There’s nothing new about bad news coming out of Pakistan. But the past few weeks have been truly scary. Every passing day at the 26/11 trial in Chicago brings with it fresh revelations of the infamous ISI’s murderous role in the Mumbai attack and its very close link with the terror network- it didn’t just support Kasab and his friends in LeT, it pretty much masterminded the operation. Simultaneously, the Taliban assault on the Mehran air base has added to fears of growing radicalisation of the army and raised serious questions over the security (or Vulnerability) of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, which is now estimated by some to be the fourth-largest in the World. And, of course, there’s the cold and disturbing fact that Osama for years lived comfortably in the garrison town of Abbottabad near Islamabad, just down the road from the military academy. Put all this together and what you have is a deadly double game that the men who rule Pakistan can no longer control. Call it a ‘failed state’, a ‘rouge nation’, call it What you will, the bottom line is that Pakistan is spinning out of control while America tries very hard to shut its eyes and ears to its culpability. So where does that leave India?
By Rajat Pandit
May 28, 2011
Optimists see the Pakistan army as a well-disciplined professional force, the glue holding the beleaguered country together from spiraling out of control. Pessimists hold the reverse to be true. Radicalisation, they say, has made such deep inroads into the force that the threat of jihadis gaining access to enriched uranium, nuclear components or know-how to make "dirty bombs" is a clear and present danger.
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between - leaning a bit, though, towards the pessimistic viewpoint. Yes, right since Gen Zia ul-Haq seized power by deposing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977, Islamisation began to strike deep roots in the Pakistan army. But, no, the problem is not as acute as some doomsday scenarios portray it to be. The chickens may certainly be coming home to roost now for the Pakistan army, which has overtly ruled the country for half its existence and covertly controlled it for the rest, but the world's eighth-largest army is, as Lt-Gen (retd) Satish Nambiar and others put it, "still a very professional force".
Lt-Gen Nambiar, in fact, did a study on the "radicalisation of the Pakistan army" five to six years ago. "Radicalisation had not run deep then. It is certainly more now, especially among the recruits from NWFP. But I don't think it is deep enough to destabilise the force itself or threaten Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. I am sure the senior army leadership is addressing the issue," he says. They better. Last weekend's well-targeted terror attack on naval airbase PNS Mehran in Karachi, which wiped out almost half of Pakistan's sophisticated long-range maritime reconnaissance and strike capabilities, could not have taken place without the help of "insiders" among the uniformed personnel.
The recurring ritual of military coups in Pakistan may have begun with Gen Ayub Khan grabbing power in 1958, but it was really Gen Zia who cranked up the radicalisation of the Pakistan army, as also the society at large, which was still grappling with the trauma inflicted by the country's clinical vivisection in 1971. With Zia's staunch backing, the Jamaat-e-Islami spread its tentacles into the armed forces, with many officers indoctrinated and mullahs being deployed in each battalion. Islamic consolidation, backed by the 'Islamic bomb', was seen as a way to address the asymmetry with India in terms of conventional military capabilities.
"Islamisation began in right earnest. The discourse within the army became totally Islam-focused and Zia extolled terror as an end in itself in what was called the 'Islamic concept of war'," says former ambassador to Pakistan G Parthasarathy. The Soviet Union's defeat in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and its subsequent disintegration, was seen as a victory of "militant Islam" to be replicated and practiced elsewhere, with a flush-with-funds ISI setting the agenda. "Hence, JKLF was marginalised by the ISI, which introduced radical groups like the Hizbul, Laskhar and Jaish for the jihad in Kashmir, " he adds.
Gen Pervez Musharraf, unlike Zia, was not steeped in radical Islam. Moreover, faced with the US ultimatum of "us versus them" after 9/11, the "great survivor" chose to join, albeit reluctantly, the so-called global war against terrorism on Pakistan's western border, even easing out hardliners like the then ISI chief Lt-Gen Mahmood Ahmed and army deputy chief Lt-Gen Muzaffar Usmani. But given the Pakistan army-ISI combine's pathological obsession with India, the strategy to bleed India on its east through its jihadi proxies continued unabated. The dual-faced policy continues even under Gen Ashfaq Kayani, who may have purged some pro-Taliban elements from the ranks but allows anti-India jihadi networks on Pakistan's soil to thrive.
