Does Pakistan really have an India problem ?


Phat Cat
Super Mod
Feb 23, 2009
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Pakistan has an India problem.

Never mind the thousands of civilians dead, displaced, and dispossessed by militancy and its backlash. Never mind that a politician who was set to capture a significant percentage of votes was assassinated by a terrorist organisation based not in India, but on Pakistan’s own territory. Never mind that hundreds of armed soldiers and security guards have been kidnapped, beheaded, and blown up by groups claiming a hard-line Islamic ideology.

The idea of a “pro-Pakistan,” Taliban regime in Afghanistan makes us grin. A pro-India regime in Afghanistan makes us queasy. Sixty years on, Pakistan (still) has an India problem.

In Washington DC, an understanding of Pakistan’s regional strategy in Afghanistan is defined by what they call the country’s ‘national security calculus’ – in other words, ‘Pakistan’s India problem.’ The story goes as follows: the Pakistan Army fomented insurgency in the 1980s with the help of the CIA, mostly because it wanted to hedge its bets against a hostile India by having a favourable regime in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, it continued its campaign of using militants in Kashmir as low-level irritants against the Indian Army.

In recent years, intelligence agencies have found their network amongst militants to be disassembling. Meanwhile, army officials have been targeted by the same militants they once cultivated, and the Frontier Corps have faced high casualties. As a result, the strategy has “switched” from one of FOIN (fomenting insurgency) to one of all-out COIN (counter insurgency).

The Pakistan Army now realises that the Pakistani Taliban are part of the national security threat, which is why there has been a “paradigm shift,” in the words of strategic analyst Haider Mullick of the Joint Special Operations University in Florida. Mullick’s new book, Pakistan’s Security Paradox, provides insights into what has been the cornerstone of the Pakistan Army’s strategic outlook for the last 30 years.

The powers that be remain reluctant about owning up to the Pakistan Army’s dealings with militant groups. But assuming a FOIN strategy exists, what would it look like? Mullick describes FOIN in great detail: for the numerically weaker Pakistan Army, “friendly” militants in Kashmir provided “plausible desirability.” That is, they did not operate on domestic soil and therefore posed no immediate threat to the country. They were a cheap tool against the Indian forces in Kashmir and acted as a force multiplier. After all, says Mullick, the Indian Army had more guns pointed at militants than it did at the Pakistani force in Kashmir.

Of course, even while fostering militancy, the Pakistan Army simultaneously conducted its own brand of counter-insurgency. Secessionist movements from Bangladesh to Baluchistan have faced the full force of the army. The picture is complicated when, between 2002 and 2008, the army seemingly increased domestic COIN tactics even while refusing to go after those groups it had carefully cultivated over the years. It is only in recent weeks, with the capture and killing of several high-level militant figures, that the army has shown that it can have its cake and eat it too.

The question persists, though: why does the Pakistan Army single-handedly continue to define national security, despite the installation of a democratically elected government at the centre? If analysts such as Mullick are correct, then the army has outwitted fate – by creating a problem and then solving it. Secondly, such an argument claims that it is perfectly reasonable to expect Pakistan to have national security concerns against India and deal with them in any way it sees appropriate, while simultaneously fighting terrorists that have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians.

It doesn’t take a military strategist to understand that what has happened in the Pakistan Army’s calculus is not a “paradigm shift,” but a “selective readjustment.” India is still the number one enemy, and militants are still the best resource for the Pakistan Army to maintain its influence in the region.

Although Pakistanis do not like the US government telling us our army harbours militants, we are not ready to admit that, at some level, our national security concerns are driven entirely by the “Indian threat.” Some seek solace in the fantasy that perhaps India is behind the terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil. Many among the public are willing to believe that Islamic hard-liners in Waziristan and Punjab take orders from Hindu agents, rather than admit the obvious.

In any other country in the world, it makes perfect sense to deal strategically with an army, and diplomatically with a civilian government. The underlying assumption is that the civilian government defines a country’s overarching goals while the army deploys the best possible strategy to fulfil those goals. In Pakistan, the army has had the privilege of being able to define national security goals and see them to their end. The civilian government, meanwhile, particularly in recent decades, has taken cues from the army and not the other way around.

Today, Washington puzzles over why the Pakistan Army is successfully “clearing” swathes of militant territory, but has not been able to “hold” it. The answer, any analyst will tell you, is that there is a complete lack of engagement of political parties when it comes to military strategy: they don’t understand it and are therefore justifiably left out of decision-making processes on the issue.

