Saturday, October 9, 2010


Can the war succeed if one of those two principal allies is in cahoots with the enemy? 
 I love the word "cahoots."  And used so appropriately in this article on the US and Pakistan.  I was a guest in a religious studies course yesterday, and they wanted my take on, among other issues, what the outsiders can do about Pakistan.  I don't know the emoticon from shrugged shoulders, but that is essentially what I did.  That the dependence the US and NATO have on Pakistan plus the limited control the government of Pakistan has over its own armed forces and territory mean that there is little that we can hope for in terms of Pakistani compliance.  It does not have to comply and I doubt that it could if it tried.
Although the United States responded by blanketing Islamabad with mea culpas for the helicopter strikes, the incident has laid bare the fundamental challenge of the American-Pakistan alliance: When it comes to Afghanistan, America and Pakistan have very different national security interests.
Indeed.  But again, do not forget that it is also a problem of limited leverage and capabilities.  The US has very few tools to persuade the Pakistanis, given that it needs so much from Pakistan.  And Pakistan can only deliver so much, since the government has so little capability and control.

Of course, the Pakistanis do not help things with their obsession:
What Pakistan wants most in Afghanistan is an assurance that India cannot use it to threaten Pakistan. For that, a radical Islamic movement like the Taliban, with strong ties to kin in Pakistan, fits the bill. That is why the Pakistani government’s intelligence agencies helped the Taliban in its initial rise to power in the 1990s.
Um, excuse me, but given the power disparity that exists already, does India really need Afghanistan to threaten Pakistan?  It is like a 300 pound lineman taking a few more steroids.  It might mean an increase in power, but it is a marginal change.  Obsessing about India thus far has not worked out well for Pakistan, but seems to be the only thing Pakistan officials can agree on. 

And it is only getting worse for Pakistan:
“It’s unfixable,” said C. Christine Fair, assistant professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. “That’s why we’ll be working on this for the next 50 years.”  Professor Fair argues that because India is on the ascent, and will be even stronger militarily and economically in 10 years than it is now, the Indian government has no reason to negotiate seriously with Pakistan over the host of issues that bedevil the two adversaries now, when it can throw its weight around much easier later.
Perhaps reading Fair's cookbook can be informative.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What makes anyone think, that Pakistani Armed forces are not THE government of Pakistan?