With the Sunni-Deobandi radicalisation, the extremist spillover from Afghanistan and mounting anti-Americanism, fundamentalists have slowly but surely infiltrated into the lower rank and file of the Pakistan army. "There is resentment that they are being forced to take on their own people at the behest of the US, " says a serving Indian Lt-Gen. But, at the same time, the Pakistan army remains a cohesive force. Its economic empire, from huge landholdings and hotels to heavy-manufacturing industries and bakeries, is used for the military fraternity's personal benefit, as brought out vividly by Ayesha Siddiqa in her book Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy.
The Pakistan army's corporate and institutional interests, coupled with the social mobility it offers to the lower and middle classes, as opposed to the feudal political class, remains a strong binding factor.
"The Zia Bhartis (those commissioned during Zia's time) are today major-generals. While all of them have been brought up to observe the tenets of Islam more seriously, only a few of them may be deemed to be radicals. The Pakistan army very closely observes such tendencies, " says the director of India's Centre for Land Warfare Studies, Brig (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal.
That may well be so, but that does not mean all is well with the Pakistani army. Osama bin Laden's killing by the US Navy Seals at Abbottabad, as also the continuing Predator drone attacks, have evoked anger and resentment among its officer cadre. Gen Kayani himself has been forced to step in to assuage feelings. There is little doubt that the degree of support for radical Islamic groups, already somewhat present in the lower ranks, is growing by the day in the officer cadre as well. "One wonders what would happen if the control of nuclear weapons passes from an officer like Lt-Gen (retd) Khalid Kidwai (chief of Pakistan's Strategic Plans Division) to an Islamist three-star general," says Parthasarathy. That would be the beginning of a nightmarish scenario - with "loose nukes" changing the global ballgame for ever.
A Deto Nation
By Indrani Bagchi
Not a week goes by without a fresh round of hyper-ventilation over the future of Pakistan. If America's operation to kill Osama bin Laden put a question mark on the role and preparedness of the Pakistan military, an equally daring but more disturbing attack on its naval assets by Taliban/al-Qaida this week shook the very foundations of that country's strongest institution. On May 22, Pakistan Taliban announced they had sent in 15 jihadi attackers into the high-security Mehran naval airbase in Karachi. After a bloody 18-hour gun-battle in which terrorists destroyed two new P-3 C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and apparently took some Chinese engineers hostage for a while, it became clear this was no ordinary terror strike. For a Pakistan military suffering its worst crisis of confidence after the Osama killing, this was a devastating blow. The Mehran attack sent a chill down the spine because it showed more than anything how deep the al-Qaida-Taliban infiltration of Pakistan's defence services was. And how dangerous. An expert on Pakistan, Farzana Shaikh of Chatham House, London, says, "The army is in the grip of a near-unprecedented crisis (1971 is the closest parallel). Not only has its image been tarnished by allegations of complicity in protecting bin Laden, it now faces for the first time real questions about its much-vaunted capabilities to defend the country and its key assets. "
ABBOTTABAD AND AFTER
The Abbottabad raid raised some uncomfortable questions within Pakistan about its military prowess. The military establishment, after all, has been its most enduring power centre, steering the country's strategic direction, controlling its foreign policy - its biggest economic stakeholder. Pakistan may have been bleeding under an al-Qaida-Taliban assault for some time, but the military had managed to lull the nation into believing in their infallibility, including their doublespeak on US drones picking terrorists off from the skies.
