Monday, May 31, 2010



The dilemma posed by Pakistan to US policy-makers and opinion-moulders is reflected in an editorial titled “Dealing With Pakistan” published by the “New York Times” of May 28,2010. Its text is annexed.

2. Terrorists are the main foreign exchange earners of Pakistan. The more the terrorists operating from its soil, the more the aid from the West to deal with them. The more the aid from the West, the more the terrorists on its soil.

3. The Pakistani leaders----military and political--- feel that as the main source of threat to the security of the US and other countries of the West, the terrorists on its soil have brought for it a strategic importance and attention which it would not have otherwise secured.

4. When Pakistan was born in 1947, it had a two-commodity economy--- cotton and cotton-based textiles and leather goods. It continues to have a two-commodity economy. It has not been able to diversify it. In the past, what it earned from the export of these two commodities was sufficient to keep it going and to meet its imports bill. Today, it is not.

5. Today, it needs a substantial extra source of income to be able to meet its imports bill and service its external debt. In the absence of any significant economic development, it is dependent on assistance from the West---mainly from the US--- to keep the economy and the State going and to avoid bankruptcy.

6. During the cold war, its willingness to let its territory be used by the US for its campaign against the erstwhile USSR brought it the required aid flow from the US. The end of the cold war saw its importance in the eyes of the US decline. This was accompanied by a decrease in cash flow.

7. Pakistan’s value as the surrogate of the West in its campaign against the USSR was replaced by the spectre of its becoming the main source of threat to the security of the US and other Western countries from the terrorists operating from its soil. The cash flow was resumed and it kept increasing----this time not for assisting the US in fighting against the USSR, but for its supposedly collaborating with the US in its efforts to contain and neutralize terrorism originating from its soil.

8.A two-pronged policy of collaboration became its new strategic weapon---- seeming collaboration with the US against the terrorists in return for the cash flow and collaboration with the terrorists against the US for keeping the US fears of a terrorist attack on the US homeland alive and for preventing any threat to its own security from the terrorists.

9. If terrorism emanating from the Pakistani soil dries up, its importance in the eyes of the US will again decline just as it happened when the threat from the USSR ended. It is in its interest to keep terrorism alive so that the fears of the US remained alive and money continued to flow from the US for keeping the terrorists under control.

10.The US finds itself in a thankless situation. The more the aid it gives to Pakistan to deal with the terrorists, the more the incentive for Pakistan to keep the terrorists alive and active to keep alive the fears of the US. If it reduces its aid to Pakistan, there is a danger of Pakistan not doing even what it is doing now to deal with the terrorists.

11.The only way the US can get out of this vicious circle is by taking in its own hands the responsibility for destroying the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory instead of depending on Pakistan for this.

12. This policy has many risks:

• An increase in anti-Americanism in Pakistan and a consequent rise in the flow of volunteers to the terrorist organizations.
• An increase in the influence of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.
• A spell of political instability in Pakistan with a further weakening of the mainstream political elements.
• The emergence of another Afghanistan, which cannot be easily brought under control.

13. One way of avoiding a risky direct role by the US will be by assisting elements in Pakistan such as the Balochs, the Sindhis and the Mohajirs, which have been unhappy over the state of affairs in the country and over the increase in the activities of the fundamentalists and other Talibanised jihadis, to achieve their political objectives ---- whether those objectives are independence or autonomy.

14. Terrorism is unlikely to end in Pakistan as it is constituted today. A Pakistan reduced to its fundamentalist Punjabi core surrounded by non-fundamentalist liberal Islamic states of different ethnic origin may not be able to exploit the terrorist weapon in the same way as the present-day Pakistan has been doing.

15. Pakistan of the 1971 vintage is becoming an increasing threat to the homeland security of many nations of the world----in the West as well as the East, in the Ummah as well as in the non-Islamic world. One has to work for a reduced Pakistan to make this threat manageable and ultimately eliminate it. ( 31-5-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


Dealing With Pakistan
Published: May 28, 2010

Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States is still trying to figure out how to manage relations with Pakistan — and what mix of inducements and public and private pressures will persuade Islamabad to fully commit to the fight against extremists.

The Obama administration is working hard to cultivate top Pakistani officials. There are regular high-level visits. In March, a senior Pakistani delegation visited Washington for a strategic dialogue with the Americans that seems to be building trust and cooperation across a range of government agencies.

An April visit to Islamabad by the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, and Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a reminder of the limits of American power. They warned officials of severe consequences if an attack on American soil is traced back to Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan, its nuclear arsenal and the fragility of its government, it is not clear how much punishment Washington would ever mete out.

Pakistan has its own horrifying reminders that the fight against terrorism is not just America’s fight. On Friday, gunmen and suicide bombers stormed two mosques in Lahore, killing at least 80 worshipers.

Pakistan’s Army has mounted big offensives against Pakistani Taliban factions in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan. It has hesitated in North Waziristan where Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing, reportedly received support and training. Intelligence-sharing has improved, but there is a lot more to be done as the Shahzad case showed.

So why isn’t Pakistan doing all it needs to?

Part of that is the strategic game. Islamabad has long used extremist groups in its never-ending competition with India. Part is a lack of military capability and part political cowardice. While some of Pakistan’s top leaders may “get it,” the public definitely does not.

The United States still does not have a good enough strategy for winning over Pakistan’s people, who are fed a relentless diet of anti-American propaganda.

As The Times reported on Wednesday, the United States is often blamed for everything from water shortages to trying to destroy the Pakistani state. The Obama administration came in determined to change that narrative. When he was in the Senate, Joseph Biden, now the vice president, worked with Richard Lugar on a $7.5 billion, five-year aid package that would prove American concern for the Pakistani people (not just the military) by investing in schools, hospitals and power projects.

Congress approved the first $1.5 billion for 2010, but the State Department is still figuring out how to spend it. The projects need to move as quickly as possible. And Pakistani leaders who demand more help, but then cynically disparage the aid, need to change their narrative.

The State Department also needs to move faster to implement its public diplomacy plan for Pakistan. Officials need to think hard about how to make sure Pakistanis know that aid is coming from the United States — like the $51 million for upgrading three thermal power plants announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October. It is a delicate issue, but the “made in America” label has to be affixed.

The State Department has committed to spend $107 million over two years to help Pakistanis better understand the United States. Plans include bringing 2,500 Pakistani academics and others on exchange visits and expanding after-school English classes in Pakistan. There also are proposals to bring more American academics to Pakistan and to reopen cultural centers. They should move ahead. An initiative to make more American officials available to speak directly to Pakistanis has shown promise.

Changing Pakistani attitudes about the United States will take generations. The Shahzad case is one more reminder that there is no time to lose.