Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Archive for category Pakistan-US Relations

China Counters Indian Influence in South Asia By Sajjad Shaukat

China Counters Indian Influence in South Asia

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Under the caption “Chinese investment in Bangladesh rings India alarm bells, Beijing deepens ties across South Asia billion infrastructure loans”, a news item was published in the Financial Times on August 7, 2018. Its summary is:  “China has invested $3.7bn in Bangladesh to built a 6 km long bridge over Padma River which will link north and south Bangladesh by road and rail. India is disturbed over Chinese growing influence in South Asia where it funded similar projects in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and the Maldives. It is ringing alarm bells in India which surrounds Bangladesh on three sides and considers itself as Dhaka’s principal ally. India should be concerned, given the role China is also playing in other countries which surround it. In Pakistan, Beijing is planning to spend $60bn on roads, railways and power plants as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will give China access to the sea via Gwadar port on Pakistan’s south coast. In the Maldives, it has signed a trade agreement and has been handed a contract to build a new airport that was originally granted to the Indian company GMR Infrastructure. In Sri Lanka, it has taken control of the southern port of Hambantota after Colombo was unable to repay the money it borrowed from Chinese state-backed lenders to build it.”

 

In fact, China is countering Indian influence in South Asia, as New Delhi has planned to establish its hegemony in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this regard, the fast-growing economic power of China coupled with her rising strategic relationship with the Third World has irked the eyes of Americans, Israelis, some Western countries and particularly, Indians. Owing to jealousy, America desires to make India a major power to counterbalance China in Asia.

 

America which is backing Indian hegemony in Asia, especially to counterbalance China is supplying New Delhi latest weapons, arms, and aircraft. During President Barack Obama’s second visit to India, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. Besides, America also announced $4 billion of new initiatives aimed at boosting trade and investment ties as well as jobs for the Indians. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to America, the then President Barack Obama strongly assured him to favour India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Earlier; Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with New Delhi. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on a larger scale. In the recent past, during the meeting in Washington, the US President Donald Trump also gave the same assurances to Modi.

 

 

Image result for cpec road from pakistan to china

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related image

 

 

 

 

Related image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By availing the US secret diplomacy, in the pretext of the presumed threat of China, India has been trying to establish her dominance in South Asia.

 

Historically, India has continued interventionist and hegemonic policies vis-à-vis her neighbours through its secret agency RAW. Besides supporting separatism in East Pakistan which resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan and continued assistance to the separatist elements of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, New Delhi occupied Sikkim, subdued Bhutan, sponsored terrorism in Sri Lanka, and has been teasing Nepal.

 

As part of the double game, India has also been making a cordial relationship with the small countries of South Asia with a view to colonializing them gradually. For example, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi, India and Bangladesh on April 8, 2017, signed 22 agreements in the fields of defence cooperation, civil nuclear energy, space and cyber security among others, following bilateral talks between Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart. Both the countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) through which India would extend a line of credit of $500 million to support Bangladesh’s defence-related procurements.

 

India is planning to counteract China’s influence in Sri Lanka. In this respect, two different stories in published in Indian media, need attention.

 

In this context, on April 27, 2017, on a website, LiveMint.Com, Elizabeth Roche under the title, “India renews Sri Lanka ties to counter China influence in South Asia” wrote, “India moved to cement closer economic ties with Sri Lanka in a bid to negate the growing influence of strategic rival China in the Indian Ocean region and South Asia. A pact on economic cooperation was signed in the presence of visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his host Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The leaders welcomed the signing of the memorandum of understanding for Cooperation in Economic Projects, which outlines the agenda for bilateral economic cooperation in the foreseeable future”, an Indian foreign ministry statement said without giving details—Both sides expressed their commitment to ensuring that this mutually beneficial agenda is expeditiously implemented.”