Pakistan may have been knocking at doors, hat in hand, for more aid as its economy has faltered, but the army beguiled the nation into believing they would be secure with more nuclear weapons, putting them ahead of India. It was to be the best deterrence against India's conventional superiority, US interference and a cover for low intensity war against New Delhi. Then US stealth helicopters entered Pakistani airspace, killed Osama and returned, making a mockery of its defences as well as the efficacy of its nuclear weapons. Surely, if the Americans could do this today, would India follow suit in future?
The Mehran attack also highlighted a related vulnerability. If terrorists could get into a secured naval base and destroy prized military assets, how long would it be before they entered the portals of Pakistan's nuclear establishments to make away with some fissile material for a "dirty bomb?"
Pakistan is in the midst of a civil war, but while the militants are motivated, armed and dangerous, the military-intelligence establishment is refusing to join the fight. As Vali Nasr, formerly with the US State Department, says, "Pakistan made a decision to go after some extremists while allowing others to operate. The decision has been costly and is overwhelming their capabilities."
SO, WHAT HAPPENS IN PAKISTAN?
Nothing, really. The military may just continue to maintain the fiction of control, manage the PR fallout and go on without having to take difficult decisions. Professor Shaun Gregory of the University of Bradford says, "The Pakistan army/ISI . . . is arrogant and self-serving and I do not think it will change its practices significantly. Nor do I think it will rethink its relationship with militant groups. " While this is the most likely scenario, its problem is that with every successive attack, the carefully constructed fiction is fraying. As Washington hunts for its next target, Haqqani, Ayman Zawahiri or Ilyas Kashmiri, Pakistan could see its sovereignty being violated repeatedly by the US or the Taliban. Sources say the army/ISI is moving Taliban and al-Qaida leaders to Afghanistan. A recent report on Mullah Omar's death (still unconfirmed) suggested he was being shifted to Afghanistan. Pakistan is moving its militant assets over the border, so if they fall prey to a drone, Islamabad does not have to bear the cost.
Pakistan could buy peace with the Taliban/al-Qaida and let them have the run of the place in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. That would be tempting, but very short-lived. The Taliban/al-Qaida has clearly decided to target the Pakistani state as a way of getting to the US. According to Syed Saleem Shahzad and Amir Mir, well-informed Pakistani journalists, the Mehran attack happened under the aegis of al-Qaida leaders Saif al Adel and Ilyas Kashmiri in retaliation for an exercise by the navy to weed out al-Qaida infiltrators. There was an eerie similarity with the Taliban's 'Operation Janbaaz' at the Pakistan GHQ, Rawalpindi, on October 10, 2009 and it sent one message: contrary to General Ashfaq Kayani's contention that they had "broken the back of the militants", the TTP was alive and well and able to strike at will at the heart of the defence establishment. A peace deal would allow freedom to deadly terrorists and unleash more drone attacks, and perhaps counter-terror special ops by the US - which, in turn, will pit the Taliban even more virulently against the military establishment.
Most Indian analysts believe this to be the most likely scenario. Traditionally, Pakistan has created diversion from its domestic problems by rallying the nation against India. Shaikh says, "The only way for the military to salvage the situation and to ensure that its resources are not compromised is by upping the ante against India. I would suspect that if the going gets really rough for the military at home, we can expect the first casualty to be peace talks with India. " Peace talks we can deal with, but what if Mumbai II happens? That would open up a whole new front, which may not be such a bad thing for a beleaguered Pakistani army looking to save its skin. India will be under pressure to retaliate and Pakistan will be tempted to escalate. Then we're all in a real pickle.
There is understandable anger in Washington over what they see as Pakistan's duplicity. There is talk about the US cutting aid to Pakistan, or at least putting more stringent conditions on their use - for instance, channelling them more to the civilian sectors. That would be very difficult for a military that sniffed at the conditions on a Kerry-Lugar aid package in 2009. If the US cuts aid, Pakistan would be tempted to take retaliatory action against what they see as America's dependence on them vis-a-vis Afghanistan. This could entail not allowing NATO convoys through Pakistan into Afghanistan, or just more attacks on them. Pakistan, like the US, is adept at playing a high-risk game, and as it heads down a slippery slope, the temptation to take further steps against the US would be high.
