"It is all about undermining Karzai": Pakistan's "New" Relationship?

ajtr

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"It is all about undermining Karzai": Pakistan's "New" Relationship?

Is there really a "new" relationship between the US and Pakistan? It seems that not much has changed in Pakistan, at least when it comes to its military and intelligence services. If anything, the emphasis remains on maintaining power in the region. What seems to be cooperation in the form of capture of Taliban leaders has more to do with destabilizing the Karzai government than stopping terrorist networks.

These and other observations came out in a discussion with C. Christine Fair, professor in Georgetown's Center for Peace and Security Studies.

The US, Dr. Fair noted, has not been completely mercenary of late:

The Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation for the first time lays out a strategy for the US government to be supporting and engaging Pakistan's civilian components, as opposed to just the military.
At the same time, their discussions continue to be fraught:

Both sides walk away thinking, on the Pakistani part, "Boy these guys are suckers," and the Americans walk away saying, "Boy these guys are a dishonest bunch of rats who think we're stupid."

Above all, the US has to contend with an entrenched Pakistani intelligence service that has the power to sway public opinion:

[You can see the power of the intelligence community] in evidence over the orchestrated public outrage over what was really an unprecedented display of American generosity and a very sincere attempt to make amends for the fact that over the past six decades the US has primarily aided Pakistan's military and has inadvertently contributed to the over-militarization of the state and the crowding out and evisceration of civilian institutions.
Even more problematic for the US, forces within Pakistan have an interest in working against the Afghan government's attempts to create stability through negotiations with the Taliban:

The reality is that Pakistan has wrapped up those members of the Afghan Taliban that have been trying to seek a deal directly with Karzai, circumventing Pakistan's interests. . . . The truth is, Pakistan is handing over select members of the Quetta Shura, actually now more pertinently called the Karachi Shura, has a lot more to do with Pakistan's own interest in trying to preserve them in Afghanistan, than it does any sort of contrition over supporting the Taliban.
Ultimately, they have no desire to see Karzai, or the US, succeed in their current strategies:

It is all about undermining Karzai, not supporting him. I was really surprised that the New York Times fell for the canard that this was a new day.
There appears to be a fundamental incoherence:

Pakistan's problem is that it still wants to say some terrorists, or militants, are good, and others are bad, and yet that distinction is untenable when you look at the overlapping nature of many of these militant networks, and what they do, and why they do it.
At the same time, American policy is not without its problems. Dr. Fair went on to discuss the perception of US support for Israel in the wider region. Although it has little sway in Afghanistan, in the Muslim world more generally, US policies can aid militant groups in their recruitment efforts. Dr. Fair notes that,


Unless we are seen doing the right thing, and actually are doing the right thing, I think it is very difficult to get out of or to depopulate the jihad landscape.

"Daily Briefing with Ian Masters" appears on the Pacifica Network, originating at KPFK-FM Los Angeles. It streams live at www.kpfk.org Monday-Thursday from 5:00-6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, Sundays 11-Noon, and any time on the archives page here.
 
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ajtr

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Brave new world or the past revisited?

Friday, March 26, 2010
Ayaz Amir

If there's a cross on which Pakistan has found itself frequently crucified, it is the one carrying the legend 'strategic'. What follies have we not committed in the pursuit of strategic goals? Even our present preoccupation with terrorism is a product of our strategic labours in times past (hopefully, never to return).

So when a fresh batch of graduates out of higher strategy school speak of a 'strategic dialogue' with the United States -- our principal ally and, often, the cause of our biggest headaches -- there is reason to be wary.

We have been here before, travelled down this route many times, our obsessive insecurity driving us time and again into American arms, each time to be left high and dry when the initial enthusiasm, or necessity, had passed. But we never seem to learn and each time begin our quest for the holy grail -- of permanence in our American connection -- as if there were never any heartbreaks before.

Barely six months ago the US viewed Pakistan through sceptical, even distrustful, eyes. The army had yet to go into South Waziristan and the phrase Quetta Shura was on the lips of every half-baked security analyst across the Atlantic. South Waziristan, the unspoken acceptance of drone strikes and greater cooperation with the CIA in nabbing shadowy Taliban figures in Pakistan changed all this. American faces now light up at the mention of Pakistan, no smile more beaming than on the face of Gen David Petraeus.

