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Archive for June, 2012

A candid look at Pakistan-US relations

No apologies should be due for devoting this week’s column to George Perkovich’s 18-page essay published by Carnegie under the title “Stop enabling Pakistan’s dangerous dysfunction”. Perkovich, is well-known in Pakistan for his book “India’s nuclear bomb”. At a time when much of American writing about Pakistan is stuck in a tedious stereotype, his analysis combines forthrightness with empathy.

A candid look at Pakistan-US relations

Published: September 18, 2011

The writer was foreign secretary from 1989-90 and is a former chairman of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad

No apologies should be due for devoting this week’s column to George Perkovich’s 18-page essay published by Carnegie under the title “Stop enabling Pakistan’s dangerous dysfunction”. Perkovich, is well-known in Pakistan for his book “India’s nuclear bomb”. At a time when much of American writing about Pakistan is stuck in a tedious stereotype, his analysis combines forthrightness with empathy; it is notable for its critical insights into Pakistan’s history, its traumas and self-inflicted wounds; the genesis of its present existential crisis; the nature and scope of American assistance; recommendations for straightening out Pakistan-US relations and the perils of over-indulging India, a necessary new strategic partner of the United States. What one misses occasionally is greater candour in mapping the distortions injected into Pakistan’s body politic by day-to-day coercive American interference.

Pakistan’s chequered history is a necessary backdrop to a discussion of how it became a lopsided national security state. Perkovich walks his readers through the 1950s, the India-Pakistan war of 1965, the Bangladesh conflict, the quest for nuclear weapons and Pakistan’s role in defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. He gets his narrative right except when he relies too heavily on the opinions of some of his Pakistani sources. The quote from Hussain Haqqani, about the civil-military complex adapting the ideology of Pakistan to the demonisation of India’s Brahmin Hinduism is only a half-truth; the other half is to be found in the fact that in the early, post-independence years, Indian leaders including Nehru, expected Pakistan to collapse and exerted pressure from the international border; Kashmir and Afghanistan to accelerate this process. The observation made by Pervez Hoodbhoy and Zia Mian about the security establishment exploiting the nostalgia for a time when Muslims ruled India, ignores the fact that the central narrative culminating in the creation of a separate state was not revanchist but rooted in deep-seated secular anxieties of Muslims about the inevitability of the majoritarian principle in a modern state. Again, a major engine of the militarisation of the Pakistani state was the role that the US crafted for it in the Baghdad Pact, the ludicrous SEATO and in the subsequent ‘frontline state’, first against Moscow and then against violent jihadis, the legacy of that crusade. Perkovich describes the empowerment of Pakistan’s “grossly oversized and hyperactive military and intelligence services” as “the unintended but undesirable effect” of the American posture. Unfortunately, most of us recall it as very much an intended consequence.

The most compelling part of the study is the portion addressing the question of what the US and Pakistan should do now. The recommended template is that Washington should “stop enabling the Pakistani security establishment’s dysfunctional dominance of state” and pursue democratisation as “the only constructive alternative”. The one caveat that one has to enter here is that, unfortunately, Pakistan’s political class is no less addicted than the military to the dole-outs from Washington. The relationship is transactional as much because of its incessant demands for this largesse as Washington’s readiness to provide it on conditions that often hurt the interests of Pakistan’s people. The unprecedented paralysis of Pakistan’s political elite and bureaucracy is partly due to exaggerated fears of American displeasure kept at a very high level by visiting American dignitaries and by micro-management by American officials — diplomatic and non-diplomatic — posted to Pakistan. A rough and ready example of it is Islamabad’s prolonged vacillation about the desperately needed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

Perkovich’s emphasis on redesigning American assistance and on new measures such as opening America to enhanced Pakistani imports is a qualitative departure from the standard American analysis. So is his advice that retrenchment of American involvement with the military should be accompanied by an effort not to over-indulge India and to reassure Pakistan that India-US collaboration will not threaten (its) security “ and also that India would not exploit its ongoing role in Afghanistan to challenge Pakistan’s internal stability, including in Balochistan”. Limitations of space do not permit a reference to many other preeminently sensible ideas in the essay. Suffice it to note, it offers a basis for a lighter but durable engagement between Pakistan and the US.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th,  2011.