On the other hand, the US will probably continue with the aid. Pakistan will correctly reckon that it would be too much of a risk for the US when presented with the fear of a nuclear-armed, unstable Pakistan. With Wikileaks revealing that Pervez Musharraf's government used only $250 million of the US military aid of $6. 6 billion and that Gen Kayani concealed $370 m in military aid from the civilian government - along with America's concern of inflated bills from Pakistan ($70 million for barbed wire) - this tap, though, is likely to be restructured soon. This would reduce Pakistan's "discretionary" leeway.
Pakistan likes to dangle the China carrot, and Beijing has taken the bait. Pakistan has been pushing its "all-weather" friendship with China and the latter has responded in kind, asking the world to be nice to Pakistan. Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani went to Beijing last week and asked the Chinese to build a naval base at Gwadar, knowing full well that the US and India would be mad at the idea. Recently, Gilani and Kayani reportedly asked Afghan president Hamid Karzai to dump the Americans and Indians and go with Pakistan and China.
While China has so far supported Pakistan because it needed to contain India, the question is, how far will Beijing go? Shaikh says, "Whenever this friendship has been really tested, the Chinese have failed to deliver. In 1971, it wasn't China that flexed its muscles to protect Pakistan against India, but the US Seventh Fleet. Nor could China's contribution to flood-afflicted Pakistan be described as anything but modest. We do, of course, benefit from Chinese military hardware, nuclear and missile technology, and are the grateful beneficiary of Chinese economic investment. But I believe that relations with all great powers have their own dynamics and it would be naive for Pakistan to think that its relations with China will escape those dynamics. As such, I would suggest that when the chips are down Pakistan is likely to be low on the list of China's priorities, and that in the long term it is India, not Pakistan, that is likely to emerge as China's most serious interlocutor in the region."
THE OTHER VARIABLES
But there are also variables that could skew the chessboard. First, there are signs of ferment within the Pakistan system that might point to internal changes. Abbottabad gave the Zardari government a unique opportunity to improve its control over the military. They preferred to do petty deals with the ISI instead, and lost that round. There are, however, signs of realignment within the army hierarchy. Kayani reportedly failed to convince younger officers when they asked why the Americans were let off without a fight during that operation. There are rumblings of dissatisfaction against both Kayani and ISI chief Shuja Pasha.
Others in the queue, like chairman, joint chiefs of staff, General Khalid Shamim Wynne, have been positioning themselves accordingly. Wynne refused a meeting with Mike Mullen after Abbottabad. Others like Javed Zia (Quetta corps commander ) and Shafqaat Ahmed (Multan) might want their moment. Analysts say Abbottabad weakened Kayani significantly because he had personally signed up to the US strategy in Af-Pak. The Osama raid was seen as a breach of that relationship. The Pakistan army has been able to control these dissonances before and may do it again. But if radicalisation is indeed seeping into the military establishment, it won't be long before the grip loosens.
Second, Pakistan is unlikely to change its strategic calculus unless it can be assured of a place in an Afghan settlement. Pakistan is simultaneously a controller and a victim of the Afghan war. Analysts say Pakistan may have lowered its ambitions of controlling Kabul, but they want a piece of the pie. They want to control the reconciliation process, but the US is unwilling to let them in.
Third, there are reports of dissatisfaction and rift among the Taliban themselves. There's also a growing opposition to the ISI's heavy-handed tactics. That too could change the outcome. Fourth, Pakistan's nuclear weapons remain an income-generating asset. As Kim Jong-il of North Korea has shown, they can be occasionally brandished for international aid. The Pakistan military certainly hasn't lost the ability to project itself as the most legitimate object of assistance. And it can actually continue like this for a long time.
Where's the ISI Mark?