As part of this mood swing, the Americans have taken to lionizing Pakistan's army commander, Gen Ashfaq Kayani, who is very much the flavour of the moment, just as -- frightening thought -- Pervez Musharraf was once upon a time. It is sobering to remember that when Musharraf signed on with the US post-Sept 11, conceding far more than anyone in the Bush administration was expecting, no leader on earth was more feted than him.

So we should try and keep things in perspective. The Americans may be gushing over us now but that's only because we are crucial, perhaps indispensable, for the success of their mission in Afghanistan. Or even for a face-saving exit from that quagmire. There are two fronts to this war, the one in Pakistan being by far the most important.

The 'strategic dialogue' is thus not pegged to any abstract love for Pakistan. It arises from the grim necessity of the war in Afghanistan. We should be under no illusions about the window of opportunity that this dialogue offers. This window will remain open and serviceable only up to the moment when the Americans begin withdrawing from Afghanistan. To assume otherwise, and give way to misplaced euphoria -- something at which we are rather good -- is to court the ways of folly and set ourselves up for another 'betrayal' at American hands.

The wish-list Pakistan has carried to Washington has Kayani's thumbprint all over it. It has not been lost on anyone that in the driving seat as far as our delegation is concerned sits not the foreign minister or anyone else but him. It would also not have been lost on anyone that the brief prepared by our side for the talks was put together not in the prime minister's office or anywhere else but in General Headquarters, with key federal secretaries in attendance and Kayani, not the prime minister, presiding.

Kayani is a smart man, very articulate and extremely good at putting his point of view across (his presentation at Nato Hqs in Brussels has been widely talked about). But what is this we are hearing about the shopping list prepared under his aegis? Which world are we living in? Which planet does GHQ still inhabit?


We have just a year and a half, not eternity, to get what we want from the US. It behoves us ill to ask the US to help restart our composite dialogue with India. If India is playing hard-to-get on this count, we should be able to keep our cool and wait for India's attitude to change. Even if the composite dialogue doesn't get going for the next two years, the glaciers will not melt and the Himalayas will not march down to the seas.

We should be mature enough to understand a few things clearly. America is not going to ask India to talk Kashmir with us. It is not going to solve our water problems with India. It is not going to give us the kind of nuclear deal it has concluded with India.

To go by the hype generated in official quarters, it almost appeared as if we were expecting a string of nuclear power plants from the US. And what happens? Hillary Clinton announces a gift of 125 million dollars to set up thermal power plants. A colder splash of water on the fires of our misplaced ardour could not have been poured. What Burke said of England in the context of America's war of independence: "Light lie the dust on the ashes of English pride" -- we can use to define our predicament: light lie the dust on the embers of our strategic relationship.

Sooner or later we will have to discover the reasons for this talent for selling ourselves cheap. We have always behaved thus in our dealings with the US, assuming obligations unthinkingly, never asking for the right price and then moaning about betrayal and the like when the Americans, taking us at our word, leave us with very little.

Mobarak got Egypt's American debt (7 billion dollars, and this was in 1991) written off when he joined America's first Gulf war. The Turks asked for 25 billion dollars to allow American troops territorial passage prior to the Iraq war in 2003. That the US refused is beside the point. The Turks did not allow themselves to be taken for granted. We settle for peanuts and call it a 'strategic relationship'.

Kayani, as I have said, is a smart man. But there is too much of India and Afghanistan in his world-view. More than with the US, we need to be conducting a strategic dialogue with ourselves. Why can't we rid ourselves of the fixation of managing things in Afghanistan? We can't manage ourselves, yet we want to fix the neighbourhood. Managing Afghanistan may be a worthy ambition. But it is poor compensation for mismanaging Pakistan.

GHQ is aghast at the thought of the Indians training the Afghan army. In Kayani's phrase, even when trainers depart, they leave their mindset behind. Given the vehemence of our position on this point, maybe the Americans give us ground on this. And we will hail it as a major victory. But we should be playing for higher stakes instead of tilting at windmills.

We should have been gunning for something tangible. We are a debtor nation, strapped for cash. It is money we should have been asking for. In concrete terms, a writing off of all our debt. A one-point agenda, clearly stated and firmly put, without all the mumbo-jumbo of a 'strategic relationship'. Water, energy, India and Afghanistan were best left out of our wish list, more an exercise in fantasy than anything to do with the real world.