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“Pakistan Aur Amrika Dehshat Gardi”

“Pakistan Aur Amrika Dehshat Gardi” a column by Amjad Islam Amjad

Amjad Islam Amjad Chasm-e-Tamasha

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The shackles of inaction

Afghanistan sits, along with its various elements contributing to the turmoil, in a proverbial strategic stagnation. The road ahead is unclear and uncharted yet, other than three determinants: one, the US and Nato will hand over active combat operations to the Afghan forces by the end of 2014 and vacate, leaving behind only some elements of special forces and possibly a detachment of drones to assist in counterterrorism operations; two, the US has a ten-year strategic agreement with Afghanistan to continue assistance and retain its involvement there to enable sustained stability; and three, the US has asked India to assist in the training of ANA elements and provide requisite support in nation building efforts; India is the second largest donor in such assistance in Afghanistan.


Yet to be determined, and declared, are the following: contours of a proposed framework for peace in Afghanistan – there is none to show in this direction; what role if any will the region have in enabling and ensuring stability in Afghanistan – that includes the various ambiguities that ride the role of Pakistan as perhaps its most important neighbour with longest territorial contiguity and the foremost US ally in the war on terror; and finally, when and if a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) will be signed between Afghanistan and the US, and what will such an agreement entail. SOFA will determine the right of the US forces to probably redeploy on some three to five bases at the time of their need and in fulfillment of their own strategic interests. It is likely that the Strategic Agreement already signed between the US and Afghanistan is the precursor to the Forces Agreement.


Two deductions are safe to make.


The US has residual strategic interests that it may need to deal with in due course, with force if other means do not deliver. Pakistan and Iran stand out as the more likely recipients of American attention in medium to short term based on how these states and their societies deal with politico-religious inclinations leading to continued radicalism and extremism; and in the case of Iran it’s perseverance with the nuclear route reinforcing the perceptions of defiance to the American challenge to desist from that route.


And second, if Afghanistan ever slides again into political turmoil resulting in the Taliban’s ascendancy, and a possibility of it becoming a haven again for terror groups, the US will likely intervene to arrest control and redirect Afghanistan back towards a more managed existence. This will become more probable when the US has ridden through her current fiscal difficulties and conditions in Afghanistan present such a challenge. America’s fairly robust presence in neighbouring Central Asian states, in influence as well as in the form of bases, though mitigates the absolute essence of unqualified control over Afghanistan for such a revisit. Iran and Pakistan, if indeed one or the other becomes a cause of worry, could be handled with the American forces stationed in the Gulf with support from bases in Central Asia and elsewhere in the region.


Deductively then the most testing scenario for Pakistan relates to the country not improving on its current socio-religious trends internally, or finding itself aligned against the US in a way that it is seen to be standing opposite to the current geopolitical trends in Afghanistan. Or, when a cumulative decay within Pakistan, both within the polity and the society, points to an immediate collapse of order. Pakistan’s first opportunity to correct the course is implicit in America’s planned exit from the region as the war in Afghanistan winds down giving Pakistan a little more space to sort itself out without the persistent pressure of the US to ‘do more’. This remains Pakistan’s most compulsive and primary internal task.


While America’s return from the region of its bulk is almost established, there are two residual consequences that Pakistan will have to contend with. Having sided with America for most of the war and paid its price in both men and material, such disassociation as is now evident is putting to waste the sacrifices made till date. Two, an estranged relationship with the US, however, spells serious trouble for Pakistan’s subsequent need of multilateral support to keep itself financially buoyant. This remains Pakistan’s most imperative external challenge.