By Josy Joseph
May 28, 2011
No one can claim to have lived up as much to the notoriety of an intelligence agency as Pakistan's Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence has. From the days when its men mapped desolate parts for the British Empire, the ISI has now taken the craft of intelligence to mean bloody pursuits almost invariably trapped in gore and violence.
For years it had an almost uninterrupted run - from its actions in East and West Pakistan, to setting up a pipeline of arms, ammunition and money for Afghan mujahiddins in the '80s. That's apart from the decades of bleeding India through a thousand cuts.
But there is a pause now. For the first time since the ISI metamorphosed into its present-day aggressive self, serious questions are being asked about the future of the agency. Will it remain the core of Pakistan's powerful military intelligence complex? Or will it sink in Pakistani anger unleashed in the wake of America's Abbottabad operation? Will its anti-India strategy of deploying terrorists end, or at least reduce significantly?
There may not still be clear answers, but indications of its future are firmly emerging from various quarters. Most Indian observers are looking at the ISI in three different frameworks: its position within the Pakistan society, its standing within the military establishment, and its international acceptability.
The only unanimity is that the ISI's standing vis-a-vis the Pakistan public would be significantly diminished. But it is only a miniscule minority that argues that the many disasters crowding upon an agitated Pakistan would diminish the significance of the ISI. Observers within the Indian establishment are not expecting an over-the-cliff moment that could drastically reduce the ISI's activities against India. In fact, some are warning of a sudden surge to divert attention away from domestic troubles.
"They have ingrained themselves so deep into the system that they are almost the core of the Pakistan state today, " says the head of one of India's security agencies. "As long the army remains the most powerful organisation of Pakistan, the ISI will remain its most important arm, " he adds.
"Individual officers could be affected, but as an organisation they would remain where they are - as powerful as they were in state affairs," says B Raman, terrorism expert and retired intelligence official. "It is as old as Pakistan and will continue to wield the same powers that it had."
The ISI directorate has been at the core of Pakistan's all powerful military intelligence complex since 1948, when it was established by Maj-Gen R Cawthome, a British officer who was the deputy chief of staff in the Pakistan Army, to overcome the weakness of Kashmir operations in the preceding months. It was to be an integrated agency for all three military arms and was almost fully focused on India, with some activities in NWFP and PoK. Headquartered outside Islamabad, the ISI is the largest of Pakistan's three intelligence agencies - Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau being the other two federal agencies.
If history is anything to go by, it is impossible for the army, and to a great extent the political leadership, to just drop the ISI like a hot potato;so deeply ingrained is the agency in the Pakistani nation-state. The ISI has received extensive patronage from all Pakistani military dictators, from Field Marshal Ayub Khan to General Pervez Musharraf. In fact, the agency's crises have all come up during civilian rule - be it the sidelining during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's rule in the '70s or the present situation that has forced the ISI chief to depose before the national parliament.
Former Intelligence Bureau chief Ajit Doval says the ISI is "domestically discredited and internationally exposed". He is convinced that the acceptance of both the Pakistani army and the ISI among its public will wither. The ISI has significant domestic duties that could be curtailed. It was in the late 1950s that the agency started meddling in domestic affairs, after military dictator Ayub Khan increased its role in monitoring politicians and assisting military rule. The agency was also active in Eastern Pakistan as the Bangladeshi freedom struggle shook the very foundation of Islamabad. The ISI has also played an adverse role in Balochistan when insurgency broke out there in the '70s.
While this role within the state could diminish in the face of popular backlash, "within the army nothing will happen to ISI", Doval says. Internationally, as the ISI comes under more scrutiny and pressure, it is no guarantee that the intelligence agency will desist from anti-India activities. In fact, to divert attention away from its domestic troubles, it could think of stepping up anti-India operations, Doval warns.
On the contrary, Hormis Tharakan, former R&AW chief, says there could be an opportunity for India to improve its relations with Pakistan if the pressure on the ISI forces it to tone down its anti-India activities and support to terrorism. What is definite, Tharakan says, is that the ISI would try to patch up with the US since "it is an existential problem for Pakistan. " In that bargain, India could find an opportunity, he suggests.