This government is too scatterbrained and too preoccupied with other problems to have been able to get things right and concentrate on the essentials of this 'strategic dialogue' right. The vacuum created by its ineptitude was filled by a GHQ pluming itself on the laurels won in Swat and FATA. But for all its slickness under Kayani, GHQ, alas, remains trapped in the morass of its old conceits and prejudices.

So the old questions remain: how to emerge from the darkness into the light? How to manage Pakistan's affairs better? Most important of all: whence will come the liberation of the Pakistani mind? One thing is for sure: not from GHQ.

Afterthought: the army had denounced the Kerry-Lugar Bill. What's so great about the 'strategic dialogue'?
 

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Holding Pakistan:The Second Phase of Pakistan's Counterinsurgency Operations

Summary: Conventional wars are won by capturing territory, but counterinsurgencies are won by holding it. Rather than rushing to open new fronts against the Taliban, Pakistan must now focus on keeping the territory it has already cleared.
HAIDER ALI HUSSEIN MULLICK is Fellow at the U.S. Joint Special Operations University, Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and the author of Pakistan’s Security Paradox: Countering and Fomenting Insurgencies. His website is www.haidermullick.com.
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Last summer, Pakistan's military launched counterinsurgency campaigns against the Taliban throughout northern Pakistan, in Bajaur, the Swat Valley, and South Waziristan. As I wrote last July, the strategy succeeded because the military was able to minimize collateral damage, maximize precision, boost troop morale, and create better intelligence networks. As a result, the Pakistani Taliban are now weakened in the north and are moving south into Pakistan's central and southern provinces of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. But the military should not rush to pursue them -- instead, it must hold the territory it has already captured and, in so doing, maintain stability in the rest of the country.

Over the summer, plans to hold embattled territories were already emerging, focusing on the temporary resettlement of refugees, the creation of reconstruction teams, and the reintegration of certain Taliban leaders and soldiers. The first initiative, resettlement, was a response to the waves of refugees who fled their homes as the army moved into densely populated areas in Bajaur and Swat. To be sure, the movement of civilians out of the conflict zone had some benefits: in early campaigns, only about 20 percent of the population remained behind, most of which turned out to be Taliban supporters. This gave the military an immediate advantage in clearing and policing cities. As one military officer explained, "We wanted to drain the swamp, sanitize it, bring back the people, and then hopefully turn it into a nice lake." Although some Taliban did escape as the swamp drained, upward of 7,000 were killed or captured.

But the cost to ordinary civilians was also high. The fighting in Bajaur alone displaced 300,000 people. In the Swat Valley, the military faced an urban population of four million people interspersed with around 10,000 Taliban fighters. About two million refugees fled their homes during the battles there, and yet the government had no relief plan. "The fate of the internally displaced was the Achilles' heel of our mission," said one senior military officer involved in relief efforts. "Without protecting them, we would have no local partners, good intelligence, or popular support to carry on."

To protect civilians, military planners decided on a program of population resettlement. Locals were encouraged to move out of the war zone to temporary camps or other cities with the promise that their homes and businesses would be intact should they return when the fighting ended. Resettlement has been used in counterinsurgency operations before -- for example, in the Philippines, South Africa, and Algeria -- but has a record of limited success. This time, Pakistani officers were determined that the program would avoid the major pitfalls of previous efforts, such as the use of foreign troops, forced population transfer, and the gross mismanagement of the camps.

As one military officer said of Pakistan's counterinsurgency operations, "We wanted to drain the swamp, sanitize it, bring back the people, and then hopefully turn it into a nice lake."
Even in the most successful cases of resettlement, such as the 1899 American campaign in the Philippines and the British anti-guerrilla efforts in Malaya in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the presence of foreign troops undermined the legitimacy and success of the missions. Although the Pakistani army is technically not a foreign occupying force, many Pashtuns living in the northern areas consider it one since the officer corps is predominantly Punjabi. To remedy the situation, the military assigned Pashtun officers and the paramilitary force Frontier Corps, which is mostly Pashtun, to execute resettlement programs.

Successful resettlement must also be voluntary and temporary. In South Africa in the early 1900s, British resettlement programs failed when they attempted to forcefully move entire villages. The U.S. "strategic hamlets" program -- an effort to fortify and restore communities in Vietnam in the 1960s -- effectively turned resettlement into depopulation as unhappy villagers were forced from their homes into insecure hamlets that were then targeted by the insurgents. In contrast, Pakistan's military planners were careful to assure locals who moved that the transfer to camps was temporary and promised them better infrastructure, security, and jobs upon their return if they would cooperate. Security at the camps was also sufficient; not one refugee camp was attacked by an insurgent. All this made them more inclined to move.