America would do well to realise that a long-term settlement of the tribal regions must involve political parties such as the Awami National Party and other vote-seeking, representative groups. Far more crucially, this is an excellent time for us to realise that there is something inherently dangerous and self-destructive about leaving the process of defining a nation’s goal to its brute force.

We in Pakistan like to think that as long as our army is strong, no external force can touch us. This is absurd logic for people whose house is on fire. Part of the army’s strength as the country’s “most efficient and stable institution” derives from our blinkered faith in, and support for, its policies, regardless of how disastrous they are for the country in the long run. Consequently, neither the Pakistan Army, nor the decision makers in Washington want to seriously engage with politicians.

Allowing the army to make decisions on our behalf is a comfortable way out of having to make hard decisions about the country’s ideology and national security. For instance, it is time we asked why India continues to be our biggest national security threat?

The fact is, engagement with politicians is the only long-term solution to Pakistan’s security problems. Political parties need to be given the encouragement and support they need to define national security goals. And they certainly need to be at the dead centre of any solution in the tribal areas. Anything else is a stop-gap measure.


Tihar Jail
Oct 2, 2009
Pakistan: The Lost Generation

It’s morning in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s biggest province, and the country’s next generation is headed to school. But what children are finding when they get there is of increasing concern for those who want peace in Pakistan’s future.
For 12-year-old Fatma, school is an abandoned brickyard.
"I study at the Government Primary School in Lahore," she explains. "I study English language, and I like it. There are no chairs. We have to sit on the ground. It's a problem in the winter. When it rains, there is nowhere to sit."
Each day, the kids bring in a few chairs for the teachers, and they set up the school’s one blackboard, which six classrooms share.
“So your students actually have no rooms, no desks?” correspondent David Montero asks the school’s headmaster.
“No furniture. No rooms,” he replies.
This school is not an exception. There are some 20,000 "shelterless" schools throughout Pakistan. And even when there are buildings, 60 percent have no electricity, and 40 percent have no drinking water. Because the schools are so bad, Pakistan has the lowest enrollment rate in all of South Asia.
Ali Hassan is roughly the same age as Fatma, but he’s recently dropped out of the third grade. Instead, he helps out at a local gas station and makes the equivalent of 12 cents a day -- money his mother says the family now can’t live without.
“I hope Ali learns to be a mechanic, that he learns this work,” his mother says. "When only my husband earns, how can we get by?"
“Today, there are 68.4 million children between the ages of five and 19 in this country, and fewer than 30 million of those kids are in any type of school,” says Mosharraf Zaidi, a longtime advocate of reforming Pakistan’s schools. “You look at the consequences of these kids not going to school -- and let's set aside the fearmongering and the scare-mongering of saying, you know, ‘What if all these kids become terrorists?’ Setting that aside, the real problem is that, if you aren't capable of participating in the global economy, you will be very, very poor. And desperate and extreme poverty has some diabolical consequences for societies and for individuals.”
In Pakistan, public education has become a battleground. Members of Fatma’s local school council are outraged, saying the elite only care about themselves and keep the poor illiterate to stay in power.
"Government officials send their own kids to air-conditioned classrooms. Let's see them make their kids sit here and see what it is like," says one council member. "Aren't these the children of God's creation?"
The council takes Montero on a tour of a new construction site, where the government promised a new building that was supposed to house the 300 students from Fatma’s school.
"This is the only room?" Montero asks. "Three hundred students are supposed to sit in this room?"
The government blamed the contractor. The contractor blamed the government. The school council wanted to visit the Education District officer of Lahore to ask what had gone wrong. But he threatened to fire them if they showed up.
When Montero visited, the officer said that the teachers shouldn’t be complaining. According to his paperwork, the school would be big enough.
Across town, another kind of school is functioning quite well. It has plenty of room and even provides free tuition and a hot meal. It is one of the country’s many madrassas, or religious schools, which are becoming an increasingly popular option for poor parents.
“Parents who were educated don’t send their kids to madrassa. They send them to private schools, universities,” says the madrassa headmaster. “Poor people want their children to learn about their religion.”
Although madrassas are often criticized in the West, many local conservatives, like the school’s headmaster, believe that what’s being taught there will make Pakistan a stronger state.
“Why are we Muslims in this mess today?” he asks. “Because we've strayed from the Koran. If you look back at history, non-Muslims used to tremble in front of Muslims. Today, they don't. Today, when they see the situation Muslims are in, they say, ‘Exploit them.’”
It’s a message that is also taught in the country’s public schools, where it can influence far more children. For decades, Pakistani schoolchildren have been learning that their country is in a battle for survival.
“The teachers tell us that India and the British are our enemies,” Fatma says. “They are killing Muslims. They are behind the bomb blasts. I do not know much about America, but generally people do not like America, and they can never be our friends.”
Rabina Saigel is an academic who’s studied public school textbooks for years and found that they have quietly been feeding extremism.
“I feel that a great deal of the ideology that we think madrassas are producing is in fact being produced in state schools,” she says. “And I say that it's the biggest madrassa because it has the widest outreach. It reaches every town, village, and small hamlet. It reaches every nook and cranny of the country.”
At the Ministry of Education’s curriculum wing, the staff has been working on removing the militaristic tone of the curriculum. But the textbooks still include passages like these: “For the past three centuries the Europeans have been working to subjugate the countries of the Muslim world” and “The Christians and Europeans were not happy to see the Muslims flourishing in life. They were always looking for opportunities to take possession of territories under the Muslims.”
While those in the curriculum wing say that the new curriculum will address these issues, some religious fundamentalists have attacked the new, more tolerant curriculum.
“There is no demand for [secular education] in Pakistan. No demand from any section -- not from students, not from teachers, not from parents,” says Fareed Paracha, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest fundamentalist Islamist party. He blasts the West for trying to secularize Pakistan’s curriculum.
“They have started a clash between Western and Islamic civilizations,” he says. “They claim Western secular, democratic civilization now is the fate of humanity.”
Just a few months ago, Paracha led a protest against the latest American aid package, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for education reform. The religious parties say the United States. is using the aid to try to hijack Pakistani society.
But ironically, others fear that the money will never reach the schools, anymore than the $100 million in U.S. aid over the past three years has.
Reformers believe the problems that Pakistani children face are so deep that money alone will not be enough to fix them.
“I think it’s generous of the American taxpayer, and I think it’s important that Congress and the president and the administration have made this kind of a long-term commitment. But it is not going to make the difference between a functional and a dysfunctional Pakistan,” says Zaidi. "The choice of whether Pakistan is going to be a functional country is a choice that has to be made by Pakistanis. And Pakistanis haven’t made that choice yet because government after government fails to make the investments that it needs to make."
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Regular Member
Oct 2, 2009
Deaf ears for that message.