 

Roche explained, “Analysts said this move by India was aimed at warding off increasing Chinese influence in South Asia which India considers its sphere of influence. In recent years, China has tried to co-opt Sri Lanka and the Maldives into its ambitious. One Belt One Road initiative—a programmes to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe—Given the subsequent hiccups in the neighborhoods first policy or placing—a deterioration of ties with Pakistan and strains in India-Nepal ties for instance—Modi seems to be looking at a new framework of ties with India’s neighbours with the aim of countering Chinese influence, Mansingh said. The new formula includes an element of strong economic cooperation, he said, pointing to India announcing the extension of a $4.5 billion line of credit for development infrastructure and other projects in Bangladesh and another $500 million for defence hardware purchases for Dhaka during the 7-9 April visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India.”

 

Similarly, Indian media and websites gave much coverage to an article, published by German TV Channel (Which also publishes online news items) under the title “India Nips at China’s Heels in Race to Collect Lanka Port Assets” written by Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria, April 26, 2017.

 

Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria wrote, “India is looking to invest in a colonial-era Sri Lankan oil-storage facility as it seeks to further its naval interests in the Indian Ocean and push China back in the process. A unit of state-owned Indian Oil Corp., the country’s largest refiner, is set to help fund the $350 million development of an 84-tank facility at the strategically located Trincomalee port on Sri Lanka’s east coast. India and Sri Lanka are also discussing setting up a refinery in the island nation, according to Shyam Bohra, managing director of Indian Oil’s subsidiary Lanka IOC. The talks come before a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi. Still, India’s interests in the Sri Lankan port are probably more strategic than economic, part of its effort to displace hefty investment coming into the country from China and preserving a key gateway to the Indian Ocean. China is expanding both militarily and economically in the region, and its submarines have docked previously in Colombo. Lanka IOC is managing the 15 tanks and a lubricant blending unit. The governments of India and Sri Lanka have agreed in principle to jointly develop part of the tank farm…The Sri Lankan government has suggested that Lanka IOC retain 74 of the 84 reconstructed tanks through an equal joint venture with Ceylon Petroleum Corp., Chandima Weerakkody, Sri Lanka’s minister of petroleum resources development said by phone. The other 10 would be handed back to Ceylon Petroleum, he said… Shyam Bohra, managing director of Indian Oil’s subsidiary Lanka IOC said…Lanka IOC is open to the joint development of the tank farm. Something should definitely happen because we are very keen to see to it that the facility is developed, However, Weerakkody…the minister compared India’s investments unfavourably to China’s. India should expedite their projects that they engage in, he said. Chinese investments—they are pretty quick. India’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment. If India’s investments materialize, the historic but relatively obscure port could become a hub for New Delhi, whose navy must go around Sri Lanka as it crosses from ports on India’s west coast in the Arabian Sea to those on the east coast in the Bay of Bengal. But New Delhi’s plans would almost certainly be worth far less than Beijing’s ambitious infrastructure-building in Sri Lanka. China has already built a port at Hambantota in Sri Lanka’s south in a move that alarmed Indian observers.”

 

Iain Marlow and Saket Sundria further wrote, “Beijing has also invested heavily in Gwadar, a port in Pakistan that serves as the terminus of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

 

As regards Nepal, on Nov 28, 2016, a memorandum was forwarded by the Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNNF) to the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon on facts, which disqualify India for attaining permanent membership of the UN Security Council (UNSC). The memorandum pointed out that “these days India is vying for a permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat. Greater Nepal Nationalist Front (GNNF) would like to register…reservations against Indian candidature for a permanent seat in the esteemed UNSC.”

 