Still, many Pashtuns were not keen on resettling back into their war-torn homes, and many Punjabis and Sindhis -- fearing ethnic discord and Taliban infiltration -- did not want them in their provinces. Instead of resettling refugees involuntarily in their own villages, or forcing other provinces to house them, the military sent most to interim camps in the north. Those that chose to move south to cities such as Karachi, in Sindh, were forced to register. The military was able to use this information later if any refugee was suspected of cooperating with the Taliban.Of course, many resettlement programs, such as those of France in Algeria in the 1950s and of the United States in Vietnam in the 1960s, faltered due to lack of funding and poor management. In Pakistan, Nadeem Ahmad -- a lieutenant general who was awarded Pakistan's highest award, the Sitara-e-Esar, for his relief work during the 2005 Kashmir earthquake -- was selected to overcome the management problem and serve as a bridge between in-conflict and post-conflict resettlement operations. He was appointed the leader of a special support group tasked with moving, feeding, and sheltering the growing number of refugees. Together with international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Red Cross, and USAID, the support group built refugee camps complete with hospitals, schools, and vocational training centers to house the refugees during the fighting. Although only 15 percent of the displaced stayed in such camps, most others received allowances to purchase necessities on their own. The management and delivery of services were inconsistent and slow at first but improved over time as the process was streamlined. And as the army moved into South Waziristan in August, it took the resettlement approach with it.

With the military's quick victories against the Taliban, the in-conflict phase of the holding operations rapidly shifted to the post-conflict. By September, a month before the start of the South Waziristan campaign, 1.8 million of the Swat refugees had returned home. For the most part, they found their houses and businesses intact, but a great amount of reconstruction remains. For now, there are six infantry divisions of the army and 36 battalions of the Frontier Corps dedicated to protecting the new civilian development teams that will carry out reconstruction. Security forces have also been paired with reconstruction experts to create Pakistani versions of the district reconstruction teams that the United States used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States has supported these efforts; USAID recently announced a $90 million aid package for electrical grids, roads, wells, and schools in Swat and South Waziristan.

At the same time, Pakistan is enhancing security in the cleared areas. The army's 11th Corps is overseeing security and intelligence operations and helping to train special counterterrorism and counterinsurgency police units. The Frontier Corps is taking the lead in arming and supporting about 30,000 lashkars, or local militia members. The civilian government and military are also creating a new police intelligence branch for the Swat Valley.

As the security situation in these areas improves, the army will turn to the third initiative of its holding plan: reintegrating the Pakistani Taliban. Unlike U.S. military leaders who are still waiting for the Afghan Taliban to be weak enough for negotiations to be feasible, the Pakistani generals say that they have already gained the initiative against the Pakistani Taliban and are ready to talk now. This year, military and intelligence agencies plan to flip moderate Taliban to create divisions within the group and force a weakened Haqqani network toward political compromise with Kabul. This would isolate Al Qaeda, which supports both the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.

The first step of this reintegration plan will be to flip an important moderate insurgent picked by Washington, Islamabad, Kabul, and Delhi, such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the founder and leader of the terrorist group Hezb-e-Islami, or the Taliban insurgent Hafiz Gul Bahadur. After that, the tribes that support him can be threatened and bribed to turn against the Taliban as well. With amenable tribes, this individual can go to work on second-tier Taliban. In conjunction with a growing class of ex-insurgents, the United States, Pakistan, and other parties would, for example, be able to broker a cease-fire among the Haqqani network (the insurgents responsible for most of the attacks on U.S. troops in southern and eastern Afghanistan), the Pakistani and Afghan governments, and the international community.

If regional partners agree to this process, Pakistani intelligence officers say they would even be willing to give up Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban who is thought to be hiding in Pakistan with the protection of its military. And there is already evidence of cooperation: the media have recently reported meetings between Hekmatyar and the United States, as well as rifts in the Quetta Shura, the organization of the highest Taliban leaders. Last month's capture of top Afghan Taliban leaders in Karachi is yet another example of cooperation between Pakistan and the United States.

