Pakistan’s elusive quest for parity

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by Dharmateja, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. Dharmateja

    Dharmateja Regular Member

    Jan 9, 2013
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    Pakistan’s elusive quest for parity

    by Hussain Haqqani

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi carefully omitted mentioning Pakistan during the U.S. President’s recent visit to India. But that did not stop Pakistani politicians and media from “warning” America against trying to “establish India’s dominance” in South Asia. Amid talk of Pakistan expanding security ties with China and Russia, its Foreign Office issued an official statement complaining that an India-U.S. partnership would alter South Asia’s “balance of power” and create a “regional imbalance.”

    In reality, the Pakistani reaction reflects the Pakistani security establishment clinging to the notion of parity with India. For years, Pakistan has ignored changes in the global environment and accepted the heavy price of internal weakness to project itself as India’s equal. Islamabad also insists on resolution of the Kashmir dispute as the essential prerequisite for normal ties with its much larger neighbour.

    Equality and parity

    The parity doctrine as well as the emphasis on Kashmir are rooted in ideology and the two-nation theory that was the basis of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s demand for Pakistan. For a country to base its foreign policy for over 60 years on the same assumptions is unusual. As the world around us changes, so must a nation’s foreign policy. But Pakistan has yet to embrace pragmatism as the basis of its foreign and national security policies.

    Pakistanis such as me realise that seeking security in relation to a much larger neighbour is not the same thing as insisting on parity with it. All nations are equal in international law but sovereign equality is not synonymous with parity.

    In any case, Pakistan is India’s rival in real terms only as much as Belgium could rival France or Germany and Vietnam could hope to be on a par with China. India’s population is six times larger than Pakistan’s while its economy is 10 times the size of the Pakistani economy. Notwithstanding internal problems, India’s $2 trillion economy has managed consistent growth whereas Pakistan’s $245 billion economy has grown sporadically and is undermined by jihadi terrorism and domestic political chaos.

    Country comparisons

    India is expanding by most measures of national power while Pakistan has been able to keep pace with it only in manufacturing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Pakistanis are often not told of the widening gap between the two countries in most fields.

    For example, 94 per cent of India’s children between five and 15 complete primary school compared with 54 per cent in Pakistan. Every year, 8,900 Indians get a PhD in the sciences compared with the 8,142 doctorates awarded by Pakistan’s universities since Independence. The total number of books published in any language on any subject in Pakistan in 2013, including religious titles and children’s books, stood at 2,581, against 90,000 in India.

    The parity doctrine also requires Pakistanis to see India as an existential enemy. Textbooks still tell Pakistani children that Hindu India threatens Islamic Pakistan and seeks to terminate its existence. Hardly anyone outside of Pakistan believes that to be true.

    Nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction usually freeze conflicts and pave the way for détente as they did between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. But little has changed in the Pakistani ideology after the induction of nuclear weapons on the subcontinent. There is little recognition that with nuclear weapons, Pakistan no longer has any reason to feel insecure about being overrun by a larger Indian conventional force.

    Kashmir issue

    The notion of an existential threat to Pakistan is now only psycho-political and ideological. Pakistan has already fought four wars with India and lost half its territory in the process — the erstwhile East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971.

    As for Jammu and Kashmir, one need not deny Pakistan’s initial claims to recognise that it might not be an issue that can be resolved in the foreseeable future. Jihadi militancy, since 1989, has failed to wrest Kashmir for Pakistan from India as has war and military confrontation.

    Islamabad should also evaluate realistically its hope of internationalising the Kashmir issue. The last effective UN resolution on Kashmir was passed by the Security Council in 1957, when the United Nations had 82 members. Last year, with 193 members, Pakistan’s Prime Minister was the only world leader who mentioned Jammu and Kashmir at the UN General Assembly.

    In the U.S.’s calculations

    U.S. economic and military aid ($40 billion to date since 1950) encouraged the perpetuation of Pakistan’s doctrine of parity with India. Pakistanis thought that with the support of external allies, Pakistan could compensate for its inherent disadvantage in size against India. But now Washington sees India as America’s longer-term ally and partner.

