Politicking in Pakistan
Paul Pillar, The National Interest, January 3, 2011
Americans observe the most recent political maneuvering in Pakistan—a withdrawal from the governing coalition by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), depriving the government of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani of a parliamentary majority—with perpetual nervousness about this South Asian nation of more than 170 million. The nervousness has intensified over the past couple of years. Clearly the multiple roles that Pakistan is playing in the conflict in Afghanistan are mostly responsible for this. Americans on different sides of the Afghanistan war issue agree that there is a problem of Afghan insurgents finding sanctuary on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line, and that there is a further problem of Pakistani officialdom retaining old ties with the Afghan Taliban.
Then there are Pakistan's nuclear weapons, which are frequently invoked as an even graver source of worry. In fact, the presumed causal relationships in the Af/Pak theater often get flipped around by people who at least tacitly acknowledge that the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan isn't really doing much to put al-Qaeda out of business. Pakistan is the real prize, so it is said; the most important reason we are supposedly in Afghanistan is to prevent instability from spreading across the border and causing Pakistan to shake apart. The specter haunting such discussions is one of mad mullahs getting their hands on those nuclear weapons.
There's no doubt that Pakistan represents a heap of headaches for the United States these days. There is indeed a lot about which to worry. I would put at the top of the list of worries the underlying volatility of the relationship between Pakistan and India, and the fact that South Asia is still the region with the greatest chance of a nuclear war breaking out. And there is no doubt that Pakistan presents major problems for what NATO is trying to accomplish in Afghanistan, and is likely to continue to do so. Pakistan simply does not see its interests as running in the same direction in Afghanistan as the way that the United States and NATO have defined their objectives there. As for mad mullahs and the nukes, however, I don't see a cause for so much worry. The specter is just that; it is not a scenario. I have yet to hear a plausible path that would bring Pakistan to that nightmare.
For complete article, click here
Balance of power in Pakistan National Assembly - AP
Analysis: Political unrest may bring U.S., Pakistan army closer - Reuters
There’s no free lunch by Kamran Shafi - Dawn