For an agency that ran around like a behemoth, it won't be easy to remain under shackles. Over the past three decades, the ISI has had an almost uncontrolled run after General Zia-ul-Haq seized power. The ISI was Haq's key arm to monitor all political parties, including Bhutto's PPP. As the US decided to unleash mujahideens on the Soviets in Afghanistan, the ISI came into its own, adept at aggressive operations in foreign lands as it was within Pakistan's borders. The ISI operated the Afghan pipeline of arms and ammunitions to Islamic insurgents, thanks to the money flowing in from the US, Saudi Arabia et al. Through the '80s, the pipeline continued;later in the decade, after India mucked up elections in Jammu and Kashmir and the youth took to arms, many of the leading Kashmiri militants were taken to Afghanistan and trained in camps that had local mujahideens.
Personal weapons and other ammunition that flowed to Kashmir and to the rest of India - even the one recovered from actor Sanjay Dutt - came from the original Afghan pipeline that the ISI operated in the name of the Cold War and Pakistan's strategic depth. The impact of the ISI's Afghan recklessness is still being felt in South Asia as arms continue to proliferate.
As Pakistan pauses to discuss the efficacy of the ISI, and how much it is bogging down the nation's progress, the ruthless intelligence agency may finally have reason to be worried.
By Chidanand Rajghatta
May 28, 2011
I want your horror/ I want your design Cause you're a criminal/As long as you're mine I want your love I want your psycho/ Your vertical stick Want you in my rear window 'Cause baby you're sick I want your love - Lady Gaga in Bad Romance
It's not a good time to be a Pakistani in the United States;hell, it's not a good time to be a Pakistani anywhere, including in Pakistan itself. Raza, who doesn't want his full name used, cracks up at his own joke. He's a limo driver for a Maryland firm which has contracts with two cable television networks ferrying talking heads to and from studios. So Raza has the inside scoop on, and from, the Washington DC punditocracy. He gets to see and hear - first hand and up close - the national commentariat.
They always ask him where he is from. Faisalabad, from where he emigrated to the US on the back of a Green Card lottery his uncle unexpectedly won for him, is hard for Americans to figure out. So he usually tells them he's from Pakistan. Well, not anymore. "They don't like the country now. We are trouble, " he sniffs. So he tells them he's from India. "Which is true in any case, na? See how many times we dropped Sachin in the World Cup semi-final?" he laughs uproariously. "These Americans...they are just hitting us left and right."
Indeed, in the TV studios and political salons, it is tough going for what Anatol Lieven, a British scholar, calls "A Hard Country" in the subtitle of his book on Pakistan. With all kinds of new monikers being coined for it (Terroristan, Jihadistan), the country is being slapped around in Washington's policy circles with advice and orders from every sound-byte pundit who till recently was poompheting about "Eye-raq" and "Eye-ran", both of which have been bumped off from the headlines. "It's all Af-Pak now, mostly 'Pack-istan ...Do more, Do more', " Raza mimics their accent before trailing off into coarse Punjabi expletives.
It's a far cry from the days when Field Marshal Ayub Khan walked into the White House and pinched Lyndon Johnson's cheek - a moment captured in a famous black and white picture - telling Americans that they are Friends, Not Masters (the title of his book). Mid-level military officers from both sides were on backslapping terms, and Pakistan, not South Korea or Vietnam, much less India, was seen as an economic powerhouse. Now Americans are saying the Pakistanis are foes, not friends. Go ahead and Google the expression "with friends like these" and "Pakistan". See how many times it surfaces in editorials and op-eds.
The feeling is mutual. A recent opinion poll in the US showed that three in four Americans did not consider Pakistan an ally; polls in Pakistan show that Pakistanis now consider the US a bigger enemy than India, which still has a small, sentimental constituency in Pakistan (Raza cannot stop talking cricket and Bollywood; says he would have much preferred working in India than in the US if things were better between the neighbours).