    The size of India’s market and potential for greater trade, investment and defence sales are important elements in recent U.S. calculations. But even immediately after Independence, India and not Pakistan was deemed to be America’s natural ally. A 1949 Pentagon report described India as “the natural political and economic center of South Asia” and the country with which the U.S. had greater congruence of interests.

    India’s decision to stay non-aligned in the stand-off between the West and the Soviet bloc, benefited Pakistan in its formative years. India argued that it needed to benefit from both sides in the Cold War. Pakistan, a new state unsure of its future and searching for aid to bolster its economy and security, stepped in to become a part of U.S.-led military alliances.

    Pakistan’s old school diplomats, politicians and military thinkers are now upset that they cannot count on the U.S. as the equaliser in their quest for equivalence with India. China is already a close ally of Pakistan and cannot tip the balance in Pakistan’s favour on its own. In any case, it is unlikely that China, with its growing Uyghur problem, will remain unaffected by the global perception of Pakistan as an epicentre of Islamist terrorism.

    Voicing frustration with the major powers over their redefinition of their national interest will not help Pakistan advance its national interests. Just as it has belatedly started acknowledging its terrorist problem, my country would benefit more by giving up the quest for parity with India. We should seek security and prosperity in the context of our size for a territorial state, rather than an ideological one. The process could begin with efforts to address Pakistan’s institutional weaknesses, eliminate terrorism, improve infrastructure and modernise its economy.

    (Husain Haqqani, director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC, was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States from 2008-11. His latest book is Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding.)

    Pakistan’s elusive quest for parity - The Hindu
  3. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Haqqani is right but it won't register in the brains of Pak Army.
  4. Free Karma

    Free Karma Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 3, 2013
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    I really dont understand this's like almost everyone is mourning that there has been no mention of Pakistan in the Indo-US dialogue, apart from no stop over, a whole rash of articles have been published on this issue.

    This combined with A-5 test I guess is just making them feel terrible.

    The army is already trying to remedy the situation:
    Pakistan to hold military parade after 7 years | Zee News

    "(Xi) Jinping is expected to attend the Pakistan Day parade as chief guest".

  5. thethinker

    thethinker Senior Member Senior Member

    Dec 18, 2013
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    Pakistan's army: as inept as it is corrupt | Mustafa Qadri | Comment is free | The Guardian

    No institution dominates Pakistan like its army. The armed forces account for 20% of Pakistan's national budget, totalling $5bn last year according to official statistics. But the actual figure, already staggering for a country with high levels of illiteracy and malnutrition, is likely to be much higher. The army has been practically unaccountable since the very foundation of the country – last year's figures were the first it has publicly released since 1965.

    Those aren't the only imposing figures. It has some 650,000 active soldiers and another half million in reserve, and internal discipline – strict loyalty to the high command among the rank and file – is very high.

    Every one of Pakistan's democratically-elected civilian leaders has been forced to abdicate by the army. A general has directly ruled the country for 34 of its 62 years of existence.

    With this vice-like grip on power, many are wondering how a rural insurgency armed with basic weapons has managed to overrun so much of the country. The answers have much to do with the Pakistan army itself.

    Part of the problem is that the army is equipped for a conventional war against its historical adversary to the east, India, and not the type of insurgency being waged by the Taliban on the frontier to the west. Its operations in the tribal areas have been imprecise, leading to the destruction of many thousands of civilian lives and livelihood. Up to a million are believed to have been displaced by the conflict.

    "Collateral damage always strengthens the Taliban, it helps them get more public support," says Abdul Hakim (not his real name), a journalist from Dir, a tribal agency, next to the Swat valley, in which the Taliban are slowly moving.

    But there have been only limited, poorly-coordinated attempts to re-engage with communities devastated by armed operations against the Taliban. As a result the Army and government authorities have sheepishly ended up signing peace deals with the Taliban over the past four years. They have all consistently broken down, the Taliban using the lull in hostilities to regroup and rearm.