In contrast, Pakistan seems to have cornered itself with ill-considered policy enunciations which are difficult to breach through by a politically weak government; these include the delay in reaching a decision on Nato supply routes, and the unnecessary preconditions that are linked to reaching an executive decision on the issue. Here is a way to gallop across the seemingly unbridgeable spaces in policy conception and regain the lost place: Afghanistan, for its own sake, for the sake of the region, and that of Pakistan essentially as an overriding motive, desperately needs a peace strategy which should be comprehensive and sustainable. Just as India has taken the initiative to seek a regional solution to build Afghanistan through a collaborative effort, Pakistan too should step ahead and claim the vital political space available in leading a reconciliation effort to bring peace to Afghanistan – an area of work hitherto unattended over which Pakistan can make a significant contribution.


There are three separate elements of a proposed peace framework for Afghanistan.


One, the need for an internal effort to bring all Afghan factions on the same page towards a common future which needs to be inclusive and participatory with all elements of the Afghan society finding representation in the political mosaic of Afghanistan. Pakistan should encourage the factions that it has influence with including the Haqqanis to find accommodation within such a framework. The alternate should be to suggest to them the need to find an alternate home for themselves.


Two, the US has already secured its most essential interests with Afghanistan with a Strategic Agreement, to be followed with a likely SOFA, making it imperative for Pakistan, in its own interest, to obviate the need for any such revisit by the US with deployments that may take permanence. Pakistan will need to begin an assiduous effort to fight radicalism within its own society, while Afghanistan must of essence evolve into a more inclusive and secular denomination in its political system. Pakistan and Afghanistan must conclude a bilateral understanding dilating on the various steps needed to begin a simultaneous effort on these counts in their respective countries.


Three, the need for a regional compact between all neighbours of Afghanistan, including India, built around inviolability of Afghanistan’s sovereign right to determine its own future and non-interference by any of its neighbours in Afghanistan’s affairs. Such an undertaking will forge the all important framework for peace that will ensure primacy to Afghanistan’s own direction to seek normalcy.


To move along these lines with a view to regain relevance in the closing stages of the Afghan war, Pakistan will, one, need to take cognizance of the vacant political space in the reconciliation and peace process, and two, step beyond a self-restraining bind which seeks a secondary role in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned effort. Pakistan must shed this escapist strategy and be seen to be counted in this effort to bring peace to Afghanistan. Akin to the Irish peace talks that brought peace to an intractable Irish strife, there exists the political space for Pakistan to take the lead and reestablish its image in a positive light through formulating, proposing and negotiating a peace framework for Afghanistan. The shackles of a paralytic inaction though will first need to be broken.


The writer is a retired air-vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force and served as its deputy chief of staff. Email: shhzdchdhry@ yahoo.com


The shackles of inaction
Shahzad Chaudhry
Thursday, June 28, 2012


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Despite humanitarian efforts, Pakistanis view US as a foe, poll finds


Because, Pakistanis hate double dealing and back-stabbing. US. while professing to be Pakistan’s friend allows, Afghan Taliban to attack Pakistani Border Posts in Mohmand Agency. 

US through NRO imposed Zardari and his gang of looters on Pakistan. 

Pakistan does NOT need US AID, don’t kill us with gratuitious kindness. 

US congress, Media, Executive, and Newspapers, especially LA Times, NY Times, and Washington Post are pro-India/Israel, and continually bad mouth Pakistan, through columns written by Jewish, Hindu Journalists, or turncoats Pakistanis like Hussain Haqqani and Pervez Hoodhbhoy.

US suggests names of PPP Jiyalas for Prime Minister’s post, usually, they are already CIA assets, even before, becoming Prime Ministers e.g. Shahabuddin, Raja Rental, and in waiting Amin Fahim.

US agencies continually meddle in Pakistan’s internal affairs, while publically denying it at an official level.

US bans Pakistan from receivng Nuclear Technology, but goes ahead and signs a Nuclear Agreement with India.

US provides India with satellite imagery of China and Pakistan’s Nuclear and Strategic sites.

Indian South Block has a contingency plan to attack Pakistan, with logistic and air support from US.

Pakistani visitors to the US are humiliated and denigrated by US Immigration & Border Agents.

Pakistani students are blocked from studying Nuclear Engineering in US, while Indian come in hordes to study the same subject.

