Watandost in Urdu, Turkish and Farsi means "friend of the nation or country". The blog contains news and views about Pakistan and broader South West Asia that are insightful but are often not part of the headlines. It also covers major debates in Muslim societies across the world.
US - Pakistan Relations Nosediving?
Excerpts America and the Two Pakistans By Stephen P. Cohen and Moeed Yusuf, New York Times, June 20, 2012
In the past few years, multiple power centers have begun to emerge slowly in Pakistan, as evidenced again this week with the historically pliant Supreme Court dismissing the Pakistani prime minister, Yousuf Reza Gilani, from office. For much of the country’s history, however, Pakistan’s military and security apparatus has wielded unchallenged domestic clout. Consequently, throughout the six decade-long U.S.-Pakistan relationship, Pakistan’s army has been the principal interlocutor with America, both because of its domestic heft and because military rulers were at the helm in periods when the United States needed Pakistan most.
Today, Pakistan’s army is seen in the United States — especially in Congress — as an adversary, above all because it resists targeting Afghan militants who take refuge on Pakistani soil. The resentment is so deep that even American conservatives, historically pro-Pakistan, call for a strategy that punishes the country.
There are those who would advocate “containment,” a central element of which is boxing in the military by treating presumably more liberal civilians as pre-eminent partners, or even labeling specific members of the military and its spy agency, the ISI, as “terrorists.”
The premise for these views is correct: that the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus undermines American interests in Afghanistan and keep civilians from changing Pakistan’s assertive role in Afghanistan — now exercised via the Afghan insurgents fighting U.S. and NATO forces.
Unfortunately, the proposed remedy is as misplaced as was past support for Pakistan’s military dictators, which came at the cost of the country’s democratic evolution. Those who would force changes by playing a divide-and-rule game grossly exaggerate America’s capacity to influence Pakistani politics.
American attempts to actively exploit Pakistan’s civil-military disconnect are likely to end up strengthening right-wing rhetoric in Pakistan, create even more space for security-centric policies, and further alienate the Pakistani people from the United States.
Washington should view engagement with Islamabad as a long-term project. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will be around long after Afghanistan is forgotten. As much as possible, America should work directly with the civilian leadership on all issues, including security, and lower the profile of military-to-military meetings. Washington should also make clear that the United States will not tolerate any extra-constitutional measures by the military that short-circuit the democratic process. Moreover, Washington needs to quietly encourage the spectacular progress in India-Pakistan normalization. India is what drives Pakistan; America should take advantage of its relationship with New Delhi to allow Pakistan greater space for accelerating its internal political reforms.
We must patiently try to turn Pakistan from an ally that is no friend into a state that seeks normal relations with America and its neighbors. Short cuts are unlikely to work.
Stephen P. Cohen is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Moeed Yusuf is South Asia adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Inside Story about Musharraf-Mahmood Tussle Hassan Abbas: September 24, 2006
General Pervez Musharraf’s memoir In the Line of Fire is expected to generate a lot of debate and discussion in the days to come. Except some western journalists and Musharraf’s close friends (three ghost writers) hardly anyone has had a chance yet to read the book from cover to cover. The excerpts of the book leaked through Indian media and General Musharraf’s statements to some American media outlets however have already created some controversies. In the United States, controversy is considered a positive thing, so the book is bound to become a bestseller here, but in Pakistan probably the opposite is true.
This article is not a review of the book (as I haven’t got hold of a copy yet), but it endeavors to throw some light on the widely reported Musharraf comment about the Armitage threat conveyed through Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed, the then Director General of the ISI. I had done research on this speci…
Judicial Jitters in Pakistan – A Historical Overview Hamid Hussain Defence Journal, June 2007
‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please’. Mark Twain
Pakistan is in the throes of a judicial crisis since March 2007. On March 09, 2007, general Pervez Mussharraf summoned chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudry to army house. He was asked some tough questions and then asked to resign. Chief justice held his ground and refused. He was kept at army house for several hours so that an acting chief justice could be sworn in. Justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in as the senior most judge justice Rana Baghwan Das was out of country. Chaudry was given the title of ‘suspended’ chief justice and his case referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for action. This started a crisis where majority of the people denounced the cavalier manner in which general Mussharraf dealt with the chief justice. Legal community fully supported chief justice by boycotting courts and b…
From Stalemate to Settlement: Lessons for Afghanistan from Historical Insurgencies That Have Been Resolved Through Negotiations
by Colin P. Clarke, Christopher Paul, RAND, 2014
In June 2013, the Afghan Taliban opened a political office in Qatar to facilitate peace talks with the U.S. and Afghan governments. Negotiations between the United States and the group that sheltered al-Qaeda would have been unthinkable 12 years ago, but the reality is that a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan is one of several possible end games under the current U.S. withdrawal plan. Negotiating an end to an insurgency can be a long and arduous process beset by false starts and continued violence, but a comprehensive review of historical cases that ended in settlement shows that these negotiations followed a similar path that can be generalized into a "master narrative." This research examines 13 historical cases of insurgencies that were resolved through negotiated settlement in which neither sid…