How it came to this is a well-chronicled story, although the sequence is just beginning to swim into Washington's ken, substantially occupied by Soviet Union/Russia, Central Asia, Middle East, and other hot spots till the turn of the century. Suddenly Pakistan is the hot potato. More books have surfaced on Pakistan than any other troubled country in the past couple of years (mostly with unflattering titles); there have been more think-tank discussions in Washington on Pakistan than any other country;it has warranted more White House Situation Room meetings than any other country (seven at last count); and it has drawn more Congressional hearings than any other single country. Madeleine Albright's description of Pakistan as an "international migraine" some months back seems mild now;they are now talking about cancers and tumours that need to be cauterised.
At one such teeth-gnashing, hairtearing session on the Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding its fifth hearing on Af-Pak this past year. Chairman John Kerry, whose ardent canvassing for continued support to Pakistan has earned him the nickname "Jan Qari" on Twitter, is asking three experts - New America Foundation's Peter Bergen, former CIA analyst Paul Pillar, and Georgetown University's Christine Fair - for their suggestions.
Each has expertise on some aspect of the crisis, but there's no consensus on how to roll back Pakistan from its "descent into chaos", a mournful sub-title of another book (by Ahmad Rashid) on the unfortunate country. Fair's presentation includes the terms Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Deobandi, Tamakaswani, Ahle-Hadith, Sipah-a Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sufi, Barelvi, Ahmediyyas and Menafaqeem. "My head is kind of spinning, " jokes Kerry. And he's one of the more clued-in Americans. After some two hours of deliberation, the hearing ends with Kerry saying "This is fascinating and tough and complicated ... and we need to talk more. "
Washington DC has been doing that for more than a year about Pakistan without much to show for it. Everyone agrees the situation has deteriorated and ties have worsened. The two sides have fundamental differences. The United States cannot address Pakistan's existential crisis, insecurity vis-a-vis India.
There's broad consensus in Washington now that even resolving the Kashmir issue and other Indo-Pak disputes will not be sufficient to motivate Pakistan's militarised elite to abandon the self-destructive spiral they have stumbled into. Wheedling by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that Pakistan should get over its "obsession" with the Indian threat has had no effect. At the same time, conventional wisdom is the US cannot abandon Pakistan - almost everyone buys into the conclusion that if the US does not give Pakistan money and treat it with kid gloves, terrorism and nukes will go forth.
Among the few who depart from the Washington commentariat's conventional wisdom and boilerplate solutions is a man named Ralph Peters, and expectedly, he lives outside the beltway. A former military official who calls himself an "independent conservative", Peters' solution to sort out Pakistan can be described in two words: kick ass. Not by military invasion;he recommends that the US pull its troops out of the region to end Pakistan's hold on the Afghan lifeline;cut all aid to Pakistan, and back India in every way to sort out Pakistan.
"The entire relationship with Pakistan has been built on lies and our enthusiastic self-delusion ... Treat Pakistan as exactly what it is: a lawless rogue state, " he advised in a recent commentary. "But don't hold your breath," he added as an afterthought. "You can bet your life... we'll go back to pretending that the Pakistani whore can be reformed for a successful strategic marriage."
Broke and dangerous? Poor logic
By Graeme Blair, Christine Fair , Neil Malhotra and Jacob Shapiro
May 28, 2011
Combating militant violence, particularly within South Asia and the Middle East, stands at the top of the international security agenda, but policymakers still struggle to identify its root causes and develop sensible programs to address them. Economic development aid has emerged as a central tool, with the thought that poverty is one of those root causes. Poorer people, the logic goes, are more susceptible to the appeals of violent groups or are more likely to perpetrate violence themselves.
Barack Obama, arguing in favor of more development aid to poor countries, said in 2010 that "extremely poor societies" provide "optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism, and conflict". His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, declared economic development to be "an integral part of America's national security policy".
Yet there is little evidence of any such connection between poverty and militant violence.
