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.
Justice Chaudhry says only a free judiciary can provide justice By Irfan Ghauri: Daily Times, June 18, 2007
FAISALABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that a society can progress only if it ensures the supremacy of the Constitution, which guarantees the rights of every citizen and defines roles for organs of the state.
Addressing the Faisalabad Bar Association on Sunday, the chief justice said that the separation of the judiciary from the executive was vital and only a free judiciary could provide real justice. He quoted a saying of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph of Islam, that a “society can survive with kufr (infidelity), but not injustice”.
“Every citizen must follow the Constitution. A society can progress only if it has supremacy of the Constitution,” peace and rule of law, he said. “We cannot get rid of the label of developing country without ensuring the security of the life and property of citizens,” he said.
Asia Foundation Afghan poll reveals increased pessimismBBC, Nov 15, 2011
More Afghans than at any time since 2004 believe their country is moving in the wrong direction, an annual poll by US group The Asia Foundation reveals.
While 46% think their country is moving in the right direction, 35% disagreed, an 8% jump compared with last year.
Growing insecurity was the main reason for increasing pessimism, the group found. It began Afghan polling in 2004.
The 2011 survey found more people satisfied with education, water and health provision than before.
Sympathy for armed militant groups such as the Taliban fell to 29% from 40% in 2010, the lowest level recorded by the Asia Foundation.
The survey also showed considerable public support for efforts to reach out and make peace with militant groups.
The findings come just months after a UN report said there had been a considerable rise in violent incidents in Afghanistan this year, particula…
Dawn, February 5, 2006 Promoting the reading habit By Anwar Syed
Book buying is not common. Prices are too high for most people. Publishers are cautious, and most of them are reluctant to publish serious books. Normally, they will print no more than a 1,000 copies of any title, and often only 500, which they say it takes several years to sell. Libraries, that are the larger buyers in many countries, don’t have the money for new acquisitions. Efforts are being made to popularize reading in Pakistan.
I BEGIN this article with excerpts from the recollections of Paris Minton, a black American, as he revisits his childhood and adolescence in a segregated neighbourhood in a small town in Louisiana (US) in the 1940s.
“I entered school at the age of six. On the first day I heard Miss Randolph (teacher) read a story, and I knew that books were to be my destiny. By the age of eight I was alone in the school library, reading everything I could. By the time I was 15 I had read the Bible and every book…