalist, businessperson, professor or civil society worker who had any respect for the political class. Officials in other countries with access to classified information often know deeply damning and even humiliating facts about the financial shenanigans of Pakistan’s political class: even Saudis roll their eyes at Pakistani corruption. Many Pakistanis asked me why the US didn’t give more economic aid to the country; when I asked them whether additional aid would get to the people or go into Swiss bank accounts, there was general agreement that the chief beneficiary of more aid would be the Swiss banking system — unless the US insists on the type of strict controls that the Pakistani bureaucracy traditionally fights tooth and nail.

    The corruption at the top extends throughout the state and into civil society. Business often depends on government for licenses or special treatment. Tax collection is laughably inefficient and compliance with poorly-drafted and poorly-enforced tax laws makes countries like Greece and Italy look sober and puritanical. Politics and connections affect the ability of NGO groups to raise money and take a toll on the integrity of universities and other institutions.

    This is the view of Pakistani politics and government that seems most widespread among Americans who deal with Pakistan on a regular basis. It is qualified by the strongly positive relationship that many Americans have for particular Pakistanis with whom they deal. Both the American military and diplomatic establishments have people who admire and trust the particular Pakistanis with whom they interact. (And I can personally testify on the basis of my limited contacts to the high intellectual and personal qualities of many Pakistani diplomats, current and retired service personnel and civil servants.) But overall, American political and opinion leaders think that Pakistan’s leaders have made a series of strategic errors that leave the country dangerously vulnerable to continued decline. Many Americans accept Pakistani criticisms that American policy mistakes have made things worse, but by and large Americans are convinced that Pakistan’s most crippling problems are homemade.

    Like many of the Americans who work closely with Pakistan, I see some positive features as well. The Pakistani media has become much freer and more lively in recent years. Incompetent and corrupt politicians can be savagely ridiculed in the press (though the military seemed largely exempt from harsh criticism on my last trip). A recent study by Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency suggests that parts of the national security state are beginning to rethink basic elements of Pakistan’s strategy: the report states that the biggest threats to Pakistan’s security now come from internal terrorists rather than India. If the country proceeds with a serious rethink along these lines, much could change.

    More to the point, while Pakistan’s political institutions are deeply dysfunctional, the country continues to produce amazing people who are doing their best to set things right. Over and over again I was impressed by the intelligence and dedication of teachers, journalists and students who want to make Pakistan work. That dedication has only been deepened by the gradual awakening of the country’s elite to the threat that religious radicalism and terror pose. The longing I witnessed among people of all socio-economic levels for honest and competent government was extraordinary.

    Yet as the floods continue to thunder through this unhappy country and troubles at home and abroad continue to mount, it is hard not to worry. There are Americans who are ready to write Pakistan off, and to work around the country rather than trying to work with it. But that is still a minority view. For both humanitarian and political reasons, American foreign policy is unwilling to cast Pakistan adrift. The patience, though not infinite, has not yet been exhausted.

    The next few years are likely to be critical both for Pakistan’s development overall and for its relationship with the United States. Before ending my spate of Pakistan posts, I’ll conclude with some thoughts on what, given the frayed relations, bad history and urgent political and humanitarian problems before us, we can and should do.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
  9. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Lessons from Pakistan’s Latest Catastrophe

    Pakistan, South Asia, Natural Disasters, Foreign Aid, Foreign Policy
    Stephen P. Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, 21st Century Defense Initiative
    The Brookings Institution
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    AUGUST 17, 2010 —
    The flood in Pakistan, which is expected to affect 20 million citizens, is working its way down to the sea from the northwest, turning deserts into lakes. The current event is by no means the country’s biggest natural disaster in terms of lives lost—that dubious honor goes to the 1970 cyclone that killed almost a quarter million East Pakistanis, and had profound and negative consequences for Pakistan’s political stability. But, in terms of numbers affected, Pakistanis compare this event with the forced migration of millions during Partition.

    Beyond being an obvious humanitarian calamity, the flood and subsequent relief operation are important politically for at least three reasons: what they say about the government’s competence, what they tell us about the American response, and what lessons, if any, can be drawn regarding their impact on Pakistan’s political future.