It said, “Nepal has been a victim of Indian hegemonic and high handed mentality. India imposed a blockade against Nepal…why was India annoyed with Nepal? Because the people of Nepal did not heed Indian advise on promulgating a Nepalese Constitution. India refused to accept the mandate of the people of Nepal as the constitution was approved by more than 90% vote of the Constituent Assembly. India continues to illegally occupy 60000 square Kilo Meters of Nepalese territory.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this context, on March 25, 2017, ABC News conducted a talk programme/interview with Mr Phanidra Nepal (Mr PN) Chairman of Greater Nepal Nationalist Front, and Dr Bishnu Dahal. In the programme, the discussion was carried out on the need to change Nepal’s foreign policy so that Kathmandu can maintain an equal level of relations with both Beijing and New Delhi. Mr PN said, “Border blockade, unrest in Madhesh, growing anti-India sentiments, excessive Indian interference in internal affairs of Nepal is largely the consequence of our faulty foreign policy and diplomacy…None of the current crises being faced by Nepal is an overnight development, rather these were expected long time ago due to India dependent policies of our country, but Nepalese leaders have failed to read the writing on the wall. China has never opposed maintaining good relations with India but India always managed to alienate Nepal from China. Most of the Nepalese leaders are guided by selfish motives and they try to climb an easy ladder to power through India. This is one of the main reasons that Nepal is subjected to undue Indian pressures, harassments and humiliations. Nepal will have to bear some economic hardship in the short term, but it can lessen all difficulties and achieve a sustainable growth in the long term if it adopts Chinese funded mega projects especially OBOR [China’s One Belt One Road] to reduce dependency on a single country, i.e. India. India is worried about visits of Greater Nepal’s campaigner Phanindra Nepal to China and through diplomatic channels may express her concerns.”

 

In this connection, in an article, under the caption, “Nepal leader vows to revive Chinese dam project, open to review pact over Nepalese soldiers in India”, Debasishroy Chowdhury wrote on February 25, 2018: “The campus was a US$350 million gift from China, which built it in two years and handed it over last year to the paramilitary force, which plays an important role in checking Tibetan refugees from entering Nepal. “Apart from the bricks and mortar, they brought everything from China. All the fittings, the furniture, everything,” says a visibly impressed Shrestha as he points to the overhead projector and the desks in one of the many classrooms. “This entire campus in just two years, imagine the level of efficiency…As a new government takes power in Kathmandu, this widening rift puts it on the cusp of a geopolitical transformation as Nepal seeks a hedge in China to counterbalance India’s traditional dominance.”

 

Nevertheless, India’s endeavour to alienate Nepal from China will not succeed, as a majority of the Nepalese is aware of this duplicity of New Delhi.

 

Regarding the Maldives, David Brewster pointed out on February 8, 2018: “Maldives opposition leaders, such as former president Mohamed Nasheed, are pushing for India to again intervene to restore democracy. However, Delhi’s biggest worry about the Maldives is not the current threat to democracy, but its tilt towards China, especially the possibility that Beijing may establish a naval and airbase there.” 

 

In the recent past, under the title, “Cold War between China and India”,  Jamshed wrote,

“Evidently the relationship between China and India has been strained due to border disputes and economic competition…However, both the countries are in the race to influence the region due to its geo-strategic location…The Global Times said in a recent editorial, “India has a strong desire to control all South Asian countries. It regards the region as its backyard. New Delhi is particularly sensitive to any endeavour by small South Asian states toward independence and autonomy, especially ties with other major powers. All small South Asian nations want to extricate themselves from India’s excessive leverage.” Particularly in the case of the Maldives, India has some very alarming type of fears and apprehensions with reference to the increasing Sino-Maldivian closeness. On request of the Maldivian government, China has consented on doing co-operation in the construction of a port in Northern Atoll. Moreover, last year on 8th December 2017 a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was also signed between the Maldives and China during Maldivian President Abdulla Yasmeen’s four-day visit to Beijing. By signing this agreement, the Maldives became the second South Asian country after Pakistan to sign an FTA with China. This deal also proved a ‘stunning blow’ for India. Earlier in August 2017, the Maldives permitted three Chinese warships to visit the country, though India had expressed its strong resentment over the decision. Same is the approach of India towards the countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Myanmar and even towards Bangladesh. Whereas, China also wants to have its presence as well as influence in the region.”

 

An analyst wrote, Nepal maintains cordial ties with all its neighbours. Since it is one of the less developed countries in the region, it is interested in seeking investment for its economic development. Kathmandu intends to diversify its economic interdependence and develop its reliance on all the South Asian countries for resources and development. Nepal and Bhutan can be a big source of hydropower for neighbours. Bhutan and Maldives view regional economic cooperation as a strategy to bring about economic self-reliance and mutual prosperity. Bhutan aims to improve air links and telecommunication between member states. The Maldives, on the other hand, is interested in joint economic ventures, and in achieving greater liberalization of its economy. China’s observer status in SAARC was a product of the push from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. China is investing in several infrastructure projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor in South Asia. It is also investing in mega projects in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and enjoys cordial relations with Nepal.”