majority of people in Pakistan have a vastly different world view. Even the victims of their fallout.

In Pakistan, more than 200 people have been killed in the last month. Who do most Pakistanis blame? CNN's Fareed Zakaria finds out.

Change from the ground up is impossible they need a new brave leader to set them straight and put the Army and ISI in check.
Otherwise as long as no one question the army or the ISI. nothing can change

Taimur Kashmiri

Regular Member
Mar 15, 2010
despite our issues, we are united more than ever (because of those very same problems -- namely the terrorism that has struck our comrades and our property)

we are too much a proud nation; the average Pakistani doesn't waste time thinking about india. Though the ground realities are that after mumbai attacks and the terrorist attacks on our soil, many are deeply suspicious of the indians. Then again, there is nothing really new with that. Status quo has been the same for quite some time. We've learned to just shrug and move on with our lives.

as for the Pakistan Army, its a very popular institution in Pakistan; though we are mature enough to realize that Army should remain in the barracks. COAS Gen. Kayani is a highly respected and very professional personality. Even for the left-leaning academics who had suspicions of the Army have become very pro-Army. Pro-Army in the sense that they know with a stronger media, and with a professional forward-thinking leadership, Army will not carry out anymore toppling of elected governments.

The author is factually incorrect when he states "Army single-handedly continue to define national security"

there is no truth in that statement. The Ministry of Defence and Interior Ministry work closely with the Army and coordinate with them. The ISI is run by the Army, but it still falls under the branch of Ministry of Defence. This is more appropriate for Pakistan's case, and very few people raise concerns or reservations on this aspect. Army is powerful and efficient institution in Pakistan, and we stand by them 100%

Especially now, as they have performed fantastically in uprooting terrorists from Swat, and other areas in FATA where militants were having some presence.


Senior Member
Apr 1, 2009
Pro-Army in the sense that they know with a stronger media, and with a professional forward-thinking leadership, Army will not carry out anymore toppling of elected governments.

If I were a Pakistani, I wouldnt be so sure of it....its easier to find water in a mirage then to find professionalism in PA. Here's a hint: A professional army does not call ppl who kill and maim their own citizens as 'assets'. A professional army does not own huge amount of business ventures. COAS of professional army does not give himsel(and his cronies)f an extension(like Kiyani is doing). Lastly, a professional army does not surrender within 4days(after declaring for years that their one soldier is equal to 10 of enemy).

its common knowledge, but nothings wrong in reitirating so that it remains a common knowledge. ;)

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