    Natural and man-made disasters

    Almost every natural disaster has a man-made component. Individuals, governments, and private organizations generally have a good idea of a people’s vulnerability to floods, cyclones, and even earthquakes. To the degree that they prepare ahead of time, such as in this case tending to forest management (critical in holding back storm water), or constructing irrigation and drainage systems, and after the disaster strikes, to the degree that they manage rescue relief operations, they can both save life and reduce damage to property and crops.

    Unfortunately, Pakistan gets a failing grade for the historically abysmal management of its natural environment. George Schaller long ago documented the demise of Pakistan’s Snow Leopards, due partly to the destruction of their high forest environment and settler encroachment; the disappearance of these cats was one of many warning signs ignored by civilian and military regimes alike.

    When it comes to the rescue and relief operations, the Pakistan government, and its under-funded provinces, have not fared any better, but this is to be expected in a country where less than one percent of its population pay taxes.

    The government’s capacity to both anticipate and respond has been systematically weakened, even as Pakistan’s population has grown at an alarming rate. No one trusts the government—the major political parties have had to negotiate the creation of a new disaster management organization to carry out relief operations. The military remains credible, but it is now hip-deep in counter-insurgency operations in Pakistan itself, and covertly running some operations in Afghanistan. The army’s reputation has rebounded after the disastrous Musharraf years, it has more relevant assets (such as helicopters), than the civilian government, but that is not saying much, given the scale of the disaster, now affecting every province in the country.

    America to the rescue

    American officials are intensely interested in the ‘bounce’ in Pakistani attitudes towards the United States afforded by the opportunity to show the United States in a positive light. They worry about America’s low standing in Pakistan, less even than India. Only one month ago, they were reminiscing over the 2008 U.S. relief operation after a major earthquake. The belief took hold in the U.S. government that disaster relief is a powerful way of demonstrating America’s positive intentions towards Pakistan, and its capability to do good there.

    Thus, the Obama administration sees a large-scale relief program as a way of undoing the PR damage caused by increased drone attacks and support for the hapless (but democratically elected) present government of Pakistan. It is explicitly competing with the large network of Islamist charities, some of whom have links to known terrorist groups. Notably, an advantage those groups had is that they outlasted the American effort during the 2008 earthquake—we went home, they stayed on.
    Led by Richard Holbrooke, the Special Representative for “Af-Pak,” Washington boasts that only America can do humanitarian relief on such a vast scale, and the administration sees an opportunity to do well by doing good. Like a puppy dog, Washington is eager to demonstrate its good will and its competence, and some officials tout the disaster relief role as a component of the new “strategic” relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

    From the short-term public relations perspective, the American effort should be applauded, even if some assets have to be drawn from Afghanistan, where they were ironically enough battling hostile forces supported directly and indirectly by the government of Pakistan. Yet, from a policy perspective, the U.S. effort is misplaced. The Pakistan army remains convinced that the threat to them is from India rather than al Qaeda or the Taliban and no amount of puppy love will change their minds.

    This is one of the many paradoxes surrounding the U.S. effort: we are assisting a country that itself supports (or tolerates) groups hostile to America. Pakistan’s defense, of course, is that it does not exercise sovereign control over its own territory: therefore, the irony is that weaker it is, the more assistance it requires, especially because it remains convinced of India’s bad intentions.

    The floods and Pakistan’s future

    Some have speculated that these floods will be a critical event in Pakistan’s political history. Like the 1970 Cyclone, which turned many East Pakistanis against the military-dominated government, this wave of floods could trigger massive resentment against the present regime of Asif Ali Zardari, who notably was visiting family properties in Britain and France as the floods hit. A dramatic change in leadership is still possible, but as a recent Brookings study of Pakistan found, this is a country that has both considerable resiliency, and is under pressure from so many directions that it is very hard to predict its future over the next few weeks, let alone the next few months. Pakistan is under attack from at least two insurgencies (Balochistan and Waziristan), the state has lost control over huge tracts of territory, sectarian discord is growing in the major cities, suicide attacks against the very core elements of the state are growing, and, as far as its army is concerned, India remains the chief military threat.

    In sum, the United States has a policy to deal with natural disaster—help as much as it can, as fast as it can— and that is to be applauded. But it still has no true policy to deal with either Pakistan’s declining integrity as a state or the army’s obsession with India.
  10. thakur_ritesh

    thakur_ritesh Administrator Administrator

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Land of the GODS - "Dev Bhomi".
    these chaps are sh!t scared man! :D

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