Britain, a lap dog of US is forced to follow, US foreign Policy vis a vis Pakistan

And a thousand other stabs on the back, including spying within Pakistan, a la Raymond Davis, Drone Attacks, and Abbotabad Operation…

Despite humanitarian efforts, Pakistanis view US as a foe, poll finds

ISLAMABAD – In the last couple of years, Washington has earmarked a bigger chunk of its aid to Pakistan for civilian projects, hoping to engender goodwill with the country’s intensely anti-American populace. The latest polling suggests that strategy hasn’t worked.

About 75 percent of Pakistanis surveyed regard the U.S. as an enemy, according to a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. That’s actually up more than 10 percent since three years ago, when 64 percent said they viewed America as an enemy.

A key reason for the ongoing ill will appears to be America’s use of drone strike as a tactic against Islamist militants based in Pakistan. According to the Pew survey, only 17 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said they support the strikes.

Pakistanis even appear less willing to back the use of their own military against Islamist extremists. In the new survey, 32 percent supported the use of Pakistani security forces, a sizable drop from 53 percent three years ago.

A growing number of Pakistanis also feel that improving relations with Washington isn’t a major priority, the poll found. Last year, 60 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said strengthening ties with the U.S. was important; this year only 45 percent said they feel that way.

The U.S. channels hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic aid to Pakistan every year. Much of that aid is aimed at targeting such civilian needs as limiting Pakistan’s crippling power crisis and improving its weak education system.

Yet about 40 percent of Pakistanis surveyed said they think that U.S. economic and military assistance actually has a negative effect on their country. Only 12 percent said they believe that economic assistance from Washington helps solve Pakistan’s problems.

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan are at their lowest point since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. Anger resounds over American airstrikes that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November, the secret U.S. commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the military city of Abbottabad in May 2011, which Pakistanis viewed as a blatant breach of their sovereignty, and the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in the eastern city of Lahore in January 2011.

Those events have served as rallying cries for a Pakistani population that for years has viewed Washington as arrogant and untrustworthy.

The Obama administration’s heavy reliance on drone missile attacks as a primary tactic against Islamic militants in Pakistan’s tribal northwest has further intensified Pakistan’s animosity toward the U.S. Pakistanis view the drone attacks as violations of their country’s sovereignty and point out that they result in the deaths of civilians as well as militants.

The Pew survey was based on 1,206 face-to-face interviews with Pakistanis between March 28 and April 13.



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No apology, no supplies, Gen Kayani tells Allen

While Nato Commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen visited Pakistan to talk about border coordination with COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday, the understandable other purpose of his visit was to move forward on the restoration of Nato supplies, which were suspended after NATO helicopter gunships massacred 24 Pakistani soldiers last November. Generall Kayani rightly told General Allen that the supplies could not be restored without an apology. The latest contact follows the suspension of talks on restoration by technical groups at the ministerial level, amid allegations that Pakistan was asking for too much money. That it has not had any result reflects that Pakistan feels very strongly in the matter and the US must meet the conditions for resumption before the supplies could reopen.

Another issue to have come up was the situation in Upper and Lower Dir, which witnessed attacks by militants on the Pakistan Army. Here General Allen could only assure General Kayani that the local Isaf commander had been assigned the investigation. Whereas the US, including the Nato commander, repeatedly call for Pakistan to take action against militants on its side of the border, particularly the Haqqani Network, it has at best proved unable to stop militants attacking Pakistani troops from within Afganistan.

Along with constant drone attacks, for which no acceptable justification has been provided, there has been an imperial refusal to apologise for the Pakistani soldiers martyred at Salala. The US, irritated by the increase in expense of supplying troops by alternative routes, continues to refuse an apology which the circumstances absolutely demand. Nor has it advised Nato to apologise, an alternative that the Pakistani military indicated it was willing to accept. Meanwhile, the US continues to evade, while Pakistan continues to insist; now more bound than ever to the idea, by its own parliamentary review.


No apology, no supplies, Gen Kayani tells Allen

June 29, 2012 |


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