Monday, December 20, 2010

Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins??

Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins

The Morningside Post, Nadia Hasham, December 17, 2010
In a successful attempt to highlight and question the emerging trends of one of the most dynamic nations, the Columbia-Paris Alliance Program together with the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion (CDTR), the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL), and the South Asia Institute presented a conference on the domestic and regional issues surrounding the future of Pakistan. The panel on “The Domestic Scene in Pakistan” was the morning session of a larger full-day symposium provocatively entitled Pakistan 2010: The Most Dangerous Decade Begins, which proved to be a wonderful blend of scholars highlighting differing and often conflicting elements in Pakistan, from civil-military relations, to the police force and the judiciary.
Columbia’s own Dr. Hassan Abbas provided an interesting perspective, able to draw on personal experience to discuss the issue of civilian law enforcement. He agreed with Dr. Zaidi, contending that one of the most dangerous decades in the history of Pakistan has ended or is about to end. Sharing data from research he conducted, Dr. Abbas introduced a controversial yet innovative idea: “counterinsurgency and counterterrorism is not the task of the military”. Instead, he sees the solution in the promising institutions of civilian law enforcement – the police force. In fact, during the discussion headed by Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot, Dr. Abbas presented an increased role of the police as a necessary counterbalance to the unsettling power of the military.
The joint organizers Dr. Stepan and Dr. Jaffrelot (Sciences Po‐CERI) say they see a need to create a forum for discussing the future of this instrumental country, the outcome of which is proving to have a large impact on regional and global political relations. Representing both sides of the Alliance Program, the product of a seven-year long partnership between Columbia and three of France’s most esteemed schools, École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and the Université of Paris – Panthéon Sorbonne, Dr. Stepan and Dr. Jaffrelot cited the lack of adequate attention to this emerging and crucial issue as the impetus for the symposium. The resources available at this time – the meeting of such academics all with impressive biographies conducting their own empirical research into various aspects of Pakistan’s governance structure – certainly enriched the discussion and proved the panel to be quite the successful forum for engaging this topic.

The strength of the event was certainly in the experience and original research of its panelists, who were able to follow emerging trends, bringing new ideas, evaluations, and projections to the internal dynamics of the closely-watched nation of Pakistan. All that remains to be seen is whether the country will able to utilize the various aspects of its infrastructure that these scholars have highlighted for a more promising future, or whether the danger is just beginning.

For complete article, click here
For complete audio record of the conference, click here

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