So far, the initial phases of Pakistan's holding plan have been successful in the north, where civil-military teams have deterred the return of insurgents and facilitated the homecoming of 80 percent of the refugees. Initiatives that are structured similarly but are focused on political reconciliation and law enforcement in Karachi and across Baluchistan are showing promise, too.

But even these well-designed initiatives will fail in the absence of a comprehensive plan that targets growing problems in Pakistan's government, judiciary, and military. The government is unable to efficiently use the foreign aid that it receives, and widespread corruption plagues development efforts. Tension between the government and the judiciary could derail the holding operation, as could Islamabad's difficulties in dealing with its detainees from the recent operations. Many of them have not been prosecuted, yet remain imprisoned -- a fact that terrorists could use as a rallying cry. Moreover, the army and Frontier Corps are beset by battle fatigue; many officers have privately warned of increasing incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder.And although the country has recently identified the Taliban as a primary threat to national security, its old habit of using militants to hedge against India will remain. Absent a U.S.-brokered deal on influence sharing in Afghanistan or progress in solving the Kashmir dispute, Islamabad will continue its business as usual. And if terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba execute another Mumbai-style attack on India, Pakistani soldiers will abandon holding operations and head east.

Asking millions to leave their homes and businesses -- no matter how voluntary or temporary -- is a tall order. But last year's attempt in Pakistan was successful because it avoided the mistakes of previous attempts and built trust between the people and the government. Time will show how successful the second two phases of Pakistan's holding plan are, but to help the process along Washington should strengthen intelligence-sharing and training programs, expand weapons sales to Pakistan's military, and help develop a counterinsurgency institute in Pakistan to discuss regional threats, train troops, share lessons learned, and recommend policy.

Furthermore, Pakistan's holding initiatives may well resonate in Kabul. As U.S. soldiers begin to withdraw from the country and Afghans take over operations in provinces bordering Pakistan, the lessons Pakistan has learned about resettlement, reconstruction, and reconciliation will be crucial. A counterinsurgency institute in Pakistan would be able to act as a hub for sharing such information if it were linked to similar agencies in Kabul, Washington, and -- perhaps eventually -- Delhi. Cooperation in the form of sister institutes and increased intelligence sharing will help bolster the ongoing détente among these countries so that cooler heads can prevail in future crises. In the meantime, Pakistan will also need to continue to destroy terrorist sanctuaries. But although conventional wars are won by capturing territory, counterinsurgencies are won by holding it. Pakistan must now hold what it has won, and the United States and the world must help.
 

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Pakistan now a strategic priority: Clinton

WASHINGTON: The United States has made a “strategic priority” to strengthen its partnership with Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
In a testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, she also noted that US efforts in Pakistan were vital for America’s success in Afghanistan.

Thursday’s hearing helps set the stage for the upcoming debate this spring over the White House requests for $33 billion in new war funding coupled with $4.5 billion in foreign assistance, chiefly for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“In Pakistan, our efforts are vital to success in Afghanistan, but also to our own American security,” she said. “We’ve made it a strategic priority to strengthen our partnership with the Pakistani people.”

She also warned the American people not expect a quick victory against the extremists in the Pak-Afghan region.

“I’m under no illusion that success in this arena will come quickly or easily,” she said, noting that only a year ago the extremists were less than 100 miles from Islamabad and they met little resistance in launching attacks on American troops from border areas.

Noting that the situation had changed drastically since last year, she credited the Pakistani military for this success. “Since then, the Pakistani government has launched important offences in Swat, South Waziristan and throughout the country,” she said.

Secretary Clinton said the supplement, which went beyond the White House’s original funding request, would help the United States achieve its goals in all of what she called “frontline states”.

“Our request addresses urgent demands that will advance our efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan and ensure a smooth transition to a civilian-led effort in Iraq,” she said.

“Success requires a fully integrated civilian and military effort, one in which security gains are followed immediately by economic and political gain,” she said. Across the border in Pakistan, where the United States pressed the government itself to be more aggressive against Taliban forces, the wreckage left has “created new humanitarian needs that, if not addressed immediately,” Clinton said, “could make these areas ripe for extremism”.

Appearing before the same panel, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates expressed “guarded optimism” about US progress in Afghanistan but predicted “many tough and long days ahead” as evidenced by the sheer number of ticklish questions he faced on everything from police training contracts to the Afghan opium crop and alleged human rights abuses by Pakistan military units.
 

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