 

Besides, as part of the double game, based in Afghanistan, CIA-led Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are also destabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan through terrorism-related attacks and are giving a greater setback to the collective efforts of Russia, China and Pakistan which want peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 

Nonetheless, China is successfully countering Indian influence in South Asia. New Delhi will have to understand that maintaining hegemony in the region through negative planning is a bad idea in the 21St century. If India has to create a positive role, she will have to lend a hand to its Chinese investment in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

 

, , , ,

No Comments

Senior Pakistan Air Force Officer Honored with Thesis Award

Senior Pakistani officer honored with thesis award

 

Story by Kenneth Stewart

 
Senior Pakistani officer honored with thesis award

Pakistani air force Air Commodore Shahid Latif Bajwa, a member of the upcoming summer graduating class, earned outstanding thesis honors for his detailed analysis of the intricate relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan, and its impact on the region.

MONTEREY, Calif. – Pakistani air force Air Commodore Shahid Latif Bajwa will graduate with outstanding thesis honors during the Naval Postgraduate School’s upcoming Summer Graduation Ceremony, an honor bestowed upon less than 10 percent of the school’s graduates and the first of its kind to a senior Pakistani officer.

“I’d like to acknowledge the immense contribution made by my thesis adviser, Dr. Carolyn Halladay. I hold her in the highest esteem, as a scholar and as a human being,” said Bajwa.

As a general officer in the Pakistani Air Force, Bajwa offers a unique perspective on U.S. foreign policy in South Asia. Prior to attending NPS, Bajwa spent three years teaching at Pakistan’s National Defense University, and credits his NPS experience with opening his eyes to different viewpoints.

“I received a different perspective [at NPS] … I have learned here that if you say something that is logical and makes sense, then it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, people will listen and respect what you have to say,” said Bajwa. “I benefited from the faculty, comprised of accomplished scholars who have published in their respective fields and from fellow students that are coming from the field in Afghanistan … [And] they too benefit from the Pakistani perspective.”

Much of Bajwa’s thesis, “U.S. Security Cooperation with India and Pakistan: A comparative study,” details the history of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years.

“The U.S. and Pakistani relationship is like a marriage, it has its up and its down but ‘divorce’ is always not the answer. There is no doubt that it is in both of our nations’ interests to pursue cooperation that is in our mutual benefit,” said Bajwa. 

Through his studies, Bajwa painstakingly analyzes the regional effects of U.S. aid and military intervention in South Asia with special emphasis given to its effect upon the tenuous relationship between Pakistan and India. 

“Much of what India acquires in terms of enhancing its military capability has a direct impact on Pakistan, affecting the security calculus between the two countries. This disparity would be further accentuated if military cooperation between Pakistan and the United States declines,” said Bajwa. 

Bajwa describes in great detail the on-again/off-again history of the rocky Pakistani-U.S. diplomatic relationship and offers a Pakistani perspective on several complex security issues, and the global war on terror (GWOT). 

“Through 2011, Pakistan has lost more than 3,500 security personnel in counter-terrorism operations and as a result of retaliatory terrorist attacks on them. The direct and indirect economic costs were upwards of $67 billion; the enormous social costs cannot be measured,” said Bajwa. “Despite all these sacrifices, doubts have been repeatedly raised about Pakistan’s sincerity in the GWOT.” 

Bajwa expresses concern over the potential for weakening U.S.-Pakistani relations, but also offers recommendations and a road ahead on issues critical to both nations’ interests in the region. Bajwa contends that a successful U.S. strategy in South Asia should involve, amongst other things, “broad-based, long-term relations with two main stakeholders, India and Pakistan, keeping their mutual sensitivities in view.

“The United States should [also] invest more into the projects that directly benefit the masses,” said Bajwa. “USAID and its positive projection in the Pakistani media is a step in the right direction, but it needs further expansion. An internally stable and prosperous Pakistan would suit everyone in the region and beyond.”