    The most recent peace deal, over the Swat valley, is on the verge of collapse owing to continued Taliban operations in neighbouring areas.

    There are lingering doubts about the Army's resolve to combat the Taliban too, as has been suggested when it initially sent up a lightly armed squad of paramilitaries to fight the Taliban in the Buner valley, just below Swat, even though the region is close to the nation's capital.

    Another factor is the fact that many of the army's soldiers involved in operations are Pashtun like the Taliban. This has left the high command nervous about tackling the insurgents head-on for fear of causing rifts within the ranks. Although far from a mutiny, many soldiers have refused to fight their fellow tribesman or have surrendered and deserted.

    But that has not prevented the army from engaging in operations that have been highly destabilising for tribal Pashtun communities in the affected areas. People fleeing the conflict in Swat and Bajaur, a tribal agency to the west on the border with Afghanistna, told me they felt that the army was, in fact, targeting them and not the Taliban. Some argued this was because the army feared Taliban reprisals. Others insisted they were being targeted because of their support for the Pashtun nationalist Awami National party, which runs the North West Frontier province government.

    The truth of rumours such as these, common in Pakistan, are difficult to quantify. But one need not look to rumours to understand why the Pakistan army has failed to defeat the Taliban.

    The army has a long history of strategic incompetence stretching back to the very first war the country fought with India in 1948. On that occasion, tribal militants from the regions now in open insurrection against Pakistan flooded into Indian-controlled Kashmir. After overwhelming Indian soldiers there, they promptly went on a binge of rape and looting while the army looked on.

    Again at war with India, in 1965, the better-equipped Pakistan army lost more ground, and tanks, than its adversary. But perhaps the army's darkest moment was the 1971 war that lead to the creation of Bangladesh. That conflict saw Pakistan troops involved in widespread acts of extermination against the indigenous Bengali population of what was, at the time, known as East Pakistan.

    The Hamoodur Rahman Commission held in Pakistan following that war found large swathes of the high command to be deeply negligent – the commander of Pakistani forces in East Pakistan, the report revealed, was involved in sexual misconduct even as his troops were killing, and being killed, on the battlefield.

    In 1999, an ambitious Pakistani general by the name of Pervez Musharraf devised the tactically brilliant, but strategically near-suicidal, plan to invade Kargil, an Indian mountain post in Kashmir. That gamble nearly led to nuclear war, and almost certainly led to a military coup later that year.

    How does one explain these failures? There can be no one explanation. But if there is an overriding message from these debacles, it is that the army is ill-equipped to defend the state because it has captured much of the bedrock of the state to which it is totally unaccountable.

    According to Ayesha Siddiqua, in her seminal study, "Military Inc", the army's private business assets are worth around £10bn and it owns a handsome share of the country's business and land. The generals, as a result, appear to be more interested in leveraging control over businesses, properties and politics.

    Yet, the army's power is such that although Pakistan's private media have a commendable record of criticising the country's civilian politicians, criticism of the men in uniform is rare – save during periods of crisis under direct military rule, like the dismissal of the chief justice in 2007.

    It would be unfair, however, to criticise the army without acknowledging the pivotal role played by its greatest patrons – the United States, and, to a lesser extent, China. Since the 1950s, both countries have lavished military and political support on the Pakistan army.

    "Nobody has occupied the White House who is friendlier to Pakistan than me," is what US President Richard Nixon told Pakistan's then military dictator, Yahya Khan, at a 1970 dinner in Washington, on the eve of the murderous war in East Pakistan. More recently, former President George Bush's praise for Pervez Musharraf has become the stuff of folklore.

    The army has been rewarded by its foreign patrons despite its incompetence and unaccountability. In the process, civilian political life has been grotesquely stunted, leading the democratic process to be replaced by a crude kleptocracy where non-military leaders represent personal dynasties and not the people.

    Is it any wonder, then, that the army struggles to find a concerted strategy for defeating the Taliban?
    jus likes this.

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