The international consensus that poverty motivates support for and participation in Islamist militancy stands in disagreement with nearly the entire corpus of research on terrorism to date. Studies have found that the perpetrators of militant violence are predominantly from the middle class or wealthy families, and that income and education levels do not correlate with support for suicide bombing or other militant tactics. The evidence on the relationship between unemployment (and other indicators of poverty) and criminal violence, insurgency, and terrorism is distinctly mixed.
The stakes for this argument are particularly high in Pakistan, both because it exports terrorism and because it is itself the victim of an insurgency that has killed or injured some 35, 000 Pakistanis since 2004. The Western government and aid donor agenda aimed at ending the insurgency and reducing militancy is dominated by programmes to alleviate poverty. The Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill in the US Senate, for example, proposes spending $7. 5 billion on economic development aid to Pakistan, with the express aim of "combatting militant extremism."
The theory behind these policies rests on the notion that poor people are more susceptible to militants' appeals. We conducted a survey to test the claim that development will diminish support for militant groups.
The 6,000-person, nationally representative survey of Pakistanis measured attitudes toward four important militant organisations: al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban, the so-called Kashmiri groups, and sectarian groups. The survey, conducted in 2009, was much larger than prior efforts, allowing us to examine variation in support for the groups across districts and provinces in the country. It also overcame important problems in earlier surveys, which asked Pakistanis directly about militant groups. The direct questioning led many respondents not to respond at all, probably because they felt answering would put them at risk. Similar concerns may have led some to obscure their true beliefs.
We measured attitudes towards the groups using an indirect questioning technique called an "endorsement experiment" that both protected the safety of survey respondents by making it impossible to identify any individual's response, and allowed our interviewers to travel with the survey documents in difficult security environments including Kyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Respondents knew they were being protected by this technique, and shared views of the violent groups at dramatically higher rates than in previous surveys.
Respondents were presented with a set of four policy issues, including WHO polio vaccinations and the redefinition of the Durand Line separating Pakistan from Afghanistan, and asked how much they supported each. In one group, respondents were first told that one of the four militant groups supported the policy. Comparing the support for each policy between those who were told a militant group supported the policy with those who were not provides us with a measure of support for the group.
Our study using these data revealed four findings that undermine that common wisdom about support for militancy in Pakistan.
First, respondents were negatively inclined toward all four militant organisations. Contrary to some popular accounts, Pakistanis do not have a taste for militant violence.
Second, respondents living in violent parts of the country strongly disliked these groups. We suspect this is because these Pakistanis pay the price for militant violence, regardless of their views about the groups' goals. Those from comparatively peaceful areas do not bear the full costs of militant action.
Third, poor Pakistanis disliked the militant groups more than middle-class citizens. Much of Pakistan's violence is concentrated in poorer areas and in the bazaars where less affluent people sell goods, shop, and pray at mosques. As a result, the poor appear to be more at risk of income loss from attacks, and those losses are more consequential for them. Wealthier people often have servants run their errands and when they do personal shopping they are likely to do so in upscale stores in their own neighborhoods, which are safer.
Fourth, people who live in urban areas dislike the militant groups more than those in rural areas, and this dislike is strongest among poor urban residents. This reinforces the idea that the dislike of the groups is driven by greater exposure to their attacks, which are concentrated in urban areas.
The regrettable facts seem to suggest that popular, if bromidic, arguments that seek to tie support for violent political organisations to individuals' economic prospects, and the resulting policy recommendations, require substantial revision.
The stakes are high: most governments are still reeling from the global recession and looking to make budget cuts where possible. We are not suggesting, however, that investments to alleviate poverty should be stopped. Over the last two decades Pakistan witnessed important improvements in life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality rates, and literacy rates. Investments to spur further gains should be made, but with the objective of serving development goals rather than folded into popular strategies to mitigate violence and dampen insurgency.
Source: – ATimes of India Crest cover story on the state of Pakistan today