Upon graduation, Bajwa will return to Pakistan where he looks forwarding to incorporating the lessons he learned at NPS in future leadership positions.

“When I go back to Pakistan and become a senior commander or a staff officer, the knowledge that I gained here will be very useful. I will be able to share a different perspective with my superiors, my subordinates, and fellow policy makers. What I have learned here will be put to good use for the benefit of my service, my country, and its valued ally, the United States,” said Bajwa.

Read more:http://www.dvidshub.net/news/107991/senior-pakistani-officer-honored-with-thesis-award#.Ua0Mb-Bl_Gs#ixzz2VBwLpbR1

No Comments

May 2 operation: Book claims ISI colonel helped US track OBL down

Pakistan Army played an active role in the capture of Osama Bin Ladin, but, stayed out of the limelight, for national  security reasons. Pakistan Army was aware of the operation from its inception. Pakistan Army kept their role secret due to the fear of retaliatory action from the home grown terrorist groups.  The Americans are playing “John Wayne” to the hilt, because, the real brains behind the tracking  of Bin Ladin American and the subsequent operational logistics to the Americans were provided by Pakistan Army.  The mole Dr. Afridi’s cover was blown by the American, due to their own bungling. They did not trust Pakistan Army to deliver Bin Ladin and Dr. Afridi was their mole in Abbotabad and part of their back-up plan(or Plan B), in case Pakistan Army backed out. American  journalist Richard Miniter has claimed in his latest book that an officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) helped the CIA track down Osama Bin Laden and that army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani may have been informed of the Abbottabad raid five months in advance. Pakistan Army has always supported US initiatives and objectives in the region.

 

May 2 operation: Book claims ISI colonel helped US track OBL down

 

OBL’s compound was raided by US Navy SEALs. PHOTO: FILE

 

The book titled ‘Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him’, alleges that the ISI officer had walked into the CIA’s Islamabad station in August 2010 and provided vital help in tracing Bin Laden.

“In a never-before-reported account, Pakistan was more involved in the Bin Laden operation than Obama’s team admitted. When the CIA revealed that an ISI colonel had contacted the CIA in Islamabad and offered information about Bin Laden, a debate followed,” said the book.

“Was this a secret sign that the head of the ISI himself was pointing out Bin Laden’s hiding place or was the colonel actually the patriot who hated extremism that he claimed to be? Whatever the motivation, the CIA found Bin Laden’s hiding place within a month of the colonel’s visit,” the book claims.

According to the book, as the CIA found the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden lived along with his family and started researching on the property, they found out that the land was “carved out” from the Pakistan Military Academy compound.

“Pakistan Army’s chief of staff may have been briefed in December 2010, five months before the nighttime raid on Bin Laden’s concrete castle,” the Press Trust of India quoted the book as saying. “No concrete facts about the operation were passed on, but an informal approval was sought.”

“Far from taking a risk, there are indications that a cover story had been developed with the Pakistani military and that Obama had their tacit consent for the mission,” claims Miniter, a former reporter with The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Officials from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) were not immediately available for comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.

, , , , , ,

No Comments

Pakistan-US alliance takes hits on campaign trail

(AP Photo/B.K. Bangash). In this Tuesday, April 9, 2013 photo, Pakistan's former cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan gestures as he speaks about his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Islamabad, Pakistan.

AP Photo/B.K. Bangash). Imran Khan gestures as he speaks about his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Islamabad, Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD (AP) – On the campaign trail in Pakistan, candidates boast about their readiness to stand up to Washington and often tout their anti-American credentials. One party leader even claims he would shoot down U.S. drones if he comes to power.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that the government that emerges from next month’s parliamentary election is likely to be more nationalistic and protective of Pakistani sovereignty than its predecessor.

As a result, the U.S. may need to work harder to enlist Islamabad’s cooperation, and the new Pakistani government might push for greater limits on unpopular American drone strikes targeting Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country.

But ultimately, the final say on Pakistan’s stance toward drones and many aspects of the relationship with Washington is in the hands of the country’s powerful army. And even nationalist politicians like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the leading contender in the election, recognize the need for a U.S. alliance and are unlikely to go too far in disturbing it.

“I think the tagline here is different posturing, same substance” when it comes to the next government’s relationship with the U.S, said Moeed Yusuf, an expert on South Asia at the United States Institute of Peace.

Nevertheless, it’s unclear how long Pakistan’s alliance with the U.S. can remain relatively insulated from anti-American sentiment. The May 11 vote is historic because it will mark the first transfer of power between democratically elected governments in a country that has experienced three military coups.

U.S. officials have remained fairly quiet about the election because they don’t want to be seen as influencing who wins. But Secretary of State John Kerry has met Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani twice in the last month, underlining the importance of the relationship to Washington.

The U.S. needs Pakistan’s help in battling Islamic militants and negotiating an end to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.The relationship has been severely strained in recent years, especially following the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden near Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point. But it has never broken down completely and has settled into a wary calm over the last year or so. Trust is still in short supply, but both sides recognize they can’t do without each other.

“We have moved into a phase of reduced expectations of each other, which is good,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. “It’s what they call the new normal.”

Imran Khan, who many analysts believe will end up playing a key role in the opposition after the election, has been even more critical of Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S., saying he would “end the system of American slavery.”

But the manifesto of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is more tempered, saying “Pakistan will endeavor to have a constructive relationship with the U.S. based on Pakistan’s sovereign national interests and international law, not on aid dependency.”

Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. – and foreign policy in general – has been less of a focus in the election than domestic issues, such as corruption, pervasive energy shortages and stuttering economic growth.

Lodhi believes this is because the U.S. has said it is largely pulling out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and is seeking a peace settlement with the Taliban – a move long advocated by the Pakistani government and supported by the main contenders in the election.

“That has helped to take the edge off negative sentiment in Pakistan which we saw in the last couple of years against the United States,” Lodhi said.

One issue that continues to create tension between the two countries is the U.S. drone program targeting Islamic militants in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region near the Afghan border.

The attacks are extremely unpopular in Pakistan. They are seen as violating the country’s sovereignty, and many people believe they kill mostly civilians – an allegation denied by the U.S.

Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders have contributed to these perceptions by criticizing the strikes in public in the past, while supporting them in secret. This support has declined over time as the relationship between the two countries has worsened.

The number of strikes has dropped from a peak of more than 120 in 2010 to close to a dozen so far this year, but it’s unclear how much this trend has been driven by U.S. decisions about targeting versus the political sensitivity of carrying out strikes.

Khan, the former cricketer, has sharply criticized U.S. drone attacks and has even pledged to shoot down the unmanned aircraft if he came to power.

Sharif has also been a vocal opponent of the strikes in the past, although he hasn’t made them as much of a focal point of his campaign as Khan has.

Nevertheless, Daniel Markey, a South Asia expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes Sharif would work with the army to renegotiate the use of drones in Pakistan if he took power.

“In the end, I think probably some accord will be reached in which the use of drones will probably be curtailed from where they have been over the past couple of years,” Markey said during a recent call with media. “But they will continue, particularly against high-value targets when they are found.”

However, Lodhi, the former ambassador, has doubts Sharif would pick a high-profile fight with the U.S. over drones since the number of strikes has decreased so much.

“The centrality of drones may not be what it was in the past,” Lodhi said. “Why would you want to whip up something that is going down anyway?”

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT
Associated Press

Posted: May 01, 2013 4:17 AM MSTUpdated: May 01, 2013 4:17 AM MST

 
 

, , ,

No Comments

Archive Article: Pakistan: The Real Swing State

Pakistan: The Real Swing State

By Beenish Ahmed, November 6, 2012

 

Outside a downtown Islamabad coffee shop that sells an assortment of French macaroons (cupcakes are so passé), I strike up a conversation with Omar Malik.

A 34-year-old who works for a private telecommunications company, Malik seems liberal. Liberal in the way Americans stumbling through Muslim-majority countries might find comforting.

images-111He’s dressed smartly in a collared shirt—with only the appropriate number of buttons unbuttoned. He sips a latte and speaks in flawless, albeit slightly accented, English.

When it comes to American politics, though, he isn’t technically “liberal” —at least as far as U.S. political categories go.

“Republicans have historically always been better for Pakistan than Democrats,” Malik says matter-of-factly. “In terms of the relations that we have had, I think Bush was a much better president than Obama or Clinton was.”

He leans back in his lawn chair when I inquire further. This is not what I expected to hear from a man outside a posh cafe on a Saturday night, but he continues, “In terms of foreign policy, in terms of [not] giving preference to India over Pakistan, the Republicans have been much more balanced,” Malik says.

I remind him of how, when pressed during the presidential debate on foreign policy, Mitt Romney said he’d continue President Obama’s policy of using drones to target terrorist enclaves in Pakistan.

But Malik is resolute. He chalks Romney’s assertion up to campaign rhetoric. The sort of tough-on-terror talk, he says knowingly, that Obama also ran on four years ago.

Pakistan has long been seen by American analysts as a “wildcard” state—a sort of trick card that either appears as a Queen of Hearts or a Joker depending on when, and for how long, you look.

It’s a trick ordinary Pakistanis—who would probably just as readily fill the streets to protest America as they would to claim a visa if the United States decided to offer up them up for free—can play just as well. Nearly three-fourths of Pakistanis polled said they see the United States as an “enemy.” That’s up from 64 percent just three years ago.

As if to say “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” another recent poll found that 43 percent of Pakistanis claimed they should have the right to vote in U.S. elections, a number topped only by people in Kenya, China, India, and Cameroon.                                                         

“Pakistanis should be given the right to vote,” says Rahat Khan, a 27-year-old who manages supply orders at a construction company in Islamabad. He adds completely earnestly, “After all, all of the decisions made about Pakistan are made in America.”

Khan even goes so far as to say that Pakistan should be made the “53rd state”—although he’ll likely have to brush up on his geography should he ever decide to actually apply for U.S. citizenship and cast a ballot in American elections.

If he could vote, Khan says, he’d cast a vote for Obama. But there’s one issue that he can’t get behind. “Being a patriotic Pakistani,” Khan insists, “I must say that drone attacks should be stopped.”

Like many Pakistanis, Khan sees the use of drones as an affront to his country’s sovereignty. The continuing attacks on sites the United States identifies as terrorist enclaves in the tribal areas are approved by only a small number of elite Pakistanis. He says the unmanned assaults kill more innocent people than the terrorists they target.

The vitriolic issue of drone strikes is compounded by a number of other incidents that have stoked Pakistani anger at America.

In January 2011, CIA contractor Raymond Davis shot and killed two Pakistani men in the city of Lahore. To make matters worse, a car coming to aid Davis from the U.S. consulate killed a man in the street before speeding off down the wrong side of the road. Although “blood money” was paid to the victims’ families, the incident spurred a public outcry over the evident impunity for Americans who had committed murder.

Then, last November, a U.S. attack on a military outpost near the Afghanistan border killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, leading Pakistan to close NATO supply routes into Afghanistan. The passages remained closed for months.

And of course there was the unannounced raid in which U.S. Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden four months ago, which Pakistanis largely believe to be either offensive or fictitious. 

Add up these incidents—along with the anger over the hokey film trailer defaming the Prophet Mohammad that inflamed the rest of the Islamic world—and it’s easy to come up with Obama’s incredibly low approval rating in Pakistan. Still, it is surprising that Pakistanis would see Obama on par with former President George W. Bush, whom many across the world still disapprove of for starting two wars on feeble foundations.  

The poll, which was conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, found that Pakistan was the only country of the 15 polled where ratings for Obama were no better than those maintained by former President George W. Bush.

Thirteen percent of Pakistanis polled said they would vote for Obama if they could, over a mere 9 percent who say they would support Romney. But the more telling statistic might be the 47 percent who believe that neither candidate would change U.S. policy.

Beenish Ahmed is a freelance journalist. She is a former NPR Kroc Fellow and received an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge through a Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom.

recommended citation:

Beenish Ahmed, “Pakistan: The Real Swing State” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, November 6, 2012)

 

, , ,

No Comments


Skip to toolbar